Troll 2 (1990) / Horror-Fantasy
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for innuendo, gore, disturbing images, and language
Running time: 95 min.
Cast: Michael Stephenson, George Hardy, Margo Prey, Connie McFarland (Young), Robert Ornsby, Deborah Reed, Jason Wright, Darren Ewing, Jason Steadman, Gary Carlson
Director: Drake Floyd (Claudio Fragasso)
Screenplay: Claudio Fragasso, Rossella Drudi
Review published January 30, 2011
A notorious so-bad-it's-good-film, enough to spawn a documentary called Best Worst Movie, Troll 2 is a deliciously awful Italian-made (though shot in the US with English dialogue and American actors) film made by a self-proclaimed visionary writer/director whose reach clearly far outreaches his grasp. Everything from the story, dialogue, direction, casting, acting, costumes, sets, special effects, and cinematography is bottom of the barrel. And yet, the movie entertains despite it all because of the earnestness of its creators, so sure of their ability to craft a work of art that they never stray from their vision, despite clearly not having the means or ability to create it.
Although this film is entitled Troll 2, it has nothing to do with the first film. It doesn't even have trolls. It does have goblins, and these goblins are short and evil, and resemble the troll from the first film sufficiently enough that a decision was made to piggyback this film on the very mild success of the first film in the hope that the miniscule budget for this ultra-cheap production would be recouped just on name recognition alone.
The plot is more than a bit weird, and it seems to change over the course of the film. The basic premise is that a family of four, the Waits, is on their way to a "house swap" vacation to go to farm country, trading in their suburban environs to spend some time in a tiny town in Utah called Nilbog (first ominous note: this is "Goblin" backwards. Spooky!). For some reason, the youngest member of the family, a boy named Joshua (Stephenson, La Casa 5), is being pestered by the spirit of his late grandfather, Seth (Ornsby) , who scares the bejesus out of the lad through stories of goblins duping innocent humans to the eating of their goblin foods, which turns the human's flesh to vegetation, which the goblins hungrily consume. Seth admonishes Joshua that these goblins are real and that Nilbog is goblin central, and, at all costs, the boy must prevent the family from consuming any of the local foods (one such way is to drop zipper and urinate all over their meals), lest they become fodder for starving goblin bellies.
Had exploitation maestro Claudio Fragasso (aka Joe D'Amato, Night of the Zombies, Zombi 3) chosen to depict his film from the dream-like eyes of a child, infusing fact and fiction to the point where we can't tell the difference anymore, perhaps the tone would have been right enough to bump Troll 2 up from being one of the worst films ever made to passable fare of the Labyrinth variety. Instead, the film appears to frame nearly everything, including its own fairy tales, as factual occurrences from inception. Not that this would have covered the film's seemingly infinite amount of flaws in other areas.
Some of the funnier aspects of the film, among many, include a group of boys, of which one is Elliott (Wright, Fields of Gold), the boyfriend of the Waits family daughter, Holly (McFarland, The Singles Ward), who make the trip in a motor home in order to score on girls. Who would travel to one of the smallest towns in Utah in the hopes of meeting chicks?? Not to mention that Holly has been begging her would-be boyfriend to choose between these boys and her, which is somewhat understandable given that there is an oddly homosexual subtext to the teenage boys' relationship that goes unexplored in the film, regardless of their penchant for chasing skirts.
There are also the strange ways that the characters willingly consume whatever food may be offered to them (none of them notices that green slime taints every single piece of food), from a cheeseburger offered by a random sheriff named Gene Freak (Carlson), to a full-blown feast offered by the town's inhabitants during some sort of church ceremony (the entire feast consists of various types of cakes and cookies??). In one incredulous scene, perhaps the funniest from my perspective, comes when the Beetlejuice-like Goblin Queen, played well over the top by Deborah Reed in her only film role, seduces one of the boys using the enticement of corn on the cob, which magically bursts into popcorn from the smoldering heat of their sexual tension caused by both parties sharing it.
If there's a theme to the film, it is, oddly, the evils of vegetarianism. Although that seems somewhat hypocritical in that flesh-and-blood people are semi-cannibalized by the vegetarian goblin townsfolk. Does it really matter that meat is turned into vegetation (green Jell-O ooze that looks like leftovers from Nickelodeon's "Double Dare") prior to consuming? And to that end, given that the goblins live in a farm town, and that farm town seemingly has plenty of vegetarian dishes to give traveling human visitors, why aren't the goblins just eating the food themselves? In one of the film's funniest moments, the goblin threat is thwarted by the consumption of a bologna sandwich, which resembles a "Dagwood" sandwich stacked to capacity with nothing but bologna. (Perhaps more amazing is that they were able to inject baloney in a film chock full of it.)
The creature costumes are as low grade as the rest, effectively placing dwarves in ugly homemade-looking masks and having them run amok. Some of the tasks the actors underneath the masks must perform are not adequately portrayed, such as them trying to eat. How can you depict a creature eating when its face can't move? Of the few acts of movement they can perform, they do traipse through forests and other environs, but not without the laughter associated with the completely cheese-ball score of which the film is coated with.
Made by people who are amateurs, if not downright insane, Troll 2 has no reason whatsoever to be watched by anyone who isn't an avowed bad movie lover, particularly to fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000, where heckling films made by those with tin ears to benchmarks of quality is the main joy of the experience (Indeed, there is a Rifftrax to accompany the film just for that very purpose). Dollar for dollar, it's hard to imagine a genuinely well-made comedy providing bigger, more frequent laughs than this one has at its expense.
©2011 Vince Leo