"I take orders from the Octoboss."

Best Worst Movie

tn_bestworstmovieIf you’ve ever seen TROLL 2 you know what a weirdly terrible movie it is. A little boy discovers that his town of Nilbog is secretly overrun by goblins who are feeding the humans foods that turn them into plants so they can be eaten by the goblins, who are vegetarians. (Ever thought of that, Tofurkey people? Just turn real turkeys into plants and sell ’em!) The main thing I remember from the movie is that nobody believes the kid that they shouldn’t eat the food, so he stands up on a table and pisses all over it.

Well, that kid was Michael Stephenson, he’s now grown up, has a sense of humor about the thing, and has written and directed a documentary about it. A little under a third of BEST WORST MOVIE is the type of deal you expect: interviews with “fans” about their TROLL 2 parties, their homemade masks and childhood memories, and scenes of the cast finally enjoying the limelight as the movie is rediscovered and enjoyed in revival screenings, even if it’s in a sarcastic or ironic type of way. Some of this material would be a pretty good DVD extra, some gets a little tedious. But it’s well worth sitting through for the rest of the movie, which in my opinion comes close to True Greatness in its exploration of relative fame, abandoned dreams, the subjectivity of art and the dangers of smug hipsterism.

mp_bestworstmovieThe movie begins by showing us the life of Dr. George Harding, a perpetually smiling dentist and beloved member of the community in a small town in Alabama. He’s so well-liked that even his ex-wife gushes about him on camera. He does free dental work for poor kids, he wears a fat suit and rollerblades in an annual parade, and most people don’t know that he played the dad in TROLL 2.

I always wonder what happens to the actors who appear in movies like TROLL 2. Of course there are the ones like Jennifer Aniston in LEPRECHAUN that use it as a stepping stone for bigger things, but most cast members of movies like that maybe get a few more credits and then disappear. If any. And you wonder, did they really want to be an actor, or did they just happen to live in the area or know the right person and do it on a lark? Did they keep trying after that, or did they give up right away? Is it something they think about alot, or did they just move on as a normal person? Well, here’s one of those people and he’ll answer all of those questions.

When Dr. Harding finds out about some comedians at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater showing the movie for laughs he’s thrilled and arranges to make an appearance there. The screening is sold out, hugely successful and George is riled up by the hosts and audience to re-enact one of the many goofy lines in the movie: “You can’t piss on hospitality! I WON’T ALLOW IT!” He seems a little befuddled by all the excitement, but loves the attention, and he and a few of the other cast members begin to tour to different cities for more of these screenings of what somebody apparently tells him is “the MySpace Generation’s ROCKY HORROR.”

Another thing you always wonder about is how the people in a movie like that feel about being in a movie like that. Do they think it’s good? Were they trying to do a good job? In this case we learn from almost every actor that when they first saw it – on HBO or video, since it didn’t make it to theaters as planned – they felt crushed and embarrassed. On set they figured the director knew what he was doing, but their minds changed when they saw the finished product. So it’s kind of a gift for them now that it’s found a cult following as a “bad movie.” They can laugh about it and have fun signing autographs and telling stories about the Italian director telling them how Americans talk and things like that. It’s not as hurtful anymore, like it was when poor Connie McFarland scrolled through the IMDb user reviews and saw comment after comment singling her out as being terrible.

Still, it feels a little uncomfortable watching “fans” line up outside the Alamo Drafthouse or whatever to laugh at these people’s crushed dreams, saying that TROLL 2 “rules!!!” and being real proud of themselves. Don’t get me wrong. I know my hands have blood on them too. I enjoy “bad movies” including but not limited to TROLL 2. And I don’t want to accuse the people in this documentary of being jerks. In fact, one guy shown alot in the movie used to do movie events in Seattle and Olympia and is a cool guy with a passion for finding movies like this and showing them to other people. But I just feel like somewhere there’s a blurry line that separates having-fun-with-a-movie-that-didn’t-turn-out-as-expected from laughing-at-people-you-don’t-know-and-calling-them-stupid, and when these things seem to bump against that line it bothers me, even if the kid from the movie is the one showing us all this irony.

Enter the Italians. The director Claudio Fragasso and his wife/co-screenwriter Rosella Drudi believe the movie is good, and they explain why. They know it got bad reviews and did poorly financially, but they believe in it. And either something was lost in translation or somebody’s lying to them because they agree to fly in to the States for a screening and seem to think their work is finally being appreciated.

So now we see some Rainn Wilson-looking dude in a fedora making fun of the movie as he introduces it to a large audience, the director sitting in the front row just fuming like he wants to make a vegetable out of this guy and dip him in Ranch dressing. During the Q&A afterwards some prick in the audience (I’ll make an exception just for this guy, I don’t see how not to label this guy as a prick) asks condescendingly, “Why did you call it TROLL 2 when there’s not a single troll in it?” Claudio doesn’t understand the question because of the language barrier and because of not knowing that there are adults in the U.S. who feel it’s vitally important to make a distinction between trolls and goblins. But the guy keeps repeating the question verbatim, each time increasing the level of douchiness in his tone.

Claudio confers with his translator. Why does he say there’s no trolls? Because you call them goblins. He yells, “YOU KNOW NOTHING!”

So you could say that Fragasso  is deluded. It’s hard to argue that the people are wrong about this movie. But still I gotta root for this guy. His sincere pride in the movie trumps our sarcastic fandom. You at least gotta respect him as a human being, be polite, appreciate that what he made is unusual enough that you enjoy watching it. You definitely shouldn’t talk to him in the insulting tone that this questioner did. So it’s funny to see him clash with these people. Later, at a Rolling Roadshow screening, the cast talks about not seeing the script while Fragasso paces in the audience occasionally yelling that they’re liars and dogs. Hilariously uncomfortable.

