Have no doubt, I love bad movies. I still have fond memories of the first time I stumbled onto ROBOT MONSTER, back in the days when local broadcast television had afternoon movie shows, and one could serendipitously chance upon such inspired dreadfulness as a cheesy science fiction epic — with Hamlet-like ambitions — in which the titular monster was actually some guy in a gorilla suit wearing a toy diver’s helmet (check it out if you don’t believe me). Lemme tell ya, there’s nothing quite like sitting through ninety minutes of “What the frak is this?!” to put a spring in your step and reinvigorate your will to live.
Problem is that, these days, fortune has dictated I be late to this particular party, getting around to the legendarily awful long after their cults have formed. Which is by way of saying that I haven’t yet seen TROLL 2, the notoriously awful non-sequel (title notwithstanding), not-really-horror film that’s at the center of the documentary BEST WORST MOVIE. Not to worry, director Michael Paul Stephenson — who two decades ago was the child star of the movie — is less about celebrating the film than he is about exploring its impact on those involved, both before and after it had attained its midnight-movie status. To that end, he tracks down many of the project’s key players, including director Claudio Fragrasso — who expresses some well-justified discomfort with being embraced by this particular group of admirers — and co-star Dr. George Hardy, a dentist whose zeal for the spotlight first found him cast as Stephenson’s father, and then embracing his notoriety with perhaps a bit too much ardor.
The film is an intriguing examination of a certain, two-edged brand of fame and how the artists involved handle its effects. I got to explore the issue with Stephenson, amongst other topics — bottom line: He seems to have survived the trauma quite handily. Click on the player to hear the interview.