I would first like to preface this article by saying; I am a troll 2 FAN. Yes, a capital F.A.N. I was bored one night and wanted to watch a documentary on Netflix. That documentary would be the reason I write this today; “Best Worst Movie”, by Michael Paul Stephenson. It was awesome, even without seeing Troll 2, first. So I write this list, as a testament to my love for this movie. Are we laughing at it, or with it? Both! Very rarely are things screwed up so epically. But when they are, they are masterpieces, even if, in their own right.
1. The Title
I think there is always a reason why a particular title doesn’t work for a film. In this case, there are two glaring reasons why Troll 2 simply does not work. The first is; there are no trolls in the film. None! Not a one. The second reason is; it’s not a sequel. It’s not a sequel to any particular film. The fact that there is a, Troll 1 means nothing. This film, in every way possible, has no affiliation with the first film. We’re off to a great start.
2. The Music
Other than maybe, 1 or 2 songs, the soundtrack was entirely composed using an electronic keyboard. The music is cheap and cheesy. Not only is the music ear-puncturingley bad, it manages to NEVER fit what is going on, on camera. I mean, just watch the movie and match the music. It’s so bad, it’s good.
3. The premise
Sometimes you see a movie with a bizarre premise, and it works, and sometimes it’s badly done. Sometimes the most simple premise, such as, A man seeks revenge on the people who killed his family, works the best, and sometimes it feels like it’s been done before. In the case of, Troll 2, it manages to accomplish all of that in one. The idea has been done, but not in that way, so it is kind of new, but it is absurd and unbelievably unbelievable, and at the same time good. let me explain:
The movie is about a kid named Joshua who, with the help of his dead grandfather, tries to save his family from being turned into a plant/human food source. You see, the Goblins are vegetarians, and for some reason rather than being happy with the enormous amount of vegetation on the planet, they would rather take human flesh and blood people, and turn them into vegetable goop. It’s as nonsensical and ridiculous as it sounds. If I’m a vegetarian, why eat a salad when I can go through the trouble of turning my steak into a salad, and then eating it? Once again, terrible, yet strangely captivating!
There is little I can say about the costumes that can enlighten anyone who hasn’t seen the movie. For the most part, the actors were dressed in their own clothes. A character at one point changes shirts, inexplicably from one scene to the next. The Goblins were dressed in potato sacks and rubber masks. The fingers of the goblin hands are so much longer than the actor’s fingers, you can see them bending throughout the movie, I mean, the director doesn’t even try to hide the fact. So awesomely bad!
Now we start getting into the grit of the movie. These actors, with no prior experience, auditioned for small roles as extras or walk-ons. Instead, they were cast as leads. I can spend all day writing about just how bad the acting is. Every single actor in this movie is terrible. In fact, the only actor in the movie that was believable at least, was the general store owner. He auditioned for the role, while on weekend leave, from a mental institution. That’s right. You can’t make this up. How many times have you heard the joke, a crazy guy walk on to a movie set? George Hardy (Who I think is one of the coolest human beings on the planet) goes on and on about southern hospitality in this movie as if he’s never experienced it before, yet, has the thickest southern accent than anyone in the movie. It’s brilliant, in an odd way.
The reactions each actor gives one another are wrong every time. Even if you are just acting, how do you get being angry, wrong? Or being afraid? They literally do the opposite of how any person would react. They smile when they should frown. They yell when they should talk. They talk calmly when they should be afraid. Grandpa Seth is constantly giving Joshua this creepy smile at the oddest times. On a quick side note; the over-acting is actually good. Deborah Reed is especially hammy as Creedence. Every single line she utters is followed by her cartoonish facial expressions; uncomfortably, seriously bad, but good.
The writing is so delightfully horrid, that I had to break it up into 3 parts.
6. Writing Pt.1 -Dialogue
This is another favorite of mine. I can quote this movie on end. The dialogue is absolutely weird, and uncomfortable. This movie was written by Rossella Drudi, though she is not credited on the film. She is the wife of the director, Claudio Fragasso. At the time this movie was penned, they couldn’t speak English very well, yet wrote a movie in English. If you watch the movie and listen to the words it sounds like a foreigner speaking, with a miniscule grasp of the English language, trying to DO American. What you are left with is wooden, nonsensical, completely unrealistic dialogue.
