The Ninjabot

Surprisingly, There Are 10 Things That Troll 2 Did Well

Posted on February 7, 2015 at 8:00 am by Nathan Tolle

troll 5As much as I love Plan 9 from Outer Space, Manos the Hands of Fate, and The Room, there can be only one “best worst movie” and that distinction clearly belong to Troll 2. This legendary cult film, which has nothing to do with the original Troll featuring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Sonny Bono, is on an entirely different level of ineptitude and unintentional hilarity. With a crew consisting of Italians who spoke very little English and a cast of first-time American actors, and with the most absurd script imaginable, to say there was confusion on the set would be an understatement. Everybody intended to make a good movie and they failed on every conceivable level, but after 25 years, this one-of-a-kind movie continues to bring laughter and immense happiness to people’s lives. When the movie ends, you seriously want to give a gigantic hug to everybody involved, especially to director Claudio Fragasso, whoever made those goblin masks, and all the lovable, memorable cast members. While revisiting Troll 2 for maybe the 20th time, I looked closely to hopefully find ten things that were legitimately well done from either a production standpoint or acting, and here is what I came up with.

The One Piece of Music That Works
Even someone on the caliber of John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith would have been powerless against the disastrous video footage, but still, Carlo Maria Cordio’s music does very little to help, with the exception of one scene. Early in the film when Joshua hears the creepy noises from that good-for-nothing prankster Elliott, he leaves the comfort of his covers and tiptoes over to the window, and the only reason we’re slightly on edge here is because of the ominous, mournful music full of ghoulish Giallo flair and accompanied by a layer of noisy crickets. For whatever reason it made me think about the music that plays as Charlie Brown and Linus are creeped out by the mysterious chateau in Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown. This is one of the few well-constructed scenes but all the momentum completely disappears once it’s time for Elliott and Connie to start talking; their exchange is a flagrant example on how not to translate a script from Italian to English.

 

The Beauty and the Beehive State
The scene with Farmer Waits and his family driving to Nilbog offers impressive glimpses of canyons, lakes, and mountains, and this majestic scenery is a striking contrast to the sheer lunacy found inside the van. Utah is probably the one state where it’s not abnormal to sing “Row row row your boat” in the car with your family, and I’m sure the scenery helps keep the rounds going.

Wow, a Genuinely Creepy as Hell Scene! I’m as Surprised as You Are!
Easily one of the best acted scenes comes when a dizzy Drew (played by Jason Steadman) stumbles into “the old house that looks like a church” and finds Tree-Arnold. Already drugged from Gene Freak’s pastry and the Nilbog milk, you can hear the panic in his voice when he asks Arnold (played by Darren Ewing, who went onto appear in many other films) what is happening. Steadman’s facial expressions are also quite good as he attempts to peel off the bark that prevents Creedence’s “little flower” from speaking. Even though it’s a completely ridiculous scenario, you can’t help but squirm a little when he finally manages to rip off his friend’s new growth and the blood spurts out.

Joshua is Ready to be Eaten
The only other instance when good acting coincides with inspired gore effects comes during a dream sequence. After being taunted by his suddenly-demented family, chlorophyll green begins to spill down Joshua’s face, and then a thorny branch bursts from his chest like an angry baby alien, all while he unleashes a series of ear-piercing screams. Michael Paul Stephenson got to show off his excellent screaming abilities during his audition, when director Claudio Fragasso told him to pretend there was a hairy spider crawling on his face.  This is one of the many, many great stories you’ll hear if you watch Stephenson’s superb 2009 documentary, Best Worst Movie, which reunites the cast and the crew with hilarious and sometimes poignant results.

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At This Time of Night Everybody Goes to Bed
Troll 2 managed to make Nilbog look like the absolute worst place to be stuck in after unwisely utilizing the services of “The Exchange.” The residents are Tea Party caricatures who stare blankly at all outsiders. There is only one store and it refuses to sell coffee because it’s the devil’s drink. Church is held in a dingy, dusty basement with folding chairs instead of pews. And there isn’t a single unattached liberated girl to be found. Many horror films have confined their terrors in a godawful redneck town, and while I’m sure Morgan, Utah has plenty of charm and hospitality, Troll 2 succeeded in turning it into an absolute hellhole.

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Garfield the Cat Knows Your Sign
If you’ve been lucky enough to witness Troll 2 in a crowded movie theater, then you know the scene of Holly dancing in front of a mirror gets one of the most uproarious pops from the audience, and for good reason. It’s seriously one of the best things in the entire world, and I love that everybody’s favorite sarcastic orange feline gets to play a small part by informing us of what Holly’s sign is. Fortunately, these Garfield Zodiac t-shirts are available online and they will surely make you a hit on the dance floor.

The Man Who Will Be Forced to Kill You VIOLENTLY!
As far as sheriff names go, Gene Freak is the best there was, the best there is, and the best there ever will be.

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Appetizing, Provocative Creedence Leonore Gielgud of Ancient Druid Origins.
It’s very tough to declare who gives the absolute worst performance in Troll 2 (but then again, not even Paul Giamatti or Meryl Streep could do anything with dialogue this incomprehensible) but it’s safe to say that Deborah Reed gives the most confident, spirited, and nuanced performance in the movie. Not only is she clearly having a blast playing the role of the goblin queen who uses the power of Stonehenge to turn humans into plants for her vegetarian children to feast on, she’s the only cast member who seems to know exactly what she’s doing, and hamming it up like the greatest of late-night television horror hosts is just what this role calls for. Even though she has the malevolence to turn you into a milkshake or put you in a popcorn pit, you won’t be able to resist her otherworldly presence.

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The Only Scary Moment in the Entire Film
While nowhere near as suspenseful as when a character accidentally drops his lighter through the ceiling vent in The Funhouse, or even when Daryl from Adventures in Babysitting accidentally kicks some dirt from the rafters, you know that Joshua is in serious trouble when his falling skateboard disrupts the anti-meat sermon. There are quick reactionary shots of the worshipers and then, without hesitation, the angry preacher reaches up and envelops Joshua’s entire face with his hand.

The Return to the House With All the Modern Conveniences
After the Waits family (and their newest official member, Elliott) defeat the goblins with the power of goodness and a double-decker bologna sandwich, they drive back home and are appropriately exhausted and shell-shocked. With the exception of the father’s ridiculous “I have to stop by the office” line, all the dialogue here sounds perfectly appropriate for a change. After such bewildering events, who could possibly blame these people for their robotic inflections and catatonic stares?

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