Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #83
Number of Views: Two
Release Date: October 3, 1990
Sub-Genre: Troll 2
Country of Origin: Italy
Running Time: 94 minutes
Director: Claudio Fragasso (as Drake Floyd)
Producer: Brenda Norris, Joe D’Amato, Asher Zulkosky Larson
Screenplay: Drake Floyd, Rossella Drudi
Cinematography: Giancarlo Ferrando
Score: Carlo Maria Cordio
Editing: Vania Friends
Distributor: Epic Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Stars: Michael Stephenson, George Hardy, Margo Prey, Connie Young, Robert Ormsby, Deborah Reed, Jason Wright, Darren Ewing, Jason Steadman, David McConnell, Gary Carlston, Mike Hamill, Don Packard, Christina Reynolds
Suggested Audio Fertilizer
 George Thorogood & The Destroyers “Bad To The Bone”
 Carlo Maria Cordio “Troll 2”
I’ve watched a lot of films in my time. Despite long since losing track of exactly how many, I would say it is fast approaching five figures and would expect not to be too far off with that estimation. Of the multitude of movies that have graced, first my VHS toploader, then DVD player, and eventually and reluctantly, my Blu-Ray player, the majority have been at the very least average. However, you can’t make a few thousand omelettes without breaking a few rotten eggs along the way and a handful of those movies have been downright abysmal. My grandmother always reminded me that, if I have nothing nice to say, then it’s best for all involved not to say anything at all and I try my darnedest to take heed of her advice. Thus, should you peruse my appraisal archives, you will struggle to find anything that scores underneath the average 5/10.
I’d rather leave all the mud-slinging to those who take pleasure in other people’s misery and stick to the countless films I have watched that offer some nutritional value to my readership. Besides, everyone becomes a critic when it is somebody else’s art under the microscope and, the truth is, I respect the shit out of anyone with the cojones to go out there and make it happen, regardless of how threadbare the final product. Some “review sites” award big fat zeros when they take exception to a particular feature and I wholeheartedly disagree with such callous treatment. At the very least, the disc will likely make a decent coaster for your morning coffee, even though that may result in curdled milk. How can something have absolutely no worth to anyone? When it comes down to it, film is a subjective media, thus, critics owe it to themselves and those who take their word as bond to crack that whip fairly.
“I order you, with the sacred power of the magic stone and it’s lord, GO… BACK… TO… HELL!”
By now I’m guessing you have a good idea where this is headed. This isn’t the build up to some indisputable masterpiece of modern cinema we’re talking of here and there isn’t a pair of rose-tinted spectacles strong enough to suggest otherwise. The movie in question has a reputation that precedes it and not the kind that makes friends and influences people either. At least, that is what I thought before sitting down with Claudio Fragasso’s Troll 2 for a second time and attempting to locate the diamond in something that has forever epitomized rough. The gloves were off this time and I had my can of whoop at the ready, with every intention of opening it after enduring 94 more minutes of pain and suffering. Well guess what? Those 94 minutes are up and I’m still entitled to a refund on said can of whoop. Time to suck a little troll dick and I never imagined, in my most lucid nightmares, that I would be saying that without a Luger pointed at my temple. Right then, down to business.
I’ve always regarded Troll 2 to be one of the most pitiable excuses for a movie I have ever had the grim fortune of being exposed to. John Carl Buechler’s predecessor was a fair to middling straight-to-video fantasy flick that left no real enduring footprint but mildly entertained, at the very least. Its follow up however offered new connotation to the phrase inept. The performances were so shockingly abysmal that it plummeted to a depth seldom visited by any piece of supposed art and I was utterly bereft of kind words to impart after my primary excursion to Nilbog. One glance at movie aggregate sites only served to confirm my solemn sentiment. Fragasso’s travesty was right there, shoulders deep with the bottom feeders, in the twenty worst ranked movies of all time and there appeared to be no reprieve for this spoiled tampon of a motion picture.
That is, until I had a passing conversation with a dear friend, whose good word is always delivered with sobriety. Just like myself, horror runs through his very ventricles and, much as I regard myself to be a safe pair of hands, this man has a similarly deft touch when it comes to forming sound judgement. So when he revealed that Troll 2 scarred him for a number of years after he first watched it as a boy, I naturally presumed it was the shocking dearth of quality that perturbed him so. However, once he had elaborated more, it fast became obvious that I would be required to dust Fragasso’s film down and summon up all my inner brawn in order to reappraise it. I could have slapped his face for putting me in that position, one I never dreamed of being stuck in again while there was breath in my lungs. But I owed it a fair trial and, must come clean, was secretly excited about chowing down on the slice of humble pie I had prepared myself.
“Think about the cholesterol! Think about… THE TOXINS…!”
Interestingly, Fragasso’s film has since been vanquished from the bottom rung it used to frequent contentedly. The tides of change have rolled in and it would appear that a new rank is looming large. Dare I even utter the words cult status? Troll 2? This slab of festering phlegm… this stubborn lumpy stool that flat refused to sink… a cult classic? Even Fragasso himself knew it blew mountain goats as he directed under the more ambiguous pseudonym of Drake Floyd to save himself the hate mail. This “cult classic” positively begged to be fished out and scrutinized further so, with rubber gloves x 2 on, I grabbed it by the scruff of its misshapen neck and wrenched this turd free from its cess pool. 94 minutes ain’t that long right? That equates to 1.5 episodes of Melrose Place and the time it takes for the initial throbbing to subside after undergoing a colonoscopy. As you may have guessed, I’m clearly stalling for time here. Fuck it, Nilborg here I come.
Where are my manners? I’m sure any newcomers are simply dying for a dash of synopsis so here is Troll 2 in a nutshell. The Waits family move to the rural farming town of Nilbog on a month’s home exchange and, having received visitation from his dead grandfather and warned of an unruly band of vegetarian goblins looking to turn his nearest and dearest into vegetation and eat them, ankle biter Joshua (Michael Stephenson) is convinced that bad things are about to happen. A little cunning detective work reveals that the town of Nilborg is actually Goblin in reverse and Joshua’s worst fears become a reality. Unfortunately for him and the entire Waits clan, bad things are indeed happening and his folks are about to become tomorrow’s goblin flatulence.
“But how are we going to make grandpa come?”
Once placed carefully under the roving lens of my mental microscope, any preliminary damning denunciation appeared to be bang on the money. The acting was just as wince-inducing as the very first time and Troll 2 remained every bit the shambles first introduced all those aeons ago. Taking consolation in the fact that it sucked as many assholes as it did back in 1990, I exhaled and began to unwind. It was then, while my guard was down, that it happened and Fragasso’s film tossed me the ultimate curve ball. Could it be that I was actually having a jolly good time? Or perhaps senile dementia had turned up for its appointment twenty years early. I dashed to the nearest mirror and, just as I thought, not a solitary white hair in either my lobes or nostrils. A swift and spiteful pinch of my bicep confirmed that I wasn’t in the Sandman’s jurisdiction and I was all out of sound theory for this turnaround in fortunes.
Allow me to elucidate on Troll 2 through our old friend metaphor. It’s a little like the poor guy in school afflicted with polio. At first that withered T-Rex limb appears preposterous, like a fleshy Slim Jim it hangs feebly, appearing to serve no actual purpose other than to perpetually ridicule. That is until you fumble your lunch box in the school yard during recess and, desperately pursuing that want away apple as it rolls towards the nearby pile of dog excrement, something entirely serendipitous occurs. A shadowy figure leans in and grasps said component of your five-a-day, stopping it dead in its tracks just in the nick of time. As you look up slowly and follow that slender branch back to its owner, the realization sets in that you may have been a little damning with your initial judgement. This eyesore is actually a jolly congenial fellow. Your guard drops instantaneously and you feel like a bit of a bastard, truth be known. As it transpires, you become firm BFFs, sharing finger foods together and engaging in heart-warming rounds of rock, paper, scissors, proving that appearances can be mighty deceiving. Lesson learned.
Troll 2 has suffered its fair share of injustice over the years and, while never likely to be considered a landmark motion picture, its crude appearance does conceal a rather hefty degree of guilty pleasure. Of course, we’re still talking polio and a nasty case of club foot to boot (pun irresistible) but, amongst its misshapen hooves and contorted features, lies a charming slither of low rent trash with much to commend. Let’s not get this twisted; it still remains a travesty of gargantuan proportions but so was Agadoo and that doesn’t stop us chanting the lyrics at family gatherings after one too many ladles of Auntie Mabel’s homemade fruit punch (plus the hip flask of sherry that you swiped from the old girl’s drink cabinet). If the Weinsteins can hold the monopoly, then surely Fragasso should be afforded the chance to rent Old Kent Road right?
“They’re eating her… and then they’re going to eat me… OH MY GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!”
Fragasso remains defiant about the quality of his work, bearing in mind the entire crew were Italian and had no means of communication with any of the actors who, themselves, were forbidden from speaking in English, instead using verbatim. As for Darren Ewing’s timeless line of dialogue (that has amassed over four million YouTube hits), it appears that having his shoes screwed to the base of a plant pot for fourteen hours straight dressed as a tree assisted in coaxing this earth-shattering recital out of him. I’d wager he won’t be returning for the sequel. Speaking of which, the grape-vine has it that Fragasso is busy working on a script for Troll 2: Part 2 and that suddenly seems a rather mouth-watering proposition for anyone probing for some more so-bad-its-good merriment.
“Do you see this writing…? Do you know what it means…? Hospitality. And you can’t piss on hospitality! I WON’T ALLOW IT!”
To summarize, time has been mysteriously kind to this particular Z-grade delight. Fragasso may have killed any faint hope of franchising the series stone dead (until the recent turn of events) but, in doing so, he fashioned a film that cannot help but titillate through its sheer ineptitude and can-do attitude. While unquestionably a public dog foul of a movie, Troll 2 somehow managed the seemingly inconceivable and found a tiny crawlspace in my heart. Ultimately it is all a matter of timing. In 1990 I was ill-prepared and, back then, this would unquestionably have hobbled away with a cataclysmic 2/10. However, fret not Claudio, you need not feel disheartened as I’m more than doubling up on that tally. Hopefully one day I shall revisit Nilbog (or Nilborg as it was hilariously misnamed on its VHS sleeve) for the threatened sequel and, when I do, I have a sneaking suspicion that Darren Ewing will still remain rooted to that plant pot. I just pray that Fragasso supplied him with the necessary sunlight and water.
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 5/10
Grue Factor: 2/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers: If green snot constitutes as grue then fill your boots as there is plenty here on the platter. Unfortunately, a dismembered hand loses its effect a little when oozing out emerald slime instead of the customary claret. Make absolutely no mistake, folk die in Troll 2 and, moreover, they do so in rather mean-spirited fashion. However, guilty pleasures aside, it is tough taking these mossy monstrosities the faintest bit seriously. Unless you’re a keen gardener, in which case, its cruel harvest may be too much to stomach.
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of The Crimson Quill
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