When first deciding to embark on The Search for the Best Worst Movie, Nate, our friend Bill, and myself knew that we had to start things right (wrong). Having established our criteria around Halloween of 2015, we set forth on our journey with what has been referred to as the Citizen Kane of bad movies, Troll 2. If you’re a fan of the B-movie genre, you know Troll 2. If you’re not a fan of the B-movie genre, you may very well know Troll 2. Its legacy can not be overstated, but I’ll do my damndest to try and capture why Troll 2 IS Troll 2.
Director Claudio Fragasso (credited under the pseudonym Drake Floyd) created a film centered around an American family who take a road trip. I mention this because Fragasso and his wife Rosella Drudi (with whom he co-wrote the screenplay) are Italian and demonstrate an impossibly comedic and confusing understanding of how Americans speak. The dialogue is almost always lost in translation (“I’m the victim of a nocturnal rapture. I have to release my lowest instincts with a woman.” LOL WHAAAAAAAAT). Not only are Fragasso and Drudi non-native English speakers, but according to the film’s lead, and real-life practicing dentist (no, seriously), George Hardy, NO ONE on the set spoke any English. Combined with largely terrible, rookie actors in starring roles, a working title that has no association with the original Troll (there are no trolls in the movie), an absurd commentary on anti-vegetarianism (we’ll get to this), a shitty soundtrack, shitty props, etc., it’s a cavalcade of awfulness resulting in an undeniable classic. Also there’s a sex scene in a popcorn filled Winnebago. Also the trolls, I mean goblins, are good at throwing sticks.
All right, this family is on a trip to some town called Nilbog (goblin spelled backwards because horror movie) and there’s a cult living in the town that is focused on turning the family into plants through use of poisoned food and vegetarian goblins (because Claudio Fragasso). The son, Joshua, is able to communicate with his dead grandfather (Grandpa Seth) who warns him of the family’s doomed foreboding. Early on, Joshua is able to save the family from demise when Grandpa Seth stops time long enough for Joshua to urinate on their poisoned dinner (you can tell the food is poisoned because it has what looks like green toothpaste neatly applied atop). Following dinner, Michael, the father, tells Joshua that, “You can’t piss on hospitality. I WON’T ALLOW IT!” This is like the “Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.” line of b-movies. Only the context is entirely different, and the content, and the situation…whatever I just love Chinatown more than anything and I’m being forced to review Troll 2. Fuck. Oh, and later Joshua saves the family with a bologna sandwich or something. Sorry, spoilers.
If the last paragraph comes off as disjointed and unfocused it’s probably because it’s disjointed and unfocused. There’s no way for me to formulate a cohesive synopsis of this film without intermittently pulling the car over for the next roadside attraction (head-on collision). This movie has no fucking end to them. So let’s explore a few of these! Let’s stick with the car analogy!
What the fuuuuuuuuck? Isn’t this just so American? Sing the song like a happy, out-of-sync family! SING THE SONG JOSHUA! But what about the sister?
American teenage girls work out in their bedrooms! Quick cuts of Johnny Depp and Tom Cruise! Fuckin’ visual storytelling!
Here’s an amateur video taken by yours truly of the gang watching one of the most infamous moments in the film:
It’s the magnum opus, really. Not only is the “Oh my gooooooooooooooooooodd” line so wonderfully and indifferently exclaimed, but oh my goooooooooooooooodd it’s context! She’s an evil vegetarian witch? Like…eating meat to the deranged fucks of Nilbog is the severest of sins? The heroic American family is not afraid to eat their meat so…so being a vegetarian is immoral and wrong and leads you to isolate yourself in a town of trolls, WHOOPS I MEAN GOBLINS, to kill meat eaters and turn them into plants? Is this the commentary? What’s that? Hey is that the script in the garbage bin? Where’s the director? Who’s in charge here? Oh fuck, I’m asking these questions in English.
Oh yeah. Here’s the popcorn sex scene.
So…right. She’s a harlot of sorts. I think. And she’s got an ear of corn. And she puts it between their mouths and I guess like, the heat that emanates from them causes the room to explode in popcorn? She’s bad because she’s corrupting this gullible kid with a grain plant?
Whatever. I don’t need to do this anymore. We love to painstakingly break down plot, characters, and tone here at Dodging Barrels to the point of exhaustion, mostly for the people around us. Who am I kidding? Nate and I basically wither away alone on his Gowanus couch with his creepy ass cat, Tori (she stares into my soul and every time I leave Nate’s place I walk away more dead than I arrived). But dissecting this to try and unearth some sort of survival parable about a family overcoming a kind of supernatural threat would take away from the enjoyment of just LETTING this movie happen to you. Watching this with my buddies was an insanely enjoyable experience because we collectively drowned in its depth of confusion. And I laughed harder than I had in a long time. Watching this alone in preparation for this shitty review made me want to hang myself. Or welcome a horde of trolls, GODDAMNIT, I MEAN GOBLINS, to bust down my door and eat me until I became a plant.
If I can offer one point that may keep Troll 2 from claiming the top prize in our Search for the Best Worst Movie, is that it is pretty competently shot. This was made by actual filmmakers with an actual crew. There’s no especially confusing series of cuts, or audio cut outs, or sped up sequences, etc. It looks like a movie. Kind of. There’s a budget. Sort of. This prevents Troll 2 from delivering the absolute perfect storm of Best Worst Movie qualities. There’s a lot to be said about how a film looks and operates within its technicalities, and Fragasso does this well enough. Had this been shot like Miami Connection (which Nate will be reviewing next!) this may have been even more historic.
Alas, the way we assign final grades for Best Worst Movie is on a 1-10 scale. We evaluate its legacy based on, “how entertaining it was for whatever reason.” Between Bill, Nate, and myself, our weighted average is posted below. Will this be enough to take the shit cake? We’ll find out my lovelies. Together.
Troll 2: 8.7