Meanwhile, George Harding is going on this journey. To answer my earlier question, he always wanted to be a movie star. So leaving the ironic adulation and the lines around the block to return to his dental practice leaves him feeling a little empty. We see what happens when he starts taking it too seriously. And we get some laughs as he tries to explain to his patients why TROLL 2 is funny, expecting them to laugh at the “piss on hospitality” line. I mean, those college kids in Austin laughed when he said it, why not these old ladies he’s giving fillings to in Alabama?

I’ve mentioned before my fascination with the phenomenon of horror conventions, and how sad it is seeing these actors who are important icons to me sitting bored at a table waiting for somebody to pay them $25 for an autograph. Harding experiences this first hand, and finally understands the drawbacks to being in a cult movie. He doesn’t like horror movies and seems kind of spooked by the cast members of NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET sequels. And he has an awkward moment talking to John Schneider from The Dukes of Hazzard.

Stephenson and Harding also track down the last major cast member, Margo Prey, who played the mother. It’s an amazing scene combining a sweet mother-son relationship between the actors and some big laughs about Harding being creeped out and repeatedly putting his jacket on to signal that it’s time to leave. Seeing Prey’s reclusive lifestyle seems to be just what Harding needed to appreciate what he has.

I think because of his age Stephenson is in a unique position to understand all this. He’s of the generation that gets a kick out of the cheesy movies of the ’80s and early ’90s, he’s young enough to understand the internet, cult movies and ironic worship of pop culture. But also he was there, and he remembers the misery of thinking he was gonna be a child star only to just be the kid from TROLL 2. He knows these people personally and shares memories with them, and now relates to them as an adult. So when they get together and goof around and re-enact scenes from the movie there’s a sweet sort of bonding. I really liked these people, warts and all.

So now Stephenson has made two lasting contributions to the culture: a uniquely bad movie and an insightful documentary. I’d say that’s better than being on the cover of Tiger Beat for a while.

. . .

Best Worst Movie plays the Central Cinema in Seattle starting today and has dates in other cities throughout the summer.

This entry was posted on Friday, June 18th, 2010 at 1:38 pm and is filed under Documentary, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

76 Responses to “Best Worst Movie”

  1. I saw this last year and met the director, Stephenson is just as nice in person as he appears in the movie. I hope he keeps making movies, because regardless of his personal involvement in the subject matter it’s a well-made documentary, for reasons you’ve detailed better than I can. One suggestion I might make to anyone reading, however: watch TROLL 2 first. I hadn’t seen it prior to watching BEST WORST MOVIE, and most of the ironic enjoyment was thoroughly spoiled by seeing the highlights (or reenactments of the highlights) in the documentary. Great review, Vern

  2. Nicole DeBoer, star of “Prom Night IV” (but probably better known for her roles in “Cube”, Season 7 of “Star Trek DS9” and the sometimes awesome, sometimes awful “Dead Zone” TV series), once told me “If you ever have the chance to work on a low budget horror movie, do it. You will probably die in a horrible accident, but also have lots of fun.” (This was followed by a hilarious story about how she almost killed a burning stuntman.)

    And I know what you mean about seeing actors, waiting to get paid for autographs. As a frequent visitor of conventions (SciFi, Fantasy and Horror related) I saw this more than just once, but on the other hand, I never saw any of them leaving without signing lots of autographs! Shit, I even saw actors, who had a minor and hardly memorable guest role in the original Star Trek series (Kinda like what Sam Rockwell played in Galaxy Quest) giving lots of autographs, so I guess they all have fans who cheer them up and this is what cheers ME up.

  3. Well put, there’s definitely something to be admired in Fragasso. Even if his movie sucked, I’m sure it was a hard-fought effort for everyone involved, and he should be proud that he and the film are still standing. It bears repeating that it is SO much harder to make a movie, macro or micro budget, than it is to watch one. Some young ironists, as you put it, don’t seem to know the difference.

  4. There’s also something to be said for that spark of madness that separates an enjoyably insane movie like TROLL 2 from a merely incompetent one like 95% of the other low-budget genre flicks out there. Whether he did it on purpose, this is the guy, with all his pride, stubbornness, and (perhaps) cluelessness, who made your fun time happen, so be gracious. Any number of hacks could have made TROLL 2, but not one of them would have come up with the movie that launched a thousand midnight showings.

  5. I think it’s not just about appreciating a particular filmmaker’s gifts (?) as it is just basic common decency. It should be self-evident that you don’t want to insult a stranger to his face in most situations. (Flipping off Dick Cheney as he drives past is one exception that springs to mind.) Sometimes people just fucking make me sad, you know? Why are so many of them shitheads?

  6. Some people are just dicks. Why isn’t Obama doing something about it? Here he is wasting all his time on health care and socialism or whatever when he really ought to be addressing the dick problem.

    “My fellow Americans, many of you are dicks. Cut it the fuck out. I mean it.”

  7. Mr. Majestyk – So you’re saying that TROLL 2 isn’t calculated madness?

  8. Great film. Nicely done review, as well.

  9. It doesn’t seem like it, but it’s hard to say. It’s one of those movies where you can’t imagine anybody would do it on purpose, yet you also can’t imagine it just happening that way spontaneously. It’s an enigma, and I think that’s why it’s gotten such a cult following.

    That and the peeing scene.

