If the word “Nilbog” elicits joy, or if the phrase “You can’t piss on hospitality. I won’t allow it!” causes extreme laughter, you’re obviously a part of the Troll 2 fan base. For the uninitiated, Troll 2 is a meant-to-be-scary-but-actually-hilarious movie released in 1990 that every person should see at some point (probably several times, in fact).
(And no — there aren’t any trolls in this movie. That would make too much sense.)
The premise? A city-dwelling family temporarily swaps homes with a family from the small town of Nilbog (because that’s obviously a go-to vacation option, right?) only to find that the town is full of goblins. (Get it? “Nilbog” is “Goblin” spelled backwards.) Here comes the twist, though: These goblins are vegetarian, but that doesn’t mean they don’t pose a threat to the visiting outsiders. They still want to eat them, but need to first turn them into plants by convincing them to consume any variety of green-colored foods that will transform them from people to vegetables. Oh, and there’s a witch involved. And the ghost of a recently dead grandfather, who warns his grandson about the surrounding danger. And, to pull it all together, the movie consists of the absolute worst acting — and dialogue — than you have ever witnessed in a 95-minute stretch. Absolutely guaranteed.
I was introduced to Troll 2 in college, when a friend happened to record the movie (which none of us had heard of at the time) on TiVo, and it became an instant favorite, watched again and again. Who wouldn’t be captivated by scenes like this, after all?:
Still not convinced? Give this super-sexy scene a try:
Directed and written by an Italian husband and wife duo (the wife was inspired to write the film as a way to express her frustration with so many friends becoming vegetarian), Troll 2 was filmed over a three-week period in 1989 in rural Utah. Made up of a non-English speaking Italian crew, and featuring a lead actor who was actually a dentist, this movie was destined for failure from day one.
Rotten Tomatoes gave Troll 2 a 0% rating, and it’s the lowest-ranked film on IMDB. And the fact is, because the film is so astoundingly horrible it is also extraordinarily wonderful. We all have favorite bad movies, but Troll 2 is terrible from the very start, and doesn’t disappoint. Every minute of this movie is bad. So bad, it’s good. (As a Chicagoist article about the film put it: “There are bad movies, there are really bad movies, and there are bad movies that are so bad that they’re good. And then there’s Troll 2.”)
Kevin and I recently watched Best Worst Movie, which is a documentary chronicling the evolution of Troll 2 from throwaway early 90s bust to cult classic. Once people caught wind of this amazingly poor production, Troll 2 became a beloved film in many circles and has prompted sold out screenings in cities including Atlanta, New York, L.A., and Austin.
Best Worst Movie also acts as a cast and crew reunion of sorts, featuring interviews with many of the people who had a hand in making Troll 2 so very rotten. Some view Troll 2 as a rather embarrassing piece of history on their resumes, others have embraced its terribleness and are in on the joke, and others — by far the most intriguing and upsetting portion of Best Worst Movie — take Troll 2 completely seriously. Director Claudio Fragasso claims Troll 2 was misunderstood because it was too ahead of its time, and another crew member attributes Harry Potter’s success to be built upon the foundation Troll 2 established. (What??)
Hands down the most tragic scene, though, comes when the filmmakers visit Margo Prey, who played the mother in Troll 2:
So in conclusion, for those of you unfamiliar with Troll 2: I strongly encourage you to remedy that situation. And, for those Troll 2 fans who have not yet seen the behind-the-scenes glory of Best Worst Movie, you should probably check that out. For those who already love both films: I feel that we’re already connected.
Here’s to Nilbog.