The Movie Waffler Blu-Ray Review - TROLL: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION | The Movie Waffler

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Blu-Ray Review - TROLL: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION

TROLL: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION review
Boxset collects together Troll, its infamous and unrelated sequel, and documentary Best Worst Movie.


Review by Eric Hillis

TROLL: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION blu-ray

Inspired no doubt by the cult appeal of 1990's Troll 2, widely considered the worst movie ever made, Eureka Entertainment have gathered that film, its unrelated 1986 predecessor and Best Worst Movie, a 2009 documentary that explores the phenomenon of Troll 2 and its fanbase, into a new two-disc boxset, a must own for cult film completists and a must avoid for anyone with an ounce of sense.

troll julia louis-dreyfuss

1986's Troll (*) arrived amid the slew of Gremlins knockoffs (Ghoulies, Critters, Munchies et al) that padded out the horror shelves at your local video store in the mid-80s. Directed by FX maestro John Carl Buechler, who would return to sub-Gremlins fare for 1991's Ghoulies III: Ghoulies Go to College, this one boasts a truly mixed bag of acting talent, with cult star Michael Moriarty, former Charlie's Angel Shelley Hack, future Seinfeld star Julia Louis Dreyfuss, Lost in Space's June Lockhart and Cher's old buddy Sonny Bono heading up the adult cast.

Unlike its rival mini-monster movies, Troll is essentially a children's movie, and while it no doubt filled a pleasant Saturday afternoon for me at some point in the late '80s, as an adult it's something of an endurance test, with the titular tiny terror declining to take part in the sort of murderous rampages Gremlins, Critters and Ghoulies were known for. Rather, the Troll is intent on taking over the world, turning our planet into a Troll-friendly eco-system, one home at a time, beginning with the San Francisco apartment complex that houses the film's ensemble of irritating oddballs.

I suspect you won't find this one on Dreyfuss's CV nowadays, as her role mostly involves her prancing around with a few leaves covering her modesty, but it's Moriarty (playing a character named Harry Potter!!!) who comes off the worst, subjected to performing a cringe-worthy dance sequence and given no opportunities to flex his uniquely entertaining acting chops. Kudos to veteran Lockhart, who delivers her nonsensical dialogue with the professionalism of a classic Hollywood star.

If you grew up in the '80s, the rubbery creature effects will give you a warm glow, but the over-acting from Bono will have you reaching for the migraine pills. If you find this one under a bridge, leave it alone.

troll 2


A sequel in name only, 1990's Troll 2 (**½) doesn't even feature any trolls. Director Claudio Fragasso's film was originally titled 'Goblins' before being renamed to cash-in on the 1986 film (because you just gotta get those Troll dollars).

Fragasso's film doesn't live up to its billing as the worst movie ever made, far from it. For a start, it boasts a more coherent, albeit ludicrous plot than the '80s film whose dubious thunder it's attempting to steal. City slicker Michael Waits (George Hardy, a z-grade Craig T. Nelson) chases his dream of becoming a rural farmer, uprooting his family for the small town on Nilbog (groan), which turns out to be inhabited by a tribe of goblins who can take on human form. Using a variety of green-coloured food and curdled milk, the goblins, who happen to be vegetarian, turn their human prey into plants before feasting on them. Only young Joshua (Michael Stephenson) can see the truth, aided by the ghost of his dead grandpa (Robert Ormsby).

Like so many borderline copyright-infringing cinematic offerings of its era, Troll 2 is an Italian production, which means it's technically competent, and even visually inventive at times. A sequence in which a goblin attacks through a mirror before returning via a reversed shot wouldn't be out of place in a David Lynch movie, and there's a genuinely humorous moment involving a hapless victim turned into a pot plant. The Italian exploitation connections stretch to the involvement of notorious sleazemeister Joe D'Amato, who co-produces, and 'Black Emanuelle' herself, Laura Gemser, serving as costume designer.

Where the ironic laughs are generated however is from the truly awful performances of a cast of non-actors plucked from obscurity and the bizarre, pigeon English dialogue they're asked to recite. Hardy really grasps his chance at stardom but he's without doubt one of the worst actors to ever grace a professionally produced motion picture, and he's closely followed by Connie McFarland as his teenage daughter, whose acting highlight involves her breaking into a peculiar piece of interpretive dance.

troll 2


Troll 2 has its 'so bad it's great' laugh out loud moments, but it rarely sinks to the belly-aching level of the likes of The Room or the films of trash auteurs Neil Breen and David A. Prior. Nevertheless, it's garnered a rabid fanbase over the years, which led former child actor Michael Stephenson to direct the 2009 documentary Best Worst Movie (****), a hugely endearing and entertaining love letter to the unique joy of bad movies.

Stephenson uses his connections to get most of Troll 2's main players involved, with Hardy, now a successful dentist, enthusiastically attending a variety of conventions and midnight screenings, lapping up the attention and outpourings of appreciation that come his way from those whose lives have been bettered by the questionable work he did in the summer of 1990.

Stephenson's doc is bittersweet too, with Hardy showing up at conventions only to be greeted by less than a handful of fans and paying a touching visit to his former co-star Margo Prey, who seems tragically overwhelmed by real-life issues.

Extras:

A 50 minute 'making of' for the first movie; a Troll 2 commentary from actors George Hardy and Deborah Reed; an hour of deleted Best Worst Movie footage; an interview with Troll 2 star Reed; an audio only Screenwriting Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith, Michael Stephenson and George Hardy; a music video; fan contributions; and a limited edition collector's booklet.

Troll: The Complete Collection is on blu-ray from Eureka Classics on October 8th.


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