One of my favorite films at this year’s Fantastic Fest was a small documentary called The American Scream, in which Best Worst Movie director Michael Paul Stephenson heads to Fairhaven, MA to look at the lives of three families who spent untold hours building backyard haunted houses. As you might expect from people with this particular obsession, the three families profiled have a certain degree of eccentricity, but Stephenson’s sensitivity towards them, and towards their driving interest, keeps the film grounded. In fact, The American Scream is gentle, even touching, and is recommended seasonal viewing.
US release dates for the film have just been announced, along with a new trailer, which you can see below. Read More »
Michael Stephenson earned audience appreciation with his documentary Best Worst Movie, which chronicled the strange fandom evolved to celebrate the rather terrible film Troll 2. While Best Worst Movie was nominally about that 1990 release, one of the real thrusts of the film was obsession, articulated to us as Troll 2 actor George Hardy is introduced to the grinning, enthusiastic followers of his mostly forgotten starring role.
Now Stephenson returns with a new documentary focused on three families who spend months and precious funds assembling “home haunts,” which is insider jargon for backyard haunted houses. Though each builder has the same nominal goal — scare and entertain Halloween thrill-seekers — all approach the home haunt interest from a different angle. In The American Scream, Stephenson peers behind the taped-up curtain to find the driving interests for each family, and to celebrate the joy they find in delivering simple scares.
The subjects range from driven to eccentric, and a less humane film would might mock some of these Halloween enthusiasts. This doc edges right up to that line, but never crosses it. More so than the occasionally indulgent Best Worst Movie, The American Scream is a focused vision; it is a sweet, tender portrait of an odd American Dream. Read More »
Most communities have a creepy house that scares the neighborhood kids. What those communities usually don’t have is a normal house which, on Halloween, is transformed into an equally exciting haunted house. Homemade haunted houses are true labors of love and the filmmakers behind Best Worst Movie are looking for the biggest and best to feature in an Untitled Homemade Haunted HouseFeature Documentary. The film is being produced by NBC Universal and will feature adults who go to incredible lengths to make their own haunted houses. If you know someone, or happen to be someone, who fits that bill, they want to hear from you. The info is after the break. Read More »
It’s a crazy, mixed up world and we are thankful for movies that offer proof. Slashfilm’s Weekend Weirdness examines such flicks, whether in the form of a premiere for a provocative indie, a mini review, or an interview straight outta Nilbog.
Since I last spoke with director Michael Stephensonfor Slash, his documentary Best Worst Movie has continued to slime the world and gently ooze into the mainstream. Witnessing the steady expansion of buzz for the film—which sees Stephenson embrace his childhood role and cult status in the nonpareil B-movie of our generation, Troll 2, while seeking out his former cast mates—has been a lesson in DIY spirit and Drafthouse-lead modern geek networking.
The hard work of Stephenson, his wife Lindsay, and the doc’s main subject and muse, Troll 2 co-star George Hardy, paid off this month with a promising distribution deal. A new summer theatrical tour schedule has been announced, and a brand new Best Worst Movie trailer has been unveiled. Both are posted below. Weekend Weirdness decided it was a perfect, albeit busy, time to check in with Stephenson for an update. He was in the middle of pulling an all-night editing session on numerous, secret special features. Put on a goblin mask and a burlap sack. Stay away from the green icing. And read on.
So classic that it will probably land an endangered video store employee on the cover of Purple magazine, the official Troll 2 shirt from Austin’s Mondo Tees more than earns its price in sunglass-dips from geek broads. Ahem, unlike a certain pair of Mooninite pants. Many of our readers know that /Film and the /Filmcast’s love for the 1980s cult classic turned pop-cult phenom runs doubledeep. And it’s not just us. In 2009, the magically wretched horror-fantasy became immortalized as the Best Worst Movieof all time. Generally speaking, however, this particular /staffer is not big on wearing movie-related apparel. I have an innate fear of becoming Comic Book Guy. And—Spoiler Alert—the day I get burrito sauce on a T-shirt from, say,George Lucas‘s factory while watching Magnum P.I. at 2 p.m. is the wasted day I kill myself.
Today, a lame goblin knocked on the door of Hulu‘s offices and left a slime-colored, flaming bag of shit on their doorstep. That’s right boils and ghouls, Troll 2, the worst movie ever made according to the world, is now available free of charge. This cult-classic movie is a total dealbreaker, so if your girlfriend or boyfriend won’t watch it with you, promptly dump them in the inexplicable name of Stonehenge Magic Stone.
And after the movie’s over (scariest ending ever?), be sure to check out /Film’s recent interviews forthe awesome Troll 2 documentary Best Worst Movie with Michael Stephenson (the whiny kid) here and George Hardy (the dad, protector of hospitality) here. Cheers to young ’80s girls who can’t dance wearing Garfield horoscope nightgowns and saying, “Take it or leave it!”
About a week ago, while drinking slushies on a beach, I attempted to brainstorm a hyperbolic-geek intro for this interview that was impossibly cheesy and awful, yet aptly expressed my sentiments about the subject. As follows: It would be very difficult indeed to find a dentist who has contributed to more smiles around the globe than would-be actor, Alabama dentist, and newly-championed cult icon George Hardy.
