Troll 2 (1990) by Claudio Fragasso

Reviews

Alternative Titles: Trolls; Monster Valley
Director: Claudio Fragasso
Writers: Rossella Drudi, Claudio Fragasso
Year: 1990
Starring: Michael Paul Stephenson, George Hardy, Margo Prey, Deborah Reed

Synopsis:
A family vacationing in a small town discovers the entire town is inhabited by goblins disguised as humans, and who plan to eat them.

Review:
Is this a sequel? Well yes and no, it was pitched on release as an unofficial sequel to the 1986 movie TROLLS, although it bears no connection either in terms of plot, production, cast or crew leaving us to surmise that really it is simply a bizarre attempt to cash in on what was a very minor cult success.

What is even more bizarre is that there are no actual trolls in this film but goblins instead, which ties into the original production title of TROLLS. Although why let a little thing like this stop anything, after all I don’t know or care about the difference, and it merely goes to highlight the films nonchalant attitude.

Now the film itself opens with Grandpa Seth reading the story of ‘Davy and the Goblins’ to his grandson, Joshua. He tells us of how Peter is tricked and eaten by the goblins. Wait, the story titled ‘Davy and the Goblins’ is about a guy named Peter? If that seems a little off, then next twist will certainly surprise you (don’t worry it is not really a spoiler) – it transpires that Grandpa Seth is actually dead and only Joshua can see him. His mother is aware of this morbid imaginary friend and tries to comfort her son with dialogue that you can only find in an Italian B-movie.

With this brief introduction to the goblins and the supernatural grandpa aspect over, we are quickly informed that the whole family, well the living ones at least, are off on a home-swap holiday with a family from the small rural town of Nilbog. Nilbog, immediately with this creative naming we know that things will not end well and young Joshua starts to suspect it too.

Finally before the road trip to this delightfully named town we are introduced to a ‘too cool’ teen sister, her immature boyfriend his friends, giving us with near certainty our first batch of goblin food. If this all sounds like the film has settled into a period of relative normality that is only because I am leaving out further odd dialogue and a peculiar family car sing song will leave you puzzled as a cacophony of sound makes its way out of your television.

Arriving at their holiday home, the family discovers a veritable feast laid out for them and although everything is green or layered with some green paste they don’t seem to mind. Not only does this look suspicious to us but also young Joshua, who seeing his grandpa again realises that something must be done to stop his family from eating the food and so he does the only thing that any of us would do in this situation and needless to say ruins the feast. Thankfully this part was not shown or at least on the version I saw.

Despite its (many) faults TROLL 2 actually has a pretty enjoyable first act but things step up a gear as the film introduces the resident town druid Creedence, whose family lineage can be traced back to Stonehenge, which is a little odd being a monument rather than a town or city, but this is just a technicality and as Creedence begins to chew the no doubt papier-mâché scenery you find yourself just going with it.

With things now in full swing and we are further treated to more great lines such as “She is one with the vegetable world, now she is food for my children” you start to get a greater understanding that there may be a little more substance or at least a message behind the story than the narrative to this point would have had you believe.

So it is a shame that so many things here are inadequate so often making TROLL 2 comes across as a GOOSEBUMPS style story, not that this is necessarily a bad thing. Putting any issues aside, and the film certainly does, the momentum continues to build and the wider context begins to come into frame and we learn that not only is Nilbog a vegetarian-only town but the townsfolk all have an almost pathological disgust towards meat products and the effects it has the anatomy.

It is rumoured that writer Rosella Drudi came up with the story for TROLL 2 when several of her friends became vegetarian at the same time, and rather than being a positive message for the lifestyle it seems more of a send-up of it and the way in which some people preach their new lifestyle towards those who do not adhere. Taking this approach then, perhaps to a certain extent that underlying criticism works and dare I even say it is a clever b-movie satire. Dare I say it out aloud?

Of course all good (and bad) things must come to an end and with another plot twist involving the ghostly instigator Grandpa Seth, a bit of violence and one of the strangest seduction scenes you are ever likely to see committed to celluloid everything is brought together but not fully explained leaving you wondering what you had just spent the last 90 minutes watching…but somehow at the same time glad that you did.

There is so much wrong with TROLL 2 that it is difficult to know where to start. For example despite being shot in Morgan, USA – where they actually held a TROLL 2 festival back in 2007 – and having an English speaking cast the dubbing is all over the place but this rather quaintly lends the film that Italian trash feel paradoxically adding to its charm.

So despite this, its continuity errors, abysmal dialogue (which it has been reported the suggestions in terms of grammar and accuracy by the native cast were rejected out of hand by Claudio Fragasso) and just nonsensical story this is an entertaining and (often unintentionally) hilarious movie that does exactly what you would expect from something that has the involvement of Claudio Fragasso and Joe D’Amato – that something is purely to entertain.

Essentially TROLL 2 is budget trash but fantastically so and as a result when people call it one of the worst films ever they do so with endearment rather than derision and is a must watch for any fan of low budget horror.

As a final point of interest I was slightly surprised to see that the costume designer was none other than the black Emmanuelle herself Laura Gemser (BLACK EMMANUELLE; EROTIC NIGHTS OF THE LIVING DEAD; CAGED WOMEN)  – that certainly must have made for an interesting time behind the scenes for the cast.

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