Troll 2 (1991)
By: Stuart Giesel on November 15, 2013 | Comments
MGM | Region A | 1.85:1, 1080p | English DTS-HD MA 5.1 | 95 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Claudio Fragasso
Starring: Michael Stephenson, George Hardy, Margo Prey, Connie McFarland, Robert Ormsby
Screenplay: Rossella Drudi, Claudio Fragasso
Country: Italy, USA
Who'd have thought that such a formerly obscure, cruddy early-90's film would ever find its way onto Blu-Ray, in a "20th Anniversary [Nilbog] Edition" no less? Well, if you've seen Troll 2 before, you undoubtedly know the reason why. It's shit, absolute shit, but its pedigree is of the "so bad it's good" variety, making it perfect to watch with some friends and a sufficient supply of alcohol. Unlike many "bad" films, Troll 2 is extremely watchable all the way through - you just can't wait to see what lunacy will come next.

There's so much wrong with this film (and, therefore so very right) that it's hard to determine where to begin. What about right from the start? We're immediately launched into a narrative that sounds like it's been going on before we came in. A ponce is swanning around in a forest wearing a traffic cone for a hat, and pissweak dwarves clad in shitty goblin makeup roam around him brandishing sharpened sticks, looking like it was filmed by an amateur in his first year of film school. Utter shit, and this is in the first minute! It turns out that we're in the middle of a godawful fable being read by Grandpa Seth (Robert Ornsby) to his grandson Josh (terribly acted in a "gee-whiz" fashion by Michael Stephenson). It turns out that Seth has been dead for six months, and will only appear before Josh to warn him of various dangers that crop up during the film. Actually, Grandpa Seth's so-called ghostly presence and powers seem to change at a whim according to the demands of the script - for some inexplicable reason, he can stop time, though only for 30 seconds, and he only does it once despite the predicaments the family find themselves in subsequently. Seth warns Josh of the Waits' forthcoming family trip to Nilbog - get it? huh? - where they are house-swapping with a Nilbog family so that they can apparently live like "peasants and farmers, just like people did a century ago" according to dad, Michael (George Hardy) - sounds like a fucking great holiday, that's for sure. Why relax when you can toil like a slave? Anyway, the eternally optimistic Michael Waits takes his family, which includes mother Diana (Margo Frey) and teenage daughter Holly (Connie McFarland) to the tiny town. Following Holly in a campervan is her supposed "boyfriend" Elliot who claims to want to be with her, despite the protests of Holly's dad, but also insists on dragging along his three dipshit friends. When the family arrives, only Josh is cognizant of the strange goings-on in Nilbog. It turns out the town is a goblin haven, led by Goblin Queen Creedence (Deborah Reed), who like to get visitors to eat their terrible green food so they can turn them into half-human, half-plant food for themselves. And, yes, this outline is probably the most normal part of the film.

A rabid fanbase has sprung up proclaiming Troll 2 as the "best worst film" ever made. That label is debatable, however it's undeniably a terrible film in almost all departments. The Italian director Claudio Fragasso and his wife, writer Rossella Drudi, have fashioned a turkey that purports to be about serious issues. But as seen in the excellent documentary Best Worst Movie - that film's director is Michael Stephenson, who here plays Josh - the language barrier between director/writer and the English-speaking cast has resulted in an extremely odd movie, with actors saying things that no human being on the planet would ever say - case in point, George Hardy's 'famous' line "you can't piss on hospitality - I won't allow it!".

How else can you explain the strangeness of Troll 2? Perhaps by outlining a few of the mind-blowing key moments (skip the next section if you want to see the film with fresh, disbelieving eyes):

  • Firstly, there are NO FUCKING TROLLS in this movie, despite its title - Troll 2 this was apparently renamed from Goblin or Goblins to cash in on the *cough* brand recognition of the first Troll.

  • Diana explains to her son how difficult Grandpa Seth's death was for the family in a wonderful moment of nonsensical exposition -- "...it was also very difficult for your father, and for Holly, and for me... his daughter".

  • Holly gets in on the action with an oddly edited fitness montage, and later a fantastically cringeworthy dance routine, followed by her braindead monologue into the mirror - no, you're not Robert De Niro and you're not in Taxi Driver, dear.

  • Elliot apparently wants to be with Holly, but you wouldn't know it by his actions - he certainly spends a lot of time naked in bed with his friends.

  • Holly knees Elliot in the balls and he yells,"Are you nuts - you want to turn me into a homo?" Nice.

  • Mum eggs Josh to "sing that song I like so much" - turns out that song is "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" - um, WHAT?

  • After Grandpa Seth freezes time - questions: how? and why doesn't he do this more? - Josh figures out a creative way to stop his family from eating the tainted food left by the exchange family. Cue dad's "you can't piss on hospitality" line.

  • All of the goblin masks and costumes are amazingly low-rent, but there's one particular goblin with ridiculous bug-eyes that shows up now and then to hilarious effect.

