The Cult Club: Troll 2 (1990)


The Cult Club is where Flixist’s writers expound the virtues of their favorite underground classics, spanning all nations and genres. It is a monthly series of articles looking at what made those films stand out from the pack, as well as their enduring legacy.

Let’s face it, there are a lot of bad movies out there. Whether they’re poorly constructed, poorly acted or poorly written, there are tons of movies that have one or two poor qualities that define them. However, once every million years or so, a perfect-movie-making-storm comes along and produces something that goes so wrong, at every possible moment, that it becomes something hysterically brilliant. Troll 2 literally defines the idea of the movie that is “so bad, it’s good.”

There are two things I always tell people before they watch Troll 2 to set the stage: Number 1: Troll 2 has nothing to do with the movie Troll, it was just named Troll 2 to try and ride on some of the success of the Empire Pictures movie – there is no “Troll 1”. Number 2: There are no Trolls in Troll 2. Throughout the entire movie, they are only referred to as Goblins – not Trolls. Clearly, if you haven’t seen Troll 2, you need to. If you have seen Troll 2, well then pile into the family van with me and let’s head up into the Nilbog wilderness!

nilbog wilderness

The modern epic that is the glorious Troll 2 found its beginnings in the minds of its writer and director, husband and wife team Claudio Fragasso and Rosella Drudi, as a way for Drudi to express her frustration with several of her friends becoming vegetarians. (Literally guys, this is where it starts – it only gets more and more ridiculous from here.) Drudi says, “I had many friends who’d all become vegetarians, and it pissed me off. So I had the idea of replacing the vampires in the vampire story with vegetarians.” Yep, Troll 2 is about a bunch of vegetarian monsters who try to turn people into plants using some magic neon-green goop . . . and then eat them.

Fragasso, Drudi, and pretty much all of the rest of the staff of Troll 2 – other than the actors – were from Italy and only spoke broken English. The script was written in the same broken English that the crew spoke and the cast would later recall that the script was only given to them scene-by-scene(!), and that the dialogue in the scripts was hard to understand, but Fragasso insisted that they preform it verbatim.

The, umm, unique circumstances that surrounded Troll 2‘s inception gave rise to one of the most absurd movies ever created. As horror movie critic MJ Simpson says, “[With] a lot of bad movies, you get the impression that the people making them just didn’t know how to make a film, [Troll 2] is like the people knew how to make a film, but then suffered quite a heavy blow to the head.”

One thing that makes Troll 2 so fantastic is that it’s constantly entertaining. Sure, some clips or scenes have become more famous than others, but if you watch the movie in its entirety, it is 95 minutes of hilarity. In every scene there is something ridiculous going on, whether it’s the tainted food people are about to eat, the seemingly (though actually in real life) disturbed shopkeeper telling a young boy that coffee is “the devil’s drink”, the fact that the townspeople have inexplicable scars on their faces, or anything with Grandpa Seth, the level of insanity throughout Troll 2 simply never wavers.

But, of course, it is this completely unintentional absurdity that makes Troll 2 so absolutely beloved. The storyline begins in such a strange place and only gets crazier, but the cast and crew take the whole thing so seriously (especially Fragasso, who apparently thought he knew all about American teenage horror movies) that the entire movie comes off as the silliest thing you’ve ever seen. It’s as if this thing was made, and everyone involved – cast, crew and audience – can all look back and laugh over how goofy it was, together.

troll 2 party hospitality

Troll 2 is not only “so bad, it’s good”, but it also perfectly describes the idea of the cult classic movie. Within the past decade or so, Troll 2‘s popularity – thanks in part to the internet – has exploded. There are Troll 2 screenings where people shout out the dialogue at the screen, convention-like events at the town in Utah where it was filmed, and autograph and Q&A sessions with the cast! It’s practically impossible not to fall in love with this movie.

In 2009, the child star of Troll 2, Michael Stephenson, directed a documentary about Troll 2 titled Best Worst Movie. It’s insightful, funny, and infinitely better made than its subject. The documentary chronicles the production of, reception of, and legend of Troll 2. It also catches up with the actors and asks them about their experience of being a part of what is often considered the worst movie ever made.

To quote John Gemberling from the comedic group the Upright Citizens Brigade, “I’ll watch [Troll 2] with you and I watched it yesterday, and I’m excited to watch it today. I’ll watch it again with you because I know that you’re going to love it.” Watching Troll 2 is a fantastic amount of fun, and anyone who doesn’t see it is truly missing out on one of the finest cinematic experiences the world has to offer.

Troll 2 is available on Netflix instant streaming, and Best Worst Movie is available on Netflix DVD. Now go forth and laugh – Troll 2 does not disappoint! Next month in The Cult Club, the staff takes on Cannibal Holocaust.

Oh, and one last thing: