Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Troll 2, Best Worst Movie and extending your 15 minutes

I've never seen Troll 2. You would think I would have as I love MST3King bad movies. So I watched the next best thing, which of course is Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2's fandom. The doc is an interesting look into how a cheesy, bad movie can garner attention years later.

All the characters in BWM are intriguing. George Hardy and director Claudio Fragasso give polarizing opposite views of how they embrace their now infamous picture. Like Tommy Wiseau's The Room that a few years ago became the next Troll 2, you see an odd look into fandom at its core.

I like BWM and its look into how something can become cult overnight. The question I always come up with is somebody out there initiated this surge in popularity for a flick and they should get their due credit.

Could say the horror blogosphere embrace a movie that's so bad its good and make it an overnight sensation? Say we picked one of the worst movies on IMDB and started embracing it with such passion and love. Could we make the next Troll 2 or The Room?

How about this film that's currently #11 on that IMDB list called Zombie Nation? Could we make this into a cult phenomenon?

Looks pretty bad. Check out the trailer.

I actually think we could. If horror bloggers, critics and the existing fan base made an effort we might be able to make a bad film be hysterically funny. Sure we'd have to pick the perfect film and from seeing Troll 2 in some clips, they have to have that "it" factor with some memorable scenes and WTF lines.

But the other thing that BWM showed were the horror conventions where actors and actresses who starred in our most beloved horror movies are clinging to their 1 minute of their 15 minutes of fame. We've all seen this at horror conventions right? That one actress who was say mega hot in that cheesy B-movie 80s flick that has rented a table at a horror convention in suburbia. I know that these tables sometimes go for $150 a pop to rent. They hock their glamour photos, movie stills and charge $20 for an autograph. Another $10 for photo.

Why would an actor try to cling to fame years later? I'm going to be harsh. It's kinda depressing to see. I once walked through "the tent" at a Chiller convention in New Jersey and scanned the room. Rows and rows of actors eyeing the crowd hoping someone would recognize them and ask for an autograph. I was too bummed to even go up to them even though I recognized who they were.


Because A.) I felt kinda sad that they had to do this to make a buck B.) I would get a little irritated if they asked me to PAY for a photo or autograph and C.) What could I possibly discuss with them about a movie I saw when I was 15?

When George Hardy goes to England and realizes Troll 2 isn't as popular as it is in the US, it's kinda sad. He wants to embrace the fame he's getting but there are like 5 people in the audience. The horror fan is a stickler when it comes to totally embracing something they love. I mean Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street and even some Fulci fanatics can sell out ballrooms at a moments notice. But that's not the case for smaller cultish films. The franchises still rule and can endure beyond their 15 minutes.

I once saw David Faustino at a Chiller convention and he was getting some people at his line. I mean really, Bud Bundy was getting more people than Kane Hodder? Even the staple of the horror convention, Tom Savini wasn't getting tons of people eager to meet him. But 90% of the "guests" at a horror convention are actors, writers and filmmakers who the current public has forgotten about. They are forced to hock their shit in a hotel room 3 floors up. Or are in a tent or are in the back corner of a dealer room. Why would these C levels celebs want to go through such torture on themselves?

Why would someone who appeared as a minor cast member in Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street think they were still relevant today?

Obviously the obvious answer is for the attention. Maybe for the money? I don't know. I want to know. I want to know why they go to these things and feel a need to reach out to the horror fan when the horror fan has probably forgotten about them.

Many of us still want to meet our horror celebs and want our pictures taken with them. I too like meeting my favorite horror actors and filmmakers. I'll admit it. But even George Hardy knew when his 15 minutes seem to be dying down. When he had to go back to being Dr. Hardy, dentist from Alabama.

The horror community can give an actor or actress their 15 minutes. But we can easily take it away. I'll admit, that's a helluva power we have.

Now let's make Zombie Nation huge shall we?

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  1. What a brilliant, gut-punch of an article. Bravo.

