Bluray Review: TROLL/TROLL 2/BEST WORST MOVIE

trollOh Scream Factory, how I love thee. Growing up, I was exposed to quite a few films that left a mark on me. Everything from HELLRAISER and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, to Charles Band’s Empire Pictures classics such as ELIMINATORS, FROM BEYOND and PRISON. One of the films that fell into the Empire Pictures group was a silly and incredibly easy to love family horror film called TROLL. Watching that film for the first time (after finally getting past the VHS cover art that scared the living crap out of me) was an experience I will never forget. Everything from that weird ass song to Sonny Bono’s portrayal of what is the most unappealing swinger of all time, the film just had me right away. It was my jam all throughout childhood, and though there have been DVD releases of the John Carl Buechler monster film, it wasn’t until I received the now available Scream Factory triple feature set that I was able to revisit the film and show it to my kids, something that pretty much had the same effect on them as it did on me s many years ago. If there are any reasons to pick the triple feature Bluray up, the first one would most definitely be for that first film…and then there’s TROLL 2 and the documentary following the cult status of that second film, BEST WORST MOVIE.

 

THE FILMS:

John Carl Buechler’s 1986 family horror/fantasy TROLL is a silly yet completely entertaining film, filled with what are quite easily some of the most memorable performances from that time. Following the Potter family (which includes THE STUFF‘s Michael Moriarty as HARRY POTTER (?!), THE NEVERENDING STORY/SUSHI GIRL‘s Noah Hathaway as HARRY, Jr.,  as well as THE STEPFATHER‘s Shelley Hack as Mrs. Potter and TIGHT ROPE‘s Jenny Beck as Harry, Jr. ‘s little sister, Wendy Anne) as they move into an apartment building filled to the brim with eccentric residents, TROLL introduces its viewer to the tight knit family, before injecting them into the building, one that features a former soldier, a cranky swinger (Sonny Bono), a well meaning woman played by Seinfeld‘s Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Eunice St. Clair (a seemingly odd older woman that ends up being a sorceress of sorts) and lastly, the legendary Phil Fondacaro playing two roles: a very kind teacher and the title character, a troll named Torok. To say the film has its shares of characters would be an understatement, but it works well for the film, especially when Wendy Anne makes the mistake of dropping her ball in the basement laundry area and coming across the troll. Soon after, the troll possesses Wendy Anne, making her erratic and crazy and causing Harry, Jr. to think something’s up. When the troll begins to take over every resident in the building one by one and turning the whole place into a mythical grass-filled land, Harry, Jr. reaches out to Eunice and begins his quest to stop the troll and get his sister back.

It’s a silly and playful little film, one that features great practical effects, an entertaining story of trolls and sorcery and also features one of the most endearing monologues of the decade, courtesy of Fondacaro. It’s impossible not to love the film (if you don’t, I really don’t think we can be friends), and it really takes you back to a time in which filmmakers took chances with films, and TROLL is definitely one of those films. It’s also cool to see Buechler’s directorial debut on this one, before he went on to not only continue to be one of the true masters of makeup/fx but also the director of FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VII: THE NEW BLOOD.

The second disc in the set belongs to what is quite easily one of the worst films of all time, TROLL 2, a film whose cult status and fanbase is celebrated in BEST WORST MOVIE, the set’s limited third disc. It’s an interesting double feature, the film and the documentary, as they both go together so very well. Some might benefit from watching the film first, but me personally, I opted for the doc first and it made me have a different kind of appreciation for the absurdity of TROLL 2, a film that not only has absolutely nothing to do with the first film, any of its creators or crew, or studio, but doesn’t feature A SINGLE TROLL.

Dealing with a family going on vacation and swapping houses for said vacation (wait, what?), TROLL 2 features a batshit insane premise of the family  trying to ward off the vacation town’s residents, who are secretly vegetarian goblins who want to turn them into vegetables and eat them…yep. Before the film even gets to that part in the story, we’re also given one of the weirdest yet entrancing dance sequences ever from the family’s teenage daughter, but also the ghost of the son’s grandfather appearing in a mirror and helping the son throughout the film. It’s such a head-scratch type of film that you just can’t turn your head away from it. It’s a wreck of a film, full of bad performances, worse writing, and some of the most WTF scenes ever (touching a piece of Stonehenge helps save the day). It really has to be seen to be believed and even then, you’ll probably be in denial of having watched such an odd piece of cinema.

The BEST WORST MOVIE doc, which is directed by Michael Stephenson (who starred as the child protagonist in TROLL 2) and is available in the set for a limited time, is a fun look at where everyone involved in TROLL 2 are twenty years later. Mostly focusing on the successful and city-loved George Hardy, the documentary takes a good look at how nice of a man everyone in his life says he is, before the mentioning of Hardy’s performance and involvement in TROLL 2, a fact that he thinks is a bit embarrassing at first. It then follows Hardy as he begins to attend fan events for the film, and realizes that the TROLL 2 following is a big one, and from that point on, you can tell Hardy loves being a part of it.

While it’s a mostly pleasant documentary, the inclusion of TROLL 2 director Claudio Fragasso makes it somewhat of a negative one, with the director offending people left and right, calling the actors “dogs” and interrupting Q&A’s with his shouting that people are lying. It’s the Fragasso inclusion that somewhat taints an otherwise positive tone of a film, pulling focus from how much people love the film and leading it into Fragasso and writer Rosella Drudi talking about how amazing it is and how complex the film’s themes are, making you scratch your head almost as much as you do when Margo Prey (who played the mother in TROLL 2) compares TROLL 2 to CASABLANCA, and in a serious way. Aside from those two odd parts in the doc, it’s a blast to watch and yet another reason to pick up this great triple feature.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

Scream Factory gives fans of TROLL a special treat, with a brand new in depth making of doc, featuring interviews with director Buechler, producer Charles Band, writer Ed Naha, composer Richard Band, special effects artists John Vulich and Gino Crognale, visual effects artists Jim Aupperle, James Belhovek, Linda Drake and Kevin Kutchaver. It’s awesome to see a lot of behind the scenes looks at how they all made the film, with examples of matte painting and various other effects-based interviews, all talking about the film and how much fun it was to shoot on the old Dino De Laurentiis studio that Band had purchased in the ’80s, using it for quite a few Empire hits filmed in Italy. Stories of how originally the troll character was going to be a full animatronic character, but Phil Fondacaro and Buechler’s love for working with him made him cast the actor in both the troll and the professor roles. Other stories involving Moriarty not “getting” his character until Buechler took a fisher hat and put it on his head are fun stories to hear and just add to an already appealing release.

The verdict for this one is a definite YES, pick it up and bask in the fun and silly TROLL and get ready for quite the amount of double takes with TROLL 2.

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