Interview: Director Michael Stephenson on Best Worst Movie, Troll 2 as Geek Phenomenon, the Alamo Drafthouse, Skate Vids, and Pizza!
Posted on Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009 by Hunter Stephenson
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’s Troll 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 screenings nationwide, 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.