Bad Movie Monday: Troll 2 (1990)

I saw the original Troll many many moons ago, in the mythical faraway fantasy age of the late eighties, and it’s probably my favourite Harry Potter movie of all time. Har-Har. Go to the film’s IMDb page and look up the names of the characters to understand my rapier wit sarcasm. Troll stars Michael Moriarty, Noah Hathaway, Sony Bono, June Lockhart, Julia-Louis Dreyfus, and Phil Fondacaro. A pretty solid cast. It was directed by late great special effects artist John Carl Buechler and was written by the legendary Ed Naha. Google him, you’ll see why I call Naha legendary. The original film even has a kinda sorta naked Elaine Benes in a few scenes. What’s not to like? So today, of course, I’m going to review it’s sequel Troll 2. Sigh.

Just so you know, I did not see the documentary BEST WORST MOVIE. From what I hear it’s a very loving look back at both the making of Troll 2 and it’s legacy as a bad movie staple. I probably should watch it, but I just haven’t had time. I’m sure it’s wonderful. These sorts of things often are.

Now, with that out of the way, let us focus our attention on this terrible tortuous trashy sequel. Unlike a lot of the movies I’ve reviewed for BAD MOVIE MONDAY I never saw Troll 2 when it came out on home video. Nor did I see it years later on my own. First time I ever laid eyes on the thing was last week. It was an experience, I’ll tell you that.

SYNOPSIS: “A suburban family exchanges houses with a rural farming family for a month. However, Joshua, the suburban family’s young son, is told by his ghostly and perhaps demonic grandfather Seth to stay away. The strange little town they’re going to stay in, Nilbog, is inhabited by vegetarian Goblins who want to turn his family into plants and eat them. However, no matter how hard he tries, nobody will listen to the boy’s warnings.”

Yeah, that sounds about right. That’s the gist of it anyway. Well there’s more piss humour, but I’ll let you discover that on your own.

First impressions were rather positive. I don’t know if it was the transfer or what, but this really looks like some care was put into it. It’s not just thrown together The first few scenes between the kid and his dead grandfather’s ghost are rather well done. There’s energy and cleverness. The kid isn’t the greatest actor, but he’s a kid. It’s his first movie and he’s doing the best he can. I’ve certainly seen a lot worse from a lot older and far more experienced thespians. To be honest, I’m just glad he knows his lines and doesn’t yell all his dialogue. For that alone, I am grateful. The spirit of Lawrence Olivier blessed you, my son.

The story is bonkers and derivative, but I expected that. It’s a Claudio Fragasso film. The man once wrote an Italian dollar store version of Aliens called TERMINATOR II (AKA SHOCKING DARK) which has to be seen to be believed. I’d review that for Bad Movie Monday except there’s only so many ways to say “It’s just like Aliens, but stupider.”

Anyway, back to Troll 2, I was kind of surprised that there’s no real nudity at all. I think it may have to do with the fact that they shot it in the middle of Utah, and the Mormon’s don’t allow fun. So it’s a weirdly over the top yet subdued film. Gory, in a PG13 way, but with little serious violence. Horny, but sexless. It’s always kind of straddling that very fine line between dirty nasty Italian film and clean cut American film, and it’s kind of fascinating to watch to be honest.

TOP TEN THOUGHTS I HAD WATCHING THIS MOVIE
#1 – As a professional bad movie watcher, I’m going to cast a verdict on the acting quality and say that it’s really grea… uh, not bad. It’s unrefined, inexperienced, and at times unskilled. However, everyone is giving it their 101% and cranking it up to 11. After a while you get a feel for laziness in bad movies, and I see no evidence of it here. There’s energy and fearlessness and love here, and that is good.

#2 – The special effects are, um… Well, they’re not good. At the same time. They’re not “bad” either. They look like the things they’re supposed to look like. No one involved should be ashamed of them. They’re just very low budget. Laura Gemser supposedly worked on the costumes. She was Black Emanuelle. Now THOSE are some bad movies you can really sink your teeth into. Mrow!

#3 – Seriously, this is not a badly written film either. The grandpa ghost advising the boy, the plot about the Goblin queen turning people into vegetable goo so her Goblins can eat them, the weird town of Nilbog and it’s even weirder inhabitants. I very much think that this might arguably have been Claudio Fragasso’s greatest film if he’d had just a bit of a bigger budget and a bit less trouble speaking English so he could have properly expressed what he wanted to his cast and crew.

#4 – This movie has half a dozen great quotable moments. “You can’t piss on hospitality! I WON’T ALLOW IT!”, “This is MYYY HOUSSSSSSSE!” and then simply, the great memeable “They’re eating her… and then they’re going to eat me… OH MY GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!!!”

#5 – There was a huge missed opportunity here in not hiring GOBLIN to do the score. Although I think that by 1990 they had broken up.

#6 – George Hardy, who plays the dad, is a good Tim Thomerson type actor. He eventually became a dentist instead of an actor, which I think was probably better for the world, but I would have loved to have seen him play a grizzled private detective. The man has a face for it.

#7 – I also think this is a well edited film, all things considered. It’s the near perfect length of 94 minutes with no boring tedious bits and it has a brisk snappy pace. To be honest, what more could you want? You can’t be greedy and ask for more from a cheap Italian film.

#8 – This movie has none of the weird overdubbing Italian horror movies are usually known for. Not only that, but it does not even attempt to overdub the world “Goblin” with the word “Troll”. I can’t tell if it’s because the filmmakers were refusing to break their principles or just being cheap.

#9 – Like I said before, this movie is oddly PG for an Italian movie, and I think that’s why the teenage daughter doesn’t have much screen time. I’m sure Fragasso wanted to have her and her boyfriend do a few sex scenes to add a little R-rated raunch to the film, but the actress refused and so Fragasso just cut out most of her stuff.

#10 – Not entirely to do with the movie, but I was just thinking of how hilarious it would be if me and my wife exchanged houses with another family. They wouldn’t need ghosts or goblins to make them run away screaming from my crap shack.

WAS IT REALLY A BAD MOVIE?
Naw, this is far from a bad movie and impossibly far from being THE worst movie I’ve ever seen. I mean, I have gazed into the abyss that was THINGS. That changes a man. Makes him hollow inside. Like going to prison for a long time or having sex with a woman called Nasty Linda. You occasionally find yourself sitting naked on the side of your bed in the morning, unable to do more that have ugly flashbacks to the experience. TROLL 2 is just a bit of dumb fun. It has it’s charms and silly bits, and much of it makes you smile at how absurd it all is. It’s an all around good time. So I can’t find much to fault with it other than what I’ve already mentioned. I say check it out. It’s not a “must see” in my opinion, but it’s an interesting experience if you do.