Experiencing the horror- Troll 2

Troll 2. It is one of the handful of films so truly abysmal in every way that the very mention of its name causes cinephiles to shudder involuntarily.

Lesser known is the video game adaptation of the film. But in order to understand a work of art, it is necessary to understand the influences that led to it`s creation- and therefore, in order to understand Troll 2 the video game, we need to examine Troll 2 as a film. So get your popcorn and prepare to embrace the suck, because here it comes- Troll 2.

From the opening moments of the film it becomes strikingly apparent that something is not right, and the film just spirals downward from there.

Troll 2`s title screen- a.k.a. the beginning of the suck.

If you came in for the title, you`re going to be disappointed, as there are no Trolls in Troll 2. Well, at least, none on screen. Instead we get Goblins. At least, they are ostensibly goblins- they don`t look particularly goblin-like in any traditional sense. Though goblins since Tolkien have been protrayed as short, green, emaciated creatures with pointed elf-ears, the ‘goblins’ in Troll 2 are stout, chubby tan-colored creatures that bear more of a resemblance to the traditional portrayal of Trolls. Is your mind well and truly boggled yet? Well hang onto your popcorn, because we haven`t even gotten to the tangled morass that is the plot yet.

A tr...err, I mean, a goblin. Or something. Still not 100% sure.

Troll 2 is the story of a suburban family- the Waits- fated (for reasons that are never sufficiently explained) to travel to a forgotten hick town in the middle of nowhere for a vacation, after having arranged a temporary house exchange with a local family in said town. Before the Waits leave on this vacation the youngest son of the Waits family, Joshua, is contacted telepathically by his deceased grandfather, Seth, who can appear to anyone in any fashion he chooses but refuses to speak to anyone except Joshua. Grandpa Seth explains to him (through the use of a fairy tale book that does not exist in objective reality) that the family has become the target of and will be hunted by vegetarian goblins. Grandpa Seth, who is eager to help, states that Joshua must protect his family, even though Joshua is only a boy and Grandpa Seth has the powers of telepathy, telekinesis, can take on physical form, can possess the living, can control the flow of time, and has buddies in Hell (though he fervently insists that he has never been there himself). The night before the Waits family leaves for their vacation, their daughter Holly informs her boyfriend Elliot that her father Michael hates him and will kill him if he sees him, states that she believes Elliot is secretly a homosexual, and then tells Elliot that he needs to come along with her family on their vacation. Elliot immediately agrees but fails to show up, instead choosing to collect three of his best male friends, rent a Winnebago, and travel to the town to meet Holly on his own. When the Waits family arrives in town, they exchange keys with the local hick family with whom they had previously arranged their house exchange but who now refuse to speak to the Waits. The Waits nevertheless take the keys to the local house, happily hand over their own house keys in exchange, and file on in, at which point the action in the film begins.

A snapshot of one of the actors in Troll 2`s reaction to having been told the plot of the film that she is about to star in.

At this time, I feel compelled to reassure the reader that I have, in reviewing this work, falsified or invented no part of the above synopsis of the film`s plot. Beyond providing that assurance, words fail me when I seek to comment on the plot. The english language itself may be insufficient to describe the depth and breadth of the failure displayed in the synopsis of the plot of Troll 2.

This may or may not, as some claim, be the worst film ever made. It is, however, one of the most deeply flawed films ever made.

"Oh. Look at that. They`re eating her. I bet they`ll eat me too. I hate my job."

On a technical level, there is almost no redeeming aspect of this film. The acting is utterly abysmal. During one particularly memorable scene, a character delivers the lines “They`re eating her. And then they`re going to eat me” as he watches another character being devoured by goblins in a completely emotionless, almost monotone fashion reminiscent of Brent Spiner`s work on Star Trek: The Next Generation. The script defies logic entirely with characters sometimes referring to themselves in the third person, and at other times in the first- sometimes even switching in the same sentence. The cinematography is beyond awful- the film, released in 1990, somehow manages to have the visual quality of a horror exploitation film from the 1970`s. The bargain-basement special effects in the film are of a quality such that the film would have been better had they not been present at all. The same goblin masks are recycled repeatedly throughout the film, as though there were insufficient funding available to purchase more than four masks.

This picture represents the entire makeup and effects budget of Troll 2.

And yet, for all this failure, the film just runs on and on. The technical running time of the film is 94 minutes, yet much like the vertigo hallway scene in Poltergeist, the film seems to stretch on endlessly, cavorting through numerous incomprehensible plot twists and stilted dialogue scenes until it finally lumbers to it`s conclusion, derailing at the end like a tired old troll thumping himself down in his dusty bed of bones.

But we aren`t done talking about Troll 2, because there is still a game that needs reviewing.

Troll 2, the video game. This is the character select screen. Note the bologna sandwich cursor.

