Listen in on any discussion of awesomely bad cinema, and Troll 2 is bound to come up. A longtime midnight-movie cult favorite, in recent years it’s received mainstream notoriety thanks to the 2009 documentary Best Worst Movie.
Neither a sequel to 1986’s Troll nor containing any actual trolls, Troll 2 is a low-budget horror movie about a family that goes on a summer vacation to a nearly uninhabited town called Nilbog (they traded houses with another family, probably using the same service that Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet did in The Holiday. ) It takes them a really, really, really long time, but eventually they realize that something isn’t right in the clumpy milk when all the bizarre locals seem set on forcing them to eat and drink green gooey delicacies. By the time they listen to our hero, young Joshua (Michael Stephenson, writer and director of Best Worst Movie) with the help of his deceased Grandpa Seth, it’s too late to run and the family must fight back against the evil goblins (get the name of the town? Get it? Get it?).
Sounds like a goofy B horror-comedy, right? Nope. As most bad movies that cross that special line from just awful to truly amazing, director Claudio Fragasso was dead-serious in his vision, and failed hilariously. And that’s exactly what sets a movie like this apart from the ones that are simply crappy. It’s a quality that can’t be faked.
And it gets better! Fragasso and his wife wrote the movie in Italian, had it translated, and though they barely spoke any English, did not allow the actors to adlib or change any of the clunky lines to sound more believable.
Because dialogue is always better when the writer/director with the deluded vision is foreign without a grasp of the English language.
Troll 2 is definitely a lot of fun and worthy of the cult-status it has attained. From the outstanding soundtrack that sounds like someone simultaneously playing an 8-bit NES game and a Casio keyboard on theDisco2 preset beat, to the wooden line reading, to really special special effects, every aspect is gloriously inept. Plus, it’s got that great 80’s feel which always adds that extra something.
I’m also going to unironically raise my glass, not once, but twice, to two legitimate jump scares. Considering how laughable everything is, it’s really is quite an accomplishment.
Now that we’re done toasting, grab another beer (add some green food coloring!) and let’s dive further into this magnificent piece of anti-vegetarian propaganda (Oh yes, there’s a statement being made here too.)
What do you get when you cast a bunch of random people that showed up for an extras casting call as the lead actors in your film?
You get stuff like this:
And especially this:
The cast really, really tries though and it’s endearing. I mean, Margo Prey is obviously a devoted method actress who took tons of Prozac to achieve that perfect monotone voice of a hardworking mom who just needs a little help. And Connie Young really makes you believe that teen daughter Holly is committed to working on her fitness, fly dance moves, and convincing her boyfriend to pay more attention to her and to stop sleeping naked with his friends. Then there’s the dad (George Hardy), most of the time he’s cool and laid back (he’s so straight-up pimpin’, he even pops the collar on his pajamas), but watch out. You piss on hospitality and it’s ON.
This part made me really nervous, and will make you nervous too. Rest assured, when Dad starts reaching for his belt, what you’re afraid might happen, doesn’t. I promise.
One cast member deserves a beer all her own.
You ever go to one of those haunted graveyards where people in scary makeup get in your face and try to scare you with over-the-top theatrics and crazy faces? It’s like that.
Multiplied by a billion.
Seriously, it was almost too much to deal with.
I should probably mention the goblins now. Granted, it’s tough to make three-foot tall vegetarians seem scary, but wow. Chances are, the neighborhood children that come to your door on Halloween have scarier and more realistic-looking costumes. And I’m not even talking about the six foot tall “children” without costumes that come to your door on Halloween. I mean the little ones dressed like bunnies and princesses.
Aren’t they cute?
This guy’s my favorite.
This is what keeps confusing me. So Fragasso made this film as some kind of scathing social commentary on vegetarianism (He reportedly came up with the idea for the film after several of his friends converted to the lifestyle.). The evil goblins are referred to as vegetarian, preach the horrors of eating meat, and are easily fended off by a bologna sandwich. But here’s the thing: they can take on human form as a disguise. So wouldn’t turning other humans into food and eating it kinda make them….CANNIBALS?
Do you see my point? Cannibals are most definitely NOT vegetarians. Trust me, I know this. I’m a vegetarian myself, and this one time I accidentally ate a severed pinky toe (don’t ask, tequila was involved, thought it was a baby carrot, people are mean…), well, let me just tell you, my local PETA chapter was not amused. I had to start my “Days Meatless” count over and they made me give back my toaster. So anyway, Mr. Fragasso, your attack doesn’t offend me, because you failed! (In case it’s not clear, I’m kidding about the pinky toe. It was the big toe, but that would’ve been really gross.)
Something else that doesn’t make sense: Why can’t the goblins just survive on the vegetation? There are forests all around them. And if they absolutely need to nom on some green slime all they have to do is say “I don’t know,” and it falls from the sky.
Perhaps Nickelodeon wasn’t available in Italy at the time.
Like I said, this movie is a hell of a lot of fun. You are, however, going to need that last beer to get through the final act when the plot gets unnecessarily convoluted with the Goblin Queen’s magic rock from Stonehenge, Grandpa Seth’s sudden time limit, the worst party ever, and a really corny sex scene.
Cornography, if you will.
If you love bad movies, Troll 2 is required viewing. It’s got guaranteed laughs, tons of quotable lines, and cheesy special effects. Like other awesomely bad movies, it’s most fun if you watch it with a group of people. Be sure to also check out Best Worst Movie, a great documentary about the phenomenon of the cult hit.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: whenever Grandpa Seth appears.
Take a Drink: when the mom says “Goodnight, dear” to Joshua. (Listen carefully)
Take a Drink: every time Holly and her boyfriend Elliot fight about Elliot spending too much (naked) time with his friends.
Take a Drink: every time you see corn. (Chug for popcorn)
Take a Drink: whenever anyone eats or drinks the poison food.
Take a Drink (and sing along!): when they sing that song mom likes so much.
Chug: for the entire “30 seconds” Joshua freezes time at the dinner table (it’s really 70 seconds).
Take a shot (of Midori or other green liquor): at the following lines:
- “If my father discovers you here, he’d cut off your little nuts and eat them.”
- “You can’t piss on hospitality! I won’t allow it!”
- “They’re eating her……and then they’re going to eat me……..Oh my GOOOOOOODDDDD!!!!!!!!”
- “Joshua is not a little shit; he’s just very sensitive.”