I'm a bad actor, and I was in a bad movie. The worst, actually. Troll 2. All of us in the film were pretty bad actors. Most everything about the movie was bad. We made it with the best of intentions, but after having seen it, none of us wanted anything to do with it. We wanted to put every copy of the movie in a crate and drop it into the deepest oceanic abyss. We just wanted it to go away.
But it never did. Troll 2 never played in theaters on release, but it had an overwhelmingly healthy schedule on late-night cable. It's as if some programmer at HBO was the first one to recognize the accidental genius of Troll 2 and just jammed it into every empty slot in the schedule, so as many people as possible could see this film.
I hated how much HBO was playing it. I would get a call almost every week, someone new having seen it. I remember skating down to the newsstand every weekend, picking up the new issue of TV Guide and hoping, praying that I wouldn't see Troll 2. And every week, without fail, there it would be. And there'd be at least 20 showings of it.
This is the way most people first discovered the film, through late-night cable. Long after I had put the film behind me and moved on, I started to get messages from people on MySpace asking me, "Are you THE Michael Stephenson who played Joshua in Troll 2? Please tell me you are!" People kept telling me how much they loved this movie, how much it meant to them and how much fun they had watching it. I just kept thinking, "Are you sure? I mean, really? You enjoyed Troll 2?"
The messages just didn't stop, they kept pouring in. After a while, I figured there must be something to it. Then it hit me, I woke up one morning and realized, "I'm the child star of the worst movie ever made. There's a story there."
The ideas kept snowballing from there. We started to get in touch with cast members from Troll 2 to see if they even knew what was going on with the film. Many of them were enthusiastic participants in the documentary, others just kept wondering why we would even want to make a movie about Troll 2.
We held all these screenings of Troll 2 across the country, and it was the first time we were able to see these ravenous fans firsthand. Hundreds of people lined up for hours. A lot of these folks have the script memorized, and are spouting off lines while in costume as Troll 2 characters. They're shaking with disbelief when they meet George Hardy, the small town dentist turned cult idol. Lifelong friendships are made over Troll 2. I've even seen couples get engaged at screenings of the movie!
Anything that can cause that much joy in people's lives can't be all bad. It's as film critic Scott Weinberg says in my documentary Best Worst Movie, "Bad books are bad, and bad food is bad. But bad movies are not always bad."