For those who don’t know, Hardy was one of the lead human stars of 1990’s Troll 2;over the last few years, the shittastic fantasy-horror movie has rocketed in cult status and is a viable contender for a next-gen Rocky Horror Picture Show. Made for MGM by a crew of non-English speaking Italians, Troll 2 ironically exists today as an innocent, warped time-capsule of 1980s’ American summers, American culture, and genre films. In the role of the movie’s aloof dad, Michael Waits, Hardy is renown for the silly parental anecdote, “You can’t piss on hospitality!!” His performance is regarded by a growing number of cult cineastes to be one of the worst and most cherished of all time. Patton Oswalt, the Alamo Drafthouse, and Edgar Wright are counted as huge fans. The basic storyline is that of a generic Vacation knockoff meets slime and plot holes worthy of a drug trip: Hardy hauls his family (and a grandfather’s ghost) in a van to spend a summer in a dusty, desolate town called Nilbog. Goblin spelled backwards, Nilbog is populated by devilish country-folk and vegan Druid non-Trolls. In the end, the Waits fam defeats them and their leader, an STD-plagued witch, using a mystical bologna sandwich. Or do they?
Best Worst Movie, the new documentary about the reunited cast of Troll 2 and its international fandom, is a 2009 favorite of the /Film and /Filmcast staff. Directed by Troll 2‘s former “child star,” Michael Stephenson, much of Best Worst follows Hardy as he temporarily leaves his life as a small-town dentist to encounter the ups and downs of modern fame and his performance’s excavated notoriety. Thanks to a compelling story and the sharp twists and turns of real life, Best Worst can be enjoyed with or without having viewed the flick that spawned it. George called me from his lake house to discuss all of this while eating a sandwich. For our interview with Michael Stephenson, click here.
One of the best documentaries of 2009 is Best Worst Movie. Whether you have read about it on /Film or watched it unfold before your eyes at a film festival, its very existence is miraculous. At its core, the doc marks the unlikely, unflinching reunion between director Michael Stephenson—the child star of 1990’sTroll 2(renown for being the worst movie of all time)—and his estranged Troll 2 co-stars and filmmakers. Over the last few years, the notoriety and fandom of Troll 2 has exploded into packed screeningsnationwide, fan-organized parties, utterly deranged Internet memes, and frothy endorsements from the likes of Patton Oswalt and the Upright Citizens Brigade. But similar to the broad and hearty appeal of Best Worst Movie, Troll 2’s allure reaches outside the niche yet increasingly mainstream gates of a celebrated B- or F-Movie.
Troll 2 is the Kubrickian starchild of terrible movies. It’s incomparable badness is such that it warps our very definition into slime-colored brain candy that pops with cinematic pseudo-genius. The basic plot is a fairy tale-gone-sour about an All-American ’80s family that vacations in a deserted town called Nilbog. Based on the name alone, it’s no surprise that Nilbog is a human trap created by small vegan creatures in burlap sacks; ones obsessed with milk and looking cheap. As played by Stephenson, the family’s uber-annoying son, Joshua Waits, is surpassed in corniness only by his confident, clueless Southern father (would-be actor, definite cult legend George Hardy). Now an esteemed small-town dentist, Best Worst Movie catches up with Hardy, and follows him as he rides out Troll 2‘s renewed popularity around the globe in the Era of Internet Fame and Unabashed/Fleeting Geekdom.
Stephenson also tracks down other cast members living at differing and fascinating levels of obscurity, normalcy, and dysfunction. In our interview with Stephenson below, he explains that after outgrowing the embarrassment, years later he found himself searching out this make-believe but very real family. And Best Worst Movie goes one step further. It documents how impossibly connective and family-esque movie culture has become outside the eye and coffers of Hollywood. Such is Troll 2‘s power to entertain and unite that it can break through the stale dung of 1,000 McGs like water rapids through a wicked temple built by Druid goblins. Combined, Best Worst Movie and Troll 2 get us back in touch with what it means to love movies, to make them, and to have our lives changed by them for better, and sometimes Worst.
About twenty years ago, director Claudio Fragasso and his wife, screenwriter Rossella Druti, ventured into the pleasant rural community of Morgan, Utah, to make a horror thriller that would be remembered forever. They unquestionably succeeded, but not in the way they had originally planned. Since its release, Troll 2 has frequently been regarded as the worst movie ever made. It’s difficult for those who have never seen the film to comprehend the sheer terribleness of filmmaking on display, so here’s a great montage of the film’s “best” moments for the uninitiated [WARNING: Video is NSFW]:
Normally, a film this bad would vanish into the ether (AKA your local Wal-Mart bargain bin) never to be seen or heard from again, but in the ensuing decades, Troll 2 has inexplicably found a devoted cult following. Director Michael Stephenson, who plays the painfully annoying lead boy character Joshua Waits in Troll 2, has spent most of his life trying to escape from the shadow of the film. But in Best Worst Movie, which recently screened at Independent Film Festival Boston (and will be screening tonight and this weekend at HotDocs in Toronto), Stephenson turns the camera on himself and tracks down the actors from the film to investigate the phenomenon of Troll 2. The results are exciting and funny, but also tinged with sadness. In any case, Best Worst Movie is a great documentary, a must-see for those who are Troll 2 fans (and if you’re not in the latter category, I would recommend you see Troll 2 first to truly grasp its greatness). In creating this film, Stephenson has truly broken out as an exciting new filmmaker. Read More »