Mar 8, 2020

TROLL (1986) & TROLL 2 (1990)

Why is a film about a troll terrorizing an annoyingly happy white American family so dull? How does that even happen? Well, you'd have to ask director John Carl Buechler (director of the entertaining Friday the 13th: Part VII -- The New Blood), who dedicates the first 40 minutes of his film to the little sister character, who I guess becomes semi-possessed by the troll that already lives in the basement of their new apartment building and turns into kind of an asshole. Mushrooms come to life, trolls partake in a sporadic rock-opera, and Phil Fondacaro charms the pants off the Potter family. Eventually the titular mythical being shows up. Or maybe not, who knows? Legend says no one has ever finished Troll and lived to tell the tale. Honestly, what would have been so wrong with having the troll itself running around that apartment complex terrorizing everyone on his own? Why have it terrorize vicariously through a Carol Anne doppelgänger? Because it was cheaper?

Troll could have been wonderful B-movie cheese, but instead it's just pain.

The only laudable aspect of Troll is its eclectic stunt casting, which features no less than June Lockhart (Lassie), Michael Moriarty, and Sonny Bono, whose second most embarrassing moment was skiing directly into a tree and dying. The first is Troll.

The first Troll actually serves as a pretty interesting counter point to its in-name-only sequel, Troll 2, in that films of immense disastrous proportions can provide such disparate reactions. Troll is a piece of shit, just like Troll 2, but where Troll causes nothing but misery, Troll 2 is wondrous.

Say, speaking of...

What more can be said about Troll 2? Commonly accepted as the king of bad movies, Troll 2 is infamous for its ineptness, terrible performances, ludicrous plot, and "OHMYGAWWWWWWD!" A film originally called Goblins before it was re-appropriated and shoehorned into the Troll "franchise" (a trick the Weinsteins have pulled many times with their Hellraiser and Children of the Corn sequels), it has, as you might imagine, absolutely nothing to do with the Troll that came before it. An even dumber version of Larry Cohen's The Stuff, a vacationing family and some tag-along teens fall victim to an evil-queen-worshiping town who force-feeds goblin slime to the unsuspecting to turn them into trees. 

I...don't know why. But it also doesn't matter. 

Troll 2 will be discussed long after the last surviving print of Dr. Zhivago melts into nothingness. Where Citizen Kane will have bit the dust when it comes to even the most casual of film conversation, people will still be laughing uproariously at Troll 2's strange and impromptu dance number in front of an RV mirror. I'm not saying that's the way things should be; I'm just calling it as I see it. Troll 2 will never stop being laughed at, discussed, dissected, and reenacted. Generation after generation will be laughing at clips on Youtube (or whatever the future version of Youtube will look like), hosting screening parties at their homes with troll-themed foods and drinks, and ordering the digital download from Shout! Factory's future imprint, Brain! Factory, which beams digital files directly into the official Brain! Factory chip in your cerebrum.

I will say this: I recognize that Citizen Kane is one of the best films of all time. But I also recognize Troll 2 has done way, way more to improve my life. And yours. How's that for taste?

(As an aside, if you haven't yet had the pleasure, seek out Best Worst Movie, a phenomenal documentary that examines Troll 2's very unlikely popularity while also looking at the appeal of cult cinema appeal and the nature of cult appreciation in general. It also presents an interesting character piece, in that it focuses mostly on lead actor/hero George Hardy, who goes from being folksy, charming, and enthusiastic to kiiiind of a dick toward the end, all before turning it back around and ending things on a more positive note.)

Well then. We've come to the end of our Troll journey. We learned a lot about the world, and each other. For instance, I learned that, though Troll 2 is as delightful as I remember, I never ever want to watch Troll ever again in my life. Ever. 

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