Troll 2

Warner Bros. Pictures and MGM

Trolls aren’t real, despite what some road signs in Norway might lead you to believe. They are mythological creatures in the stories of Norse folklore and fairy tales (such as “Three Billy Goats Gruff”) and stage plays featuring orchestral scores that are overused in movies, especially documentaries (“Peer Gynt”). Some of their origin comes through the telling of tall tales to explain geological formations around Scandinavia. Traditionally they’re gargantuan monsters who could be turned into mountains when exposed to sunlight. Other times they might be more human-size, because as with a lot of ancient, orally forwarded narratives, those of the trolls have changed organically over centuries. They could be any size, really, but one common trait they’ve all shared is that they’re ugly. In the movies, in particular, they’re a varied beast. Unlike easily defined mythological beings such as fairies and dwarves and vampires and dragons, trolls are often mistaken or deemed interchangeable with anything from ogres to goblins to giants and more. Movies and television perpetuate the idea of variety when it comes to these creatures, expanding their categorization far beyond their already broad definition. The latest to give another interpretation is The Boxtrolls, in which the title monsters are a sub-species of troll who are smaller than humans and work in tunnels and live in cardboard boxes. Thanks to adaptations of comic books based on Norse mythology and translations of classic fantasy novels and horror movies with inaccurate titles, there are tons of different looks to trolls on the big screen. Below […]

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Drinking Games

This is a slow week for DVDs. Seriously, it is. When one of the biggest releases is the incestuously Presidential Hyde Park on Hudson (and who wants to watch that clunker, drunk or not), there’s not many options. Even the big movies opening this week are thin. Who wants to drink with Remember the Titans or Glory Road to get in the spirit for 42? Finally, I wouldn’t saddle anyone with another reason to watch one of the Scary Movie movies. In my desperation to find a relevant title for a drinking game this week, it dawned on me that we have never published one for the deliciously awful Troll 2. So, relevant or not, that became my focus because we could all use a little more Troll 2 in our lives, any day of the year. Cheers!

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It happens all too frequently. You go to a movie building, pay your eleventeen-hundred dollars for tickets and concessions, and you sit through a movie bearing a title comprised of a single cryptic noun. Scourge, or Continuum, or Memorandum. These inherently enticing titles were the reason you ponied up the admission price in the first place, but you leave feeling disappointed that the movie doesn’t live up to the nebulous expectations such an indeterminate title engendered. Frankly, we’ve been both flimmed and flammed by these deceptive marketing smokescreens for too long. What we need are more movies that adhere to stricter standards of transparency. Movies are consumable products after all, so misleading people with obfuscating titles constitutes an affront to truth in advertising. We need more movies like Robocop, Snakes on a Plane and Surf Ninjas. These are pretense-free film titles that allow you to make a more informed choice in your b-movie viewing. Really, we need more movies like Robocop, Snakes on Plane and Surf Ninjas just for the sake of general planetary betterment, but more specifically because they are upfront and honest with what they are selling. At this year’s SXSW, a listing can be found among the Midnighter slate for Big Ass Spider. The movie is about… that thing that it says its about. No matter how you may feel about the quality of this film, you can never fault the filmmakers for not delivering on their promises. In an effort to encourage all future filmmakers to be more forthcoming, […]

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Culture Warrior

The Room is different from other bad movies. Anybody who has seen it knows this. Its success is so potent, and the film is so rewatchable and addictive because it resides in an exclusive liminal space between the token wonderfully bad genre movies (e.g., Plan 9, Hobgolbins, Troll 2, and everything in between) and infuriatingly incompetent beyond-amateur crap like Manos: The Hands of Fate or Birdemic. The Room is so incredibly unique in part because, at a $6 million investment from the enigmatic Tommy Wiseau that covered everything from production to advertising, this is bad filmmaking on a relatively “large” scale. With The Room, Wiseau found himself in the impossible position of being able to – as the film’s sole source of funding – exercise total creative control while simultaneously displaying unwieldy incompetence regarding the entire filmmaking process.

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Join us each week as Rob Hunter takes a look at new DVD releases and gives his highly unqualified opinion as to which titles are worth BUYing, which are better off as RENTals, and which should be AVOIDed at all costs. And remember, these listings and category placements are meant as informational conversation starters only. But you can still tell Hunter how wrong he is in the comment section below. This week sees a dearth of DVDs worth Buying (although if you don’t have a copy of The Year Without A Santa Claus by now you should really pick up the latest reissue) and only one Avoid (Christmas In Canaan starring Billy Ray Cyrus). But there is plenty worth Renting this week including a light British indie called Bomber, a Hasidic crime caper called Holy Rollers, and a movie about two girls who have their mouths sewn to someone else’s cornhole. Yay!

