Halloween Endurance Test: Troll 2 (1990)
Disregarding the original Troll‘s rather easy to follow narrative, its sequel instead starts off with a tale from ancient troll-time. Told to a modern boy by his grandfather, who we immediately learn, is a ghost. A ghost who believes in trolls, and gets very annoyed if you act as if you don’t. Jeez, we’re five minutes in and I’m already confused.
Did I mention that the trolls feed their victims a potion that turns them half-plant, so that the trolls (called “goblins” here for some crazy grandpa reason) can digest them easier? Or that the trolls and their soon-to-be victims bleed chlorophyll? No joke, the grandfather berates his grandson for not believing the dark green blood that’s lubricating his now cannibalistic tale. Since when are trolls, or “goblins,” herbivores? This makes them decidedly less fearsome.
This film was clearly a low-budget pick-up for MGM. Find a cheap film about goblins, and then throw the title of another (failed) franchise on it. All to rip off the legions of young men who harbor love for their grandfather’s bootlegged original. I have your number MGM. (Funny how when a small, independent studio pulls this bait-and-switch trick it’s cute; a sign of staying alive financially in a tough market. Yet when a major does it, it reeks of opportunism.)
It’s also a copyright lawyer’s dream! A quick glance around this boy’s bedroom and you’ll recognize the Tasmanian devil, a Robin statue, a Bugs Bunny model, a Mickey Mouse t-shirt, Chicago Cubs and Detroit Pistons pendants, and a Joker poster hanging on the wall in every shot. MGM’s sure putting everything (financially) on the line in this film.
25 minutes in brings redemption. Charged by his ghostly grandfather with stopping the family from eating tainted food (don’t they notice the butter on the corn is green? “Country” butter my ass!), the boy Joshua thinks slowly and urinates on the dinner table! Quick cut to the mother washing the plates, so that the first thing you hear after seeing Joshua reach for his zipper is running water, and you have true cinema gold(en showers)! Top it off with an angry father taking his son upstairs for punishment, then reaching for his own… belt. To tighten it a notch due to the missed dinner. I have to admit, I totally thought he was going push the PG-13 rating and give his boy some “water torture!”
In a shocking, postmodern twist, all the good actors die first in this movie! Best of all though, it also bucks the sequel trend of starring a young child, and thus negating any chance for a scare because you know the child won’t get hurt. Okay, this film isn’t scary, but the phantom grandfather does give his grandson a molotov, and command him to throw it into a building of dancing church-goers. Such touches can’t be overlooked.