Thousands and thousands of films are made every year. And while some of them are destined for Oscar glory and widespread Metacritic acclaim, others wind up scraping the barrel on the IMDB Bottom 100. What makes these films so universally despised? Are they all really that bad? And, seriously, what’s the deal with From Justin to Kelly? We’ll answer all these questions (and hopefully more) with “Scraping the Barrel,” in which we review the ENTIRETY of the bottom 100, in order.
In today’s installment, Ryan Reed takes a closer look (when he’s able to uncover his eyes) at #99, 1990’s Troll 2.
(Editor Note: We realize the Bottom 100 has changed slightly since we began this series. Our master list was frozen on July 17th.)
The Gist: A vacation goes horribly awry when the Waits family — led by the young Joshua (Michael Stephenson) — discover that the small town of Nilbog is inhabited by demonic, tree-worshiping weirdos and goblins that ooze green slime. Oh, and all these freaks want to eat them.
Those Who Shall Be Held Responsible: Directed by Claudio Fragasso (as Drake Floyd), co-written by Fragasso (as Drake Floyd) and Rossella Drudi
IMDB Stats: #99, 2.5 rating
The Straight Dirt:
In the words of the immortal Arnold (Darren Ewing), “OH MY GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!”
Troll 2. Where does one even begin to describe this thing? Some films are terrible for all the normal reasons, like an uninspired storyline, clichéd dialogue, awkward direction, and lack of artistic merit (take, for example, Meatballs 4). Some films (like Troll 2) are horrible for all those same reasons, plus many, many more. Including, “Nothing that happens on-screen makes ANY SENSE.”
The accidental lunatic genius of Troll 2 is that it’s not really a “2” and there aren’t any trolls. Let me explain: The film isn’t technically a sequel since it has absolutely nothing to do with the original Troll horror film (the only thing they have in common is their terrible, terrible quality); meanwhile, the goo-oozing creature-villains at the heart of the movie are referred to as “goblins,” not “trolls.”
And then there’s the rest of the film to deal with. Young Joshua Waits (J-Dub, as I call him) really doesn’t want to go on his family vacation to Nilbog — probably because they’re swapping houses with a family from a freaking ghost-town, and also because his dead grandpa appears to him in hallucinatory visions and tells him he shouldn’t.
J-Dub warns his family that Nilbog is evil, but nobody listens — not his slutty sister, Holly (Connie Young), nor his hilariously dead-eyed parents, Michael (George Hardy) and Diana (Margo Prey). So they voyage to Nilbog, while being stalked in an RV by Holly’s horny boyfriend and his gang of awkward dweebs.
So many classic scenes, so little time. Spoiler Alert: Nilbog is “Goblin” spelled backwards, a revelation which ultimately leads to some demonic tree sacrifices, surprising amounts of popcorn (I won’t spoil that last one), and lots of green ooze. For some reason, the color green is evil: J-Dub goes wee-wee all over his family’s poisoned food (and he nearly gets beaten by his father in response); sometimes people sweat green.
Also, can we talk about the goblin costumes for a second? Clearly these people ran out to their local K-Mart, grabbed some clearance Halloween masks, and duct-taped them to some potato sacks. It’s so pathetic, it’s seriously difficult to comprehend how it actually happened. (The costume designer, by the way, was Laura Gemser, a “sensuous brunette knockout” who — according to her IMDB profile — hasn’t designed a costume professionally since 1992.)
Troll 2 is unquestionably terrible on basically every level imaginable. Legend has it that Fragasso, an Italian, had his script translated from his native tongue to English, hence the awful dialogue. But I’m not buying that excuse. “Nilbog” is “Nilbog” in any tongue. Margo Prey’s blank stare is the only genuinely scary element of the whole film, unless you count the fact that this crap-fest was made at all.
Troll 2, like other similarly bad films (The Room, Plan 9 From Outer Space, etc.) has a reputation for being “so bad, it’s amazing.” And that’s absolutely correct. Its shittiness is so epic, it actually inspired a good movie (the acclaimed 2009 documentary Best Worst Movie, directed by real-life J-Dub, Michael Stephenson). Troll 2 transcends unwatchability; it’s a how-to manual on How to Not Make a Motion Picture. It is a monolith of a cinematic mess. It is a national treasure.
A queasily brilliant shit-sterpiece.
Should-Be IMDB Score: 0.0/10.0
“If my father discovers you here, he’d cut off your little nuts and eat them! He can’t staaaand you.”
“There’s no coffee in Nilbog. It’s the devil’s drink.”
“Do you see this writing? Do you know what it means? Hospitality. And you can’t piss on hospitality! I WON’T ALLOW IT!”
“The Stonehenge magical stone — the goblins’ magic power!”
“They’re eating her! And then they’re going to eat me! OH MY GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!”