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This Week in Blu-ray

The winds of change are blowing here in Austin, Texas. With Fantastic Fest over, a tad-bit of emptiness has washed over the land and left me yearning for more great genre experiences. Which brings me to this week’s selection of Blu-ray releases — one that includes a few unique genre flicks and one lovable turd that reminds me of a documentary that was launched into the stratosphere by the film community here in Austin. Also, there’s this animated movie from the Mouse House that will absolutely blow your mind on Blu-ray. It’s as if the cosmos has looked down upon us in our post-Fantastic Fest haze and said “hey, here are some good movies to satiate your need for the good stuff.” It’s a week full of releases that are delivered right on time, just as the leaves start to change and Halloween begins to peek its head around the corner. Time to spray blood on the walls and fall in love again with a tale as old as time, or some other confused multi-metaphor. It’s another round of This Week in Blu-ray.

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Junkfood Cinema

Welcome to another hearty serving of Junkfood Cinema: it’s why the terrorists hate us. Our resident junkfood expert is busy chomping on Double Downs and Twizzlers in between medically-mandated cubes of celery in a hospital in Austin as he recently suffered an excitement-induced seizure from all the hooplah surrounding Fantastic Fest which, ironically and tragically enough, means that Mr. Salisbury has been mandated by his doctor to stay at least 100 feet away from Fantastic Fest at all times. Mr. Salisbury is currently on suicide watch, and friends and family are keeping him company around the clock, making sure he doesn’t decide to pull the plug and order Bill Miller BBQ. So clearly FSR’s resident vegetarian/skinny jeans aficionado/pinko/walking cliché/guy-who-weighs-less-than-150 is the obvious choice to fill in for the ailing Mr. Salisbury until he gets back on his feet. And do so I proudly will, for as the ever-inspiring mantra in FSR headquarters goes, “when one of our men is down…find somebody else to temporarily take his place.” So this week, in a special FDA-unapproved edition of Junkfood Cinema, I’ll be giving some kickass insight into that exponentially popular piece of anti-vegetarian propaganda known as Troll 2 (1990), the film that inspired M. Night Shyamalan to see if he could possibly do any worse (spoiler: he could).

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Culture Warrior

I argued in a Culture Warrior article last year that bad films give audiences a degree of power and authority over the enormous and intricate machinations of filmmaking – in other words, that in an industry so large, with so many levels of production and with such a complex process from inception to completion, for a work of incompetence to somehow arise is an instance of seemingly impossible serendipity. Bad films are more believably possible – and come about, arguably, more often – through the process of independent filmmaking, a venue where resources may be limited but accountability may be absent altogether. Thus, a masterpiece of incompetence like Tommy Wiseau’s The Room is likely if not inevitable when there are significant sources of funding provided by a first-time feature director who doesn’t know the first thing about narrative storytelling, much less the difference between 35mm and HD cameras – or Troll 2, in which a language barrier also provided a barrier to competent filmmaking.

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Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to finally see Best Worst Movie, Michael Stephenson’s delightful documentary about the fan culture surrounding the “worst movie of all-time,” Troll 2. It was excellent. And now it’s invading Austin and the rest of the country in style…

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SXSW is less than two weeks away, so it’s only appropriate that one of the cinematic champions of SXSW 2009 is making noise. Best Worst Movie, the charming and hilarious documentary chronicling the cult phenomenon of the movie Troll 2, has been picked up by Area23A.

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The Troll 2 cult phenomenon is seemingly unexplainable. That didn’t stop Michael Paul Stephenson from directing a fascinating documentary, Best Worst Movie, about the transformation of the film from a movie mess to must see territory. We had the chance to talk to Stephenson, an incredibly gracious filmmaker, at SXSW about the chance to exorcise the goblins from his life.

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best-worst-movie-1

How do you combat the burden of being an actor attached to Troll 2, the worst film of all time? If you’re Michael Paul Stephenson, you film a stunning documentary, Best Worst Movie, that chronicles the unexplainable phenomenon that has turned Troll 2 from a bargain bin film into a cult classic.

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