My relationship with Troll 2 began the same way a lot of people’s did: a childhood fascination with Troll. John Carl Buechler’s adolescent fantasy-horror tale has its charms (it’s certainly “cute”), but it’s one of those flicks that just hasn’t aged well and really can’t hold the interest of many viewers over the age of 13. Revisiting the film for the first time since elementary school sometime in 2005, I found myself perplexed at how bored I was; clearly, I was a victim of nostalgia. But, flipping the disc over, I soon found myself experiencing its sequel for the first time. Little did I know how brilliantly terrible it was.
Troll 2’s premise is incomprehensible and, in turn, a bit of a head-scratcher – in an endearing Ed Wood kind of way, of course – but essentially boils down to the tale of a family visiting the town of Nilbog and discovering that all of its inhabitants are vegetarian goblins; they’re not even trolls as the title suggests. The only reason the film even has the name is for advertising purposes (think Silent Hill: The Room or House III: The Horror Show), and aside from the film involving small, mythical creatures and a young protagonist, the two films really couldn’t be more unrelated.
I’m not really sure who my favorite character is in Troll 2 seeing as how they’re all so horribly written. Michael Paul Stephenson gives a gut-busting performance as Joshua Waits, who under the guidance of his dead Grandpa Seth (Robert Ormsby), discovers the plot of the evil citizens of Nilbog and does everything in his power to save his family, including downing double-decker bologna sandwiches – filled with cholesterol and toxins! – at an alarming rate and pissing on hospitality wherever he sees fit. George Hardy – the subject of Best Worst Movie, a documentary on Troll 2 directed by Stephenson – and Margo Prey each have a few zingers as the parents, and Connie Young as Joshua’s sister, Holly, looks like she’s trying out for Flashdance in her most memorable scenes.
The dialogue ranges from mildly amusing to “Did someone actually write that?” throughout, no doubt the result of Italian writer-director team Claudio Fragasso and Rossella Drudi’s lack of English-language comprehension. Having worked on other horror films (even if they’re of ill-quality), it’s kind of hard to understand how the creative team behind the film actually thought what they were making was frightening, as the goblins are obviously nothing more than midgets in potato sacks with hard, plastic masks.
The acting, production, writing, and really everything about Troll 2 misses the mark by leaps and bounds. But the beauty of the film is that it does it as earnestly as possible, and that’s what makes it memorable, entertaining, and worth inviting friends over for several times a year with an endless supply of alcohol – ok, maybe that last part only applies to me.
Fox Home Entertainment’s 1080p transfer is a fairly noticeable improvement over MGM’s previous flipper disc DVD release. I don’t think anyone ever expected Troll 2 to be Blu-Ray demo material, but it’s better than most would imagine. Considering the cheap nature of the film’s production, it still has a soft appearance, but the grain is still intact and it has a glossier, more vivid look to it. Blacks are deep and the chlorophyll green really pops out. The 5.1 DTS-HD audio track is somewhat lacking, never really giving the crystal clarity that many lossless tracks offer, but again, considering the conditions under which the film was made, it’s not THAT surprising. Sadly, aside from an HD trailer and a standard DVD version of Troll 2 (which is an exact port of MGM’s release, same menu and all), the new release has no special features on it. It’s fairly obvious that this release was initially conceived to contain Best Worst Movie as a supplemental, but that fell through as it’s getting its own release later this month from another distributor. Such a shame, as that really would’ve made this the ultimate Troll 2 release.
Just as the title of its retrospective documentary suggests, Troll 2 is, without a shadow of a doubt, the best worst movie ever made. It completely fails at every conceivable thing it intentionally sets out to do but does it as sincerely as possible, and for those reasons alone does it maintain the cult status it so rightly deserves. For the past twenty years, Fragasso’s entry into film history books has been the penultimate instance of accidental brilliance, and I doubt anything will ever come remotely close to its level. The Room and Birdemic, while great in their own ways, only wish they could be as endlessly entertaining as Joshua’s spirit-guided trip to Nilbog.