Thursday, September 13, 2012

Troll 2

I remember watching the Bravo Channel's 100 Scariest Movie Moments and seeing the segment for The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (which was ranked number 5). Chainsaw is a film noted for its grim, documentary-style aesthetics, twisted humor, and nightmarish, surreal narrative. Rob Zombie described it as so convincing, it's one of the movies where you ask "Are these actors, or did (director Tobe Hooper) just find crazy people to be in a movie? But boy, these crazy people sure can act." Obviously, Zombie is being facetious to illustrate how effective and involving that landmark horror film was.

Troll 2 (1990), on the other hand, had to have been made by the clinically insane; there's no other explanation for how bad this movie is. No one with any grounding in everyday reality could have been convinced at any point during production they were in any way crafting a competent movie. The dialogue is atrocious, the acting bottom of the barrel, the production values cheap, the story nonsensical, and the direction flat, uninteresting, and misguided.

It's actually a mystery why this movie is called Troll 2; it bears no connection to the first Troll movie (a 1986 flick starring, of all people, Michael Moriarty, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, and Sonny Bono), and the creatures central to the plot are identified exclusively as goblins. The goal of the goblins, who live in the town of Nilbog and maintain human form on occasion, is to transform a visiting family into plants so they can eat them (these goblins are vegetarians).

Looking at IMDB, apparently I'm not wrong to assert crazy folks made this movie. One of the actors, who plays a deranged shopkeeper, is said to have been on leave from a stay in a mental hospital. Director Claudio Fragasso is apparently angry to this day about the film's reputation, and at one cast reunion Q&A, he had to be escorted out of the room after crashing the event. The movie's shoot was also troublesome because the crew only spoke Italian and the actors English, and despite requests to change the awkward diction of the dialogue to something more naturally sounding, the actors were forbidden from making alterations to the script.

The dialogue either states the obvious, describing the action or forcing in exposition, or is just plain bad. The acting doesn't help, ranging from bland and un-emotive to shrill and embarrassingly campy with odd emphases on words. It's as if everyone, goblin and human, is from Mars. Here are some examples (taken, again, from IMDB):

- "They're eating her... and then they're going to eat me... OH MY GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!"

- "Otherwise, we'll be forced to kill you VIOLENTLY!"

- "Grampa Seth has been gone for more than six months now. You were at the funeral, and I know it was very difficult for you. It was also very difficult for your father and for Holly, and for me, his daughter."

The attempts at horror are laughable. We see the goblins within the first few minutes, and they are quite clearly played by dwarfs in really cheap, obvious plastic masks. There is no attempt to hide the effect or keep them in the shadows. In human form, the goblins are clearly meant to be ominous and threatening, and that involves standing around and staring at would-be victims in the most transparent of manners.The reality of the movie is just wholly unconvincing.

So much of the story is nonsensical. The main character is a young boy named Joshua trying to save his family from the goblins, and he's assisted by the spirit of his dead grandfather who knows about the threat and uses magical powers, but it's never explained why the grandfather has this power. One character in a trailer is seduced by the goblin queen with a corn on the cob (just go with it), resulting in the most baffling of (sex?) scenes in which they keep the corn between their mouths as the trailer fills with popcorn. Other scenes are confusing because the movie randomly cuts in the middle of a conversation to another in another location without any transition.

Troll 2 is bad, bottom-of-the-barrel cinema, but it's hard to deny how funny it is. In the right state of mind. this is a hilarious movie. It's so bizarre and so poorly put together, you can just sit there and laugh at how awful everything in it is. It's a train wreck of a movie, and you can't look away. Or maybe you have to be a little crazy yourself.

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