Troll 2 (1990): Italy – directed by Claudio Fragasso
Rated PG-13 by the MPAA – contains some stupid sexual references, sex accompanied by popcorn, violent green goo, utter stupidity, piss-poor dialogue, bad writing, bad directing, bad acting, and goblins
Troll 2 is a truly incomprehensible motion picture. It is so bad that it shines with a special glow, the aura that only comes from having a director who is convinced he is making a masterpiece. Ed Wood had this special quality. Uwe Boll does, too, to some extent. And Claudio Fragasso, according to Best Worst Movie [review here], certainly believed he was making a truly great picture.
In the annals of bad films, a few stand above the rest. Plan 9 From Outer Space was the favorite for quite some time, though it is not even Ed Wood’s worst film. Manos: The Hands of Fate has been considered truly terrible, and it is. And now The Room is making the rounds, and is perhaps on its way to being considered the worst film ever. But I don’t believe another film has been as adored and as inexplicable as Troll 2.
To begin with, there are no trolls in the movie. There are goblins, and they live in a town called Nilbog (“It’s goblin spelled backward!”). The movie opens with a young boy (Michael Stephenson, who later directed Best Worst Movie) named Joshua Waits being read to by his grandfather. It certainly worked well enough for The Princess Bride; why not here? In the story are goblins, evil goblins. But they are vegetarians and cannot eat humans. So they devise a dastardly plan: to feed humans special milk that will turn them into plants. Then they can eat them.
Before you ask, rest assured that the film is entirely serious. These goblins are a dangerous threat. And this is the warning Grandpa Seth (Robert Ormsby) gives young Josh. But then Josh wakes up and is rebuked by his mother (Margo Prey) for continuing to believe that Grandpa is alive, as he died some months before.
The family then goes on vacation, which consists of a “house-swap” with a redneck family in the hills. The family lives in Nilbog but they seem a tad strange. They also leave nothing in the house except strange milk and a prepared meal. In the nick of time Grandpa Seth appears to Josh and warns him to stop his family from eating the meal. He even freezes time momentarily, allowing Josh to figure out that he should pee on the table. This leads to a severe talking to from his father (George Hardy), who reminds him that “You can’t piss on hospitality!”
The rest of the movie is spent thwarting the evils of Nilbog. Josh’s sister (Connie Young) also has to deal with a homosexual boyfriend (Jason Wright). There are a number of hilarious scenes where he must choose between his friends, who have attempted to vacation alongside the Waits’, in an RV, and Josh’s sister.
The story sounds ridiculous, and it is. It is possibly one of the worst story ideas ever created. And the execution is even more atrocious than the story. I’m not sure there is a single element of the production that isn’t absolutely dreadful. Much of it is so bad that it can only be explained by an Italian creative team going to Utah, hiring mostly non-actors and forcing them to read a script, written by a non-English speaker, verbatim.
But all of this is what makes Troll 2 such a treasure. Watched in a large group it can be a cathartic communal experience (there were about eighty people at the screening I attended, most of whom were chanting “Pee on it” whenever Josh faced danger). The film is so incomprehensibly, mind-bogglingly bad that it becomes a laugh riot. Some scenes, notably the most ridiculous and amazing popcorn sex scene ever, will incur howls of laughter from the entirety of the audience. There must be a warning about watching this alone, however, as doing so may cause the viewer to contemplate a life-ending decision.
Troll 2, on production merits alone, deserves a zero star rating. But it’s so enjoyable that I might be tempted to give it a much higher rating, perhaps even two stars. As it is, the movie really, really sucks, so we shall stick with half a star. Pirate flags, on the other hand, are an entirely different matter…