Every year, some new obscurity is trotted out before the cult movie crowd as its following tries to make the case for it being the best bad movie since the days of Ed Wood, Jr. A lot of these movies — The Room and Things to name two — are as bad as their reputations suggest but their partisans tend to over-exaggerate how fun they are. A bad movie that mixes wacked-out ideas and aesthetically suspect execution with a relentless drive and a non-stop barrage of insane sights and sounds is truly rare. Troll 2 is such a film and it easily earns its place in the modern bizarro-flick pantheon.
Troll 2 has no real connection to its predecessor other than the presence of beastly little creatures up to supernatural mischief, presented here as a gaggle of fright-masked little people. The wild plotline deals with the Waits family participating in a “family exchange” that takes them to the small town of Nilbog (spell it backwards).
Young Joshua (Michael Stephenson) is in contact with the spirit of his recently deceased Grandpa Seth (Robert Ormsby), who warns him he must get the family out of this town. However, mom (Margo Prey) and dad (George Hardy) aren’t easily swayed and his sister (Connie Young) is too caught up in boyfriend drama. Thus, Joshua has his work cut out for him against this town, where all the locals are sinister and a strange witch-like figure named Creedence (Deborah Reed) wields sinister powers that include transforming people into plants and an army of little beasties.
That plot might sound strange enough in synopsis form but seeing unfurl across the screen is the cinematic equivalent of smoking angel dust. Director Claudio Fragasso was a veteran writer and director of demented Italian schlock — his C.V. includes everything from Hell Of The Living Dead to Monster Dog — and he brings the full powers of his gift for celluloid insanity to bear here.
The script, penned by Fragasso’s wife and regular collaborator Rossella Drudi, mixes strange ideas about what is scary, even stranger ideas about social commentary and satire of vegetarianism and most importantly, a thoroughly crazy “funhouse mirror” vision of how American family life and teenage behavior work. Fragasso directs it all with a sense of drive that is exhausting, restlessly combining shopworn horror motifs lifted from a variety of sources into something that genuinely feels like a trash-horror fan’s fever dream.
A big part of Troll 2’s effect is the mostly amateur cast. It seems that beyond getting the cast to perform the script as written, Fragasso essentially left the cast to their own devices. Stephenson and Young play their roles like precocious kid actors on the Halloween episode of a sitcom, Hardy tries to bluff his way through in community-theater style and Prey is a blank-eyed, hauntingly numb presence. However, top honors must go to Reed, who puts on a display of Lugosi-accented histrionics and silent movie facial expressions: “over the top” isn’t sufficient enough to capture the overpowering effect of her performance. Virtually everyone seems to have a different acting style and the cacophonic clash their interpretations make just add to the film’s hypnotic weirdness.
As a result of these artistic choices, Troll 2 become a rollercoaster packed with whiplash turns of narrative logic as it hurtles you past sights and sounds you will experience in no other film. People bleed chlorophyll and transform into plants, only to be devoured by little people in troll costumes. The least joyful round of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” ever filmed. A child hero who urinates on toxic food to keep his family from eating it. A seduction that involves a cob of corn and fills an R.V. bed with popcorn. The aforementioned moments are just a sampling of what awaits you in this one-of-a-kind film.
Simply put, Troll 2 is a bad movie classic worthy of the Ed Wood, Jr. pantheon because it offers a singularly outré take on life and cinema, delivered with a barrage of crazed ideas and surreal execution that never stops coming at the audience. Disconnect piles atop disconnect piles atop disconnect until the viewer is transported to a strange world where conventional logic, aesthetics and sanity do not apply. Thus, it is a must see for any patron of cult movie madness.