"They're eating her, and then they're going to eat me! Oh my Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawd!"
I know it's considered bad form for a reviewer to ramble on about himself, but this time around, I can't help it. For a lot of people, Troll 2 is an Internet meme. It's a bunch of YouTube videos to fling around and snicker at. Me, though...? Troll 2 has been a terrifyingly significant part of my life for more than fifteen years now. I'd watch it on cable whenever it was in rotation in the mid-'90s. I rented it on VHS more than any other movie. It was at the top of my "ack, why isn't this on DVD?" list for years, and after that shiny five-inch disc finally did come out in 2003, it became a rite of passage for any poor bastard unfortunate enough to step foot into my living room. I'm kind of a Troll 2 evangelist; my love for this movie beams so brightly that I can't possibly keep it to myself.
...and here it is on Blu-ray. We're around four and a half years into the life of the format, and there's no Jaws, no Sunset Blvd., and no Star Wars, but we do have...well, this, and that's kind of amazing.
Grandpa Seth never could stomach his son-in-law Michael all that much, but now he's gotta be really miffed with the guy. See, Mikey is dragging his entire family to the Kingdom of the Goblins for a month-long vacation. They're supposed to be farmers over in Nilbog, a sleepy little speck on the map. The Waits family is offering up their suburban home to a couple of Nilbogians for the month, and I guess the Waitses are gonna work their farm in the meantime or something as some kind of Trading Spaces deal. Because, y'know, when I go on vacation, I want to plow a field or harvest pumpkins or whatever. I don't think we ever actually see a farm either, but...yeah. Grandpa Seth has been warning Josh for a while now about the unparalleled malevolence of the goblins, but no one else gets it. The goblins have disguised themselves as humans and try to seduce the Waitses into gobbling down mouthfuls of cake, pudding, fruit, and strangely colored juices. Considering that goblins are vegetarians and all, you'd think this apple pie suburban family is safe, but nope. Eating the food the goblins make transforms you into the food the goblins eat: green liquid starts spewing from your forehead, and eventually you devolve into a steaming pile of green Jell-O. You're chlorophyll! Every bit as vegetarian-friendly as a Boca Burger. 'Course, all the rest of the family sees is a bunch of overly friendly people and some ridiculous looking food on the table. It's up to Josh and the magical powers of his Grandpa Seth -- who's a ghost; did I mention that? -- to keep the rest of the family from becoming Goblin Vittles.
You might've noticed I didn't toss the word "troll" in there anywhere, and well, that's because Troll 2 is 100% certified troll-free. It wasn't produced as a sequel to anything, but the distributors felt like it'd be a winning idea to cash in on the runaway success (??) of the original Troll anyway. There just...there aren't words. A bunch of Italian filmmakers swarmed on Utah. They had no money. They didn't really speak a word of English. They cast whoever the first people to say "yes!" were, I guess, even though none of them had ever really done anything. They had a script that was clearly written in Italian and I guess translated to English by a seventh grader or something, so you get a lot of dialogue that sounds like this:
"Elliot?!? What kind of idiotic joke is this? You scared the shit out of me!"
I mean, lines
If you've heard Troll 2 come up anytime recently, chances are you can thank Best Worst Movie, a documentary helmed by Michael Stephenson, the original flick's pint-sized star. "Best worst movie" really does sum it up pretty well. Everything -- everything -- about Troll 2 is cheap and amateurish, but it's bad to the point of being brilliant. Look, a big part of my life revolves around terrible movies, and with most of the so-bad-it's-good crowd, you have to wade through twenty or thirty minutes of botched characterization and neverending dialogue to get to the next howlingly batshit-insane part. Something ridiculous happens, you crack up, and then it's back to twiddling your thumbs for another reel or two. Troll 2, meanwhile, never eases up on the throttle. It never has a chance to be boring, and there's something deranged or howlingly bizarre seeping into every last frame. I mean, this is a movie where urine and quadraseptuple-decker bologna sandwiches help save the day. There's the whole homoerotic angle with Big Sister's boyfriend and his pals. An entire town tries to force-feed Josh a bowl of watery ice cream in a rickety old church. Out of fucking nowhere and having nothing to do with anything is a sex scene where two people screw, and it's so hot that the corncob in their mouths fills every square inch of the RV with popcorn. There's a singalong to "Row, Row, Row Your Boat". A ghost gives his grandson a Molotov cocktail and says something like "this oughtta get their attention". Actually, the kind of creepy relationship with Grandpa Seth in general is sticky, disturbing, and pretty hysterical.
"Here it is: the Stonehenge magic stone...the goblins' magic power."
Wait, is "Stonehenge magic stone" some kind of euphemism?
