The film, which is completely unrelated to the Michael Moriarty vehicle Troll, is the story of a family that takes a vacation in the tiny town of Nilbog (“It’s goblin spelled backwards!”), which is a haven for goblins who like to turn people into plants and eat them. They’re vegetarian goblins, you see.
When the movie limped into release on video and HBO, it was obvious to pretty much everyone involved that they had made a grand mistake. Hardy went back to dentistry, and didn’t think about the film much for a long period of time, and the cast members who were still trying to make a career in acting tried to forget it completely, but it wouldn’t be forgotten. Years later, George found out that the movie has become something of a cult phenomenon. People hold Troll 2 parties, and there are midnight screenings of the film all over the country.
This documentary, directed by Michael Paul Stephenson, who starred in Troll 2 as Hardy’s son, follows George as he becomes part of the cult. He goes to the screenings, signs autographs, attends horror conventions, reunites with the cast members and generally revels in his status as a cult icon.
But what makes Troll 2 such a beloved film to so many people? It is awesomely bad, to be sure, almost so much as to defy description (sample dialogue: “You can’t piss on hospitality; I won’t allow it!”), but people who love it seem to love it genuinely. This mostly seems to stem from the film’s oddly genuine and cheery tone. As with Plan 9 from Outer Space, this is in no way a cynical film. The people who made Troll 2 believed in what were doing, and even though the film is incredibly ridiculous, audiences respond to that.
While that may be true, the line is still a little fuzzy between when people are laughing with the film and people are laughing at it. Both Hardy and Stephenson seem to embrace the film’s mantle as worst film of all time, but some of the saddest bits in the film come when we see Troll 2’s director, Claudio Fragasso, trying to deal with people laughing at his film. He claims that he’s happy to see the movie elicit an emotional response, no matter what it is, but it obviously pains him when people laugh at parts of the film he meant to be serious.
Still, the documentary does a hilarious and touching job showing how an unmitigated disaster became a beloved classic. For those of you curious to see the majesty of Troll 2 for yourselves, there will be a screening at Sidewalk on Saturday at 3:45 p.m. at the Alabama Power building.