Director/Screenplay – Drake Floyd [Claudio Fragasso], Photography – Giancarlo Ferrando, Music – Carlo Maria Cordio, Makeup Effects – Maurizio Trani, Art Direction – Max Slowing. Production Company – Filmirage.
Michael Stephenson (Joshua Waits), George Hardy (Michael Waits), Connie McFarland (Holly Waits), Margo Prey (Diana Waits), Robert Ormsby (Grandpa Seth), Deborah Reed (Creedence Leonore Gielgud), Jason Wright (Elliott Cooper), Darren Ewing (Arnold), Jason Steadman (Drew), David McConnell (Brent), Mike Hamill (Bells), Gary Carlson (Sheriff Gene Freak), Christina Reynolds (Cindy)
Young Joshua Waits is visited by his Grandpa Seth who reads him a fairytale about goblins. However, Joshua’s parents are insistent that the grandfather is dead. The family travel away to the small country town of Nilbog as part of an exchange program with a local Nilbog family. Grandpa Seth tries to warn Joshua that the inhabitants of Nilbog are in fact goblins. The goblins try to make the Waits’s, along with Joshua’s sister’s boyfriend and his friends, eat the local food. This will transform them into plant creatures, allowing them to become goblin food. Joshua, with his grandfather’s ghostly aid, struggles to find a way of stopping the goblins before his family are eaten.
Troll (1986) was an amusingly bizarre effort from 1980s low-budget specialists Empire Productions. In fact, Troll was one of Empire’s better films. Though founded on their usual cheap creature effects, it succeeded through a decidedly surreal sense of humour and some offbeat casting.
Troll 2 is a sequel of sorts, although it is not made by Empire and does not feature any of the production personnel or cast or characters from the first film. Hiding behind the Anglicized names, Troll 2 is in fact an Italian film that was shot in the US with (completely unknown) American actors. Behind the pseudonym of Drake Floyd is Italian director Claudio Fragasso who has always worked down the exploitation end of the Italian film market with the likes of Zombie – Creeping Flesh (1980), Zombie Flesh Eaters 3 (1988), Beyond Darkness (1990), as well as Monster Dog (1986), another film that has a notoriously bad reputation.
In fact, Troll 2 has so little to do with its predecessor that it does not even feature any trolls – there are various nasty creatures featured throughout but they are all referred to as goblins. About the closest that Troll 2 ever gets to Troll is the vague similarity of the scenes with people undergoing transformations into pods. More than anything, the film appears to have alighted on the Troll label in an attempt to sell itself in the American video market.
Since its release, Troll 2 has gained a reputation as an extremely bad film – it currently ranks at No. 6 on the IMDB’s Bottom 100 films list, for instance. Some of the dialogue is excruciatingly bad. The villagers gathered around the besieged farmhouse throw a bag at the front door and make threats like: “There’s sandwiches for tonight in here. It’ll go easier if you eat them. Otherwise we’ll be forced to kill you – violently.” Connie McFarland threatens her boyfriend with lines like: “If my father discovers you here, he’d cut off your little nuts and eat them.”
This is bad enough in itself, but the cast enacting the lines all feel like they have been recruited without anyone taking the time to make sure they had ever attended an acting class. While the actor playing the grandfather does an okay job, there are some notably bad performances, especially from Connie McFarland as the sister, who lends new meanings to the term stilted. As the mother, Margo Prey acts as though she has been pickled with depressants the entire way through shooting.
Especially awful is Deborah Reed who appears in various guises as Creedence, the goblin queen. Reed’s theatrically hammy acting, added to an incredibly fake looking makeup job, which makes her look like the goblin equivalent of a cheap floozy, has a hammy scenery-chewing excess that leaves one looking for new pejoratives that travel well beyond ‘astoundingly atrocious’.
The goblins are incredibly cheap looking – they only ever look like dwarf extras wearing cheap masks and sacking. Troll 2 does share something with its supposed predecessor in that much of it is centred around gooey makeup effects with people melting down and transforming into plants. There is an entertainingly schlocky scene where Darren Ewing is turned into a seedpod, oozing with what looks like green food dye and is then devoured by the goblins. He later turns up alive mounted in a planter. After his friend tries to rescue him, Deborah Reed’s Creedence enacts revenge on him for trying to escape (a point that the film enters the clearly tongue-in-cheek) by getting out a chainsaw and insisting “You won’t feel a thing.”
There is a mind-boggling scene early on where the young hero (Michael Stephenson), under his grandfather’s guidance, stops his family eating a goblin-food laced banquet by standing on the table and pissing on the food. The most bizarre sequence in the film is where Deborah Reed transforms into a young, beautiful woman and struts up to David McConnell in the campervan, after first appearing on the tv, and proceeds to seduce him. This is conducted while she holds onto a corncob that she then puts between their mouths as they start kissing. And after he mentions how he prefers popcorn, popcorn starts popping all over them as they make out.
If nothing else – and believe me, there is nothing else of note about it – Troll 2 should take some credit for being the first film about the horrors of vegetarianism. It is a horror movie told from a meat-eater’s point-of-view, where the evil trolls are vegetarians who want to devour humans (after they have been turned into plants). The goblin queen raves on about the horrors of toxins and cholesterol and in the mind-boggling climax the young hero saves the day by producing the secret weapon his grandfather has given him – a double-decker baloney sandwich – and eating it in front of the goblins, which then banishes them. (I can’t believe I just wrote that).
Troll 2 has gained such a reputation as a bad movie in recent years that it has gained a cult afterlife with various sell-out revival screenings. The cult grew to an extent that Michael Paul Stephenson who plays the kid in the film later made a documentary Best Worst Movie (2009) that charted the cult and gathered together the cast to tell about the making of the film.
(Review copy provided courtesy of Ryan Kenner from Movies in the Attic).