Troll 2 (1990)

There’s this school of thought that Troll 2 is the worst movie ever made.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

It doesn’t commit the cardinal sin of a truly bad movie. At no time is it expected, boring or like anything you’ve ever seen before.

It’s not a romantic comedy that you can predict from the first story beat.

Instead, I put forth the argument that this movie is uniquely from its own world and therefore worthy of praise.

Director Claudio Fragasso — Drake Floyd — is no stranger to this site. He started his directing career by working alongside one of the most underappreciated of all Italian exploitation directors, Bruno Mattei, often making two of the same genre movies at the same time on the same set with the same actors like The True Story of the Nun of Monza and The Other Hell or Women’s Prison Massacre and Violence in a Women’s Prison.

Just a quick look through Fragrasso’s resume reveals movies I’ve gone on and on about. He wrote Rats: Night of TerrorDouble TargetStrike CommandoHell of the Living Dead and Zombie 3 while directing Monster DogZombie 4: After DeathBeyond Darkness and Night Killer. Again, most of these movies would appear on worst lists yet I find something magical and fun within each of them.

As you look at the names of those who produced this, you’ll see David Hills. Do not be fooled. This is Joe D’Amato, a man whose Filmirage released movies that made a buck no matter what and cut corners everywhere and I say that with utter devotion.

To realize this story, Fragrasso’s wife Rosella Drudi started the story as a way of expressing her frustration with several of her friends becoming vegetarians. Neither Fragasso nor Drudi spoke fluent English, so their script was broken up into what English they could speak. They would give the cast that script scene by scene and when those actors tried to fix the dialogue, Fragrasso would grow angry. He still gets angry and refers to the actors as dogs (Italian movie slang for bad actors; one can imagine how often Fulci used this word) who lied about their experiences.

The only person who spoke English? Producer D’Amato’s longtime friend and frequent collaborator Laura Gemser. Yes, Black Emanuelle herself.

Can you imagine living in Porterville, Utah in the late 80s and a big international production comes to town and it’s D’Amato, Fragrasso and the most gorgeous and exotic woman you’ve ever seen in your entire life? And she’s there to design the troll costumes?

Well, goblin costumes. Drudi wrote this as Goblins — that’s why Nilbog makes sense — but the American producers changed the name of the movie to try and pass it off as a sequel to Troll. Before you get angry at American capitalism, be aware that D’Amato would follow this by naming both The Crawlers and Quest for the Mighty Sword — which at least recycles one of the troll costumes — as Troll 3.

The production crew was almost all non-English-speaking Italians brought to America by Fragasso, including director of photography Giancarlo Ferrando (All the Colors of the DarkAnd God Said to CainTorsoYour Vice Is A Locked Room and Only I Have the Key, Hands of SteelAmerican Rickshaw), art director Massimo Lentini (The New York RipperThe Beyond), makeup artist Maurizio Trani (Sinbad of the Seven SeasCinema ParadisoZombiDawn of the MummyEmanuelle In America) and assistant director Alessandra Lenzi (High Finance WomanCop TargetHitcher In the Dark), whose Americanized name was Alexandra Humbert and if you didn’t guess, she’s Umberto Lenzi’s daughter.

As for the American cast, they’re a mix of would-be actors, like Michael Stephenson and locals such as George Hardy, a dentist who showed up to have fun and ended up playing one of the main roles in the movie. Or Don Packard, who played store owner Sandy Mahar. He seems like an absolute maniac because, well, he is. He was on a day trip from a nearby mental hospital and had also smoked a ton o marijuana before shooting, so his performance is as real it could be.

So what’s it all about, you may ask?

What isn’t it, I answer.

Michael Waits (Hardy) has always dreamed of being a farmer, so he packs his family up and moves to Nilbog, exchanging homes with the Presents family in a pre-air bnb bit of weirdness. Meanwhile, Grandpa Seth (Robert Ormsby) appears to his son Joshua (Stephenson) and warns him of that goblins wait for him and they plan on eating him and his family. At the same time, his sister Holly (Connie McFarland) is in the midst of dance routines and insinuating that her boyfriend Elliot (Jason Wright) is gay, so he gets all of his friends, packs them in an RV and follows them to Nilbog. On the way, Grandpa appears again as a hitchhiker and tells Joshua that his family will soon be plants that the goblins will devour.

This is literally twenty minutes of this movie and it hasn’t even really become strange yet.

Elliot’s friends Arnold, Drew and Brent are all dispatched whether by poisoned hamburger or drowning in popcorn or, in the case of Arnold, being transformed into a tree by Creedence Leonore Gielgud (Deborah Reed, who went on to be in the makeup department for Dumb and Dumber) and her Stonehenge Magic Stone. She then chainsaws the tree that Arnold becomes and this is presented as a side story and not even part of the plot because the film goes on wild tangents.

As for Elliot and the rest of the family, they all barricade them in the house — after Joshua urinates on their food in an attempt to keep them from eating poisonous goblin ingredients — and have to do a seance with Grandpa Seth for the ten minutes he has left before he returns to the afterlife.

Speaking of that pissing scene, the script called for him to act possessed, jump up on the chair and start screaming. In the documentary about this movie, Best Worst Movie, Stephenson said, “On the day of the shooting, Claudio Fragasso pulls me aside, looks at the script, and says, “Ah, possessed, that bullshit, boring, you stand up, you piss on the table.” Being ten years oldII was thinking, “What?,” but Claudio says, “You don’t worry, you jump on table, you unzip zipper, we cut, piss on table.””

Troll 2 is an odd movie, one that’s about a child’s grief when he loses the first adult in his life and has to come to terms with death, but it’s also about a community of people whose ways haven’t changed for years dealing with outsiders by devouring them. It’s also a horrifying movie because if you take the ending seriously, it’s really dark.

It’s also one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. Just the line readings like “I’m Sheriff Gene Freak” send me into fits of laughter. It’s one thing seeing it at home all alone. Seeing it in a packed theater is just the most wonderful of theatrical moments.

This is a movie where every main actor came to be cast as an extra and got a major part.

When you think about all of that, how can you say that this is a horrible movie? A movie that has brought so much joy? Get over the listicles and so bad it’s good mindset and embrace Italian maniacs running loose in America. This isn’t even Fragrasso’s weirdest movie!

2 thoughts on “Troll 2 (1990)

  1. Pingback: What’s Up in the Neighborhood, January 14, 2023 – Chuck The Writer

  2. Yeah, whenever I hear someone declare this “dA WerSt mUViE eVa”, I know that they’ve seen about 18, 17 of which was from the MCU. Just bandwagoning. We both have seen C O U N T L E S S of movies with none of the personality Troll 2 has.

    People like them usually can’t recognize if something (like Troll 2) is not to be taken at face value, because that requires a level of intelligence.

    Like

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