For Michael Stephenson, Troll 2 has grown from an adolescent embarrassment into something he’s oddly proud of.
At 11 he landed the lead role in a weird Italian horror film called Goblin. “I thought I was making the next Gremlins,” the 32-year-old actor told Metro. “When we finished, I thought in a month or two we’d see it at my local multiplex.”
That didn’t happen, but a year and a half later he received a VHS copy of the re-titled Troll 2 for Christmas and quickly realized that he hadn’t exactly made Gremlins. “I remember my father putting his head in his hands after about 12 seconds and saying, ‘Oh Michael, this is a terrible movie.’ That’s certainly a Christmas morning I’ll never forget.”
The film played on cable for years, leading to teasing from family and friends with every airing.
Then over the last few years something strange happened. Stephenson started getting emails from fans around the world who loved his terrible movie. Gradually his opinion shifted.
“It’s interesting because it’s been one of those things that took years to develop,” says Stephenson. “One morning I woke up smiling, turned to my wife and said, ‘I’m the child star of the worst movie ever made and there’s a great story there.’”
Starting that day he embraced the cult status of Troll 2 and started making a documentary about the phenomenon called Best Worst Movie (currently playing in a double bill with Troll 2 across Canada).
“I never liked the movie growing up, but now I’m fond of it,” admits Stephenson. “It’s very much a part of who I am. I really love what it’s become and all the rich experiences in my life that have come from starring in the worst movie ever made.”
This might not even be the end of his Troll 2 experience either. The film’s confused director, Claudio Fragasso, thinks it’s now a hit and is currently writing a script for Troll 2: Part 2.
“He calls me every week and is very committed,” laughs Stephenson. “We’ll see what happens.”
Stephenson went to Italy to interview Fragasso for his documentary. “To see him be so sincere and genuine about his approach was priceless because that is the embodiment of Troll 2,” says Stephenson.
“It’s 1,000 per cent sincere. There’s no irony. There’s no winking at the camera. Everybody was really going for it.”