Review: Troll 2
Oh, boy…I’ll try my best here. Young Michael Stephenson is still visited by his kindly grandfather (Robert Ormsby), despite his parents (George Hardy and Margo Prey) reminding him that grandpa is dead and has been for months. Nonetheless, Ormsby visits Stephenson to tell him stories about goblins and such. When the family (rounded out by boy-crazy teen daughter Connie McFarland) move to the small town of Nilbog in exchange with another family, it’s not long before Ormsby warns young Stephenson that the population of Nilbog (look closely at that oh-so clever name!) are all goblins who plan to eat him and his family. Somehow this involves Stephenson and his family ingesting the town’s own special slimy green ‘vegetarian’ products. Deborah Reed turns up as the town’s resident witch, who appears to have had dental work done. Don Packard (who in real-life has had drug and mental problems, including during filming in regards to the former) plays the local Nilbog drug store owner.
In my opinion this 1990 film is a much more legit contender to the throne of ‘Worst Movie Ever Made’ (currently and perhaps forever occupied by Edward D. Wood Jr.’s “Plan 9 From Outer Space”) than a lot of the other films that get mentioned like the tedious “Showgirls” or even cult-ish “The Room”. Directed by Claudio Fragasso (a relatively prolific director of Italian genre pics like “Zombie Flesh Eaters 3”, and “Monster Dog” featuring Alice Cooper) and written by he and his wife Rossella Drudi, the only thing the film has going for it is that it is truly, wholly, and all-encompassingly weird and awful on every level. Completely unrelated to the 1986 film “Troll”, it’s actually hard to resist this film…just for entirely ironic reasons.
Based on the screenplay alone (written by two people who didn’t actually speak English!) you’d swear this film was made by Martians. Based on the ‘performances’ you’d swear these Martians had forced human slaves into ‘acting’ in the film (From what I’ve read of the filmmaking process, the director certainly didn’t seem to care for much collaboration with them at the very least). Not one person in the entire film says or does anything that suggests they are in any way a human being from the planet Earth. And where else are you gonna find an evil witch (played by an overly game, pantomime-bad Deborah Reed) who is visibly wearing braces on her teeth? I knew I was watching a bad movie from moment one, because who would want to piggyback off a film that wasn’t all that good to begin with, and then only use the title? Not only is this completely unrelated to the first “Troll”, the film’s not even about trolls, but goblins! WTF? Oh, right…it was made by two people who didn’t speak English. Now it makes sense. Early on, the grandfather character played in poor man’s Burl Ives fashion by Robert Ormsby (still the best actor in the film, I might add) tells a spooky story and remarks ‘Fog was thick enough to make him lose his way home’. The only way for this to make sense in the context of what we actually see on screen, the guy’s name has to be Fog and he’s a bit ‘thick’ so he can’t work out how to get home. There’s barely any fog, thanks presumably to the meagre budget. Shadows are also referred to but never seen. It gets worse though. I mean, not only are the cloaks the goblins wear on the ultra-cheap (designed by the one and only Laura Gemser, star of the “Emanuelle” series of films loosely derived from the softcore “Emmanuelle” series), but if you have to actually draw freckles on an actress’ face, you’re better off just hiring an actress with fucking freckles in the first place, surely.
As I alluded to earlier, the filmmakers weren’t overly interested in an open discussion with the actors, and that may have been one of their downfalls. English is clearly very, very foreign to the husband-and-wife team, and had they allowed the actors to ad-lib rework the dialogue in their more natural vernacular, super awkward exchanges like this might've been avoided; Mother: ‘Sing that song I like so much’. Kid: ‘Row, Row, Row Your Boat’. Yep. It’s actually a thing that happens in this film. Because it was made by incompetent boobs with no common sense. They also apparently hired actors who all turned up to be extras and ended up being hired as the main cast members with dialogue. It shows through their performances. I still contend that the single worst lead performance of all-time comes from Nic Cage in the little-seen “Deadfall” (He also gives the second-worst performance of all-time in “Vampire’s Kiss”), but this may well be the worst ensemble cast of all-time, including all of Edward D. Wood’s major films. That said, I hold the director and his co-writer largely responsible, though. This was a truly impossible situation. Novice actors (George Hardy is a dentist by trade!), filmmakers who didn’t speak English nor had tolerance for the input of others, a paltry budget…it was never going to work out. I’m not sure why the ‘Oh My God!’ scene has been singled out as a YouTube favourite, as it’s not even the most memorably bad bit in the entire film. Instead I offer up the far the far worse ‘Row Row Row Your Boat’ scene, the truly bizarre and wrong-headed ‘You Can’t Piss on Hospitality!’ scene, and a bit where one of the dorks tries to save his friend who has basically turned into a pot plant, which is a hoot.
Unlike a lot of bad movies, this one’s not boring. Like “Plan 9 From Outer Space” and “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” this is that very special kind of film that, although absolutely awful and deserving of the lowest rating possible…is also absolutely worth seeing for that very reason. It’s compellingly terrible. Hilarious from start to finish, though part of me does feel sympathy for the cast who might be rather embarrassed to have been in this. Don’t miss this one, folks.