We haven’t covered many trilogies at Zombie Club, so what better way than to bring a trilogy to the table that we can make a pun of for the title of the Night – Trollogy Night. Ok, so technically it’s really a trilogy by name only, starting off innocently enough with John Carl Beuchler’s children’s fantasy horror Troll, made and released in 1986.
Following on from Troll is Claudio Fragasso’s now infamous Troll 2, a film so bad it topped (or should that be bottomed) the Worst 100 films on the IMDB list for many months a couple of years back. In fact, it’s not a sequel at all really, instead featuring a group of Goblins (not Trolls!) that has subsequently kick-started a cult following in the US and inspired it’s own documentary film - Best Worst Movie - which you really should track down and watch whether you’ve seen Troll 2 or not.
Rounding off tonight’s list we have The Crawlers, aka Contamination. 7, aka Troll 3. yet another ‘sequel’ that has absolutely nothing to do with the first two films. Ah, you’ve gotta love those B-movie marketers, they’ll draw us in through any means necessary. So kick back with us as we go trolling through yet another threesome of wonderfully bad movies.
Tonight’s Zombie Club was brought to you by Rawshark in association with Nilbog home grown pot plants and green goo sandwiches
Plot A wicked troll king in search of a mystical ring that will return him to his human form invades a San Francisco apartment complex where a powerful witch lives.
Rawshark Admittedly, expectations weren’t that high for Troll, but the film managed to surprise us all with some smart, off-the-wall dialogue, great casting (alongside Michael Moriarty and Sonny Bono, this film was also Julia Louise Dreyfuss’ first film role), and pretty neat SFX for what is essentially a ‘kid’s’ horror film.
When the Potter’s move into their new apartment block, the daughter Wendy bounces her ball down the stairs into the laundry room and encounters what Jim called a ”really cool Troll man!”. This troll is pretty evil though and stabs her with his green ring, effectively turning himself into the guise of Wendy. Now in human form, the troll sets about visiting all the tenants (including Bono’s stud and Duke, the weird fitness freak / retired Marine), turning them one at a time into weird goo (”He’s turning into a turd!” - Jim) and ensuring their apartments become small forests in the attempt to create a new Troll kingdom full of manic little people ready to take over the world.
Luckily, Wendy’s brother, a certain Harry Potter Jr, has made friends with Mrs St Clair, a dear old lady at the top of the apartment block who has her own pet mushroom troll (which she covers with a lampshade whenever visitors pop by). It turns out, Eunice St Clair is also a Princess who is fully aware of the troll kingdom and together the boy and the old lady team up to prevent the Troll’s plan to create a Fairy Universe in just three days.
It’s a fairly straightforward story, but what saves the film from being troll-standard is the witty and irreverent script and the wonderful host of characters. As you’d expect, Michael Moriarty is great value, especially the scenes where he rocks out (”He’s doing Dad dancing” - Jim) for no apparent reason and his many light-hearted sarcastic comments peppered throughout the film. Phil Fondacaro plays the Troll, but also has a non-costumed spot as Malcolm Mallory, a dwarf who is a Professor of English, whilst soon-to-be Seinfeld star, Julie Louise Dreyfuss is fun as a girl who gets turned and dances around naked dressed only in a few leaves (”Oh, you look good in that plant” - Zomblee). Ok, so the ending is a bit over-the-top and messy, but if you’ve got young kids of your own, and want to introduce them to the wonderful world of b-movie horror flicks, you could do far worse than sit them down in front of Troll.
”Well, did you pop your cookies?”.
Zomblee Regrettably, this was the only Troll entry I watched when I was officially 'young', and you know what? It holds up really well, thanks to some lively characters, decent special effects, and its charming light heartedness. The plot is simple: the all-American Potter family move into new apartment block, daughter gets taken over by your average basement troll, troll spreads trollage throughout the entire building to make way for the rebirth of their kind. A nice old witch called Eunice (who looks younger and kind of hot when she lets her hair down) lives upstairs, and is guardian of the troll secrets, but can she save the day?
In the role of Harry Potter (yes the dad is really called Harry Potter – no relation I‘m told), I give you the legend that is Michael Moriarty, in just one of his fantastic 80s roles, alongside Q The Winged Serpent and The Stuff. Here he plays the laid back, easy-going dad to perfection, despite wearing a hat that is clearly too small for him (”Have you noticed that Michael Moriarty’s hat doesn’t fit very well” - Jim). Other highlights include Sonny Bono as the lecherous swinger whose dirty ways are soon thwarted once the local troll sets foot in his den of sin.