  10. I don’t think these people have anything to be ashamed of. All they did was make a low budget horror movie that apparently didn’t turn out that good. I mean, it’s not like they made some insufferably smug piece of shit like American Beauty or empty bloated corpratized spectacle garbage like National Treasure. And, in the long run, it’s probably better for those kids that they weren’t successful and adopted into a system that is, as one comedian put it, basically a puppy mill for future Danny Bonaduces. That’s a fate way worse than having a bunch of half-retarded cunts talk shit about you on the imdb.

  11. Good points, WS.

  12. {*Half-retarded cunt, wielding camera, enters parking lot of theatre showing Best Worst Movie*}
    “This is a historical day. Best Worst Movie. {zooms in on marquee} See dat dare? Howboutdat? It’s offishul. Aaaaall of da I-M-D-B jerks out dare, dat sed it wouldn’t happen, that said it’d never make it to the moovies, I wantchall to look at this rightcheeuh {zooms in on poster}. This is going out to the IMDB haters. All the (-unintelligible-) haters out dare, need to remember–watchya mouths next time, talkin’ trash and everythang. Claudio Fragrasso ain’t done nuthin to you; y’all wanted the man to fay-ell. He didn’t. He made it. He GOT the movie made. He got the movie in theatres; it is expandin’ by the week. This is a historical record to proove that Best Worst Movie made it.
    Do I need to ride around this parking lot and show you this poster again, to let it sank in, IMDB haters? Aight den, we goana post this on da I-M-D-B message board in about 30 minutes, let summuhy’all see what y’all can say about this video.
    Refute THIS. REFUTE THIS! Dis is sumthin you cannot duh-nye, IMDB haters. Leave Claudio Fragrasso alone; he ain’t hurtin’ you, man. Why y’all gotta be so critical of the man, he just blue collar eye-talian like us. He just blue collar eye-talian like us, you know what I’m sayin? Buncha jerkweed, pantywaist, anonymous, IMDB username, haters. Dare it is right dare. Alright, I made my point, so I’ma shut it off neow, baby. PEACE OUT!”

  13. I don’t go to a huge amount of cons, but I’ve been to enough to have seen the actors sitting around waiting to sign for $25 phenomenon. It seems to me that they fall into two camps. You have the guys who are genuinely pleased to be there, eager to talk to fans, the ones who walk around and talk to other vendors and the attendees when they’re on break, or going to lunch, or whatever. Even if only a few people show up for the autograph session, they’ve at least had a good time, and maybe made some new fans in the process.

    Then you have the ones who show no enthusiasm, sit behind the table with a thousand-mile stare, and never attempt to interact with anyone beyond signing a photo before retreating to their hotel room. It’s this second group I feel sorry for. They may be making the same amount of money as the first group, but you can tell they aren’t getting any enjoyment from it at all. That’s when it gets just…sad, because it feels so desperate. Sounds like at least some of the TROLL 2 actors have avoided that, at least.

  14. (I know this almost ruins the gag, but. . .) Reference for the rookies:

  15. I gotta say, I’ve never heard of “Troll 2” until now. And I’ve watched “Cheerleader Massacre”. (Which I do not recommend to fans of either cheerleaders or massacres by the way: both are likely to end up disappointed.)

    This flick sounds a lot more interesting than the actual film it’s based around does though. I might look out for it. (“Best worst movie” rather than “Troll 2”.)

  16. Hey , Vern , I’m currently in the same mood for cheap-cheesy-but-enjoyable movies ! I recently watched Deathstalker 1 and 2 from the Corman Factory , and I’ve found them quite entertaining. These movies are considered to be at the bottom of the barrel in the sword and sorcery / barbarian style , but I had lots of fun ( when I lowered my expectations a little bit ). These are all about swordfights and tits , but the second one is also funnier and self aware , with lots of jokes and an easy going feel to it ( for example , from a sign on the road , we know that they’re 25 km from Cimmeria ). In the second movie DVD there’s also a commentary by the director and 2 of the actors , and they knew that they were working on a bad and no-budget movie , and they just tried to have fun with it. They’re very open about it and the commentary is fun and strangely insightful. After that I wanted to know what happened to them , and they’re kind of team : director Jim Wynorski and star John Terlesky worked together in “Chopping Mall” , and both now are still directing for DTV and TV . Also , the titles of the movies directed by Wynorski are fantastic : titles like “The Breastford Wives” and “The Devil Wears Nada”!

  17. For those who have never experienced Troll 2 the entire thing is available to watch for free over on IMDB.

    I’ll def check this out when it comes to DVD.

  18. Speaking of bad/good sword and sorcery movies, I honestly enjoyed The Asylum’s version of A Princess of Mars; the two lead actors are miscast and look indifferent throughout most of the movie, there are some major Ed Wood-style gaffes, the story makes little to no sense, the dialogue has that weird dissociated quality that a lot of bad movie dialogue has, but…it never bored me. Something about the spirit of the thing made me excessively happy that people are still out there making movies like that. I would also say that the guy who plays Tars Tarkas is pretty good and that narratively speaking, just in terms of moving a story along, it’s actually superior to a lot of major Hollywood movies (probably because of the Edger Rice Burroughs source material).

    I can’t in good conscience recommend A Princess of Mars, but I can recommend Blood, Boobs and Beast which is a surprisingly moving documentary about a guy who’s kind of a small town John Carpenter. Here’s the possibly NSFW trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZSrdCrJvlw

  19. man, I’ve been wanting to see this doc for a while now, when is this sucker gonna make it on the dvd so the less lucky of us can watch it?

    anyway I really need to watch Troll 2 again, it’s been well over two years since I watched it

  20. I also want to add that Toy Story 3 is awe inspiring, see it now

  21. My only concern is; how much Randy Newman do we have to put up with? Also how good is the not-Jim-Varney-guy whose doing Slinky’s voice?