  • If you've ever spent a fair amount of time on the Internet then you're probably familiar with Arnold's (one of Elliot's friends) infamous line: "they're eating her...and then they're going to eat me...oh my GAAAAWWD!" - it truly is one of the worst-delivered lines in cinematic history.

  • The town of Nilbog seems to be made up of the family who trades places with the Waits, a mad preacher, a creepy sheriff who really likes giving people sandwiches, and a bunch of rapey looking dudes who hang out at the general store. And apart from a grandma here and there, that's it.

  • There's an amazing scene where the town gathers in the house that the Waits are staying at, singing and dancing in a bid to welcome them to the neighbourhood. Think the worst cult you can imagine, complete with the sort of dancing and singing that could only come from the feverish dreams of the damned.

  • The performance by the chainsaw-wielding Goblin Queen Creedence has to rank as one of the most overacted, bug-eyed, ridiculous performances ever filmed -- the scene where she seduces one of Elliot's friends with a corn cob - yes, a corn cob - has to be seen to be believed.

  • The town minister delivers a sermon on the evils of eating meat, espousing horrifying side effects that include "smelly bladders" and "vicious, stinky excrement".

  • Josh saves the day with the aid of...no, just watch the film to see for yourself.

That's just a sampling of the crazy shit that Troll 2 has to offer. No wonder it's become such a beloved cult favourite. It's not quite the be-all and end-all of "so bad they're good movies as pushed by its most rabid fans and by star George Hardy (again, check out Best Worst Movie for evidence of this) but Troll 2 certainly deserves its reputation as unintentionally hilarious cinematic slop. It definitely ranks up there with stuff like Samurai Cop, The Room and some of Godfrey Ho's spastic ninja cut-n-paste output, for the simple reason that no one working on this film was intent on making an hilariously inept turkey. No genuine "so bad they're good" movie can truly succeed in this category by being deliberately bad - if you want proof of how self-awareness ruins the joke, check out Tommy Wiseau's followup to The Room, his short The House that Drips Blood on Alex. I have no doubt that director Fragasso and writer Drudi were intending to make a serious horror film, complete with snarky attacks on vegetarian eating habits, which is quite the unique message to have in a film - seriously, when was the last time you saw a movie preach about the evils of vegetarianism and the joys of eating meat?

But you know what? Troll 2 is an amazing film because it's awful in so many departments, but that doesn't make it a terrible film. For one, it's not the unwatchable and sluggishly paced film that detritus such as Science Crazed or Manos: The Hands of Fate is. Troll 2 as compelling as a car-wreck, the pacing is punchy, some of the shots are actually competent, and considering the ultra-low budget of the production, you have to give credit to Fragasso in seeing his vision come to life. It happens to be a really fucked-up vision, but there you have it. For people with not just a high tolerance for, but an appreciation of, awful dialogue, stilted performances and bat-shit crazy moments, Troll 2 should be high on your list of must-sees.
The Disc
For such a cheap, quickly-shot sort-of-horror that brought together the dubious talents of U.S. and Italian filmmakers, Troll 2 looks quite eye-catching in high-def. Colours are striking to the eye, and since a lot of it is of the terrible green food and of people turning into plant-like goo, this is a very good thing indeed. Detail and clarity is extremely high as well. Likewise, the film's 5.1 DTS-HD soundtrack is quite good - it's a clean, clear and effective presentation of Troll 2's idiotic dialogue, surprisingly solid sound effects work, and cheesy low-rent score. It's fair to say that no one involved in the making of the film with the possible exception of Fragasso - who campaigns for the film's merits in Best Worst Movie like he's made a legitimately great movie - likely ever thought they'd see a film such as Troll 2 looking and sounding this good in high definition, or indeed warranting such a good transfer in the first place.

As far as the special features go in this "20th Anniversary Nilbog Edition", there are no features to speak of. For a so-called special edition, this absolutely reeks of a cash-grab, but I suppose the people behind Troll 2 figure they need to make any money they can off this crud that they can. The Blu-Ray would be an essential purchase had it come bundled with Stephenson's documentary Best Worst Movie, which I consider a companion piece to Troll 2 and an essential watch if you liked Troll 2. Unfortunately, that was not to be. As it stands, all we get on the Blu-Ray is the original theatrical trailer. The set does come with a DVD version of the film as well. Given that there's a DVD release in the U.S. that's bundled Troll 2 together with the unrelated Troll 1, you have to weigh up whether it's worth going for that edition or just owning Troll 2 in high-def.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Troll 2 can legitimately be called one of the "best worst" movies ever made - it's deliriously and entertainingly inept in a way only a few precious films are. Personally for me, Samurai Cop stakes its claim as the finest "best worst movie" out there, but Troll 2 contains some absolute magic that only true naivety and incompetence can produce. Sure to make your jaw drop more convincingly than the latest Hollywood blockbuster, Troll 2 is best experienced the way its filmmakers never intended: inebriated and surrounded by mates who are ready to laugh their arses off. Unfortunately the Blu-Ray package suffers greatly from a complete absence of extras - for a thorough look at the production after the fact, check out Best Worst Movie.
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