TROLL. 1986

Director: John Carl Buechler

TROLL II. 1990

Director: Claudio Fragasso

Reviews by Paghat the Ratgirl

The last few nights I've made my sweety Granny Artemis watch horror videos with no "breaks" for the lighter stuff she'd ordinarily be picking out. I was really hitting some lame ones & alas Granny Artemis went sound asleep halfway through each one.

So I started getting "picky" lest my sweety stop agreeing with me that horror films are cool & start forcing me to watch more independent artfilms. I went for some old Michael Moriarity items because even if he's sometimes in a film that sucks he at least is always good. And thank god Troll holds up very well & Granny Artemis was wide-eyed throughout.

Oh, it's a cheezy film all right, & many horror fans have lambasted it. But the puppetry is so winning. The dark fairy "opera" is exciting creepy music & it was mesmerizing to watch the little devils singing. If that "musical" segment had been the only wonderful part of the film, that would've been enough.

But there was also the mushroom-wizard so sweet & dear. Both of the Lockharts, old June & young Anne, were sexy. The bits of old-fashioned stop-motion animation was nostalgically lovely & made me feel rather sad that computer animation's taken over so much. And that little-person actor as Malcolm whom the troll mistook for a fairy (Phil Fondacaro plays both the troll & Malcolm), what a great performance that was. The film is charming throughout, cutesy & yet at the same time with a sarcastic wicked attitude.

Troll IIAlas, the charm that was drummed up in Troll is totally lacking in Troll II, which doesn't even have any trolls in it. The ideas in this film could be very frightening for five year olds: Goblins either turn humans into vegetables in order to eat them, or feed humans to the popcorn, or trick people into eating green goblin food that turns them into goblins; it's hard to be sure what the actual threat is supposed to be, but we know it ain't happiness.

A colorless nuclear family goes to the town of Nilbog (Goblin backwards, wadda plot device) & assisted by the ghost of dead Grampa wage battle against rather stationary goblins or preschoolers wearing gunnysacks & cheap halloween masks, until a magic styrofoam rock & the nuclear family's happy-thoughts blow them up. As slapstick comedy this is first-rate, but the strange thing is, there's no sense that anyone involved in this project realized how stupidly comical it all is.

Without the evil fairy symphony orchestra of the first film, & without Phil Fondacaro reprising his roll, there's just nothing in this film to praise except its stupidity, strictly apart from the fact that it hasn't got even one troll in it.

If you stop the film every minute or two to deconstruct & ponder the illogicalities of every scene, you'll have many hours of fun, though you might also lose your mind.

For example, one of the most heroic acts in the story is when the kid pees on the family's dinner. No one will believe the kid that eating greasy green sludge might be hazardous, so he has no choice but to pee on the table, though it seems to me anyone who'd eat greasy green sludge might like it better with urine added. Since time is stopped by the grampa-ghost so his grandson can complete the heroic act, he could just as easily have grabbed the food & thrown it outside in the dirt. But nooooo, in the irrational universe of this movie, the only possible action at that point of the story is to pee on the table.

Besides which, grampa's ability to stop time could've permitted the kid to do anything he liked to stop the goblins, but in this universe stopping time is only useful for helping someone pee on a table.

This film is not really a sequel since it is unrelated to Troll, but that just adds to its calibre of being so unbelievably bad. It's as though everyone involved had wagered serious money on "I bet I can write script even worse than your acting" & "I can write a stupider score than your stupid script!" & "I bet I can act worse than your special effects!" & "Oh, that's nothing, I bet my hair stylings & make-up designs can be worse looking than your cinematography!" Then everyone in the contest tried hard to prove who can blow the whole deal the worst. I suspect many people who make fun of the original Troll are really averaging out the quality of both films so end up blaming the first for the second.

Although it's deadly dull to watch alone, if you can get some pals together Troll II will be great for wisecracking & making fun of moronic scene upon moronic scene. It's also a great film for anyone who feels they'd like to make a movie but afraid they don't have even rudimentary knowledge of how it might be done. Troll II is proof that even the family dog has sufficient inate skill to make a movie.
copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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