Monday, June 9, 2014

Troll 2

Troll 2
seen @ Videology, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
6.6.14

I'm not a vegetarian. Never have been, don't think I ever could be. I'm familiar with the basic arguments against eating meat. I've read Fast Food Nation; I'm aware of the inhumane tactics used by this country in making burgers, although I haven't eaten a McDonald's hamburger in many, many years. Whenever possible (read: affordable), I try to buy organic or free-range or cruelty-free or whatever the alternatives to standard-issue meat are these days (which includes luncheon meats as well), but those times are rare.

If I absolutely had to, I imagine I could live on nuts and berries, fruits and vegetables alone, but to be honest, I don't want to. Period. I'm not interested in the ethical implications of eating meat because humans have been eating meat since the dawn of time. I try to balance it out with other kinds of food as often as I can (though I don't always succeed) and I exercise by taking long walks, but that's the extent of it for me. If that still makes me a bad person, so be it.


I'm sure I must know more people who are vegetarians, but the only one I can think of at the moment is my pal Eric - Bibi's husband, not the one from high school. Bibi and Eric were in town this past Saturday and they were telling me about their European vacation last month. Eric said that he had to forego his vegetarianism temporarily because they were staying with relatives and he didn't want to force them to make special compensations just for him. He dealt with it fine. He's not the type to push his meat-is-murder beliefs on other people (though I doubt he's quite that militant about it).

Which brings us to Troll 2. Despite what you've no doubt heard, I wouldn't call this the Worst Movie of All Time. (Like I said on Twitter, I'd happily concede that title to Manos: The Hands of Fate.) It's lousy, make no mistake about it, but the production values are a wee bit above average; the location shooting was a nice touch; the gore quotient isn't bad for a low-budget horror movie; and yeah, there were a couple of moments here and there where I genuinely flinched. And I'm convinced that underneath the bad acting and shoddy dialogue there's a germ of a seed of a halfway decent idea. I can't say that about The Room.


As part of some kind of family-exchange program (?), a typical all-American family spends a summer in the small rural town of Nilbog (yes... that's the actual name), where the natives are vegetarians, but the food they eat isn't exactly the kind you'd find at your local Whole Foods. The young son is haunted by the ghost of his late grandfather, who knows the truth about the townspeople - they're actually man-eating goblins straight out of ancient legend (not trolls... goblins) - and it's up to the boy to keep his family from eating of the Nilbog food, which stirs a biological change that turns humans into a bizarre kind of plant life suitable for eating by the goblins. It's one part Soylent Green, one part Grimm Fairy Tales, one part Dungeons & Dragons.

Troll 2 (my understanding is that the first Troll movie has absolutely nothing to do with this one) should've been played for satire. In the hands of, say, Mike Judge, this could've been an intentionally funny spoof that would've skewered both vegetarian health nuts and redneck meat-eaters alike, and also provide a critique on the American food industry in general. Apparently, though, Italian director/co-writer Claudio Fragasso (a.k.a. Drake Floyd), along with his wife and co-writer Rossella Drudi, wrote the screenplay in bad English, which they insisted was to be read by the actors verbatim. Sounds like they - like Tommy Wiseau, like Harold P. Warren, like Ed Wood - thought they were geniuses who couldn't be told anything.


Cracked recently did a piece on how to distinguish "good-bad movies" from legitimately bad ones, and I'd say Troll 2 fits most of the criteria. There was lots of unintended humor, the awfulness definitely escalates, and one can certainly learn from Fragasso & Drudi's mistakes on how to write a screenplay. That said, however...

...I really wish I saw this with a bigger crowd. I saw Troll 2 at a place called Videology, in Williamsburg. For years, it was a simple video store, but recently, they made a drastic overhaul and now they're a bar and restaurant that screens movies and TV shows - in addition to still renting videos! This was my first time in the place. I remember how it used to look because I'd often pass by it when I worked in Williamsburg. It's completely different now. The bar is in the front, with seating space; in the middle is a booth where one can rent and return videos, along with bathrooms and the kitchen; and in the back is a larger dining room area where the movies are shown. DVDs line one wall off to the side, and a door and curtain separates the room from the bar area. It's very nice.


By the time the movie started, I was the only one in the room. I got there about a half hour early because this was a free show, and I figured a movie with as big a cult following as it has would mean a large crowd. Not so. A couple of guys came in about five or ten minutes into the movie, and they chattered to themselves here and there, about the movie and other things, as I munched my very salty popcorn. This was one time, though, where I didn't object to people talking. I knew that Troll 2 was the kind of movie you don't watch the same way you watch, say, a Scorsese movie, and I was fully prepared for some audio commentary from the crowd. I kinda wished they were more vocal in their heckling!

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