“Troll 2” and the Hallway Goblin

Troll 2 is a true anamoly. First of all, it has zero connection to the movie it’s billed as a sequel to. It doesn’t even have trolls. It has goblins. Secondly, it only became a cult classic when clips of its terrible acting went viral on YouTube fourteen years after its initial release. Its belated cult status was further cemented with a retrospective documentary titled Best Worst Movie and 20th anniversary “Nilbog Edition” blu-ray.

And the fandom keeps growing. There are so many videos, memes, and reviews of this movie across the web at this point, it’s almost too much.

Its reputation precedes it as one of the absolute worst movies ever. I don’t feel that’s deserved. There are thousands more movies I’d rather heap that distinction on first. Of course, my perception of what’s “good” and “bad” is pretty much mirror flipped from the norm. In my opinion, the movie works great. Troll 2 is uproariously entertaining from start to finish with literally no slow spots, and that, to me, a “good movie” makes. I mean, think of it this way; being boring is generally considered to be the most grievous of movie crimes, and it might be the only one Troll 2 isn’t guilty of.

The story hits home. A family of four sets out for a month-long house swap in “Nilbog” (which of course is “Goblin” spelled backward). It turns out this speck-on-the-map destination is kingdom to a race of insidious, shapeshifting, vegetarian goblins descended from Stonehenge. For the next ninety minutes, these goblins attempt to feed the protagonists food spiked with green gunk with the goal of turning them into gooey piles of plant matter so they can eat them — cos remember, they’re vegetarian goblins. #Relatable

I recently rewatched this flick and was going to review it, but then I remembered how daunting that was. I’ve tried before and was disappointed with how it turned out. The movie is just so hilarious, every scene could be talked of at length. To not touch on certain parts would be doing the film an injustice, quite frankly. That said, I’m going to rip another page out of Dr. Humpp‘s playbook today and focus on a favorite moment of mine I consider overlooked.

Most of this movie’s laughs can be chocked up to its outrageous story and poor execution. This one, however, cannot.

The shit goes all the way down seconds shy of the eighty-one-minute mark. At that point, the family’s vacation home is completely surrounded by goblins. They sit down for a seance to summon their magical dead grandpa Seth to come help them, but that’s broken up when the son is mysteriously transported to another location and replaced with a goblin. The rest of the goblins then storm the house and give chase. As the family runs up the stairs, another large goblin is seen to the left of the frame in the background. Most of these creatures come up to the stomachs or chests of the humans, some are even of average height, but this one looks downright gargantuan. Judging by its relative size, and the fact that its knees are bent and it’s partly hunched over, it looks to be pushing six feet.

You may think the mother looks mortified, but she wears that expression all film. Credit: MGM DVD

You may think the mother looks mortified, but she wears that expression all film.
Credit: MGM DVD

The weird part is what it does next. Bear in mind, the rest of this goblin’s kind are attacking the humans. This one is in perfect position to block their escape, but what does it do? It ducks into a bedroom. The flashdancing teen daughter’s bedroom, to be more specific. Why doesn’t it suplex these people? Realistically speaking, there’s one way to explain: a miscue, a good ol’ fashioned production goof. The actor inside that costume wandered in frame, realized and tried to get out. I can’t really fault them for that. It must have been hard trying to see through those big dumb-looking masks.

Going. Credit: MGM DVD

Credit: MGM DVD

Gone. Credit: MGM DVD

Credit: MGM DVD

If I were to play Devil’s advocate, I’d say the goblin was planning to pop out and ambush the family. That would make the most sense in the context of the film. However, that’s not why this happened. Just look at the footage. The dude’s body language speaks for itself. It would take a Hell of a lot of convincing to make me believe he was supposed to be in that hallway at that juncture in time and walk through that door. Whenever I entertain the idea that he was, I prefer to think that he did so for much more hilarious reasons, like pocketing jewelry or sniffing the daughter’s used panties, preferably both of those things.

What kills me the most is that no one noticed this goof, or that no one cared to reshoot it. How do you not catch an extra the size of a pro wrestler fucking up one of your shots, especially when you’ve only got three people in frame? It boggles the mind. And for that reason, this will always be my favorite part of Troll 2.

Sssssssnnnnnfffff… “Oh fuck yeah.”

Edith Repeats Herself

Concepts are often repeated in movies to clarify an idea, stress the significance of something, or because it’s cool or dramatic. A staple of the Hellraiser series is that Pinhead and his gang of Cenobites are almost always preceded by the sight of a brilliant, blue haze spilling through slatted wood. In Blood Feast 2, a snippet of a Butthole Surfers song (“Sweat Loaf”) that goes “Satan! Satan! Satan!” plays every time the hoity-toity mom walks on screen.

For me, repetition is most effective when used as a plot device to bring everything full circle by connecting the beginning and end of a story somehow. Dario Argento is a bona fide master of this.

There are moments, though, when an instance of repetition serves no purpose at all. And that’s the case in Nick Millard’s Death Nurse. Edith the Death Nurse repeats not one, but two lines of dialogue back to back for what seems like no reason.

She does this for the first time at around the forty-five minute mark.

Septuagenarian social worker and patient Faith Chandler sneaks down the stairs of the Shady Palms Clinic in search of her two missing clients, who are also patients (oh, and unbeknownst to her, long-deceased).

Edith heads her off with an icy look. “Get back in bed, you nosy old bitch.”

