It’s one thing to make a movie. It’s another to sell it and recoup the investment. I don’t blame distribution companies for stretching the truth when marketing horror movies. It comes with the territory, and often amuses me. But sometimes they go too far and just blatantly misrepresent stuff to con people. A few editions of Troll 2, for example, come packaged with a misleading cover of a young boy in pajamas being menaced by a demonic-looking monster holding a battle axe. I re-watched the movie last night with that image in mind. The more I puzzled over it, the less it made sense. There’s no reconciling the two. Here’s everything wrong with the cover.
To be fair, the cover actually got this one right — Troll 2 is the title — but the title itself isn’t accurate. Troll 2 is a sequel in name only to the 1986 original, about a wizard who was turned into a troll and attempts to convert a San Francisco apartment complex into a forest, or something. The movies are in no way related as far as their stories and characters go. Troll 2 doesn’t even have trolls. It has goblins. The first Troll was a US production filmed in Italy. Troll 2 was an Italian production filmed in the US.
Neither the boy or the monster appear in Troll 2.
The doorway and stairs resemble those of a dungeon or castle, but the movie takes place in a small, farming community in rural Utah. The closest it comes to having a dungeon or castle is the brick meeting house goblin queen Creedence Leonore Gielgud lives in.
By using the pronoun “it” as opposed to “they”, the tagline implies that there’s only one baddie. In actuality there are many. When factoring in the boy’s PJs, it also implies that said baddie strikes mainly at night while its victims are asleep, which doesn’t ring true. VHS versions tacked on the additional tagline “the original boogeyman is back”, even though he wasn’t.
No one is killed with an axe. The main character’s magical dead grandpa Seth does use one to cut off a goblin’s hand, but the goblins themselves prefer sticks with spearheads taped to the ends. Or are they long pikes? My knowledge of Medieval weaponry isn’t great.
The key to understanding this image, in my opinion, is the toy in the boy’s left hand, which is reminiscent of the popular Troll dolls of the 1960s thru 90s. The toy, for me, confirms that this artwork was put together specifically for the movie, and not just recycled from some other un-produced project.
The prevailing wrongness of it all makes me think that it’s most likely a promotional image that was made in advance and based solely on the title and genre, to be advertised in magazines or shown to investors or what not. I’d love to know who the artist is, and what they were told, if anything, when they got the assignment.
Charles Band, the head of Empire Pictures and later Full Moon, had paintings done for a lot of his movie ideas. I remember reading that he sometimes told screenwriters to work backward from the paintings. I’m not saying that’s the case here, but if I told someone to work backward from an image of an axe-wielding monster chasing a boy through a dungeon and they came to me with the script for Troll 2, I’d fire them on the spot.
Have you ever been tricked by a cover like this? What are your favorite examples of dishonest advertising? Let me know with a comment down yonder.