    I'm not so sure about Zombie Nation though. =\

  2. I'd prefer to make Death Spa or Hard Rock Zombies huge.

    I think it's a combination of nostalgia and collectors personally. It may not be the flashy allure of a 'star' but more of 'Hey, I remember that goofy kid in Friday the 13th part V' or 'I need this poster signed by the entire cast.' But for everyone one of those, there are also the ones who sit alone.

    I went to a convention not too long ago where Ernie Hudson, in full Ghostbuster threads was sitting at his booth all alone while Amanda Wyss (not nearly as 'famous' but she was super nice and a really entertaining convo as I was 99.9% sure she was on something) had a line. I felt sorry for him and just couldn't imagine why, as you say, someone would subject themselves to that.

  3. Just from an armchair perspective, I'd have to say it was money and attention. Money, because contrary to a lot of people's ideas, most working actors are NOT hugely wealthy; they have to sweat it out and make ends meet between jobs just like the rest of us. So the conventions are a way to bring in a little extra and in some cases sorely needed cash to help pay the bills between gigs. If you're lucky enough to have been in a movie that still has rabid fans, and can use that to make a little cash, why not do it? It's the one commodity you've got; I don't blame them for using it. (Just like those rock bands that were "huge" fifteen years ago, now playing at a 150-capacity bar near you and more than happy to pose for pics if you buy their latest self-pressed CD. I love those guys.)

    The other part is part and parcel of being a performer, I think--you want to get out there in front of an audience, preferably an appreciative one. Sure, it sucks that your agent hasn't called you in 3 months, but hey, here are 50 kids with your face on a t-shirt who want to tell you how great you were in that one flick. Maybe some have an idea that exposure will help them get the attention they need to secure more work, but I'd wager most just like getting that ego boost and meeting people who remember and celebrate their work. And again, I can't blame them for it.

    The only people I get pissed off with are those "stars" that come to cons and seem like they'd rather be just about anywhere else--gruff, untalkative with fans, just wanting to take the money and could give a damn about your fandom. (I could name names, but I won't.) If you're going to come to a con, you should be prepared to give your fans something back for what they're giving you--not show them contempt. I'd rather talk to friendly, enthusiastic Victim #2 from my 8th favorite slasher than the star of my 2nd favorite who's being an asshole, personally.

    Here endeth the sermon. ;)

  4. Nice article.

    But no to Zombie Nation.

    I think for a film to reach the electric cult status of Troll 2 or The Room the film must be sincere. Look at it this way: Which film is more memorable, Planet Terror or Swamp Thing? The key divergence for Planet Terror or Zombie Nation is their embrace of irony. They aren't trying to remake Citizen Kane. The funny bits are all rehearsed and the camp is obviously intended.

    I prefer the earnest, "go for broke" attitude of something like The Room any day of the week. For all his incompetence Tommy Wiseau put all his heart into the film.

  5. I had a hard time watching Best Worst Movie and I didn't even finish it. I felt sorry for the actors because they didn't seem to realize that they and the film were being embraced ironically by a bunch of hipsters.

  6. I thought BWM was a touching but sad look at the actors, especially when Mark mentions how in 2s of watching the original TROLL 2 VHS he knew his career was over a child actor. Zombie Nation = out though.

  7. There's plenty of actors/actresses (Andras Jones, Kelly Jo Minter, Mark Rydell, Hal Havins, etc.) who have starred in horror films of yesteryear that weren't household names that I would love to meet and see at a horror convention.

    Also, part of doing this, is to get their name out there so that they can book work. Imagine if Felissa Rose never hit the film convention circuit! Now, it is important that they have a good attitude, because who wants to work with someone that they think is going to be difficult.

  8. good article. i just watched this and thought it was great. it was amazing to see these people try to make a living and find some purpose based on something they did over twenty years ago. i'd love to see a doc about the people who ride the convention circuit. whats a week in the life of the co-star of Nightmare on Elm Street part IV like? i'd like to know, actually, which may make me even sadder than they are.

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