  22. My only concern are all these reviewers that talk about how dark and sad Toy Story 3 is. I mean, come on, Pixar movies have always been touching, but recently Pixar seems to go for the real tearjerkers. And while this of course changes nothing about the quality of their output, I can’t wait for the day when Pixar makes movies again, that doesn’t leave you as a depressed mess behind.

  23. Griff- Tell that to the attention whore of a cunt Armond White. The first asshole after 140 reviewers to give it a thumbs down and prevent it from being the best reviewed film of all time. Not that having the most positive reviews make it the best film, just that that fucking asshole shouldn’t get paid to write nonsensical bullshit reviews just to get attention for himself. Seriosly, fuck that dude.

  24. Lay off Armond. Yeah, he can be infuriating, but at least his twisted perspectives sometimes give a fresh point that’s worth considering – which is more than can be said for about 80% of today’s (remaining) film critics.

    I do wonder how much his contrarianism is a put-on and how much is a genuine attempt to mine new ideas out of a heavily prospected movie … but results for me are the same either way. And if his objective is to call attention to himself, you’re playing into his hands by dropping him into a Best Worst Movie thread.

    And to be fair, he was there for Torque when Torque had no friends.

    Got my Toy Story tickets for 2:40!

  25. Also, lay off Randy Newman. Before Hollywood assimilated him he was one of the most vicious, scathing, and hilarious songwriters of all time. “Sail Away” alone gets him a lifetime pass.

  26. Back to topic – regarding moviegoing where you’re laughing at onscreen failure when the creators are in the audience: Has Vern taken on The Room? If it’s uncomfortable snickering at a 20-year-old monster movie in front of its makers, it’s exponentially stranger when the movie is more recent and more directly inspired by events taken as trauma by the writer/director/star/screening host.

    Even before the VHS premiere, the Troll 2 cast must have had some inkling that they might be part of something that could turn out to be ridiculous. I’d hope that the overall looniness of the film cushioned their disappointment – no one’s going to look too good in something so misguided. Tommy Wiseau didn’t have that firewall. Got to check BWM out.

  27. I’m sorry but it doesn’t earn him a laftime pass from me. He’s a a talented guy and he has written his fare share of good songs, but I’m afraid that means little when I have to sit through another one of his identikit movie songs, or even scores. Seriously, listen to his song from PARENTHOOD (pretty lame film anyway to be fair) and tell me it doesn’t sound practically identical to YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND IN ME. It’s preferable to having to hear Smash Mouth or Ben Folds, who seemed to be in every kid’s film a couple of years ago, but that’s about it.

  28. And by laftime, I probably meant lifetime

  29. Yeah, but Wiseau just loves the attention. He doesn’t care if you’re laughing with him or at him as long as he gets to bask in the applause.

  30. Pacman: To be fair, I don’t watch these movies so I only listen to his good songs, which are some of my favorites.

  31. CJ Holden – what’s so “depressing” about Pixar movies anyway?

    Sure you have some dark moments and maybe even not so nice undertones that you usually don’t get in contemporary American animation…but ultimately everything in those movies wrap up nice, tiddy, happy ever after all that shit. So I don’t get that criticism. Not like Pixar is producing GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES, a truely fucking downer cartoon.

    Besides I give those guys at Pixar credit for mining a concept (usually) of all its thematic possibilities. And that’s probably why they inevitably produce alot of grim moments. I mean FINDING NEMO sure showed that being a fish isn’t all that fun and easy.

    Inspector Li – Its one thing to break out of the pack to make a poignant nuanced point that no one else is willing to make. Only the last words of that sentence describes Armond. The guy is only known for making silly points which everybody else shitblasts him on. This isn’t the age of James Agee or Paulene Kael or fuck even Ebert where you can make a good point and people admire you* because the logic tracks are laid out, even if you disagree with their overall verdict. Now you have to be a stupid dick to get any sort of attention, and somehow this makes you a rogue badboy outsider demanding equal respect.

    You know, like Anne Coulter.

  32. PacmanFever – Honestly in watching TS3 I forgot all about a different voice working Slinky. I think its like those current guys voicing Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck or whatever after Mel Blanc died all those years ago. Not the same, but they mimic enough that its not too distracting.

    If I remember right, the guy doing Donald Duck now was trained by the original Donald Duck voice actor, so he would know right?

    Random Trivia: The original voice of Tigger helped invent the artificial art.

  33. RRA: Let’s just say that the lifetime montage scene in “Up” bummed me so much, that it spoiled for me most of the fun that came afterwards. (feel free to laugh at me.) And most of the reviews for “Toy Story 3” focus on the dark and sad atmosphere of it, which seriously makes me hesitating to watch it. (Although it won’t keep me away from it. I will probably just wait for the DVD.)
    Y’know, there are times when I wanna watch a drama and times when I wanna watch a comedy. And when I wanna watch a comedy, I don’t wanna feel sad afterwards. Like I said, there is nothing wrong with a touching moment in the right place, but even the violent death of Marlin’s family in “Finding Nemo” didn’t depress me as much as “Up” did. I’m sure all the praise for TS3 is deserved, but y’know, I think I will wait till I’m in the mood to watch it.

  34. I like Armond, but I think the best way to read him is as part of the conversation and not the final word – I also think that when he veers away from sociological commentary and concentrates purely on aesthetics, he’s actually pretty great. And a lot of his observations do have merit – for example: District 9 really is a bit of a mess, The Lord of the Rings really is about nothing, Star Trek really is TV on the big screen rather than an actual movie, and Welcome Home Rosco Jenkins really does have a more rational view of dealing with dysfunctional families than a lot of indie films (which is not the same thing as saying it’s good).