I could keep going for hours, and that's no good for anyone. Troll 2 is just...it's just such an experience. It's so fascinatingly strange. There's no logic or anything even a little bit coherent propelling it all along. I just kind of marvel at every frame and wonder what could possibly have been going through their minds. Troll 2 is so earnest and sincere, and I'm completely fascinated by the fact that it's so bad and yet everyone on screen is clearly giving it their all. Internet memes come and go, but Troll 2 has been a constant for half my life now. There's no hipsterish irony to it: I truly, madly, deeply love this flick. I've devoured several thousand movies over the course of my life, and I've never experienced anything else that even approaches the accidental brilliance of Troll 2. Your life has no chance of ever being complete until you can say the same. Highly Recommended.
...and now I'm just gonna post a bunch of screengrabs 'cause words can't really do justice to the tragic majesty of Troll 2.
I had no idea.
See, Troll 2 is kind of a knockout in high-def. It's in a completely different class than that musty old DVD from back in 2003 for sure. I snapped a quick comparison if you wanna get a sense of how much better Troll 2 is looking these days.
Clarity and detail are worlds removed from the original DVD. The colors in the 2003 disc are dull and lifeless, while this newly-minted Blu-ray disc is all gleaming and shiny. I mean, look at the bright blue sky -- pretend I said "azure" if you're feeling pretentious -- and the fleshtones (goblintones?) are so much more robust. The sheen of grain is far, far more distinct as well in high-def, and it's quite a bit more fine than anything DVD could hope to reproduce. Especially considering that the flecks of dust are differently placed on each disc, it does look as if MGM went to the trouble of retransferring Troll 2, and it really paid off. I'm sure it goes without saying by this point that Troll 2 was shot on the cheap, so this Blu-ray disc is limited somewhat by the quality of the film stock, hardware, and crappy lighting. The texture's kinda gritty, and medium-to-wide shots are better defined than the DVD but aren't exactly overflowing with fine detail either. There's some pretty mild speckling scattered throughout too. None of that's even a little bit unexpected, though. I'm kind of floored that Troll 2 looks this incredible in high-def, and I honestly can't imagine it ever looking any better than what MGM has delivered here.
Troll 2 fits pretty snugly on a single-layer Blu-ray disc. There aren't any extras to gobble up any of that capacity, though, leaving plenty of headroom for this AVC encode. Oh, and Troll 2 is very lightly letterboxed to preserve its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1.
The audio part of this review's not quite so overenthused, but...yeah. Troll 2 sounds about as good as I could hope to hear: it just doesn't have all that much to work with. This Blu-ray disc lobs out two soundtracks: the original mono mix in Dolby Digital 2.0 (224kbps) along with a 24-bit DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 remix. The lossless remix doesn't really stray all that far away from the approach the monaural track takes. There's very little directionality, instead reserving the surrounds primarily for light atmosphere: chirping birds and crickets, bubbling whatever-that-is in the Goblin Queen's lair, groaning in the church, a little reverb to the floating Grandpa Seth heads in the mirror...that sort of thing. The rears also reinforce the instrumentation in the Casio keyboard score. As far as discrete effects go, the minivan puttering around from the rear speakers back up to the front is about it. The whole thing sounds pretty thin and midrange-y: no highs, no real lows. A few lines of dialogue seem a little tough to make out, and I don't remember ever feeling that way about any of the videos or DVDs that've passed through my hands over the years. It still sounds richer and fuller than the mono track does, though, so I'll take it. I can't fault MGM here, of course: garbage in, something only kind of incrementally better out.
No dubs this time around. Subtitles are served up in English (SDH), Spanish, and French.
Not much -- just a high-def theatrical trailer.
I'd have given my eyeteeth for some interviews or an audio commentary. I don't even know which ones the eyeteeth are, exactly, but I'd still have given them up for pretty much any extras at all. Oh well. I guess all that's being held back for the DVD of Best Worst Movie next month.
The initial DVD release from all the way back in 2003 was a flipper -- Troll on one side and Troll 2 on the other. This Blu-ray disc also comes packaged with a DVD of Troll 2, and it's the same as that seven-year-old double feature, only this time it's a single-sided disc with some new art on the front. Same transfer, same encodes, same menus, and all that...lock, stock, and goblin the same as before.
The Final Word
There's bad. There's so-bad-it's-good. There's so-bad-it's-gone-past-good-and-back-to-bad-again. ...and then there's Troll 2. This is the most enthralling, endlessly fascinating trainwreck of a genre flick I've ever stumbled across. The tin-eared dialogue, the community theater production of Brigadoon-grade acting, the howlingly ridiculous goblin masks...yeah, there's all that. Troll 2 is just so damned earnest, though, and it's so surreal and so deliriously incoherent that I'm every bit as entranced my twenty-eighth time through as I was back when it was still in heavy rotation on HBO. The lack of extras is a definite drag, but at least this Blu-ray disc is cheap, and Troll 2 really does look spectacular in high-def. Why listen to me ramble on, though? Words will never do it justice: Troll 2 is something you've gotta experience for yourself, and it really is worth it. Highly Recommended.