Troll 2 (MGM, PG-13)

troll2bTroll 2 certainly fits the prerequisite for being perceived as bad by the public (it's currently rated #24 on the Internet Movie Database's Bottom 100, sandwiched between Cool as Ice and 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain).

 

 

 

 

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In several works, journalist Chuck Klosterman examines the idea of the Advancement Theory, as postulated by Jason Hartley and Britt Bergman. Though difficult to explain in a small amount of words, the theory, though generally utilized in music theory, is applied when a brilliant artist creates something which the extreme majority of the population, including fans of the artist, view as poor, when in reality they are just not advanced enough to understand it. An example of the theory would be Joy Division's allowance of New Balance to feature images from their album Unknown Pleasures on their shoe campaign. The theory could easily be attributed to film, whether it be in regards to Paul Verhoeven's Showgirls or Michelangelo Antonioni's Zabriskie Point, both misconceived works from accomplished filmmakers. The theory, too, may apply to Troll 2, an absolutely puzzling piece of film so dreadful that it must be the work of some sort of genius. Or not.

It's extremely difficult to apply the Advancement Theory upon something, especially from a filmmaker (Claudio Fragasso) whose prior work consists of Emanuelle Escapes from Hell and Zombie 3. Troll 2 certainly fits the prerequisite for being perceived as bad by the public (it's currently rated #24 on the Internet Movie Database's Bottom 100, sandwiched between Cool as Ice and 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain). However, the most telling moment that Troll 2 could possibly be Advanced beyond our understanding of art is that it was conceived as a sequel (not merely a retitling for US marketing purposes) to the original Troll, a B-movie starring June Lockheart and Sonny Bono that was made by people who appear to have a general idea of how to make a film. Have I mentioned the fact that there aren't even any trolls in Troll 2? Instead, the trolls of the original are replaced by goblins that rule a town called Nilbog, which our typical American family visits for a vacation from the hustle-and-bustle of suburban life (and, yes, it takes nearly half the film for the characters to realize the town's name is goblin spelled backwards).

Though filled with some wonderfully quotable lines ("Concentrate harder" and "You can't piss on hospitality" being my two favorites), Troll 2 is really like no other "bad" movie you've ever seen. Sure, there are continuity errors, costume fumbles, and wooden performances, but it's the general concept of the film, which I can barely put into words, that puts Troll 2 in a league of its own. Like Zabriskie Point or Showgirls, Troll 2 is a depiction of Americana from a European's viewpoint. Its perspective is, admittedly, bullheaded (what these people need is a good day's work and a bit of small town generosity to ease their jaded city minds), but Fragasso's depiction of the family is so befuddling one can't help but be intrigued. In one particular scene, to ease the tension between the father and daughter during the car ride to Nilbog, the mother asks young Joshua (Michael Stephenson) to sing that song she likes so much, which happens to be "Row, Row, Row Your Boat;" there's also an absurd dance sequence that occurs midway through the film, because, well, that's what American teen girls do in their rooms when they're alone.

On one level, I suppose you could interpret Troll 2 as a satire on the fears of liberalism in America post-Reagan era. Everyone in Nilbog, including the goblins, are vegetarians; the group of boys following the family to Nilbog appear to be latent homosexuals; and there's a strange rejection of psychoanalysis when in regards to Joshua's visions of his dead grandfather. Or maybe it's in fact Republican propaganda. Or, likely, it's just completely erroneous in whatever it's trying to say. Some of the finer moments of Troll 2 occur when Creedence Leonore Gielgud (Deborah Reed), the queen (maybe?) of the goblins with the worst case of mouth herpes you'll ever see. For reasons only Fragasso can explain, certain characters in Troll 2 come to her for help, only to be turned into living plants for feeding purposes (I guess because you can't be a vegetarian and a cannibal). Don't miss when Creedence Leonore Gielgud, for reasons equally as puzzling, seduces one of the teen boys near the end of the film with corn-on-the-cob (phallic imagery? Maybe).

When all is said and done and the family has successfully "concentrated harder," where does Troll 2 stand? The Advancement Theory isn't simple to assess, for one must, in fact, be Advanced to recognize this in practice. Perhaps, Troll 2 is a brilliant work of art that's ideas and concepts are too Advanced for the general public to fully comprehend. Maybe even, it's too soon for our minds to truly wrap around the virtuosity that is Troll 2. Or, possibly, Troll 2 really is (sorry, Plan 9 from Outer Space) the worst film ever made. | Joe Bowman

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