Troll 2 (20th Anniversary Nilbog Edition)
Picture a small group of wooden buildings out in the woods, next to a body of water, ripe for fishing and swimming. There are kids who want to earn badges for different tasks, and there are counselors to take care of these kids and guide them, sometimes resulting in hilarious hijinks. One boy gets his first kiss. Some kid makes a clay ashtray for his seven-year-old sister because that's all he knows how to do. I think I can safely say the film Troll 2 is more camp than any of that shit.
"The only person who would own Troll 2 on Blu-ray is somebody who would get it for free for reviewing it for a website," my friend Caylan said, as if he were privy to information that he could base this on. Oh, all right, it's true. I got the Troll 2 Blu-ray/DVD combo for free from this wonderfully insightful website. I feel like I've been raped everywhere but my private parts. The recent documentary about it, Best Worst Movie, is two-thirds aptly titled. I can't dare wrap my head around every irredeemable aspect of what went on. I understand why it has cult status now. Partial victory!
The quick backstory is that it's a sequel in name only, an attempt by the filmmakers to cash in on all that amazing Troll money everyone was after. I think that's what Wall Street was about. The title isn't ironic or anything. The word "goblin" is thrown around a hundred times or so, lest you think trolls have any sort of antagonistic role. The film takes place in a small town called Nilbog, not Llort. The inanity only starts with the name of this sucker.
Michael Waits (George Hardy) and wife Diana (Margo Prey) are gung ho on the idea of taking a month off to trade their city home to a small-town family. Later, when these families meet, it's clear they've never spoken before, so I wonder who set all this up. The Waits have two children, teen daughter Holly (Connie Young) and younger son Joshua (Michael Stephenson). Holly is dating Elliot (Jason Wright), a moron with equally moronic friends who follow the Waits to their vacation home. Joshua has the most camera time here, because he's the only one who understands what's going on from the get-go, thanks to visions of his dead grandfather (Robert Ormsby), who tells him predictive stories about vegan goblins who turn people into human/plant hybrids that they feed on. That sentence accurately describes something real within this movie.
The crappy old town of Nilbog has a population in the low dozens, and all are secretly the heinous un-titular goblins, creatures that appear to have been crafted by Jim Henson's gas-huffing younger brother. Using the botanical sorcery of witchy townswoman Creedence Lenore Gelgud (Deborah Reed), the goblins have a foolproof system of turning ordinary citizens into plant people by feeding them portions of other plant people, presented in various forms of green glop. Examples include cake with green-glop frosting, corn on the cob with green-glop schmear, and green-glop milkshakes. There isn't any meat in Nilbog, because that would be ridiculous. Unbelievably, the Waits are actually intrigued by this garbage, constantly putting themselves in harm's way. Watch how the goblins don't ever actually show much violence to humans, other than some light prodding. But once you eat some of that glop and your hands turn to tree branches, they're on you like a goblin blanket.
Really, the plot of Troll 2 is as incidental as everything else in the film. There isn't much of a driving force behind any of the ideas or performances. Lines were written and delivered with less conviction than a celebrity trial. Further, the special effects and editing are childish, and proudly battle everything else for the title of Biggest Failure. I absolutely understand that these are the reasons why Troll 2 is ironically held dear to its fan base. That doesn't mean I have to enjoy it for the same reasons. Its fans are the same people that watch and comment on "hilarious" YouTube videos like pop-culture fan mash-ups, such as the ones that feature scenes from this movie. I'm not one of those people. I don't think there are enough intoxicants in the world to make me truly enjoy this movie on any level. It's shit from the ground up. I do enjoy saying bad things about it, though. Part of the appeal, I guess.
Note that I'm judging it from my seat as a horror fan. If this were a comedy, and everything was meant to cause uproarious laughter, it would rate higher. Unfortunately for it, unintentions don't gain merit. However, there are a multitude of moments that are instantly rewatchable, each topping the next in terms of sheer awkwardness. Such as Grandpa Seth's ghostly head appearing in Holly's mirror instead of Joshua's, because he didn't learn the layout of the house just yet; I did not expect to see ghost logic applied. Deborah Reed deserves her own award ceremony for her cracked-out performance. Elliot (whose name is never said convincingly) and his friends are the antithesis of male camaraderie, and, like everyone else, they are played by actors who appear to have never had a conversation with a real person before Troll 2 was filmed. It's beyond me how this film was thought about, written, acted, and filmed without anyone pulling the plug, or hanging themselves with the cord.
I'm not sure what the perfect audience for Troll 2 would be; I just know I'm not a part of it. But even if you do think it's a gem, there's still no reason to own it on Blu-ray. There are no special features except for a DVD copy, and the quality is comparable to a brand new videotape. I know it wasn't shot on amazing cameras or anything, but it's still grainier than an Uncle Ben warehouse. The sound quality is better, but when all you're listening to is shitty dialogue and a repetitive synth score, you almost wish you couldn't hear anything. If this does make it to your shopping list, be sure you watch it with a group of funny people. Bad things happen to people who watch it alone, starting with watching it alone.
Just the DVD copy and a trailer here as far as extras go. Go read about a good movie now.
Reviewed By: Nick Venable