June Lockhart – who has been acting for 70 years and still going strong – is bloody great as Eunice the witch, delivering lines like ”I’m here because I have to be.”. Even better, she keeps a friendly pet troll, which is also a mushroom (”Wow! Mushroom troll! He’s my favourite!” - Rawshark).
I’m with Rawshark - I loved that little fella too. Why a movie featuring something as brilliant as a mushroom troll has a really low rating on imdb.com is beyond me. It’s a wonderful little fantasy which, although completely daft, succeeds in keeping you consistently entertained for 90 minutes. The script is a lot wittier than you would ever expect, too, and although I’d love to bang on about how great Malcolm the dwarf is, it’s best to hand over to my buddies.
”Honey, did you do a lot of drugs before we met?”
Jim For the record, I thought Malcolm the dwarf was okay, but didn't think he was as great as the boys did. Okay, so he had a couple of good lines, and if you look at his career on IMDB you can't fault it (playing a 3ft tall Dracula in The Creeps? Getaway...), but he looks a bit too much like a mini-Lionel Ritchie for my liking. He was good in Bordello of Blood though, but don't tell anyone else I like that movie.
Anyway, the Potters move in to an apartment building, the daughter is kidnapped by a Troll king that was waiting for her in the basement (so, she's the first person to ever go in to the basement, maybe?), he assumes her identity and one by one goes for everyone in the building, turning them into bits of his new Troll kingdom. Or rather, the bird soon to be in Seinfeld turns into a sexy forest creature, everyone else is turned into new bits of the forest. Harry Potter Jr (formerly the kid in Battlestar Galactica) makes friends with the witch upstairs (formerly from Lost in Space except when she goes young at the end when she's also from Battlestar Galactica) and the battle ensues to stop the Troll taking over the block, and then apparently the world with his new little troll friends.
And what fun friends. There are all kind of trolls ("Brilliant, a troll baby!" - Rawshark), including a mushroom troll under a lampshade that regularly shouts "Eeee!" and is often quite rude ("It's not often you see a troll mushroom blow a raspberry." - Rawshark). There was also a spider troll and a big muscly looking troll as far I can remember, in fact there are enough trolls in this movie for three movies, which is handy actually considering the number of trolls in the next too, i.e. none.
The assorted cast are very funny, the highlights being Sonny Bono as the aging lethario and the ridiculously stereotyped army vet character upstairs ("I think this army guy's going to be really quite good value!" - Zomblee), but you can judge that for yourselves as you get to meet the residents in a very early scene where the Potters introduce themselves to everyone in the hallway (as we scrambled to get down as many names as possible). Oh, and I have to also mention Michael Moriarty, who recently has stolen every movie I've seen him in (It's Alive 3: Island of the Alive anyone?)
All in all a great family movie that has aged well and actually has trolls in. Shame the second movie didn't pick up where this one left off. Or is it?
Director John Carl Buechler
Cast Noah Hathaway
Runtime 82 mins
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Troll 2 (1990)
Plot A young child is terrified to discover that a planned family trip is to be haunted by vile man-eating monsters out of his worst nightmare. His attempt to save his beloved family is assisted by the spectre of his deceased grandfather.
Zomblee It is an honour to go first on Troll 2, one of the most famous bad movies ever made. And with good reason. It is in fact so awful, in such a great way, that an amazing documentary entitled Best Worst Movie was shot last year by none other than Michael Stephenson, who plays Joshua in the movie, which might just do for Troll 2 what Anvil: The Story of Anvil did for...Anvil.
The story follows young lad Joshua Waits, and his family of really awful actors - dad Michael (George Hardy), mum Diana (Margo Prey), sister Holly (Connie Young) and the spirit of Grandpa Seth (Robert Ormsby) - who take part in an exchange holiday scheme, which sees them headed for the quiet town of Nilbog. Once there, they exchange very odd pleasantries with their even odder exchange family who don't seem in the least bit interested about whatever mod cons they have 'back in the city'. But this is only the beginning of much strangeness that is about to befall them. You see, all the inhabitants of Nilbog are goblins, because Nilbog is goblin in reverse. Some clever shit going on here guys. Not only are these bizarre locals goblins, but vegetarian ones, therefore they want to feed the family greens so they can eat them. Cue many outrageous scenes, like locals throwing a paper bag towards the house, shouting "here are some sandwiches for tonight!", and such like.
