Director: Claudio Fragasso
Michael Stephenson as Joshua
George Hardy as Michael
Margo Prey as Diana
Connie McFarland as Holly
Robert Ormsby as Seth
Jason Wright as Elliot
After Joshua (Stephenson) receives a message from his dead grandfather Seth (Ormsby) warning him about the presence of evil goblins in a town called Nilbog, Joshua is dismayed to find out he is due to vacation there with his family the very next day. As the family, along with Holly (McFarland) and boyfriend Elliot (Wright), draw closer to certain doom, will Joshua be able to convince them in time?
As with all things of great proportion, sometimes it’s best to begin at the end. Without revealing too much of a plot that often verges on the hallucinogenic, the crux of this film involves midgets in burlap sacks, a huge plastic rock and a double-decker bologna sandwich. Dramatic music plays. There are screams. Someone shouts ‘think of the cholesterol’.
But before we plunge further into the murky depths, a little background info. As Wikipedia will tell you, there were a number of issues in the production of Troll 2. To begin with, the title of the film implies that this film is a sequel to the 1986 Empire Films production Trolls. This is not the case. Not only does the film bear no relation to the original Trolls, but it also fails to feature any trolls of any kind. Next, the director Claudio Fragasso insisted on a verbatim translation of the original script from Italian to English. This would have been fine, had he not chosen to film in Utah using exclusively American actors, whilst retaining an exclusively Italian camera crew. It is not an exaggeration to say that the resulting camerawork would not be significantly altered had Fragasso simply tied the camera to a passing Labrador and kept his fingers crossed.
Much like the turd you can’t flush at your friend’s houseparty, let’s leave it as it is and move on.
Despite its massive conceptual flaws, terrible acting and downright embarrassing execution, it would be mean-spirited of me to condemn it to the Blockbuster shelf. This film contains innumerable redeeming features in terms of comic value. If there was one iota of evidence to suggest that Trolls 2 was not made in complete earnest, I would be totally convinced of its place as a masterful comedy. Sadly not. It does, however, have a kind of relentless, labrador-esque enthusiasm – giving it the kind of camp charm that you can’t fail to engage with.
Michael Stephenson’s tuneless rendition of ‘row, row, row your boat’ at the vehement request of Margo Prey, who bears a striking resemblance to a tazered Bichon-Frise, gave me chills I haven’t had since the first time I watched Silence of the Lambs. In a split second, my chuckles morphed seamlessly into whimpers of abject terror. Unintentional? Perhaps. But no one can deny the sheer emotive capacity of Trolls 2, even if those emotions are frequently anger and confusion.
Nonetheless, who among you doesn’t love low-budget costumes, special effects reminiscent of a Windows 95 screensaver and an overly long storyline featuring an improbable abundance of dwarfs? You know what I say? Sterling work.
I might venture a couple of points of constructive criticism, however. If the dawn of YouTube hadn’t occurred after the film was released, I would have questioned the resemblance of multiple action scenes to ‘Dramatic Chipmunk’. Zoom in, zoom in more. Have we zoomed enough? Just a bit more, maybe.
Secondly, Joshua’s dead uncle Seth seizes any opportunity to appear to 10 year old Joshua whenever he alone or vulnerable. I am working under the assumption that the tone of menace induced by this was unintentional, but at this stage nothing would surprise me.
To give Troll 2 its due, it has evolved from the Magikarp of the cinematic world – splashing aimlessly at better films – to a towering, hulking Gyarados, quashing other shitty B movies the world over to claim its title as one of the worst films of all time. And for, that, Troll 2, I thank you.
[Joshua, attempting to stop his family from eating poisoned food]
“I must do it. I must do it. I must!”
[Stands on chair, unzips trousers, pees all over family dinner]
As always, a real struggle to pick just a single scene from the writhing mass of glorious ineptitude, but here’s one that sums up pretty much everything wrong with this film.