So how exactly do you make a video game adaptation of one of the worst films of all time? Well, as it turns out, you just borrow the structure from an older game.

It`s Gauntlet, basically. Three levels of pure oldschool, Gauntlet-inspired action.

The game presents you with a character select screen allowing a choice between four possible heroes, much like the old Gauntlet game- but unlike Gauntlet, most of these characters are crap. The only noticeable differences between them are their movement speeds and spritework. This is a severe bummer because my initial desire was to use the hilariously-incompetent ghost Grandpa Seth as my main protagonist, but he has the slowest movement speed of all, making him the least usable character in the game. The kid, Joshua, has the fastest speed, making him ostensibly the best, but since the kid was so nerve-grindingly annoying in the film I couldn`t bring myself to use him as my game avatar, so I went with Mr. Michael “I`m going to tighten my belt” Waits instead. I can only assume the intent behind including four playable characters in the game was meant as an homage to Gauntlet, but since two of them are completely useless, the game might as well have only included Michael and Joshua as playable characters, since they are the only ones that you`ll probably use anyway.

You`ll need a keycard to unlock the traffic cone and proceed through the level. Yes, seriously.

Much like the film it is derived from, the game does have it`s flaws. A gamebreaking issue is present in the first level that can cause the player to become stuck in the level and unable to progress- the readme included with the game acknowledges the problem and calls it a bug, but it honestly looks more like a flaw in the level design. A more serious problem is the issue of enemy AI- often enemies will refuse to acknowledge the player, just sitting around and refusing to attack when you come into range, allowing you to slaughter them at-will with the bologna sandwiches of doom. It`s a serious issue- not enough to ruin the entire game since it only happens in isolated cases- but still an issue.

You get two weapons in this game, the bologna sandwich of doom, and molotov cocktails. They aren`t actually CALLED molotov cocktails here, for reasons that are incomprehensible to me, but whatever. The bologna sandwich of doom is a thrown weapon, and the molotov creates a circle of fire around your character, but it is a disposable item- when you throw a molotov, it`s gone. The bologna sandwich is infinite, and the closer you are to the enemy, the faster it fires- so standing right next to your target creates rapid-fire machine gun bologna sandwich of doom action, which is both hilarious and awesome all at the same time.

The in-game enemies are completely disposable and bear no resemblance to the goblins in the film Troll 2- though you may notice their spritework does bear a striking resemblance to enemies seen in other games.

Fans of old school RPG`s with the word 'dagger' in the title might be intrigued by the enemy sprite in the upper right of the screen...

The first two levels of the game are extremely easy, even to the degree that it would be entirely possible for a novice gamer to do a no-damage run through them. The last level ups the difficulty a bit, and includes a final boss that can pass through walls and hover directly over your character causing constant damage. Oddly, the game`s readme file states somewhat apologetically that six levels were originally planned for the game but due to circumstance the creator was only able to include three. I applaud his honesty, though I suspect, were I in his position, I would simply have allowed the three finished levels to stand on their own rather than admit the game was released in an incomplete state.

Overall it is an interesting game, and I would call it fun, at least for the brief amount of gameplay that the game contains. Much like my prior review of Soundless Mountian 2, I have to concede my respect to the creator of Troll 2 the Game for the obvious labor of love that it represents to an older work in the horror genre- even though in this case, the older work happens to be one of the most deeply flawed and broken works of horror fiction ever created.

Troll 2 the film can be rented at dive VHS rental places everywhere- and, god help us all, it is now available on Netflix.
Troll 2 the game can be downloaded for free at http://www.rockyjalil.com/.

Special thanks for this article go out to SpookyPanda, otherwise known as Mrs. RedgoateeRob, for her insistence that we watch Troll 2 one dull evening- which made this review possible.  

~ by Redgoateerob on April 23, 2012.

6 Responses to “Experiencing the horror- Troll 2”

  1. Awesome! I think you should do a review on the documentary Best Worst Movie as well!

    • Thanks bro! For anyone who might be reading this, the film my bro Tony is referring to- Best Worst Movie- is a fantastic documentary on the making of Troll 2. I included a link to it in the review, and if you have Netflix you can watch it streaming. Oh and Tony, I`ll definitely consider doing a review of it as well. 🙂

  2. […] two prior reviews I have covered new media tributes to old works of horror, particularly horror video games. […]

  3. […] para desarrollar un juego basado en la película Plan 9 from Outer Space o el juego de la película Troll 2, pero en ambos casos la información es un poco […]

  4. Love this. Hee hee Got a tweet on it! 😉 Your Troll 2 Queen https://www.facebook.com/Troll2Queen

    • Thank you Mrs. Reed! It’s an honor to have someone from the cast of Troll 2 in the comments section on The Horror Pages. Glad you enjoyed the article. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: