Best Worst Movie: Michael Paul Stevenson and George Hardy

Michael Paul Stevenson and George Hardy talk Troll 2.

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

Best Worst Movie: Michael Paul Stevenson and George Hardy

Michael Paul Stevenson and George Hardy starred in Troll 2, ranked since 1990 as the worst movie ever made. Now a filmmaker, Stevenson reunited with his costars and fans who screen Troll 2 for fun. Troll 2 director Claudio Fragasso doesn’t seem too happy when realizes this but Hardy and Stevenson have fun with their new fans. Best Worst Movie chronicles their experiences rediscovering Troll 2.

 

Crave Online: Is this the press junket Troll 2 never had? 

Michael Paul Stevenson: Yeah, you’re dead on about that.

 

Crave Online: This makes me want to see Troll 2. Should I? 

Michael Paul Stevenson: I don’t know if that’s a bad or a good thing. No, you should. A lot of people have said something similar. Most people who’ve seen Best Worst Movie to date really aren’t fans. It’s been on the festival circuit and people who have no idea about what Troll 2 is. After we premiered at South by Southwest a year ago, Troll 2 was the number three rental on Netflix in the state of Texas. So Best Worst Movie is getting more people to watch Troll 2.

 

Crave Online: Did you put the best parts of Troll 2 in Best Worst Movie or are there more? 

Michael Paul Stevenson: Oh my gosh, no. That was one of the most difficult things in making Best Worst Movie. How do you cram all the amazingness of Troll 2 into another film.

 

George Hardy: Not even close. 

Michael Paul Stevenson: Actually, one of the producers on the film, it’s funny because he had never seen Troll 2 and then decided to wait until after we even premiered, the documentary was done. He went into Troll 2 thinking, “Oh, you know, I’ve seen it all now.” And he was blown away.

 

Crave Online: Were the producers of Troll 2 cooperative releasing materials? 

Michael Paul Stevenson: Yeah, MGM owns Troll 2 now. They just assumed it through several distributors going bankrupt. They ended up with Troll 2 and also coincidentally had Troll 1 which obviously has no relation to Troll 2. Basically, it’s not so much about getting them involved in supporting the documentary, just more what is it going to take to be able to use clips from the film. It was about as much fun as you would imagine working with a big studio.

 

Crave Online: So I guess it worked out? 

Michael Paul Stevenson: Yeah, it did. It completely worked out but it was one of these things when I started making the film. I knew I couldn’t just go. I basically had to figure out how much it would cost to license the clips, and that’s what it ended up being.

 

Crave Online: Do Claudio and his co-writer not get it? 

Michael Paul Stevenson: Or maybe we don’t understand Troll 2. What they get is different than what a lot of people get I guess. It’s interesting because I have to say, after all this time, Troll 2 is something that I was embarrassed by and really wanted nothing to do with it. Now I find myself enjoying and appreciating Troll 2 more. I’ve gotten closer to the film. Now making this documentary has messed me up so much that I can’t even tell you that it’s a bad movie. I mean, it fails in every regard. Every cinematic principal, everything that feels logical, writing, directing, acting, everything was terrible and failed in the worst way, but somehow Troll 2 did not fail to entertain. The worst thing that you can do I think as a director or a filmmaker is bore people. Claudio does not do that. The level of heart that he had making Troll 2 and that level of sincerity that he had making this film about vegetarian goblins, that’s more heart than most films with 10 times the amount of resources ever have. So I look back on that Italian production crew and it makes sense to me that they took it so sincerely and were so serious about it because that’s what Troll 2 is. If it is nothing else, it is sincere. It’s a sincere kind of failure nonetheless but it’s genuine. There is no irony.

 

Crave Online: But it seemed to hit him at the screenings and Q&A that people loved it for reasons he didn’t appreciate. 

Michael Paul Stevenson: Oh, absolutely. His perception of what it was is different but I’ll tell you, just like in the film, you have people that go to these screenings that are going there for ironic reasons or whatever, but it’s not a room of 300 hipsters. Troll 2 has managed to kind of leave an impression on people of all types. You do have that ironic contingent but most people who go to these screenings are really going there because they enjoy the film. Not because it’s a great piece of art or this great masterpiece, but because it gives them a level of entertainment that is almost impossible to find in anything else. It is not ever negative or it’s never mean spirited. It’s never like, “Oh, we’re laughing at all of you. You guys all suck.” It’s, for the most part, people having kind of a communal experience in a theater and enjoying a film together. It’s kind of like what Scott Weinberg said in the film. He said, “Bad books are bad, bad food is bad but bad movies aren’t always bad.” Even though that’s not exactly how Claudio may have perceived what the success of this film was, he brought it home at the end. He said one of the most poignant things and it gets to me every time. It’s when he said, “Whether a film makes you cry or makes you laugh or whether it scares you, really it comes down to a film moving you.” Bad or good, it’s kind of almost besides the point. I think that Troll 2 has moved a lot of people.

 

Crave Online: Have you ever seen Troll 1? 

Michael Paul Stevenson: I have, years ago.

 

George Hardy: Yeah, I have. Years ago. 

Crave Online: Before making Troll 2 or in retrospect? 

Michael Paul Stevenson: No, when we made Troll 2 it was known as Goblin. Troll 1, I don’t know if I saw it before. I think I saw it after. I don’t think I saw Troll 1 until I was like 13 or 14.

 

Crave Online: I have seen Troll 1 and frankly, I don’t have a problem if Troll 2 is goblins instead. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the same thing. 

Michael Paul Stevenson: Right.

 

Crave Online: But if it continues the plant theme, that’s the connection. 

Michael Paul Stevenson: Perhaps. I’ve actually been learning that really the reason why it got titled Troll 2 was just the Italian distributor was riding on the supposed success of Troll 1 and how well it was doing in America, they decided hey, let’s call our movie Troll 2, almost overnight. They just kind of ripped off Troll 1 and the movie became known as Troll 2.

 

Crave Online: I don’t remember Troll 1 doing that well. 

Michael Paul Stevenson: No, it didn’t. That’s kind of the funny thing about it all is that they ripped off a movie that really wasn’t doing that well.

 


Crave Online: Are they really writing Troll 2: Part 2? 

Michael Paul Stevenson: Oh yeah, if there’s one thing, again, that Claudio is, he’s sincere. He’s passionate and he’s very driven. I talked to him earlier today. We have a really good relationship. He called me today to tell me that he and Rosella had finished a script and they’re working on rewrites right now, trying to figure out a way to get it off the ground.

 

Crave Online: Now that you’re a director, couldn’t you direct Troll 3 or Troll 2: Part 2? 

Michael Paul Stevenson: I’ve had enough of Troll. I need a vacation from all things green and Troll. It’s kind of one of these things with Troll 2 where I think it’s perfect as it is. I’ll frown upon the sequel but then again I think, you know, if you had to make a sequel, the only way to do it would be to just hand it over to Claudio and give him free reign creatively and say, “Have at it.” But you can’t set out to make a movie like Troll 2.

 

Crave Online: As you do the screenings and redo your lines, do you get better at it? 

George Hardy: I’ve done it so many times that it’s kind of like Celine Dion singing that Titanic song, like I said. Yeah, it’s gotten to the point now where I just kind of practice and had fun with it.

 

Crave Online: How many times have the press asked you to do the “piss on hospitality” line? 

George Hardy: Oh my gosh, all the time. At every Q&A at the very end, the second to last question is, “Is there going to be a Troll 2: Part 2?” And the very last question before the night ends at any Q&A is, “Please, you’ve got to do the line. You have to do the line.”

 

Crave Online: How surreal was it seeing the film at a midnight showing after Godard’s Pierrot le fou? 

Michael Paul Stevenson: Isn’t that bizarre? I mean, yeah, also it was kind of interesting because I look back during that sequence and on the wall in the Coming Soon posters, the one sheets for the other films playing at that time, one of my favorite documentaries was there, King of Kong. Now I see back to the Nuart playing Best Worst Movie there years after shooting the Troll 2 screening and it is surreal. It’s bizarre.

 

Crave Online: Is there any more loving fan base than Troll 2? 

Michael Paul Stevenson: Seriously, I just can’t imagine it. I’ve gone all over the world and I’ve gotten to know fans and it’s interesting because they’re never a certain type of person. This isn’t an ironic hipster movement of sorts. It’s generally people that have great senses of humor and they’re associated with the arts or music or film in some fashion or another, and it’s people really of all types. I have had so many great experiences with just fans and getting to know them, just really rich experiences.

 

Crave Online: When you did the horror conventions and no one came over, did that show you have to let Troll 2 fans come to you? You can’t really bring it out into the world. 

George Hardy: That’s a really good point. That is very, very true. It’s not in the documentary, but I even went to a comic book convention and it’s one of those things, you’re right. Troll 2 has its own special fan base that I can hardly explain, but they’re definitely people with a great sense of humor. I’ll say that.

 

Crave Online: You also noticed all the tooth decay at the horror conventions. What can horror fans do to improve their dental hygiene? 

George Hardy: Oh my gosh, they’ve got to floss. I’ll give them free floss if they’ll come see me. 

Michael Paul Stevenson: I think it’s great. It’s funny because that whole convention scene really was depressing and you kind of see George in his darkest hour but it’s pretty telling what type of person he is because the worst thing he can say about somebody is they have gingivitis.

 

Crave Online: Was it sobering to meet Margo Prey again? 

George Hardy: Yeah. 

Michael Paul Stevenson: Yes, without a doubt. It was a heavy day. We came out of that after shooting four or five hours. It was interesting because when we showed up, it was kind of like the bright spot in her year. She lit up and was so happy to see us and was so happy to talk about the film. It was sad. It’s a little bit of tragedy there with her and her situation but at the same time, it’s complex because she doesn’t want you to pity her. Almost the way she’s living her life, she’s very happy with that. I’ve seen more miserable people in my life that you’d think were completely functional. 

George Hardy: It’s sad. 

Michael Paul Stevenson: It’s sad. With Troll 2 it’s one of these things that just in general, it kind of evokes this strange odd triumph and also kind of tragic. I have to say that in making the film, really, the phenomenon, the fanfare and the screenings, that was the element that interested me least. It was more these people, us and everybody who was involved in making this film. It wasn’t so much about defining a phenomenon or experts on the outside looking in. It was really who are these people that made what is considered to be the worst movie ever made. Sometimes it led us places that were sad.

 

Crave Online: Since the phenomenon, have the makers of Troll 1 ever reached out to you? 

Michael Paul Stevenson: No, they haven’t.

 

Crave Online: When Uwe Boll started making his worst movies, were you worried he’d knock you off the charts? 

Michael Paul Stevenson: You know, he is an amazing filmmaker. I don’t think now that Troll 2 [is the worst anymore]. There are many other movies that are worse than Troll 2. We’ll say that.