    Yeah, Pixar’s ok. The only movie of theirs I’ve hated was Ratatouille (I’m not sure the world really needed Sideways for kids). But, I don’t think what they’re doing is all that interesting or praise-worthy. To me, it’s essentially very good committee film-making; entertaining, occasionally moving, but ultimately sterile. It’s well-crafted product.

  35. RRA – I’ve been shaking my head over White since the mid-90’s before the New York Press was online, and before he was notorious. He might be primarily known to others for being the spoilsport, but for me he’s a critic who at least engages, even if it’s like how a virus engages one’s antibodies. He can’t demand “equal respect” from anyone; if people can’t stand him, just don’t look (TM Lisa Simpson.)

    I am kind of flabbergasted that he’s head of that NYC critics group though.

    Majestyk – I agree that Wiseau loves the attention. But when he was pouring his (arguably warped) heart into his movie I don’t think he wanted the type of attention it’s getting. I think now he’s making the best of a bad reaction.

  36. WS – A wonderful committee movie is TRANSFORMERS. Pixar more like got made by a mafia. Of artists. With guns.

    Inspector Li – Again just because he engages with an out of the box idea doesn’t mean he or said idea is worth it. Because with that criteria again, Anne Coulter would qualify.

    Hell at least another right wingers like David Brooks, his article slamming AVATAR was great. And he’s right, that one was a white liberal guilt fantasy. He didn’t go through with it, but he certainly touched upon the idea that audiences feel comfortable with formulas they’ve seen before.

    CJ Holden – Really? That whole opening sets up that moment with the scrap book. You don’t know how many people I hear sniffle over that sequence in my theatre, maybe more adults than kids. If anything, Pixar is ultimately life affirming. Life is about the good, and the bad, but ultimately its worth it.

  37. Li: I think Wiseau made The Room so long ago that he must have come to terms with it by now. For better or for worse, that movie just keeps getting bigger. No one would still be talking about it if he’d just made a decent indie drama. He’s been eating on it for so many years that he must see it as a blessing.

  38. I have to advise against viewing The Room solo, as Vern seems to do for most of his reviews. I had heard how amazing the viewing experience was supposed to be, and I finally got around to seeing it a few weeks ago, but my research had failed to grant me the knowledge that The Room should only be seen with a big rowdy crowd. In my private quarters as I watched, I just wanted to fast forward through most of it. Oops.

    Yeah, I “got” it, but I still refuse to believe Wiseau didn’t make, or at least finalize & release, that thing intentionally as is.

    Save it for a crazy midnight screening, Vern.

  39. – Vern

    I went to the largest bookstore in Copenhagen yesterday to pick up the new Bret Easton Ellis book, but couldn`t help myself and ended up checked out the books in the cinema-section. ..And found the last copy of “Yipee Ki-yay moviegoer” in the store.
    I hesitated bying it, having read all your reviews on the internet anyway and.. well, you know, Bret Easton Ellis is a pretty good writer too. American Psycho taught me everything I know about dressing and Phil Collins.
    On the other hand, I have had a lot of difficulties convincing my friend and co-writer that she should read your sight. I even bought her SEAGALOGY and tried to make her read it, but she refused (she prefers Schwartzenegger and Swayze).
    Well, maybe a book by “the greatest writer of film writing about film anywhere that film is written about” would open her eyes, so I spent my hard-earned social welfare on the writings of badass cinema instead of supporting mr Ellis. (even though he gotta snort too..)
    And then I got hungry and ordered a pizza-slice. While wainting for the beforementioned pizza-slice, I couldn`t help but sneaking a peak at the (not published on the web)-foreword of the present for my friend, and then I had to read the first chapter etc.
    I`m halfway through now and the cover is smeared in ham and melted cheese, but it`s all delicious! Off course, this means that I can`t use it as a present and I`ll be forced to place it on my small, but tasty bookshelf, between “Kinski Uncut” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”.

    I guess all I`m trying to say is that all though I don`t agree on your take of DOMINO, I`m gonna read this book again and again. It`s a goddamn classic. Thanks a lot and keep striving for excellency. Like..uh.. dunno.. the definitive book on blockbusters, maybe?

    Yeah, write that book! The Dark Knight might have proven you wrong, but it`s just a drop in the ocean. Just look at the crap coming out this summer. Studio executives rules, the media supports them by selling their integrity for being quoted on the fucking dvd-covers and so-called geeks keeps promoting pure shite in order to get the wideworldweb-users to keep reading their sites.

    Do I take this shit a tad to personal? Hell yes. I try to get my fucking scripts financed and I am met by this fucked up system of yuppies trying to figure out what`s hot or not by studying the box-office charts, instead of the classics. You have proven yourself a writer, one of the better ones in my opinion. It`s time to raise the bar/take it to the next level/turn it up to elleven and deliver a book that tells it like it is: great entertainment can be great art.

    Whoops, ranting again. Great f(“gunshot”)g book, Vern!

  40. Also, I got nothing but respect for people making trashy low-budgets movies, no matter how bad they turn out. Making a low-budget movie craves blood, sweat, tears and an ego made of kryptonite.

    I do like watching crappy movies and laugh at them (mostly while being very drunk), but I prefer crappy movies that cost millions of dollars, created by wealthy, coke`d up egomaniacs like Don Simpson, Micheal Bay, that independence day guy and Wolfgang Petersen.

    I love something weird videos ™, and while it`s mostly crap, it usually contains small bits of artistic brilliance, something that makes you wonder what they could have put together, if they had a proper budget.

    Laughing at low budget movies is like making fun of a homeless guy playing Beethoven on a crappy plastic-keyboard. Give them the respect they deserve. (or.. eh.. I dunno… But don`t laugh at them)

  41. Well, it’s true that Ann Coulter’s out-of-the-box ideas, to put it mildly, don’t do it for me. That doesn’t mean other out-of-the-box ideas can’t, and White’s sometimes do (or did – like I said, I followed him much more closely when he was one of the local critics.)

    I should add that I’m not saying the out-of-the-box ideas I appreciate even have to pass the smell test. He’s got a take on aesthetics that doesn’t overlap mine so much. His sociopolitical yardstick can be enraging. He’s got clear favorites and grudges. But again, seeing how he arrived at his opinions can sometimes be stimulating in a way that most plot-recapping publicity-machiners never will be.

    I’m also more comfortable with his sphere of influence than Coulter’s. She stokes a mindset that I believe debases society. White is the one lone guy who legitimately or not didn’t like Toy Story 3. He can be disregarded.

    Majestyk – I agree, Wiseau has come to terms. It’ll be interesting to compare with the Troll 2 folks, who’ve had more time to do so, but a different level of personal investment and no financial or fame incentives. Sheesh, I sound like a banker.

  42. CJ Holden – you’re missing out on a modern classic if you miss this in theaters, if you have the opportunity see it in 3D also, it’s mind blowing

    and trust me, it’s not too depressing, I fucking love family films that reach for deeper and more adult emotions than just throwing it pop culture references (hello Shrek)

    I don’t know if you’ve seen, but there’s an animated movie from 1987 called The Brave Little Toaster, made by some guys who went on to Pixar, it’s one of the most disturbing animated movies ever made, it’s at times very frightening and depressing, but it’s a masterpiece and one of my favorite movies growing up

  43. Griff: I still have a few weeks to decide if I watch it in theatres, because it hasn’t started here yet. (Although 3D is no option, because I’m almost blind on my right eye and doubt that it really works for me.)
    I never saw Brave Little Toaster, but I doubt that it can be more disturbing than whatever Don Bluth came up with to screw up my childhood. (I’m very sure that Secret Of NIMH is one of the key factors of how I got my arachnophobia.)

  44. oh trust me CJ, if you haven’t seen Brave Little Toaster, you have no idea what you’re in for, it’s way more disturbing than any of the Don Bluth films

  45. yeah I fondly remember BRAVE LITTLE TOASTER.

  46. Brave Little Toaster is one of the single most insane family films I’ve ever seen. Absolutely terrifying. And then the sequel, where they go to Mars (!) is even more crazier and more nonsensical.

  47. Hey Vern, will you please release your books on kindle asap? For those of us douchey Hollywood types that read everything on ipads in gyms, planes, and orgies?

  48. Joseph – I have forwarded your concerns to my publisher.

  49. Vern – if your publisher did a Audiobook version of YIPPIE, who would you want to narrate it?

    Obviously I assume you would have wanted Seagal for SEAGALOGY.

  50. Nothing ruins an orgy more than one’s inability to access quality film reviews on the digital handheld.

  51. Is BRAVE LITTLE TOASTER weirder and more disturbing than BABE 2?

  52. frankbooth – Can’t say, I never saw BABE 2. Even though BABE 2 does sound compellingly intriguing.

    Only knock against BLT is that like way too many cartoon movies in the 1980s (or ever), we have to sit through several shitty songs that do nothing but fill a souless quota.

  53. THE BRAVE LITTLE TOASTER has a musical number near the end where a bunch of junked cars in a scrapyard sing about things that happened in their lives before they’re crushed into cubes. BABE 2 has a dog slowly strangling at the end of a leash. It’s no coincidence that both movies are highlights of their respective genres.

  54. frankbooth, Brave Little Toaster is way more disturbing

    also Brave Little Toaster, the music in Brave Little Toaster quite awesome, ESPECIALLY Worthless as SofS mentioned, which is one of my favorite songs of all time

    once took a Texan to a wedding, once took a Texan to wedding!

  55. sorry, I meant to say “also RRA”

  56. a quick FYI for anyone who hasnt seen Brave Little Toaster

    basically imagine a Pixar movie before there was a Pixar, but not CGI, with singing (but good singing) and more disturbing

  57. I find that popcorn bitch in troll 2 erotic.

  58. Also it’s a Pixar movie where every single character is a selfish asshole. That’s the funniest part of BLT to me, how every single one of the appliances is pretty much a dick from start to finish, not just the token grumpy character. Even the hero, a brave little toaster, has moments where he’s a pissy little jerk.

  59. I watched some clips on Youtube: the car crusher scene, the exploding Jack Nicholson air conditioner (voiced by Phil Hartman!), the clown dream.

    Yeah, that’s a pretty fucked-up kid’s movie, all right. Guess I’ll have to watch it.

    RRA — check out Babe 2. It’s kind of infamous. Here’s a particularly hysterical review:


    “Put George Miller in chains! The chiiiiiiildren!” Still, there were also critics who got it:


    (How’d we get on to this anyway? Where else does a conversation go from a documentary about a failed horror sequel to weird kid’s cartoons?)

  60. You know, I remember watching BLT when I was a kid and being deeply affected by it. Encountering it again as an adult, I looked at the premise and immediately decided there was no way it could possibly be as dark and upsetting and… good as I remembered, so I chocked it up to the ravages of time on my spongy, alcohol-soaked brain.

    Looks like nostalgia might have been right for once, though. This thing was second only to the animated TRANSFORMERS movie in freaking my shit out as a kid. (anyone seen that one lately? Its a fucking fever dream packed to the brim with bizarre nightmarish ideas and images. Why the fuck were they ever allowed to show that to kids!?)

  61. I’ve always said that the Transformers movie was like if they made a Sesame Street movie where Big Bird and the whole cast was slaughtered wholesale at the beginning and the rest of the movie was about completely different puppets. They’d never let that movie get made, yet somehow it was okay for Megatron to blow gruff but lovable Ironhide’s face off at point-blank range while a cheesy cock-rock anthem plays.

    Great movie, though. I remember that when I saw it as a kid and all the characters were all happy at the end because they won the battle, and I was like, “Stop cheering! Optimus is still dead! How can you celebrate at a time like this, you insensitive bastards?”

    It’s pretty amazing that the makers of the film had no idea what a ballsy move they were making. They were just under orders to kill everybody off so that that Hasbro could introduce the new line, yet they accidentally introduced an entire generation of kids raised on the consequence-free violence of eighties pop culture to the irrefutable nature of death.

    Awesome soundtrack, too.

  62. Mr M — even putting aside the whole death thing (every classic character meets a horrific, violent end, including loveable scamp Starscream) the movie is still basically David Lynch in space. They go to a planet of basically fucking robot zombies (made out of robot junk) they get sentenced to death on some godforsaken planet by this creepy multi-faced head which disagrees with itself (!?!? – this thing still creeps me out in a variety of ways, but is most notable in that it seems like it has to be some kind of weird metaphor on the arbitrary nature justice system) only to get fed to CANNIBAL robots which turn into robot sharks (we see them eat two other captives). Then, the bad guy is a giant evil planet which ALSO turns into a robot and also wants to eat our friends (!?! whats with all the robot space cannibals?!) and everyone else (the first thing we see in the movie is a planet full of people getting eaten alive) who revives the dead and near dead (more robot-zombies) by giving them new bodies (complete with new names (?!) and voices — so long Frank Welker, hello… Leonard Nimoy?!?!) and then controls them by painfully attacking their brains. Oh yeah, and inside of him, he’s got lots of our longtime friends chained to an assembly line which dumps them into molten liquid to melt them (we see this happen). Also, there are many planets in space populated with a variety of aliens and alien cultures — all robots! WTF space? The fact that all this is happening to dead-eyed space alien robots adds a layer of crazy which the rest of the insanity builds off of.

    It all adds up to one of the craziest nightmares ever put on the screen. One of the few films that actually lives up to its tagline: “Beyond Good. Beyond Evil. Beyond Your Wildest Imagination.”

  63. You know, I never really thought about it, but that movie is pretty fucked up. And the whole time this little kid is running around, hanging out with retarded robot dinosaurs and this sexy girl robot who you just KNOW is gonna give him some kind of sexual hangup when he’s older (“Honey, do I have to wear the bucket on my head every time?”), watching his buddies get blown apart and then glued back together by crazy junk pirates who spew lines from TV shows he’s never even heard of, and nearly seeing his dad thrown into a lava pit. But at least he gets to wear that awesome transforming robot suit, so I guess there’s a silver lining to this outrageously traumatic experience.

    True story: A couple weeks ago I went on a date with girl and ended up doing something fairly deviant with her.

    “Nobody’s ever done that to me before,” she said afterward.

    “Then it pleases me to be the first,” I said, high-fiving myself on the inside.

    Thank you, Orson Welles. Some say that Citizen Kane was your finest hour, but I know better.

  64. Oh yeah, I completely forgot that the kid was along for the ride. Jeez, and Speilberg won’t even let the FBI carry guns around kids… Frankly I think it rather irresponsible of Ultra Magnus to bring a child along to the deathbed of a friend, then into space, then crash-landing on a planet full of cannibal shark-men and finally to pool of boiling lava in the stomach of a giant space cannibal, all the while watching old friends die gruesome deaths.

    As to your story sir, I can only salute you as truly a gentleman and a scholar.

    But I can tell you to wikipedia the Transformers movie for some hilarious Orson Welles quotes on the subject and also to learn that amazingly, the original script was even WORSE, calling for something along the lines of a wholesale slaughter of the entire original cast. Use this information wisely.

  65. a man after my own heart.

    i love Troll 2, and i love this documentary. met the actor who played the father at a screening in Toronto. couldn’t hope to meet a nicer guy. i’m sure i’ll post again once i actually read this review, you just got me all worked up when i saw this was posted. good on ya, as always.

  66. I think I’ve mentioned this somewhere on this site before, but I first saw TROLL 2 when I was fairly young, and although I think even then I recognized it as being lousy, parts of it also kinda creeped me out/scared me. Especially when that guy gets chainsawed to death and he’s chuckling because it tickles, and at the end when the goblin’s eat the mother. That shit rattled around in my brain for weeks, making me feel grossed out and sad, keeping me up at nights.

    I don’t know what the fuck was wrong with me.

  67. Nah, I remember feeling that way about lots of stuff which seems harmless to me now. The opening of RAIDERS, with the (somewhat graphic) death of Indy’s two companions upset me so much as a young kid I couldn’t watch the rest (probably just as well, given how things turn out). Also, I think Ive said before that encountering PRINCESS BRIDE as a young kid I thought it was a horrifying nightmare, what with the ROUSes and torture scenes and all. That haunted me until the exact moment I saw it again as an older kid.

  68. Tommy Wiseau is a brilliant madman, capable of inflicting copious amounts of joy on the world, if he would ever get off his ass and make a second movie. the market is ready, the time is now!

    great review here. great film. ran the gamut of emotions over the course of the screening. can’t wait to see it again. in the meantime i’ll just have to have people over for another Troll 2 night.

    PS. watch for the booger in the kid’s nose when they arrive at the Nilbog farmhouse and meet the owners. and has no one mentioned corn on the cob yet?

  69. I’m a Transformers virgin, but that animated version sounds compelling.

  70. Yeah well at least you weren’t intorduced to Meet The Feebles at the tender age of 5. Thanks Dad. (for letting me rent it)

    Still one of my favourites.

  71. So I saw this last Friday in a late-night double feature with TROLL 2. George Hardy was in attendance for a Q&A (I shook his hand and got a picture with him afterward). He seemed like a sweet and funny dude, but his presence did raise one question for me (which I didn’t ask because I thought it might sound dickish. How does he feel about his portrayal in BEST WORST MOVIE. I suspect that Michael Stephenson likes the guy, and the movie mostly shows him in a fond light. But… it doesn’t exactly make fun of him, however it does get really awkward in the film for a while when Hardy lets his (lack of) fame go to his head and he starts telling all his neighbors about the movie, and shows it to his patients, etc.

    The guy is definitely a peacock with his plumage out. Nothing wrong with that, but in the documentary it seems like he finally realizes that his “fame” was really limited to this narrow cult audience, so maybe he should cool it a little. But then here he is, at the documentary screening, working the audience, doing the “piss on hospitality” line, etc, and clearly loving every minute of it. So I wasn’t sure if I should enjoy his goofy shtick and give him the attention he clearly desires, or feel kinda bad that maybe he’s still clinging to his 15 minutes.

  72. Since this is the only talkback I could find that mentions it, I’ll bring it up here. I finally got around to watching THE ROOM, and it was so spectacularly bad that I think I’m in love. Everything about it is so heartfelt. I got the feeling that Wiseau really did have some emotional trauma in his past that needed to be exorcised with this story, and simply had no idea that his highly charged emotional drama would come out so incredibly hammy. But seriously, this movie could have only been made by someone blissfully lacking all self-awareness. It’s inept to a degree that only some sort of savant could accomplish. The dialogue (as written) and the line readings (as spoken) seem like the work of extraterrestrials who have observed humanity for a limited time and had to deliver an interpretation before they were done studying. Same goes for the constant sex scenes, which seem like they were conceptualized by someone whose only experience with sex is watching the softest of softcore porn. Soooo many bizarre dangling plot threads, like the drug dealer with the gun and the breast cancer. And yet all of this is so endearing, you can practically taste the cluelessness behind and in front of the camera and that makes it so much more rewarding than most other bad movies, which almost by default have to be more self-aware than this one.

    And I watched it alone, at home. I almost think it would be immune to clever asshats in the theater trying to Mystery Science Theater it. It’s like a window into someone’s id. And the someone in this case is Tommy Wiseau, who is one of the weirdest motherfuckers to ever grace my TV screen. I hope Vern gets around to watching and reviewing this one some day, I’d love to hear his take on it.

  73. I finally just got through watching Best Worst movie, great movie….

    what was the deal with that Margo Prey lady? what the hell was she talking about when she made that high pitched yell? she was as crazy as a shithouse rat

  74. grimgrinningchris

    July 21st, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    A sad, sad woman, Griff. I’m always flabbergasted by people that out of touch with reality being allowed to function in society unattended. Fuck, in her case, actually attending to OTHERS- wasn’t she caring for a thousand year old invalid mother or grandmother or something?
    That whole section if the doc is extremely uncomfortable. Since it was a free ON DEMAND selection with my cable provider for a couple of months, I’ve probably seen it 4 or 5 times (I sleep better with light background noise- books in tape, DVD commentary tracks, prank call and stand-up CDs, relatively “quiet” documentaries etc…all do the trick- not sure how that was relevant or info you needed to know- just a justification for having seen a doc so many times, I guess) But with the exception of the one time that I showed it to someone else, I always had to skip that whole part.

  75. I just watched this for the first time yesterday and I’m still thinking of it. This is by far the best popculture documentary I’ve ever seen, simply because of how it focuses on the human factor behind its subject. It could’ve been 2 hours of stand up comedians ironically praising TROLL 2, but it’s really just a non-judgmental look at how the people behind and in front of the camera are affected by its status. You can’t even feel bad at some of the more outrageous things that the director says or does, because even if he is obviously full of himself and quite an asshole, these people, including the stars of his film, are still openly mocking his work! And when we get to the part with the actress who played the mother, I actually choked up a little and I’m glad that they didn’t try to turn her into a punchline, but instead leave everything uncommented. I know that there is an alternate universe where this movie was made by a “fan” who was meeting all these people for the first time and would intercut her comments about TROLL 2 being one the level as a classic Katherine Hepburn movie with the “Oh my gooooooooood!” scene.

    Seriously, that was one damn great documentary.

    (I do wish it would’ve been at least a little bit judgmental at some of those fans though, even if I appreciate the “A bunch of at times highly creative strangers bond over a shitty movie” aspect.)

  76. I saw it neigh on 7 years ago, but I still think of it often. Every morning* I wake up striving to be less like “Why aren’t there any Trolls in TROLLS 2?” guy. I make no great claims for myself (aside from my F.R.0.7. trivia expertise, obviously) but I know I’m not “Why aren’t there any Trolls in TROLLS 2?” guy, and hopefully am a little less like him every day, or at least most days. Not to be too hard on “Why aren’t there any Trolls in TROLLS 2?” guy, hopefully he too, over the past 15 or however many years has also gone on a path to being less like “Why aren’t there any Trolls in TROLLS 2?” guy. We all need time to change. Look at those whack-ass posts from pre-2.0 c.2010 Pacman up there for example. Ugh!

    *Citation Needed

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