Reviews

Claudio Fragasso

Italy, 1990

Credits

Review by Rumsey Taylor

Posted on 23 March 2009

Source 35mm print

Categories The 2009 South by Southwest Film Festival

Troll 2 is famous for having been deemed one of the worst films ever made by the democracy of the IMDb’s rating algorhythm. What’s impressive about this – and granted, it is an impressive laurel given its competition – is that it necessitates a voluminous viewership. This is curious, because the 1990 film, which is only speciously connected to the original Troll movie, was released on home video and screened only on occasion on HBO. Absent its posture as the worst film ever made, I find little in what’s casually known about this film to be of interest in any way to any viewer: it’s cast with unknown actors, shot by a director whose career is also unknown, and, most remarkably, it doesn’t actually contain any trolls. Obviously it is these very traits that indirectly stir interest, most especially my own.

Here I must admit one of my conceits as a viewer, one I imagine I share with many: that is, “best” denominations of any order regularly encourage my skepticism. “Bests” are subjective, and this is precisely antonymous with “worsts.” If this many people consider something so incompetent, then it is my thinking that such a work must be truly horrible, and, as such, must be seen.

The notion of “worst” has a dual meaning, you see, and Troll 2 is a magnificent testament of such. “Worst” is, in other words, a contradictory belittling and favorable laurel. It is no chore to report that Troll 2’s reputation is earned: it is a marvel of ineptness, staging scene after scene of total implausibility without a single believable performance, and many lines of dialogue that pose an audacious disregard for coherence. What characterizes the film is a consistency in tone, a choir of oddly conceived moments. Some favorites: the 19-year-old girl who bench presses repetitiously; the phantom grandfather; and the goblin witch who seduces a young boy with a low-cut dress and corn on the cob.

But there is a deeper level to Troll 2, one more than adequately obscured by all that it gets wrong. The goblins haunting the Waits family (who are on vacation in the goblins’ realm, the otherwise picturesque Utah town of Nilbog) are aggressive vegetarians, and although they intend to eat the initially oblivious family, they must transform their prey into plants before they may do so. Young Joshua foreshadows the goblins’ methods on the family’s drive there: he ingests the green mixture the goblins (in disguise) feed him. Shortly afterward green blood pours frighteningly down his face, and branches and leaves sprout asymmetrically out of his body. Had Joshua not awakened from this nightmare, we would see the goblins devouring him in the same way as a horde of zombies does a single victim, ripping apart flesh and blood.

Troll 2 is aptly described as a horror film, but it’s more aptly described as vegetable exploitation. Of course, it remains a terrible movie by even the most leniently discerning standard, but it achieves moments of such lunacy that it’s a unique marvel, and more cohesively entertaining than many other films of its ilk. And in an effort to satisfactorily recommend it, I must resort to the most logical of appreciations in declaring it, sure, one of the worst films I’ve ever seen.

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