DirectorJohn Carl Buechler/Claudio Fragasso
Release Date(s)1986/1991 (November 17, 2015)
Studio(s)Empire Pictures/Epic Productions - MGM/20th Century Fox (Shout!/Scream Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: See Below
- Video Grade: See Below
- Audio Grade: See Below
- Extras Grade: B+
There was a glut of horror on home video during the 1980’s. VHS was booming and dominating the market, leaving Betamax in the analogue dust. Unfortunately, like anything else, not everything fit for consumption was top-of-the-line quality. Troll, and its sequel Troll 2, helped define the horror home video fodder that came out of that era for a lot of people. Their somewhat iconic covers, particularly Troll 2’s cover which had nothing to do with the movie whatsoever, cemented their place on video store shelves nationwide as memorable releases for consumers.
Of course, none of that really mattered much to teenagers and young adults during that time. Troll came along in 1986 courtesy of Empire Pictures and did decent business at the box office for its meager budget. It was successful enough that an Italian-made movie originally entitled Goblins was renamed Troll 2 when released in the US, despite the two movies having nothing to do with each other. The first film tells the story of a newly-relocated family whose children stumble upon a troll and a witch, the former of which is a transformed magician looking to seek revenge by turning the apartment building’s tenants into magical creatures. The second tells the story of a family who moves into a new town, wherein people are being transformed into plants. Despite the insistence of the family’s young boy about what’s happening, nobody believes him and everyone is taken to root one by one.
While Troll is considered somewhat of a low grade B movie with some interesting elements to it, Troll 2 is roundly considered to be one of the worst movies ever made. To wit, it is also considered to be one of the best good/bad movies ever made. And while the first film has its fans, the fans of the second film are legion. Troll was made in a relatively straightforward fashion with real actors and crew, and with no major problems. It was also directed by special effects wizard John Carl Buechler, who directed several horror cult classics from the 1980’s. Troll 2, however, is a different story altogether, and not just literally. It was plagued with problems in all categories, including a language barrier between the director (Claudio Fragasso) and his actors and crew. It didn’t help either that most of the cast consisted of non-actors, local people who just wanted the fun of being in a movie. None of the story elements really made much sense, the acting and the dialogue were atrocious, and the movie did poorly upon release. However, it eventually became a cult favorite by its fans, so much so that a documentary was later produced about it: Best Worst Movie.
Personally, I find myself leaning more heavily towards Troll 2 for entertainment value instead of Troll just because of how fascinatingly bad it is. Troll didn’t leave me with any lasting impressions and felt very run of the mill, despite some of the decent special effects, which I do appreciate. It was executed well (unlike its unintended sequel), but failed to leave me with any sense of enjoyment, so I guess I’d call it a somewhat mediocre effort if I had to. Troll 2 has entertainment value in spades, but obviously for the wrong reasons.
The Blu-ray presentations of Troll and Troll 2 feature very similar transfers. Both are presented with a heavy amount of film grain on display, revealing a great amount of visual detail. Colors are very strong, especially greens, as you can imagine. Blacks levels aren’t too deep due to the grain, but brightness and contrast levels are satisfactory. There are also no signs of digital manipulation or augmentation, but there are some film artifacts left behind, including some unstable opening credits. Without heavy restoration, this is as good as it is likely to get with these films. For the audio presentation, both movies are presented with an English 2.0 DTS-HD track. Like the video portion, the audio portion is of the same quality on both movies. Dialogue is very clean and clear, with strong sound effects, music, and score. Troll might have just a little bit more edge when it comes to overall fidelity and spacing, as Troll 2 is a little messier by comparison. Still, both tracks are very competent and leave little room for complaint. Both movies also carry English subtitles for those who might need them.
The supplemental materials for both movies are some of the best included for one of Scream Factory’s double feature releases yet. For Troll, you get a brand new documentary about the movie entitled Troll Empire: The Making of Troll, as well as a photo gallery and the original theatrical trailer. For Troll 2, you get a new audio commentary with actors George Hardy and Deborah Reed and the original theatrical trailer. If you were lucky enough to snag one of the first 5,000 copies of this release, then you also got a bonus DVD of the aforementioned Best Worst Movie documentary (licensed temporarily from NewVideo). The DVD features audio in English 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Digital, but with no subtitles. Also included is a section of extra bits cut out of the documentary including Minestrone, Pink Floyd, and Anorexia; A Colonoscopy Christmas Card; Lord of the Goblins; Hand Grenades and Machine Guns; Death by Convention; Reflections from a Body Building Poet; Rolling Road Show and Rude Pigeons; Troll Queen Tooth Repair; The Holy Grail of Bad Movies; A Public Service Announcement from George Hardy; Kingdom of the Goblins; Meat Noam Telnobody 2; Provocative Interview with Troll 2’s Goblin Queen, Deborah Reed; and George Hardy Doesn’t Know My Name. There’s also a music video for “Monstrous”; the indie trailer for the movie; an audio-only segment Creative Screenwriting Filmmaker Q&A; a filmmaker bio; a section about Docudrama Films; and a set of Docudrama trailers.
Troll (Film/Video/Audio): C/A-/A
Troll 2 (Film/Video/Audio): F+/A-/A
Best Worst Movie (Film/Video/Audio): B+/A-/A-
For a lot of horror fans, this is nearly a perfect package for Troll and Troll 2. It features terrific transfers and a nice little bounty of extra material to cull through, and for movies that didn’t resonate quite as well initially, this package gives them their due.
- Tim Salmons