Wednesday, June 30, 2010

No More Popcorn: The Curious Legacy of Troll 2 - By Matt Wavrin

 Troll 2 (1990) occupies a unique spot in trash film history. Shot in Utah by Italians, it packs so much craziness into its 95 minutes that one is left with an overdose of genuine oddity. What is Troll 2? A condemnation of vegetarians, according to Rosella Drudi, who co-wrote the story with the film’s director, Claudio Fragasso (credited as Drake Floyd). Or is it about evil, vegetarian Mormons? Who knows? What is obvious is that the film bears no relation to the original 1986 Troll with Sonny Bono, and in fact contains not trolls, but goblins. All of this, and some serious homoerotic undertones to boot.

 In case you’re confused about the fact that they are indeed goblins, the name of the town to which the Waits family travels is called Nilbog (“Goblin spelled backwards!”). Troll 2 blurs the criterion for what makes a bad film, though it is indeed considered one of the worst of all time. In terms of technical matters, acting, and nearly every other superficial category, yes, it is a bad film. If one considers pure entertainment value, originality, daring, comedic value, and extreme weirdness as a high virtue, it is hardly a bad film, and its cult has only grown over the years.

This cult is of concern to Michael Stephenson, who played young Joshua, pisser of hospitality, in the film. His documentary, Best Worst Movie, shows the repercussions of being involved with such a travesty. The cast recalls the supreme embarrassment felt after seeing Troll 2 for the first time, and the film shows what has happened to the cast after two decades of shame. Fragasso seems to fashion himself a Fellini-esque auteur and believes his film to be great and detests the actors. The father in Troll 2, George Hardy, is a divorced dentist in Alabama and serves as the documentary’s star. Don Packard, who played the demented drugstore owner, confesses that he was actually going through some serious mental issues during the filming of the movie. Margo Prey, the Waits mother, is now a paranoid cat lady who wishes not to be involved with the film’s newfound popularity. What it all adds up to is that being part of a baaaad cult classic has its rewards and its pitfalls, such as being totally ignored in England and at a horror convention in the States. Yet there is such sweetness in Stephenson’s film—it is about the love of movies, no matter the artistic value. And that’s not something to piss on.

1 comment:

  1. I've never actually seen this film, but have been curious to see it. Regardless I've known for a while it's been considered one of the worst films. Pretty good overview.