Really, I can start listing off scenes and different lines of the movie that are so painfully bad they have become classics. But that will be in my next article, my 10 favorite scenes from the movie. The golden rule of movies is, show-don’t tell. In a book, all you can do is tell. But movies have the camera, and the camera should do the talking. Well, not in this movie.
One example of this is in the first act. The mom is trying to comfort her son, after learning that he still talks to his dead grandfather. Ok, you all with me? She then begins telling him information that would already be known to him. Her lines go like this, “Grandpa Seth has been dead for six months now. I know how difficult it is for you. It is also difficult for your father, Holly, and me, his daughter.” It is one of the funniest lines of the movie. Why does she feel the need to remind her son that it’s her dad that died? Why does she feel the need to remind him of his sibling and father? Why does she feel need to remind him that it has been 6 months since his death? This is attributed to bad writing, made funny, by worse acting. Instead of showing and not telling, they do the exact opposite for most of the movie.
7. Writing Pt.2-Plot Devices.
Rossella Drudi said the she wrote this script because a number of her friends became vegetarians. It’s terribly bad and irrational. I will give her a pass on the dialogue only because she wrote a movie in a language that is not her first. but the plot devices are unforgivably hilarious. There are children’s books that have more depth and creativity. Let’s say I was making a slasher film. We came to a part in the story where our hero (a news journalist, let’s say) finally gets in a car to get away from the villain. He starts the car, drives through the woods and comes to a bridge. The bridge is out and the gap is wide. The villain, somehow is not far behind. If I wanted to do something ridiculous, I could have a lightning bolt hit a tree at that exact moment, splitting in half and falling, covering the exact length of the gap to make a platform for our hero to cross. That, to me, would be ridiculous and a little too, convenient. But this is why she is kind of a crazy genius. She would have our hero get out of the car and inexplicably be able to conjure lightning from his hand, splitting the tree in half and having it fall, covering the length of the gap.
This part of the movie is the best of the worst. The choices they’ve made, in order to move the story along, is exactly what writers are taught not to do. I can go scene by scene with this one and just baulk at every single plot device used. I can write 10 pages on this subject. It almost like, whenever they were faced with a tough decision on how to move the story, they literally just thought of the first thing that popped in their heads and went with it. This is just ONE of soooo many examples. At this point in the movie, the entire town of Nilbog is at the Waits family’s vacation home. They are there to welcome their new guests to the town. Their real goal is to get the family to eat green food and turn into plant slushies. However, Joshua doesn’t fall for the ruse. He calls his grandfather to help, and like clockwork, grandpa Seth appears. But he doesn’t come empty handed. He conveniently shows up with a molotov cocktail and a fire extinguisher. Please, stay with me….it gets better. He wants Joshua to throw the cocktail, “when the time comes”, but never says who or what they were throwing it at. To make matters, funnier, he is going to use the fire extinguisher to, “create confusion”. I promise you; if you are confused right now, you are not alone. Ok, so, They are both outside and Joshua is about to light the cocktail when suddenly, the preacher/goblin snatches the Molotov cocktail away from Joshua and walks out to the front of house, to stand, holding a Molotov cocktail, alone and away from harm of anyone else in the scene. Now it gets really interesting. Somehow, the preacher sees and immediately recognizes the grandpa as a ghost and somehow has the power to cast him into hell. I didn’t know that vegetarian goblins had such dominion over the dead? Anyway, as grandpa Seth dies…err…again…just before he disappears into the underworld, he somehow develops the power to control lightning and sends a bolt, right to the cocktail, setting it and the goblin preacher, ablaze. This scene is just a few minutes long, in a movie that is and hour and a half long. Unquestionably, bad!
8. Writing Pt.3- Characters
Every single…I mean, EVERY SINGLE character is paper thin. We have a Dad and a Mom, and two kids. Truly, other than the fact that they had lost a family member 6 months prior to the beginning of the film, we literally know nothing more about them. Well, we later learn that the daughter, Holly, smoked dope. That’s it. The dead grandfather later calls the dad (his son-in-law) a good-for-nothing. Why? Who are these people? How did the grandfather die? What kind of dope did Holly smoke? Why is the Dad a good-for-nothing? These are really the only things you can ask about these characters as everyone is literally as thin as the part they play;a sheriff, a witch, a preacher, a general store owner. Shallow would be an understatement.
The character arcs are equally puzzling, whenever Joshua is afraid, everyone just ignores him and gets angry, or tells him to shutup. The mother is in space most of the movie, the sister’s soul motivation is to get her boyfriend to spend more time with her, instead of his three, ambiguouslygay friends. Yet, when he comes on to her, she punches him in the balls. Crazily, odd! The Dad wants a month in the country with his family to, get away. From what?The death of an old man that apparently hated him?His job? What job? Why Nilbog? Who, what, where, when and why? Virtually nothing is explained.
Its friggin GOBLIN spelled backwards.
10. The Directing/Cinematography/Film Crew
The cinematography is breathtakingly bad. Constant close ups for no reason; quick zooms to the face for dramatics, when nothing dramatic was going on, there is actually a shot in a scene that is out of focus (the completely unnecessary close up, foam bubble). The setup of the scenes and camera placement are terrible.
If you’ve watched the companion documentary to this movie called, “Best Worst Movie”, you will be enlightened as to how bad movies like this can actually be made. I mentioned a scene earlier in the article in which a lightning bolt does in a goblin. The continuation of that scene is the Dad running out of the house, immediately picking up the fire extinguisher that was left there by Grandpa Seth and putting out the charred goblin.
In the documentary, the actor playing the Dad, George Hardy, questions the director about that scene and basically asks how the dad knew the fire extinguisher was there in the first place. The director, Claudio Fragasso, replies that it’s not important. He was speaking about the details.
Details aren’t important. Like the shirt switch I previously mentioned. The problem is; they kind of do! I mean, in a film, there has be suspension of disbelief on the audiences part. Some things just have to be overlooked for the movie to work. Like basically, any time travel movie ever made. There will always be a hole in the overall scope of the movie, which an audience agrees to overlook, in order to enjoy the movie.
However, details are different. Not plot details, I mean actual details like…unless it’s a movie that takes place in a world where the cycles of day and night are different, you can’t have it go from a midday sun to nightfall if the character is only walking down the block. You can’t have a character sitting at the dinner table with a black shirt, and suddenly when the camera goes back on him in the same scene his shirt is mysteriously blue. Details like that have to be explained for the audience to buy in. Did he spill tomato sauce on his shirt? When Claudio made this film, he decided to forgo major details and minor details throughout. A character changes shirts in the movie inexplicably from one scene to the other, the goblin that was on fire had absolutely no signs that he was burned when the fire was put out, When Arnold first encounters the goblins he acts so calm with absolutely no worry or fear.
I mean, you can put that on the writing and acting, but how does a director let that go? We haven’t even mentioned the fact the Claudio demanded the American actors speak the lines verbatim, even though, he, himself, barely spoke the language; along with the entire crew. But it’s what makes the movie watchable. It’s not that no one cared. No one cared about details. They all cared about each of their ideas. The actors wanted to do a good job, so did the cinematographer and crew. But everything had to go perfectly bad, for it to come together in such way that make people, recognize how horrible it is, and love it, at the same time.
I watched this film 6 times in a week after first seeing it. I enjoyed it more with each viewing as I discovered new levels of bad. This is the severe opposite to a great film. Everything about this movie is terrible. So why have I watched it so much? There are movies I hated, that I regret the hours spent watching them. There are movies I like, that I have only seen once, and have no desire to see it again. What makes such a bad movie, good? Nothing I can write can explain the movie. Nothing I write can truly sum up the, utter weirdness. I could write full articles on the supporting character Arnold, alone. I can go on and on about, Sheriff Gene Freak, and the absolutely insane pop-corn scene. It’s brilliant, it’s bad and it’s totally worth watching!!
Author Bio: James Errigo is a big music and movie fan. As far as movies go, he loves all genres. Horror, Sci-Fi, and Comedy are probably his favorites. He love anything Quentin Tarantino has his hands in, Scorsese, Kubrick, Wes Craven. The list goes on and on. He has written songs for his band, and poems and short stories for college.
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