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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

And I'm Michele Norris, and we're going to talk movies now. In a moment, we'll have a report from the Cannes Film Festival but first, a new documentary that sets its sights a little lower.

(Soundbite of screaming)

NORRIS: Our critic Bob Mondello reviews a film called "Best Worst Movie."

BOB MONDELLO: Think about the worst film you've ever seen: "Plan 9 From Outer Space," "Ishtar," "Howard the Duck," "The Hottie and the Nottie" -all terrible in their own ways - still, none of them inspired a documentary.

(Soundbite of film)

Mr. MICHAEL PAUL STEPHENSON (Actor): (As character) What are you going to do to me, Daddy?

Dr. GEORGE HARDY (Actor): (As character) Tightening my belt by one loop so I don't feel hunger pains.

Mr. STEPHENSON: OK, pause it, rewind, and right there.

MONDELLO: The film freezes on an 11-year-old who's trying to look alarmed.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. STEPHENSON: That's me, Michael Paul Stephenson, and 18 years ago, I got the lead role in my first movie.

(Soundbite of film, "Troll 2")

Mr. STEPHENSON: (As character) Nilbog, it's goblin spelled backwards.

Mr. STEPHENSON: At that time, the movie was titled "Goblin." It was directed by...

MONDELLO: "Goblin," with its vegetarian monsters who must turn victims into plants to eat them, was never released in theaters. And when Stephenson became a filmmaker himself, he might just have joined his fellow actors in leaving it off his resume.

George Hardy, the real-life dentist who played the dad, stopped flashing his pearly whites at movie cameras entirely. But then Hardy's patients started saying they'd seen him on a video called "Troll 2" - "Goblin" re-titled - and then it showed up on TV.

(Soundbite of film, "Troll 2")

Unidentified Woman #1 (Actor): (As character) He's still seeing Grandpa Seth.

Dr. HARDY: (As character) When I was a kid, I had an imaginary playmate, too.

Unidentified Woman #1: (As character) But it wasn't your dead grandfather.

Dr. HARDY: When it first started showing up on HBO and all that, people would call me from all over the place, and - George, you're on TV! I'd just go, I know, I know. Just stop watching it right now. It gets worse.

MONDELLO: That was all before he discovered his horror movie had developed a cult following - people throwing "Troll 2" parties, big ones. A piece in The New York Times led Hardy and Stephenson to a Manhattan screening, where they found a mob scene.

Unidentified Man #1: I came L.A.

Unidentified Man #2: Cape Cod.

Unidentified Man #3: New Jersey.

Unidentified Man #4: Connecticut.

Unidentified Man #5: This guy right here came all the way from North Carolina.

Unidentified Man #6: We would have walked here for this, from West Virginia.

(Soundbite of laughter)

(Soundbite of music)

Dr. HARDY: The energy inside that place was just amazing.

Unidentified Man #7: "Troll 2" is the best movie in the world - the world.

MONDELLO: Greeted by this bunch as if they were a latter-day De Niro and Scorsese, the dentist and documentarian revel in the celebrity-ness of it all for a while, a glow that fades as they delve deeper: contacting "Troll 2's" Italian director, who is hurt that the audience is laughing at his movie: and some former co-stars, one of whom seems to have retreated not just from acting but from the world entirely. The price of non-fame, maybe?

At a British horror convention where no one's asking for his autograph, even the unfailingly cheery dentist displays a sour side.

Dr. HARDY: There's plenty of gingivitis around here. Have you noticed that? Tons of gingivitis, really bad. I guarantee you, only about 5 percent of these people floss their teeth on a daily basis. I'm just sick of this place. Let's get out of here.

MONDELLO: Celebrity is tough to let go of, even when you know it's undeserved. "Best Worst Movie" doesn't plumb that thought very deeply -doesn't do anything very deeply, really, content to skate across the surface of the so-bad-it's-good phenomenon that gave it birth. The filmmakers are too close, perhaps, probably don't want to kill the troll that laid the golden egg.

I'm Bob Mondello.

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