Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Don't Let Anyone Say I Have Taste

Virgin Viewings for the Month of June

TROLL (1986)
directed by: John Carl Buechler
written by: Ed Naha

How odd that the irrelevant sequel to John Carl Buechler's irrelevant movie Troll has far surpassed it -- even with its lack of trolls or anything resembling a good movie. And yet I would never argue against that film's success. It's still in theatrical release due to a rabid cult following singing its praise and insurmountable weakness. Accordingly I have much love for its high-octane story of an innocent family exchange program and the anti-vegetarian hotbed of Nilbog (that's Goblin spelled backwards for you respectable types, or those of you living under a bridge). But it should come as no surprise that this, its predecessor, is in name only. Troll 2's chlorophyll buffets and triumph-by-bologna brilliance is in no way tied to this story of an apartment complex run afoul by witches, wizards and woodland trolls. The only thing in common is the sensation of being on bad shrooms -- of which this one has cast in a supporting role.

A little girl crosses paths with a troll in the laundry room of her family's new apartment building. Possessing her body with the aid of a mystical ring, the trolls infiltrate the complex and wage war to win back their magical realm. Along for the fantasy is Julia Louis Dreyfus as a an actress turned forest nymph, and Sonny Bono as a player turned... some cheap makeup effect.

Director Buechler (Friday the 13th, Part VII: The New Blood) creates an inoffensive fantasy filled with practical (and practically all unappealing) visual effects. It's charming in the way of many mid-80's films of its ilk -- an all nonsense romp that aims to be childlike and excessive in equal measure. It's like the dollar bin version of Gremlins, whereas Troll 2 would feel more at home in the discount bin of a 98 cent store. Troll will be discovered for years to come with the success of Troll 2, only to leave fans disappointed when they realize that Buechler was far too aware of the film he was trying to make. Even if the best thing it has to offer is Sonny Bono turning to mold, it makes Troll 2 look far worse by comparison. And in the same weird way, infinitely better.

directed and written by: Earl Barton

The smallest class ever goes on a trip across California to see the majestic sights, embrace the native culture, and flee rapist bikers in the exploitation flick Trip with the Teacher. If you've done your homework, there's not much here you haven't seen in the grindhouse cannon, but the same pleasures and disgust to be found here as in flicks like I Spit On Your Grave. Throw caution to the wind (as well as your knowledge of pace and editing) and hop on the bus!

Four schoolgirls tag along with their teacher, with a course load consisting largely of the finding out who's the bigger slut. Along for the ride is (short)bus driver Martin, and two maniacal bikers with a need for speed and sex with minors. It's a fun afternoon of waving from the bus (and murdering gas station attendants) before the bus breaks down and our pretty pupils are left to rely on the help of the devious duo, Pete and Al -- as well as another stray biker who unwittingly joins the fold. The doom-struck stars have aligned... or is that alined?

A brief lesson in spelling?

Marvin the bus driver is also struck -- unfortunately it's by a motorcycle at top speed. To cover their tracks, Pete and Al turn the road trip into a crash course on torture and sexual degradation. The teacher Miss Tenney uses her mental strength to try and free the girls, while the students have their own unique approach. The primary slut's gung-ho method is to fuck the psychopaths into leaving her alone, while the more chaste students decide just to make a run for it. Miss Tenney unintentionally gives her girls a rounded education, but who'll live long enough to graduate?

If you can bear all the rape and interminably lengthy shots, Trip with the Teacher is an amusing detour. The delight is in the dated, anti-stylistic bumbling, funky music cues, editing flubs and shoddy T&A. The latter of which seems almost too tame given the exploitative aim of the "script." Even if it's about schoolgirls, this film has anything but class. It's nasty to be sure, but then it doesn't always rub your face in it.

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