Disguised as friendly country folk, a pugnacious posse of people-eating trolls lures visitors to their town. But a family of four is about to discover this place is a real tourist trap...and they're the prey! Now, the no-good gnomes must be destroyed before the family gets flambéed...and the world becomes a buffet in this feeding frenzy of fear!
Much like Grandpa Seth (Robert Ormsby) explaining to little Joshua (Michael Stephenson) that there's no understanding the behavior of trolls, there is also no reliable way of understanding a cult following. Be it movies, TV shows, or toys, predicting what will gain popularity years later is about as easy as guessing the lottery numbers in perfect sequence. You just never can tell when you have a winner. Or at least, there's no sure-fire method to do so. In some extremely rare instances, the movie or show actually moves from cult to classic, which is a luxury 'It's A Wonderful Life' and the original 'Star Trek' series now enjoy. The cult genre is a highly fickle and completely random category type. And no one, literally no one, could have predicted 'Troll 2' would eventually secure a devoted fanbase.
There are at least a dozen or more other movies I would rank worse than this low-budget debacle. That's not to say 'Troll 2' isn't bad, because it really is a wretched pile of awfulness. Thing is, there are shoddier messes available, yet this one is strangely enduring and etches itself into the memory of viewers. Basically, the movie is surprisingly entertaining and unintentionally hilarious, which is the secret to its strong following. As far as the filmmakers were concerned, they were making a serious horror feature... but with goblins. This is part of what makes it so funny. This fiasco doesn't come with a single troll. Not one. And it actually bears no relation whatsoever to the original 1986 movie. The title is purely a marketing ploy — and one of the worst ever since there is no connection to the first.
The other part making this such a riot is the maladroit acting, the dreadful dialogue, and the utter lack of narrative logic, an essential element to a coherent script. Claudio Fragasso, credited as Drake Floyd, not only directed 'Troll 2' but also wrote it with his wife, Rossella Drudi. And well, their English isn't so good. A translator was needed so that an Italian crew could work with an inexperienced American cast. And well, that person wasn't so good either. The results are an unwitting side-splitter that has to be seen to be believed. How could anyone think they were involved in a scary movie!?! But that's exactly where the humor is — the sheer sincerity and seriousness of it all. The cast really thought it was a major Hollywood production — their big break! — and filmmakers believed their movie would scare and shock audiences everywhere.
When broken down into plot devices, inappropriate musical cues and editing, things grow worse, and we think this has to be some kind of joke. There are several baffling scenes that go unexplained or are simply forgotten as the movie progresses, like the popcorn scene. Why Brent (David McConnell) would think popcorn when seeing a corncob, we'll never know. And we'll never find out what happened to him afterwards. Or how about when Holly (Connie McFarland) recites what she'll say to her boyfriend, Elliot (Jason Wright). "It's me or the boys, Elliot." And the next morning, we see him lying in bed half-naked with his boys. What's with the spoiled milk? Why does grandpa only talk to Joshua? And for the love of all that is holy, would someone please ask what the green stuff is before eating it?
Filmed in Utah, it almost seems as if the Italian exploitation filmmaker, best known for his work with Bruno Mattei, hired a local repertory company, most of which had never been in a film. Their acting skills, from timing to staging, are obviously meant for the theater not the screen. McFarland is probably the biggest offender by conveniently positioning herself so that the camera is always in front of her and literally trying to perform as if in a playhouse. George Hardy, as the father, fails to deliver his silly lines with weight, and I kept waiting for the moment when Margo Prey, the mother, would stop looking surprised and just blink her eyes. And lest we forget, there's also the wildly popular "Oh, my God!" scene, which is made even better in different languages.
The only person with any worthwhile acting chops is Deborah Reed, who spends a good deal of time stressing the vowels in her name, Creedence Leonore Gielgud, with eye-popping enunciation. It's too bad this is her only known performance, because she was actually quite terrific in the role — even if it's one of the worst examples of overreaching and overacting. I wouldn't be one bit surprised to find out she's the acting instructor for the repertory group. I can almost imagine her on her own midnight horror show similar to 'Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.' You know you have a bad movie when her portrayal is seen as a highlight. But in a movie that insinuates vegetarians are evil and a double-decker bologna sandwich is used to repel monsters, there is very little else about 'Troll 2' that can be taken seriously. This is one horror movie that must be seen to be believed.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
20th Century Fox and MGM Home Entertainment bring 'Troll 2' to Blu-ray in a two-disc set dubbed The 20th Anniversary Nilbog Edition. The discs — one is a DVD while the other a BD25, Region A locked Blu-ray — are housed in a blue eco-case on opposing panels. The disc goes straight to the main menu when popped into the player with the standard selection and music playing in the background.
Even more outrageous than the movie's awfulness is the shockingly good quality of this 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode (1.85:1). This is not only a vast improvement in resolution from the previous DVD, but the picture also displays terrific clarity and detail for such a poorly-made feature.
There are some moments of amazing and surprising definition in the surrounding landscape, clothing, and the many fine objects in the background. Even in scenes of low lightning, like when the family is trapped inside the house in the third act, shadow details remain strong and clearly visible. Facial complexions appear natural and reveal minor blemishes, like freckles and pimples on certain actors' faces. Contrast and brightness are attractively well-balanced with accurate blacks and crisp, clean whites. Grain can be somewhat inconsistent, but nothing that could be construed as distracting. Colors, especially reds and greens, are richly saturated and vibrant, giving the image some impressive pop and energy.
In the end, the high-def transfer for 'Troll 2' makes the "best worst movie" look much much better than it rightfully should. This is a great-looking picture.
Like the video, the DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack for the cult horror flick is also a bit of a shocker because it sounds quite good for such a bad feature.
There's not much going on in the rears as the sound design is really front-focused. And the part that makes an impact is in the imaging. Most all the action is located in the center, but the soundstage exhibits impressive acoustical presence and richness. The best aspect is a musical score that spreads into the other channels, creating a wide, welcoming soundfield that keeps the audience engaged. Vocals are crystal-clear and intelligible throughout so that listeners never miss out on a single line of bad acting. There isn't a low-end to speak of, but the mid-range is nicely balanced and sharply consistent.
Overall, it's not the sort of material to bring down the house, but for a bad low-budget movie, this is pretty darn good.
For an anniversary edition of a strange cult favorite, MGM apparently didn't put much effort into this Blu-ray release. The only special features offered here are the original Theatrical Trailer. I actually would have loved to see some featurettes detailing the production or a retrospective. In fact, what really would have made this a killer collection is if the studio released the movie as part of combo pack with the documentary 'Best Worst Movie.' That really would make this a must-have for cult collectors. But alas, it was not meant to be, and we're given instead one lowly trailer.
When it comes to really bad movies, I can think of worse titles than Claudio Fragasso's 'Troll 2.' Yet, this stinky pile of awfulness has a strange endurance and entertaining quality which makes it weirdly memorable. What was meant to be a shocking horror feature has surprisingly transformed into a hilarious, unintentional comedy that's not a sequel at all. The movie's enjoyment stems entirely from the filmmakers' sincerity and serious wish to scare audiences, and it's best watched for its accidental humor. The Blu-ray comes with shockingly good video and an engaging audio presentation. Sadly, this is more of a bare-bones package, with a DVD copy being the only real bonus. Fans will jump on the opportunity to own this cult favorite in high definition. Anyone looking to have a good laugh this Halloween should at least give it a rent.