ROLLING THUNDER, THE CRIMSON CULT, THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT, WITHOUT WARNING, THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN, DAUGHTERS OF SATAN, HORROR HOUSE, BLOOD AND LACE, BOBBIE JO AND THE OUTLAW, THE VIDEO DEAD, BURN, WITCH, BURN!; these are just a few of the titles that MGM have yet to release on DVD. There are film fans (myself included) absolutely chomping at the bit to see some, if not all of these titles given their proper due on DVD and yet somehow TROLL 2 gets priority, having recently been granted a re-release on Blu-ray!? And not just a stand alone Blu-ray either, no, TROLL 2 gets a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack! With so many other films in desperate need of an official release, how does TROLL 2 make its way to the head of the pack? I understand that the film has a cult following but do we really need to revisit Nilbog in 1080p video resolution? Do we really need to hear the Waits family sing “row, row, row your boat” in DTS-HD mastered audio? And if this release sells well can a special edition Blu-ray of GHOULIES II be too far behind?
It’s hard not to sound like an idiot when describing TROLL 2’s “plot”. We are after all talking about a movie in which the lead character saves the day with a double-decker bologna sandwich! Simply put, the movie is about a young boy and his family who are terrorized by goblins while vacationing in a small, rural community. Such a simplified synopsis does not however even come close to explaining the utter absurdity present in each and every frame of this picture. The flick opens with our lead Joshua (Michael Stephenson) as he is being warned about the very real threat of goblins by the spirit of his dead Grandpa (Robert Ormsby). Gramps seems to know an awful lot about goblins, as he educates his grandson throughout the picture as how to best avoid and defeat the grotesque little boogers. Unfortunately Joshua’s unrelenting whining does little in persuading his family from postponing their vacation or constantly walking head first into danger.
As part of some sort of backwoods timeshare, the Waits family travels to the town of Nilbog where upon their arrival they trade homes with one of the local families. Overlooking the fact that all the family members have nasty clover shaped moles on their faces (which looks more like a cigarette burns that have been picked at too much) and exude all the subtle charm of a prison lineup, the Waits family hand over the keys to their house and settle into their new vacation home. Inside they find a full spread of vittles all laid out on the dinning room table. Famished from their journey, the family sits down ready to dig in, paying little mind to the fact that every edible item is covered in either green mold or icing. Before anyone can take a bite however, Grandpa Seth shows up to warn Joshua about the food. Turns out that Nilbog (goblin spelled backwards) is the kingdom of the goblins and, as everybody knows, goblins are all vegetarians. Instead of starting a garden, Goblins prefer to trick people into eating poisoned food which once ingested, turns their victims into green globs of eatable flora. Unable to stop his family from eating the contaminated food on his own, Grandpa freezes time like he's Zack Morris from “Saved by the Bell”, giving Joshua just enough time to relieve himself all over the family sized feast. Disgusted by his son’s actions and piss pour attitude toward hospitality, Michael (George Hardy), Joshua's Dad, drags his boy up stairs to his room for a spanking. Meanwhile older sister Holly (Connie Young, credited here as Connie McFarland) takes on Tiffany Helm from FRIDAY THE 13th PART 5: A NEW BEGINNING for the title of cinema's most ridiculous yet oddly appealing dance routine but is interrupted by the giant, floating head of her Grandpa, who has mistaken her room for Joshua’s. Once that whole mess gets sorted out, Grandpa pleads yet again for Joshua to get the family out of Nilbog before the goblin's queen (Deborah Reed) turns them all into a topiary buffet for her children.
A maniacal enchantress who appears for most of the film to be suffering from a herpes flare up, the goblin queen watches over the town from an abandoned Post Office, calling upon the power of the scared stone of Stonehenge to help in her pursuit of the Waits family. Little Joshua eventually convinces his folks that the town is full of goblins but it proves to be too little too late as the goblin queen, spent after seducing a young man with a cob of corn and having popcorn sex with him, is able to trap the young boy in her lair. Thank God Joshua packed a sandwich!
You may have noticed there are no trolls in TROLL 2, only goblins. A sequel by title only (the picture has nothing to do with John Carl Buechler's TROLL), TROLL 2 was directed by Claudio Fragasso, under the pseudonym Drake Floyd. A frequent collaborator with Bruno Mattei, Claudio is responsible for shaping the scripts to such trash treasure-troves as RATS: NIGHT OF TERROR and HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD. Claudio shot TROLL 2 in Utah for producer Joe D’Amato’s Filmirage Production Company. Joe must have really enjoyed the grade school, paper mache masks and costumes used for the goblins, as he would recycle the main masks (the ones whose mouths could move, slightly) for one of his Ator pictures (QUEST FOR THE MIGHTY SWORD). It should be noted that BLACK EMANUELLE herself, Laura Gemser is credited as TROLL 2's costume designer which only adds a whole other level of “What in the Hell!?” to this production.
TROLL 2 was released on VHS by Epic Home Video in 1992, with a cover that gave little clue as to how craptastic its contents would be. The film was later issued on DVD on a double bill with TROLL by MGM in 2003 with a cover that gave even less of a warning as to its contents. Now having been upgraded to Blu-ray, its cover not only gives a fair representation of its bad nature, it fully embraces it, going so far as to hype itself as the focal point of the documentary BEST WORST MOVIE, which is scheduled to hit DVD this November.
So how does Nilbog look on Blu-ray? Stunning! The only thing more shocking than the fact that this turd is even on Blu-ray is how absolutely amazing it looks. There is barely a speck of dirt or debris to be found, the colors are clear and the detail is rich. The 1.85:1 1080p HD transfer is, if anything, too good as it highlights many flaws (as if the film didn’t have enough already) that go unnoticed in its companion DVD, which presents the picture widescreen in standard definition. Take the scene where Grandpa’s giant floating head appears to Joshua via a wall mirror. On the Blu-ray you can clearly see black robes and towels draped around Robert Ormsby’s neck and body, making the simple but effective illusion look less effective. Audio is equally impressive, again given that we are talking about TROLL 2 here. I wouldn't break this one out to brag to your friends about how great your speakers are but both the DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio and Dolby Digital Mono tracks present sound clean and clear. The DVD features an English Mono track only but both it and the Blu-ray come with optional English, French and Spanish subtitles. The Blu-Ray, which comes in a BD Amaray case, has only one special feature, not counting the accompanying DVD, the film’s theatrical trailer.
I know I’ve given TROLL 2 a lot of shit, and frankly it deserves it, but I am the first one to admit that everyone should see this movie at least once if for no other reason than to have a barometer in which to gage other bad movies. That way the next time someone tells you about a movie they thought was bad you can ask, “is it bad or is it TROLL 2 bad?” (Jason McElreath)
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