Two decades ago, an Italian horror director named Claudio Fragasso ventured into rural Utah with an amateur cast, an English-challenged crew, and a screenplay about a clan of spear-wielding beasties. He returned home with Troll 2, a film so far beyond bad that it’s beguiling. It includes all the nonsensical dialog and rigid acting you’d expect from a low-budget B movie, and it makes frequent detours into WTF territory: a Jazzercise-lite dance routine, a popcorn-covered sex scene, a strident subplot about the evils of vegetarianism. (For the record, Troll 2 has no official connection to the 1986 original, nor does it feature any actual trolls — those irritable-looking potato sacks are supposed to be goblins.) The movie was so gloriously weird, so inexplicable, that it never made it to US theaters but languished in the ghettos of home video and late-night cable before disappearing altogether.
But in 2004, the film was released on DVD, and cast member Michael Stephenson began receiving MySpace inquiries from around the world, asking whether he was the kid from Troll 2. “I was thinking, ‘Man, this movie will never go away,’” says 32-year-old Stephenson, who’d done his best to forget it. He soon discovered a cache of Troll 2 tributes on the Web, where fans had been editing mashups and creating spoof trailers, turning the hammiest scenes into message board memes.
Troll 2 was one of the first bona fide cult movies of the Web era, resurrected in the late ’90s and later embraced by the YouTube generation. And unlike the winking reverie that greeted Snakes on a Plane, the affection for Troll 2 wasn’t the result of studio marketing; it was born of the Internet’s sincere (or at least ironically sincere) appetite for undiscovered crap — and the desire to share it. “The Web was the fuel to the flames,” Stephenson says. “It made the movie accessible to everyone, and fans realized they weren’t the only ones who liked this crazy thing.”
Intrigued by the phenomenon, Stephenson made a documentary, Best Worst Movie. In it, he visits Troll 2 confabs, reconnects with former castmates, and even tracks down Fragasso, the earnest auteur who doesn’t grasp how his masterpiece became a Web-wide joke. The film will premiere as part of a double feature with Troll 2, which will finally get its due on the big screen. There’s even discussion of a sequel to the nonsequel. May we suggest Troll 2:2 in 3-D?