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Troll 2 (1990)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 10/5/2010
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/17/2010
OK, before we get started, I want everyone to say it; "I can't believe that (fill in your neglected movie here) isn't on Blu-ray, but Troll 2 is." Alright, everybody got that out of their system? Good, let's move on.
In 1986, Charles Band, the man behind Empire Pictures, released Troll, directed by special makeup effects artist John Carl Buechler, and featuring an eclectic cast of familiar faces including Shelley Hack, Michael Moriarty, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, June Lockhart, and Sonny Bono. I haven't seen the movie, but from the trailers, I gathered that it was a late entry into the Gremlins rip-off cycle, contained with a very heavy dose of Dungeons & Dragons-like fantasy elements. I can assume that, like many other efforts from Empire Pictures, it became a video store staple.
One notable thing about Troll -- like many of the movies financed by Charles Band -- it was shot in Italy. Four years later, Troll 2 arrived. In a unique twist, this was an Italian production which was shot in Utah using American actors. A quick scan of the credits reveals the name of Aristide Massaccesi (AKA Joe D'Amato), one of Italy's most notorious peddlers of sex and gore, as well as Laura Gemser, an actress who appeared in many of Massaccesi's movies, serving her as costume designer. These seem like two very odd names to be linked to a fantasy movie about evil creatures, but it's only the beginning of the oddity which is Troll 2.
Troll 2 opens with a scene which perverts the framing device of The Princess Bride, as young Joshua (Michael Stephenson) is listening to a bizarre fairy tale which is being read by his grandfather, Seth (Robert Ormsby)...who is turns out is actually dead. The story concerns evil goblins and Grandpa Seth warns Joshua that goblins are everywhere and that they love to eat people. The next day, Joshua and his family -- Dad (George Hardy), Mom (Margo Prey), and sister Holly (Connie McFarland) -- head for a month long vacation in the country, in a small town called Nilbog. Once there, they notice that all of the locals act very odd and that everyone is trying to get them to eat green food. As it turns out, the citizens of Nilbog are all goblins who have assumed human disguises. They try to get humans to eat the green food, which will then turn the humans into plant-like creatures, which the goblins will then eat. Only Joshua has any suspicion of this, and the frequent visions of Grandpa Seth confirm his paranoia. Unfortunately, his parents refuse to listen and it will take some bizarre encounters with the residents of Nilbog to make them realize that they are in danger.
As noted above, I was aware of Troll, but I'd never seen it. However, I don't think that I knew a sequel (of sorts) had been made. In fact, I don't think that most people were cognizant of this movie. Unless movies like Troll 2 are featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 (and trust me, it's perfect for that show), they usually fade into obscurity. However, the now-grown-up actor who played Joshua crafted a documentary about Troll 2 entitled Best Worst Movie, which reportedly covers the making of the movie and explores how audiences are fascinated by just how bad it is. As this movie has played film festivals, interest in Troll 2 has grown, and now it's out on Blu-ray Disc.
I haven't seen Best Worst Movie (more on that in a moment), but I can say Troll 2 is a very bad movie, and it's ineptitude is almost mesmerizing and I've written before about how I'm not a fan of the "so bad it's good" view of movies (except for The Children (1980), which is simply an awesomely bad movie). The movie fails on nearly every level. I'm honestly not sure where to start. OK, let's start with the photography. If I hadn't already known that the movie was an Italian production, the amount of unmotivated zooms would have told me. The special effects aren't very special, as the goblin masks are very crude, and one has huge eyes that clearly can't move. As far as I could tell, only one mask had any sort of built-in mechanism to make the mouth move (and then the dubbing was off). The goblin costumes are simply brown sacks...I guess that's not really a costume is it? Conversely, some of the gore effects aren't bad, but we mostly get green goop running over people's foreheads. The acting leaves much to be desired, as Stephenson is simply panicked the whole time and Deborah Reed, who plays the goblin queen (I think) chews the scenery like it's nobody business.
Is Troll 2 really the best worst movie? No, but I can see why it would be appealing to that crowd. This is the kind of bad movie which a group of friends could get together and make fun of without ever getting bored. While the movie is awful, it's constantly trying to be entertaining and always throwing all kinds of wackiness at the viewer. However, I can't figure out at whom this movie is aimed. Most of it is pretty childish and plays at the level of a Goosebumps book. However, there is a seduction scene, the finale is pretty gory and the coda features nudity. So, don't play this at a kid's party. As for those who aren't interested in a good bad movie, stay far away from Troll 2.
Troll 2 demonstrates that most people don't look at a word and wonder what it would be spelled backwards on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc features an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 24 Mbps. The image is fairly sharp and clear, showing only a fine sheen of grain at times and no defects from the source material. The colors look good, most notably the constant greens, and the image is never overly dark or bright. Despite the fact that this looks pretty good for a 20 year old low-budget movie, it still looks like a 20 year old low-budget movie, as the picture is flat and not very crisp. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The track delivers satisfactory audio as the music never overpowers the dialogue and we can understand the actors, but the track isn't very active, as the surround and stereo effects are weak.
The only extra on the Troll 2 Blu-ray Disc is the THEATRICAL TRAILER for the film. It's not leap to assume that Fox has brought Troll 2 at this time because of the response to Best Worst Movie. And I would hope that they at least made attempt to have that documentary included here. But, it isn't, which is disappointing.
Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2010.