Will the family Waits succumb to the temptation of the sandwich, or will they piss on the hospitality? The latter seems the only viable option, and this being one of the worst all time movies, little Joshua literally pisses over the food on the table. After this point, you figure you've seen all that Troll 2 can offer in terms of ridiculousness. Think again. This is the gift that keeps giving.
What we have here is a veritable smorgasbord of bad movie delights, ranging from atrocious acting ("She has no expression at all" - Jim), deplorable special effects, dodgy editing, and last but not least, a script / story that is simply laughable. Which is what all of Troll 2 is - laughable - and that is why it has taken on such cult status over the past few years. We've all seen our fair share of bad movies, but Troll 2 is full-tilt entertaining with it. Something as insignificant as a simple line of dialogue has the power to provoke a laughing fit. Speaking this dialogue is a cast of characters whose spirit lives on long after the movie ends. The owner of the general store (Don Packard) is an absolute joy to behold, and has one of the best faces in movie history (I'm not kidding!), while Mike Hamill throws himself into the nefarious role of 'Bells' with maniacal glee.
One could go on and on about this beautiful thing that is Troll 2 - I haven't even talked about that plant pot dragging scene, or the really crap goblin with the exploding eye, or indeed the 'corn porn'. Suffice to say it's one of the most entertaining, funny, and downright ludicrous movie experiences I’ve ever had. But also woefully awful.
Row, row, row, your boat...altogether now!
”You can’t piss on hospitality! I won’t allow it!”
Jim And I don't really know where to start with Troll 2, I'm so blown away by its own ridiculousness. So lets just roll with it.
Troll 2 is all about the Waits family and their bizarre family exchange holiday with some weird farming type looking people in the seemingly backward hick town of Nilbog. As Zomblee said, the hick family aren't interested in the talk of the city folk mod cons they've got waiting for them in their exchange house and make a sharp exit, whereas dad Michael Waits is very impressed by the green goo food hospitality spread they've left behind. But wait, young Michael still talks to his dead Grandpa Obi-Wan style, and Gramps is warning him that he'd better do something quickly to stop his family eating that stuff before his time-stopping magic runs out (don't ask). So Michael pisses on the hospitality, hence the famous tag line that Zomblee has quoted so accurately.
Meanwhile, sister Holly's boyfriend is in hot pursuit, accompanied by his geeky gang who are along for the ride under the promise that Nilbog is full of hot chicks. It's not though, it's actually full of Goblins.
Yes, it took me half the film to work out that Nilbog spelt Goblin backwards ("Oh, did you not get that?" - Rawshark), and I only really clicked it when I saw the town signpost, just before the town meeting scene. That's the meeting the hick family that should have exchange houses were at ("That's why they didn't want to hear about all the mod cons back in the city!" - Zomblee), apparently having not gone back to the city because of car trouble. And he really didn't want to eat that green ice cream.
Oh, it's just one big awful awesome mess of a film, but I could write a book on it no problem. Suffice is to say that you won't believe your eyes when you watch this. The guys get chomped one by one by all meeting that over acting young witch character, eating the green stuff, turning in to plants and then getting eaten - the attempted rescue of the guy who actually roots in a plant pot by dragging the pot to the door is nothing short of brilliant, as is the corn popping porn seduction sequence that is well worth looking for on youtube. At the same time, the family under-act their way towards the final showdown, refusing to eat the green goo no matter what. And the goblins just look like kids wearing potato sacks and shit masks ("There's one with a really rubbish mask... That one!" - Rawshark).
Nobody looks good in this film and everyone should be embarrassed, although the dad Michael does claw back respect for being very funny in Best Worst Movie, although he too has a stupid hat ("He's got a really stupid hat, but at least his hat fits." - Zomblee). I thought Claudio Fragrasso had a lot to answer for with Shocking Dark, but that's nothing compared to this timelessly amazing atrocity.
"Are you sure it's full of beautiful girls Elliot?"
Rawshark Aha – so here we are then, finally Troll 2 comes to us, the movie Zombie Club was born for. Well, where to start? I guess my ZC buddies have covered most of the ‘plot’ (family heads to the town of Nilbog where they are almost eaten by goblins), so I guess I’m just going to list my top five highlights from the film, that has quite rightly been dubbed ‘Best Worst Movie’.
1. Pot Plant drag. When one of the group of four lads, Arnold, is turned into a pot plant by the evil Creedence, he is discovered by one of his mates who promptly tries to escape by dragging his friend across the floor, a scene so painfully slow in execution it brought tears of laughter to all of our eyes. Unfortunately Creedence returns and sets about chainsawing poor old Arnold plant before they get more than three metres.
2. Singing in the car. To relieve the boredom of the journey, Joshua’s mother tells him to sing a song (”Joshua, start singing!”) leading to the worst ever family rendition of “Row, Row, Row your boat” ever put to film.
3. Popcorn Porn. When one of the guys decides to start watching some kind of Goblin porn on TV, he is soon joined by an evil witch who starts force-feeding him a cob of corn before they get down to action amidst a whole avalanche of pop corn. As Jim said, ”I honestly can’t think of any other examples of corn porn!”. Zomblee took a lot of photos of this scene. ”No more… No more popcorn!”
4. Rubbish mask Goblin. Admittedly, none of the goblins are that well created, but there’s specifically one completely rubbish Goblin mask with terribly bad bulbous eyes which looks completely ridiculous. In the end, this goblin’s eyes blow up and melt, explaining why they were so bulbous (to cater for the terrible FX), but that’s still no excuse, although it did give us many opportunities to point out the ‘rubbish mask Goblin’.
5. The paused dinner. Sitting down to their welcome banquet, Joshua’s Grandpa appears and stops time for 30 seconds (which was actually one minute and 14 seconds of screen time), before Joshua gets up on the chair and pisses all over the gourmet green gooey food. Altogether now – ”You can’t piss on hospitality, I won’t allow it!”.
I could of course go on and on about the amazingly bad moments in this film (the brilliant store owner and his Nilbog milk, the terrible acting of daughter Holly, the magic stone of Stonehenge), but I fear I’m running out of space, so to summarise, Troll 2 is a film so bad, it’s brilliant! So, it’s an ironic five stars from me, and I urge all of you to check it out this instance, and then hunt down the recently finished documentary Best Worst Movie and join us, and many others, in the Troll 2 cult.
”Do you have to throw up?” “Yes, I do have to throw up”.
Director Claudio Fragasso
Cast Michael Stephenson
Runtime 95 mins
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Troll 3 (aka The Crawlers) (1990)
Plot People from a small town are attacked by evil radioactive tree roots growing in the forest.
Jim So how in the hell do you top Troll 2? How do you top one of the universally recognised worst movies of all time? Get Joe D'Amato in. Of course. Like Troll 2, Troll 3 doesn't have any trolls in, but whereas Troll 2 at least has goblins in it that looked a bit like trolls, Troll 3 has killer roots. And it's not actually called Troll 3, it's really called The Crawlers, and if you Google around you'll find all kinds of stories of the film originally including the family from Troll in an early draft of the script, and other speculation that the story was originally set in Nilbog (which still spells 'Goblin' backwards). Whatever, if you Google Troll 3 you get IMDB links to The Crawlers, and that's good enough for me.
Anyway, the story starts as young Josie crosses paths with Susie on a bus into Josie's small town. Susie gets off the bus and hitches a ride with a very obvious raping redneck, but she escapes from him into the forest and is killed by a point of view camera ("Attacked by nothing..." - Rawshark). Josie heads home and meets up with her old boyfriend, and their paths then cross with a drunk scientist who leaves his map of toxic dumping sites at the local whore's place, which the boyfriend finds (eyebrows were raised as to why he was there in the first place), but Josie and him also find a body in the woods that mysteriously disappears when they bring the Sheriff out to take a look.
It turns out that killer roots are killing people, mutated after a leak from the local chemical plant, of course. More people are killed, the scientist says spurious lines like "her body is soaked in radioactivity, as if she swam in a pool of uranium", and so many people become suspicious that the power plant sends heavies to silence people, and they are killed too ("Suits killed by roots!" - Rawshark).
"This is where they team up." said Rawshark as Josie, her boyfriend and Matt whose gramps was killed by the roots, rally the small town to fight them off ("It's picking up some pace a little bit." - Zomblee). Cue a big final fight with the roots where the town triumph, foiling the dastardly chemical plant owner too.
Not a brilliant film but a fun little killer root B-movie none the less. There's enough eco-horror clichés to keep most fans of the genre happy, the pacing is good, there's a few interesting characters (the whore, the drunk scientist, the Sheriff) and the point of view vine shots are a laugh. It doesn't have the laugh out loud badness of Troll 2 though, which is kind of a problem, because even though technically this is a better film, it's not as good in the Zombie Club sense. You know what I mean.
"Now, what was the purpose of this trip to the woods?"
Zomblee I know exactly what Jim means. It's obvious from the outset that Troll 2 is in another bad movie league altogether, while this second unofficial sequel is merely your average meat and two veg kind of bad movie experience. During that first 10 minutes, Rawshark and Jim's collective murmurings of "this isn't actually that bad, you know" began to make me suspect that we had caught D'Amato on a good day, and that we wouldn't get what we normally expected of bad Zombie Club movies. But I was wrong. And I repent. Because 10 or 15 minutes into the running time Rawshark says, "Is that a Geiger counter?", at which point I thought that if there are Geiger counters involved, this movie can't fail to deliver.
As it turns out, we are rooting for the guy with the Geiger counter. His name is Dr Taylor. He has a heart of gold, but suffers from erectile dysfunction, perhaps partly due to his alcoholism. Personal problems aside, he's the only one at the 'power plant' who is aware of the radioactive leak polluting the rivers and surrounding countryside, and keeps on appearing in 'taking samples' mode, before discovering that nasty Dr Kruger has embezzled the waste disposal funds.
Talk of "genetic mutation" ensues, as do a few bizarre murders involving the killer roots, including the sheriff who gets it big time in a halfway-decent caravan crawler attack. Unfortunately there aren't enough scenes like this throughout the movie, so you may feel a little short-changed if you're after the nasty stuff. One thing really bugged me about Contamination .7 - the crawlers didn't make a high-pitched squealing noise when they were chopped. They didn't make any noise at all - how cheap is that?!
"I don't know how to explain the killer roots."
Rawshark Following a traditional ‘eco-horror’ template, Troll 3, or The Crawlers to give it it’s more logical title is fairly low-key ho-hum with a few interesting scenes peppered in to ensure interest never really wanes off 100%. What we have here is your standard nuclear ‘accident’ which wreaks havoc on a local community, before a specialist scientist stands up to tell the townsfolk what’s really going down before the rallying and triumphant end.
Josie and Susie are two girls on a bus heading home but whereas Josie returns safely to her boyfriend Matt, Susie encounters a rapist hick before running off into the woods only to be killed by a killer POV camera. Back in town, a ”rebel drunk scientist who’s on to something” (Jim) pulls a local girl, but fails to get it on due to ‘man’s troubles’. Josie and Matt then go for a walk to a nearby waterfall (which Jim commented ”would be great for sword fights”) where they spot a corpse, but by the time they return with the Sheriff the body has gone.
It turns out the body had been retrieved by the scientists at the local power plant (Zomblee cheered the many dials at the plant) who are trying to cover up their nuclear leak and are annoyed with Dr Taylor, the impotent drunk scientist, snooping around. They send two suits to kill Dr Taylor, but instead the two suits are, as Zomblee says, ripped apart by roots. There is a lot more fairly boring searching and investigating (”Dr Taylor’s scientific senses are tingling” - Jim) before we finally get to the final attack which picks up somewhat as we are exposed to lots of pretty good root attacks – Root through the eye! Root attacking the car stuck in the puddle!! Etc, etc.
Actually, the finale is fairly enjoyable as the townsfolk stumble on the dumping ground and set about the battle to stop the killer roots. The helicopter is attacked (with a brilliant split second toy helicopter blowing up) and tart with a heart Paula the hooker sacrifices herself for a young boy before the bulldozers move in to save the day. But, it wouldn’t be a killer b-movie without a last shot twist, so thankfully the film bows out on a last scene ending based around a killer Christmas tree. Not bad, just not great either.
”They’re feeding on plasma residue”
(Unfortunately, we cannot find any Youtube footage of this film at all).
Director Joe D'Amato
Cast Mary Sellers
Runtime 91 mins
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So there we have - a night of trolls, or at least a night of trolls, goblins and creepy killer vines. We all agreed Troll was great little fun movie, but it's Troll 2 that was both the low (and high) point of the evening.
And this is where our star rating system on Zombie Clubs can be somewhat contentious. Zomblee, perhaps quite rightly, gave it the one star treatment, but in the context of friends laughing at atrocious B-movies, both Jim and myself had no option but to score it quite highly with four and five stars respectively. However, Zomblee did state that if he could have given it One White Hot Star, he would have done. So, he did.
Troll 3 ended up being the slightly flaccid dessert of tonight's three-course menu - think an egg custard rather than a rich tiramisu, but with such a great starter and solid main course, we weren't complaining too much. One more time for good measure? Oh, go on then...
"You can't piss on hospitality! I won't allow it!"