Before The Room, there was Troll and Troll 2
Though you may not know it by name, if you have been on the internet for a good few years, you will be aware of some of the iconic scenes from Claudio Fragasso’s magnum opus Troll 2 (1990). From ‘Nilbog is Goblin backwards!’ to ‘Oh My Goooooooooooooooooood!’, the apparent ultimate ‘so-bad-its-good’ movie has won more fans than the creators likely could have ever anticipated. However, this begs an important question – does the supposed original Troll (1986) have similar potential? Having experienced both alongside numerous hilarious extras via Eureka’s Troll: The Complete Collection, I can confidently state that the answer is a resounding YES.
To provide some quick context, its worth knowing before you purchase this box set as a non-expert that Troll 2 is not, in fact, a direct sequel to Troll. It is actually a completely unrelated film that was originally more aptly titled ‘Goblins’, before this working title was switched to mislead fans into watching it. Though why the creators assumed that the first film would have a large and passionate enough fanbase for this scheme to work is frankly beyond me.
The premise for Troll sounds straight forward enough, but the bizarre editing and dialogue certainly don’t give you an easy time keeping track. The film opens with the disturbing image of a girl rolling a ball into a cellar, only to be ambushed by a Labyrinth worthy troll-creature when attempting to retrieve it. This troll then proceeds to enter the apartments of other residents, all introduced through an awkwardly wonderful fire drill scene, and tricks them into turning into disturbing fairytale creatures themselves. The girl’s brother, brilliantly and completely coincidentally named ‘Harry Potter Jr.’ (Noah Hathaway), is the only one who takes notice of the disappearances, and must embark on a journey through the apartment complex.
Though not as quotable as its faux-sequel, some of the images from this film will forever stick in my mind, in particular, the impressively creepy production design. From the ivy produced by Sonny Bono’s corpse creeping through the floors and walls via jerky stop-motion; to the dead-eyed grin of the titular troll, the visual potential of the medium was not lost on director John Carl Buechler. However, it does make sense that this film, although similarly so-bad-its-good, may have faded into obscurity for the crime of being just a little too cohesive and reasonable. When your point of reference is Troll 2, you’re fighting a losing battle for entertainment value.
This brings me to what many would consider the main event: Troll 2 on wondrous Blu-ray. I must say, its very difficult to write a straight review of this movie, as its position in the popular conscious renders it almost as a series of moments rather than a single cohesive film. The plot itself is nonsensical and frequently self-contradictory, with unthreatening villains and characters who behave and speak nothing like real humans. This almost leads you to enjoy it as you would a Brecht-style arthouse film; you approach it analytically in full knowledge of its place in culture, without ever fully immersing yourself in the actual events onscreen.
To talk about these films any more than this would be to possibly spoil the experience, so I’ll move forward to the fantastic extras. Featuring a music video using footage entirely from the second film, trailers for both features, and the documentary Best Worst Movie, fans will find a wealth of material to keep them occupied and amused. My only nitpick here would be the lack of content for Troll; the first film itself feels like an extra for the second. Honestly though, it makes sense that most content on the Blu-ray would cater to the more famous and beloved of the two.
It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for…
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