Monday, April 13, 2009

Cult Oddities: Troll 2 (1990)

Troll 2 exists in the realm of such lovably haphazard brilliance as Ed Wood and Nomi Malone. Its watershed story of the Nilbog family-exchange program is so uniquely, consistently terrible, and yet in ways that transcend many legitimate or competently made comedies. Is it so watchable because it's so unwatchable? Whatever the reasons, viewing it through bad movie goggles changes everything.

It's technically a sequel to a semi-respectable horror/fantasy entry, John Carl Buechler's Troll, taken under the funding of an Italian production company and director Claudio Fragasso -- who likely took the pseudonym Drago Floyd in the genuine horror that he was responsible for such dreck. Never mind that these are actually goblins and not trolls -- assuming the difference comes from living under a bridge or having a bejeweled mid-section and monstrous colored hair. And forget that there is absolutely zero correlation between the two films. If there had been an ounce of craft or ingenuity, we wouldn't be talking about Troll 2 to this day. Cast and crew insist they had honest intentions, and that the Italian-speaking production may have led to some of the film's more awkward moments and painfully literal line readings.

Say what you will, but Gandhi certainly never gave a speech like this one! Granted, his son probably didn't urinate on the dinner table...

"Do you see this writing? Do you know what it means? Hospitality. And you can't piss on hospitality! I won't allow it! ... I'm tightening my belt by one loop so I don't feel hunger pains, and your sister and mother will have to do likewise. Okay, Joshua, you want to get rough with me? You want to show me that you don't like the choice of this house for our vacation by going on a hunger strike? Well I'll accept the challenge. But just remember when I was your age I really did suffer from hunger. We'll see who gets through this. But just remember I've got more practice than you. I'll see you tomorrow."

The shameful pleasures come fast and furious. It's hard to believe that even a language barrier could be responsible for so many bad choices, but whatever's to blame, it's also to thank. The mysterious supernatural rules pertaining to peeved dead grandparents, the anti-vegetarian, pro-bologna agenda... Troll 2 is senseless beyond comprehension, to the point of its monumental success. With a cast below par even for regional theatre, a soundtrack composed by a child's Casio keyboard, and costume design by K-Mart. The spirit of horror is all too real.

Claudio Fragasso has promised fans an eventual Troll 2.5, but I can only hope he's learned zero skills in filmmaking since this film's embarrassing release. Then again, watching his own film should be enough to guide him in what not to do. The only real problem with this sequel talk is that you can't merely set out to make a film without any redeeming value, or else you end up with a film that's simply terrible, minus the uniquely joyful qualities of something that's unwittingly complete crap.

But because you can't piss on hospitality, I give you a neighborly peek at the upcoming Troll 2 documentary, The Best Worst Movie. Directed by its very own humiliated child star, Michael "Joshua" Stephenson, it looks at the title as the little shitpile that could; a cult classic feeding legions of fans tired of cinema that's well-conceived. It premiered at the Austin, Texas SXSW film festival, and it's a title I really can't wait to see over some hot popcorn and food laced with green chlorophyll icing. What has become of the film's expertly amateur ensemble? And will Claudio Fragasso freely admit to writing the script after attending a steakhouse with his vegan friends? Or was it during a vicious, vicious bender?

No comments: