Saturday, January 13, 2018

Troll 2 (Italy/USA, 1990)

Preamble: Regular readers of A Wasted Life (assuming there are any) might already know, from the 18 July 2017 blog entry Shameless Self-Promotion, that this blog's meat-eating and lard-loving [only] contributor also writes for Hermann's, a visionary undertaking aimed at changing the food system and the way we feed ourselves. A shift in the editorial policy of the undertaking's web presence, which now aims at innovators and the industry, has seen our offbeat entertainment and filler pieces — which generally, at best, have a very slim link to food and nutrition, past, present or future — put into the bottom drawer. This article, however, is now seeing the light of day here on A Wasted Life because what is an unneeded additive on one website is the basic food group of another. Enjoy. 
The review: After watching Troll 2, which definitely falls under that obfucious category known as "bad film," our minds couldn't help but wander to the folks at Impossible Foods, who are working hard to bring the world a viable, delicious, and visually appealing hamburger made entirely of plants. An idea whose time has come — if not due to ethical reasons, then ecological ones — and which, if successful, would make the eating of specific kinds of "meat" more palatable to many people, both carnivore and herbivore.
But probably not to the nefarious vegetarians in this surreally incompetent horror comedy, who pursue a harebrained path inverse to that of Impossible Foods: the heinous herbivores of Troll 2 want to convert a living, breathing human family into green, visually unappealing plant goo — their favorite food. (Actually: they don't just want to do it, they can.)

As inferred by the film's title, the baddies of this evil-vegetarians movie are fantastical creatures: a gaggle of green-goo-gorging goblins who, when they so desire, can take the form of the salt of America: the rural small farmer. (Duplicitous rural farmers, deformed killer vegetarians — Troll 2 was obviously made by an urban carnivore with an axe to grind and leaves viewers with no doubt: vegetarianism is evil, vegetarians are monsters, and eating food from vegetarians will kill you. Ergo: meat good.)

That nary a troll is seen in Troll 2 is because the movie was made under the title Goblins, and gained its final misleading moniker only to ride on the popularity of an earlier, unrelated fantasy movie entitled Troll (1986 / trailer). Thus, though there are no trolls, goblins appear often — and even reappear after being killed. (Face it, unlike with the rural small farmer, you can't keep a good goblin down.) There's an evil witch, too, not to mention a multitude of shiny, perfectly shaped, delicious-looking red apples even more beautiful than the one seen in Disney's Snow White (1937 / trailer)... and we all know what happened to Snow White when she ate that apple.

Troll 2 is, basically, an anti-vegetarian fairytale set in contemporary times (if one can still view 1990 as contemporary). And much how logic never plays a role in fairytales, logic is nowhere to be found in Troll 2. (So don't bother asking why vegetarians would want to convert living human flesh into plant goo — it's just what they do.) Indeed, to say that Troll 2 is simply bonkers would be a bit of an understatement, but what is not an understatement is that regardless of one's own personal nutritive proclivities, this jaw-dropping fantasy film is immensely entertaining in a so-bad-its-good way.

Which is not to say that it's a family movie. True, there's no exploitive nudity, and the blood and gore loses much of its punch by being bright leaf-lettuce green, but much like the off-screen death of Bambi's mother in Disney's Bambi (1942 / trailer), some on-screen events in Troll 2 could give an impressionable child nightmares. Non-impressionable people, however, will probably burst out laughing — we did, often, spilling our bag of 100% organic beet chips everywhere in the process. (But at least we didn't spill our 100% vegan beer.*)

* An impossibility, actually. Vegan beer, that is. Not to forget the dried fish bladder isinglass — used to filter most beer, even when not used the legally permitted amount of aphids per serving of hops (3,500 per 10 grams of hops) guarantees that there will always be bug remnants in the batch of beer. Thus, in all likelihood no beer is truly vegan.

In an obvious nod to another more famous fantasy film, The Princess Bride (1987 / trailer), Troll 2 opens with a granddad (Robert Ormsby) reading a fairytale to his grandson (Michael Paul Stephenson). Within this sequence, we learn from the appearance of the evil goblins — i.e., vertically challenged people wearing potato sacks and cheap masks — that the makeup and effects of the movie are hilarious, and the acting truly noteworthy. The acting of the woman playing the mother (Margo Prey), for example, is so vacuous one could imagine she is addicted to Valium, while the thespianism of the previously mentioned wicked witch (Deborah Reed) transcends terribleness to become a persiflage of bad acting, something that a talented actor probably couldn't do even if they tried.

Oh, yeah: we also learn that the granddad is actually dead, and that no other family member can see him — at least, that is, unless it's advantageous to the plot that someone suddenly can.

And while the basic plot is relatively simple ("evil vegetarian vs. good meat-eater"), it is also far more meanderingly linear than it is coherent. Throughout the movie, characters are confronted with events that would cause most people to think WTF and backpedal, but those in the movie react as if it's totally normal and slog onward. Your TV suddenly starts playing a muzak variation of You Can Leave Your Hat On and shows a babalicious brunette dancing up to your trailer? Totally normal. A friendly sheriff gives you a green hamburger to eat? Totally normal. You see a girl running in terror through the forest so you football tackle her to talk with her? Totally normal. Your young son urinates all over the food on the kitchen table so you lock him in his room and go without anything to eat for 24 hours? Totally normal. You make out with a babalicious brunette and an ear of corn and suddenly popcorn floods the room? Totally normal. Troll 2 plays out in a world where about the only thing that fazes anybody, if but for seconds, is the appearance of a ghost — who, when needed, can appear with a Molotov cocktail and fire extinguisher in hand. (Like: totally normal.)

Since its initial release, Troll 2 has gained substantial cult popularity as a "bad movie." It's a deserved reputation, as seldom has there been a worse movie that flies by as enjoyably and quickly as this 135-minute-long jewel of junkiness. Produced with all the quality of a low-grade TV movie, Troll 2 is so full of thespian faux pas, inanity, and incongruent story development that on occasion it comes across like the intellectually impaired prodigal great-great-great grandson of Dali & Bunuel's surrealist short, Un chien andalou (1929).

Troll 2, of course, lacks any of the artistic, intellectual, social, religious, or Freudian insight and criticism of that classic short, but for that Troll 2 is far funnier. It is well worth noting that unlike Dali & Bunuel's film, if not most films in general, any and all positive aspects of Troll 2 are purely accidental in origin. It is one of those rare movies — like Dwain Esper's Maniac (1934 / trailer), Ed Wood's Glen or Glenda (1953 / trailer), Harold P. Warren's Manos, The Hands of Fate (1966 / trailer), or George Barry's Death Bed: The Bed that Eats (1977 / scenes) — in which the combined inabilities of all those involved coalesce to produce something almost transcendental, almost otherworldly, in nature.

Troll 2 is truly unique cinematic experience, and a masterpiece of bad, anti-vegetarian cinema. Watch it with a friend, carnivore or vegetarian: jaws will drop, laughter will ring, and a good time will be had by all.
Post-Hermann's addendum: That Trolls 2 is as superlatively awful and uniquely entertaining should probably not be all that surprising, seeing that the director and co-scripter of the fabulous freak of a feature length film, "Drake Floyd", is actually the sadly underappreciated and superbly anti-talented Italian genre filmmaker Claudio Fragasso, a man whose auteur sensibilities and filmic (in)abilities rival those of the great Italian anti-filmmaker Bruno Mattei (30 July 1931 – 21 May 2007; see: Island of the Living [2006]), a man with whom Fragasso often worked. The plethora of wonderfully questionable filmic flotsam that Fragasso has touched as credited and/or uncredited writer, co-writer, director, co-director, producer, co-producer or even as actor includes but is hardly limited to: Hell of the Living Dead (1980 / trailer), Zombi 3 (1988 / trailer), The Seven Magnificent Gladiators (1983, trailer), with Lou "Muscles" Ferrigno & Sybil "Love Pillows" Danning, Zombi 4: After Death (1988, trailer), with porn legend Jeff "The Whooper" Stryker, Monster Dog (1984, music video), with Alice "Republican" Cooper, The Nun of Monza (1980 / trailer), Terminator 2: Shocking Dark (1989 / trailer), Interzone (1987 / trailer), starring Bruce "Mr. Linda Hamilton Kathleen Quinlan" Abbott, of The Re-Animator (1985), The Other Hell (1981 / trailer),  Caged Women (1982 / trailer) and Women's Prison Massacre (1983 / trailer), both with Laura "Yummy" Gemser, Robowar (1988 / trailer), Rats – Night of Terror (1984 / trailer), La Casa 5: Beyond Darkness (1990 / trailer), Scalps (1987 / trailer), Mania (1974 / trailer) and so much more. That his likewise uniquely talented wife and regular collaborator on scripts, Rossella Drudi, also helped write Trolls 2 probably also helped make this marvelously terrible movie what it is.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...