The crown of the “Worst Movie Ever” or “Best Worst Movie” is one no director should ever be proud to wear. However, there can be many benefits to achieving such cult status. Stars of the movies The Room and Troll 2 are treated like demi-gods by those who attend screenings for their movies.
This phenomenon was deemed interesting enough that Michael Stephenson, who plays the ten year-old Joshua in Troll 2, decided to make a documentary titled Best Worst Movie, regarding the fan base that has built up around Troll 2.
The Room, on the other hand, has elevated its writer, producer and star, Tommy Wiseau to the kind of cult status one normally only associates with Adam West or Bruce Campbell. Fans queue for hours to attend screenings where he’s present: cheering every time his name comes on the screen in the opening credits.
Given the intense cult following for both these movies, I thought it’d be interesting to compare them. So without further ado, let battle commence:
I saw The Room in a packed midnight showing at The Cameo in Edinburgh. Literally 200+ people had come out, armed with plastic spoons, to cheer, chant and throw American footballs during the screening of a movie most seemed to have an intensely intimate knowledge of.
For example, in the film all the paintings in the apartment contain spoons. Anytime any of these paintings can be seen in the shot, movie-goers would shout “Spoons” as hundreds of plastic spoons would rain down upon the theatre.
Add to that, phrases such as “Who Are You?” when characters get randomly introduced then disposed of; cheering when the mother-in-law declares “she has cancer” then never mentions, or even alludes to, this again for the rest of the movie; and joining in with the ever-so-dramatically delivered line “You’re tearing me apart Lisa!”. This was a movie-going-experience like none I had ever experienced.
The movie itself is terrible, not so much in terms of its cinematography or even acting, but its dialogue and story. Characters come and go as they please; lines are repeated again and again (‘He’s your best friend’; ‘You’re about to get married’, etc.); and a drug dealer appears for no apparent reason.
This is a movie that was clearly a labour of love for its director. It’s like he’s tried to put everything he’s ever experienced in one movie, without actually considering how all the pieces will fit together. Kind of like what happens when you mix all your watercolours together in the hope of getting some new super-colour: It ends up looking like poo.
Despite all this there is a charm to the movie that’s difficult to describe. It’s easy to tell that Wiseau believes absolutely in what he’s doing, and perhaps that’s why the movie has built up such a following. Like Eddie the Eagle or Tim Henman, it’s difficult to dislike someone who’s obviously trying their best but just lacks the talent to succeed.
Don’t be fooled by the title, Troll 2 has nothing to do with Trolls, its bad guys are actually goblins and never called ‘trolls’ at any point in the movie. Neither is it a sequel to the little known horror movie, Troll: In the sense that it contains none of the same characters, story or mythology as that movie.
Instead, the movie was thought to be such a stinker by its distributors, they hoped to capitalise on the modest success of Troll by pretending this was a sequel to it.
Troll 2 tells the story of a family’s vacation to ‘Nilbog’ (Try spelling it backwards). There the locals seem strangely keen to make them eat the exclusively vegetarian cuisine. In another universe Troll 2 would have been created by the manufacturers of processed meat, as it does its best to discredit the healthy benefits of vegetables, instead choosing to promote the merits of a ‘Double Decker Bologna Sandwich’.
The acting is possibly the worst you will ever see. Lines are learnt and executed with the type of delivery normally reserved for a child’s Nativity Play. In one instance the mother’s delivery felt so forced that by the time she gets to the end of her little speech, you’ll feel like bursting into applause: she made it!
Also for a town intent on getting visitors to eat their food, you think they could make it a little more appetizing. Instead, it’s all covered in this strange green goo that makes even the most innocent of foods look radioactive.
It’s also worth noting that for goblins that can choose to take any form, it’s surprising that would choose the types of faces one is used to seeing next to headlines such as “The Nation’s Most Dangerous Sex Offenders”.
Troll 2, like The Room is difficult to hate since it’s just so ridiculous. Perhaps it’s best summed up by its very own Grandma Seth: a slightly crazy, creepy but ultimately harmless film. And like Grandpa Seth, having died a death a long time ago, it’s now come back: bigger stronger and with the inexplicable power to stop time at will.
Best Worst Movie?
So having reviewed both movies, one question remains: which is the best? Or worst? Or best worst? Well, horrible as The Room is, I still think the title can only belong to Troll 2. On some level, it is possible to see the narrative The Room was trying to create, and it at least knows how to create a dramatic ending. Troll 2, on the other hand, is just a big bunch of crazy. With little that gives any indication that anyone involved has ever seen a movie before.
It’s often said Orson Welles recreated cinema by ripping up the rules on Citizen Kane. I think it’s fair to say Troll 2 did this as well. It’s perhaps no coincidence that both are two of the most unique movies ever made. And if anyone finds a finer Best Worst Movie than Troll 2 out there, I’ll eat a goblin. Backwards.
As an added treat, here’s possibly the best worst delivered line ever: