Michael Paul Stephenson, director of Best Worst Movie, debuted in straight-to-video as the freckled kiddie in Troll 2. Shot in Utah with a cast of locals by Italian exploitation director Claudio Fragosso, that 1990 horror has gained a cult reputation for ESL dialogue and superlative wrongheadedness. I've had a hard time believing T2 wasn't conscious of its ridiculousness -- there's a scene of kids laughing at a bad movie in it -- but Fragosso shows a helluva poker face discussing his serious intent. Stephenson interviewed most of T2's cast for his DVD Special Feature of a documentary as they reunited for roadshow screenings, but Stephenson's main focus is on George Hardy, Dad in T2 and "rich man's Craig T. Nelson." A strained-robust divorced dentist practicing in Alexander City, Alabama, Hardy is tickled with his new niche fame, repeating his "catchphrases" ("You can't piss on hospitality!") to less and less receptive audiences until the former Auburn cheerleader finds himself completely out of his element at a horror/fantasy convention ("I guarantee you, only about 5 percent of these people floss their teeth on a daily basis"). On-location re-enactments and fan footage are pure padding, but Best Worst does capture the ravages of contracting the acting "bug" -- though Stephenson's self-exemption from his film's scrutiny feels craven, especially when he visits screen-mother Margo Prey to ogle her infirm mother and kitten-themed decor.
June 4-10, 2010