For the last four years, Alamo Drafthouse programmer Zack Carlson has hosted a late-night horror movie celebration called Terror Tuesday and if you are a lover of horror, both esoterically brilliantly and obscurely awful, this night was invented just for you. The Terror Tuesday Report will dissect the movie shown as well as provide a barometer for the audience's reaction; as many of these films demand to be seen with an audience, this proves a vital component to the evening.
This week's film: Troll 2, directed by Claudio Fragasso, 1990
A family of certified city folk participates in exchange program that allows them to vacation in a tiny farming community in the home of a family of locals; that family in turn living in the city-dwellers' home for the duration of the trip. They venture to the hamlet of Nilbog and settle in for an old-timey holiday. What they don't know is the town is populated by ravenous, vegetarian
Veritable tomes about this film have been penned, littering this great cyber landscape of ours so there's not much I can offer in the way of fresh perspective. Troll 2 is the ultimate in guilty pleasures for horror fans. It exists in a strange sphere amid the dimensions of schlock, high art, and epic cinematic failure. If one were to construct some type of venn diagram to chart its place in the cosmos, it would encompass the failure circle and partially transect schlock. But this film, which deserves no celebration, registered at precisely the right level with precisely the right crowd that while its incalculable faults preclude its designation as such, the intensity of reception is equivalent to that of high art. Basically, the movie has transcended so-bad-it's-good to occupying the more intriguing distinction of so-bad-it's-a-paradox!
If I may editorialize for a moment, isn't this the weirdest vacation a person can possibly take? I'm not so much talking about the supernatural events that befall them at the hands of the woodland monsters, but rather the absurd concept of two families, strangers to one another, arbitrarily swapping houses for a week. With the Nilbog family moving into much nicer accommodations and our privileged central family forced to rough it in this fractured, jerkwater community, doesn't it smack of communism? For no reason other than a bizarre moral imperative (and a desire to have all the major conveniences), the citizenry achieve an even keel. I'm surprised all the food and drink were tinted green when they could just as easily have been red. No, I'm not serious.
The ineptitudes of Troll 2 are limitless. It fails on every conceivable minutia of filmmaking right down the simplest, nearly imperceptible measures that would otherwise go unnoticed. In this way, Troll 2 boldly creates new facets of the art of film...and then sucks at those too! I think my favorite example is the television show within the film that the imbecilic teens watch in the Winnebago. We are never granted insight as to the images of monkeys blasting into space by way of their own flatulence or caveman dance numbers. The thing is, these compartmentalized short films are just as poorly conceived and executed as the encompassing narrative so time and effort were actually committed to creating a supplemental stratum of suck to accompany the already daunting pile of crap within the framework.
I'd like to toss in a plug here for the documentary Best Worst Movie. The doc probes the production problems and cast experiences as well as showcasing the wildly inexplicable cult status Troll 2 attained two decades after its release. The film is equal parts heart-warming, heart-breaking, and life-affirming for people with our unrestrained passion for film. It provides far more insight into the enigma that is Troll 2 than any number of gushing, ironic online reviews could ever aspire because it is directed by (and stars) the actor who played the young boy from the film. Our own Scott Weinberg pops up in the documentary as well as the holy Alamo Drafthouse and Terror Tuesday Master of Scare-emonies Zack Carlson. Best Worst Movie is a phenomenal documentary and it opens limited on April 23.
I'm not even sure my services are required in this arena this week. For the avid Terror Tuesday attendees, seeing a 3Smm print of this film is tantamount to Santa Claus filling their stockings with wads of cash. Thanks to the Alamo, Austinites have multiple opportunities (usually once a year) to view this film, but that in no way detracts from the jubilant, and raucous response it receives each and every time. Almost everyone in the theater had seen the film before but the reaction from the noobs was equal, if not greater, than that of the veterans. While we gleefully hollered and exalted at the execution of our favorite, colossally awful lines, the novices matched our acclamations with flabbergasted guffaws. There was an excitement in this room that could not be measured and I anticipate no subsequent screenings of Troll 2 will ever find diminished reception.