Review/Commentary: Best Worst Movie

Best Worst Movie is a documentary about the resurgent popularity of the “Worst Movie of All Time,” Troll 2. I had not seen Troll 2 before seeing Best Worst Movie, and you don’t have to see it either. After viewing BWM, I watched T2, and then I went back and watched BWM again. The experience wasn’t really different; T2 just made me want to see BWM.

Short version of this review:

Troll 2 is an entertaining piece of trash cinema that fans of trash cinema will enjoy. Best enjoyed with a group.

Best Worst Movie is an essential documentary about what it means to be an amateur, and what it means to be a fan of outsider art.

For those who haven’t seen either, here’s basically what happened: Troll 2 was an ultra-low-budget horror movie made by an Italian filmmaker back in the 80s, using an American cast of amateur actors who had no idea what the movie was supposed to be about (due to the language barrier). The result was a weirdly enjoyable high-energy horror movie which resides somewhere between the first Troll movie and a John Waters film. Troll 2 gained a cult following on VHS, culminating in an arthouse revival tour where the original cast got to go out and give autographs and do Q&A sessions about what it’s like to have been in the “Worst Movie Of All Time.”

The biggest thing that I noticed while watching Best Worst Movie is that there really are two kinds of fans of trash cinema. The 1st kind likes watching a lot of movies and appreciates that really low-budget filmmakers are like independent bands: freed of the constraints placed on a filmmaker by “budgets” and “craftsmanship,” low-budget filmmakers are free to make movies that are nothing at all like any other movie. The 2nd kind is this kind of reprehensible disgusting hipster video store clerk guy who likes talking shit about things.

The documentary, I think, does a really good job of contrasting the two types of fan. On the one hand, you’ve got the people who put on the revivals, a movie critic guy, and a group out in Canada that have a yearly party where they play Troll 2 games and have a good time. These are the first kind of fan. The critic says something that I think is really important: Troll 2 gets called the worst movie of all time, but it can’t be the worst movie of all time because it’s not boring and it has tons of fans. I AGREE WITH THAT GUY. This is a complaint that I’ve always had with the people that call Ed Wood a bad filmmaker. Watch Glen Or Glenda? sometime, and then watch The Story of Us some time, and ask yourself which one you would ever watch again. QUESTION: Does that mean that Rob Reiner is the worst filmmaker of all time, because he made a movie that was worse than a movie made by history’s worst director? Explain yourself with well-reasoned sentences.

The Q&A sessions at the revival viewings are full of the awful 2nd type. These guys all showed up to stick it to the cast and the director, to say “what’s in God’s name were you thinking when you made this piece of garbage?” They say this shit to the director of a movie that they just watched and enjoyed. The director is a total blowhard, and much is made of this, but his basic statement is “I’ve made 40 fucking movies. Where’s *your* movies, dickwad?” I AGREE WITH HIM, TOO. Maybe he’s got no talent (not maybe: he’s got no talent), but he is a filmmaker, what is this guy? A guy who goes to viewings of movies just to talk shit? Fuck you, buddy!

That’s not really the emphasis of the movie. That’s just what I took away from it; I had to have a moment of introspection as I thought about how much I hated some of the “fans” in this movie despite being a trash movie fan myself. Huh. LET’S TALK ABOUT ME, THIS MOVIE IS REALLY ABOUT ME. No, it’s not.

The real emphasis of the movie – which really makes it kind of fit as a piece with the set of movies like Chasing Ghosts and King of Kong is that it deals most with how the actors and actresses in Troll 2 have dealt with their brush with fame. All of the actors that were in the movie are always thinking of ways to get back in the show, despite the fact that they were never really in it. In particular, it deals with the father in the movie (played by George Hardy). George (and the documentarian, who was a child actor in Troll 2) go to a lot of conventions in the film, and we get to sit with George as he realizes that most of the people in the booths are people like him who never really made it. It’s kind of heartbreaking to think about because you really get the sense that George feels like he missed his calling; he really thinks of himself as a failed actor, despite the fact that he is a well-respected dentist and a very, VERY beloved member of his community. His ex-wife is in the movie and she says it best when she says something along the lines of “You know he’s a good guy when I really like him a lot and I’m his ex-wife.” He is an outrageous success by various measurements, but he measures himself against his success in show business, and comes up a failure.

It’s hard not to look askance at your rack of synthesizers and wall of guitar amps when every single one of these movies has a guy that hopes to make it as a musician someday, including Walter Day.

Anyways, I probably spoiled too much or something, Best Worst Movie is definitely worth seeing, it has interesting things to say about the human condition. Also, the end credits music (“My Only Offer” by Mates of State) is the most perfectly-selected end credits music of all time.

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