Something to Sink Your Teeth Into
Good advice from a guy who survived 'Troll 2,' George Hardy, D.M.D.
"For me, the big surprise has been how many people experience the documentary first, without having seen Troll 2, and then follow it up with the double whammy of seeing the actual movie. They're the ones that really seem to be completely blown away."
So remarks George Hardy, D.M.D., the amicable and effusive star of both Claudio Fragasso's intensely bad 1990 schlock-fest Troll 2 and Michael Stephenson's celebrated documentary Best Worst Movie. Stephenson's doc, which premiered at South by Southwest 2009 (see "Magnificent Obsession," March 13, 2009), reunites the veteran Alabama dentist-cum-savior of mankind and defender of small-town hospitality with his fellow actors (including former child actor Stephenson) and director Fragasso nearly two decades after the totally lousy – yet totally entertaining – nonsequel disappeared in theatres and almost as quickly usurped the "worst movie ever made" crown from Ed Wood's Plan 9 From Outer Space (no mean feat, that).
The fact is, both Troll 2 and the documentary about its enduring cult appeal have a surreal surfeit of sweetness, much of which is derived from Hardy's impossible-to-dislike, chatterboxy blond countenance. This is a guy who not only loves his daily profession blasting cavity creeps off of tweeners' teeth but also goes on to fully embrace and exhort a past life he'd almost forgotten about. It's a testament to Hardy's innate, bad-actorly humanity – a testament written in green blood, mind you, but a testament nonetheless – that both he and his Troll 2 alter ego, Michael Waits, come across as less delusional than committed. Watching Hardy rediscover that fact in Best Worst Movie is one of the main reasons Stephenson's doc has touched such an unexpected pop-cultural nerve. That, and the fact that despite decades of impassioned film criticism and ever more worldly audiences, truly awful cinematic train wrecks like Troll 2 are as fun as they are rare.
Speaking of which, does Hardy have a personal favorite best worst movie other than his own?
"You'd think I'm the type of guy who watches a lot of movies," he says, "but that's really not the case. I'm probably too hyper to watch a lot of movies. I know I don't really like the big blockbusters any more, but the worst movie I've seen? I can tell you the worst acting I've seen in a movie, that'd be Bo Derek in Tarzan, the Ape Man – she was just terrible. I like Bo Derek, she was great in 10, and she's fantastic to look at, but I just couldn't believe her acting in Tarzan."
And as for avoiding the crummy green gum lines of his onscreen antagonists? (Hey, how often do you get a chance to solicit dental advice from a goblin-slayer?)
"That's hilarious you should ask that, because just this morning I went to the elementary school in my home town, and I told them, 'Before I leave, I want you to take three things home with you to remember.' And that was, the most important hour of the day to brush your teeth is right before you go to bed, to floss the teeth you want to keep, and it's better to take one big dose of sugar than several smaller doses throughout the day because sugar creates acid."
Trippy. But what about the ongoing debate vis a vis, "Is a Waterpik as effective at combating tooth decay as traditional flossing?"
"Most periodontists always say mechanical débriedment is best, meaning flossing's going to always be better because you're actually mechanically débrieding that plaque off your teeth. A Waterpik flushes the food particles out, but it's never as good as brushing and flossing."
Best Worst Movie opens in Austin on Friday, April 23, at the Alamo Drafthouse South. Read the Chronicle's review. Director Michael Stephenson and cast members George Hardy and Jason Steadman will be in attendance at the Friday and Saturday shows at 7 and 9:50pm. A Troll 2-themed party at the HighBall will follow Friday's 9:50pm screening. For more info, visit www.originalalamo.com.