“If you don’t take me to Mr. Davis and Mr. Bedowski, I’ll call social services.”

Edith repeats herself. “Get back in bed, you nosy old bitch.”

“All right, I’m going to phone.”

Usually, when people repeat themselves, they preface it with an “I said…” or “Didn’t you hear me?” Not Edith. She doesn’t roll that way. Below is an oscillating comparison of the first frames of each utterance, proving they were in fact from two different takes.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Why does it matter? Well, if auteur Nick Millard had used one take twice, I would have thought, ok, maybe this guy forgot to film some other line of dialogue and was forced to reuse it. Knowing he had the foresight, however, to shoot the same sentence two different times leads me to believe he intended the conversation to play out as awkwardly and nonsensically as it did from the get-go.

The worst part is that Edith’s approach doesn’t work. It was all for naught. Faith Chandler ignores her and has to be stabbed to be silenced. I can’t help but wonder, would Edith’s tactics have been more successful in other movie situations?

Credit: Death Nurse, Slasher // Video DVD The Exorcist, Warner Bros. DVD

Credit: Death Nurse, Slasher // Video DVD
The Exorcist, Warner Bros. DVD

Edith repeats herself for a second time at around the fifty-six minute mark.

At that point, she peeks through her living room blinds to see a policeman snooping outside her garage. “Son of a bitch.” she remarks, tiptoeing the “son of a”, punching the “bitch”. The policeman walks up her drive to the front door. “Son of a bitch.” she repeats in the same exact tone of voice.

This wasn't Ms. Alden's most flattering angle. Credit: Slasher // Video DVD

This wasn’t Ms. Alden’s most flattering angle.
Credit: Slasher // Video DVD

As hilarious as it is, what’s the significance? Why were these lines so important that Mr. Millard felt the need to repeat them? Is there even a rhyme or reason to his mad genius? All I know is that I could revisit these scenes a thousand times each and they’d still crack me up. Maybe that’s what Millard was going for.

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about Death Nurse, and it probably won’t be the last. The deeper I dig, the more I find, and the farther I stray from reality. Investigating one of this movie’s mysteries leads to another. Questions are only answered with more questions. Nothing adds up.

Has anyone out there seen this? What are your favorite moments from Death Nurse or its equally madcap sequel?

You Know, I Never Really Introduced Myself

Deadly VHS Award

My sincerest gratitude to the Angry Scholar for bestowing upon me this very prestigious award. It’s nothing short of an honor. I’m truly humbled. This means even more to me knowing I am and will always be the first ever recipient of this accolade. If you will, please allow me to use this time to reveal who I am as a horror fan and to clarify what this site is about. The Deadly VHS Award is for outstanding cult, exploitation, and horror movie bloggers. To accept it, follow these steps:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
2. Attach the award to your post.
3. Briefly explain your site.
4. List a few of the movies that shaped you and made you who you are today.
5. Select 3-5 other bloggers you want to give the award to.

1. Thanks again to the Angry Scholar. Visit his awesome page when you have the chance.

2. ✓

3. I write mostly for my own amusement. This blog is a reboot/reincarnation/extension of my previous blog, which was terribly rambling and scatterbrained. My basic goal for that blog was to find a writing style that worked for me and to learn how to better formulate my thoughts, which I feel I did to a certain extent. I was posting all kinds of stuff over there — movie reviews, movie news, my own artwork, crossword puzzles and quizzes I’d made… It was too much to keep up with.

My plan for this current site is to keep things simple. Here, I’ll continue penning love letters to forgotten-about B-and-Z-grade movies that don’t really deserve them in a way that’s both fun and relaxed for me. My free time is limited these days, so I only write about movies I genuinely enjoy. I try to be thorough, yet avoid overstaying my welcome when writing reviews. In the event that I actually own a copy of the movie I’m blathering about on DVD, I list all the features and basically state whether or not I think it’s a good disc.

In between posts, I do my best to read, like, and comment on as much of my fellow bloggers’ work as I can (check out the “What I’ve Been Reading” widget to the right).

I’ve been toying around with the idea of expanding my old blog’s horizons to include other topics like Bigfoot, conspiracy theories and wrestling. The good stuff.

4. There are many movies that shaped me and made me who I am today, not all of them horror. As a young child, however, I had free rein to watch basically whatever I wanted, so most of the time that’s the genre I went with. My mom and my grandma would let me rent movies I had no right even asking to. I’d probably seen every Friday the 13th, Sleepaway Camp, Phantasm, and Puppet Master movie there was at least five times each by the time I was six. I even drew my own comics to accompany them.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Last House on the Left are two films from my formative years that affected me deeply. My mom, who’s never really known what she’s talking about, told me they were not only based upon true events, but had actually been banned from video stores for a number of years because victims’ families had sued to have them removed! I of course believed her.

I couldn’t even hazard a guess as to why, but one of my earliest and most ingrained memories is from Dollman vs. Demonic Toys. There’s a scene toward the start of that movie where a bearded homeless man rides a tricycle in a creepy warehouse and boxes fall on his head and he dies. A pool of his blood seeps across the floor and somehow proceeds to resurrect the demonic toys or something like that I don’t even know. As forgettable as all that sounds, the scene stuck with me for a good fifteen to twenty years until I finally saw the movie again, not even realizing it was the one from my memory. Brains are weird.

My interest in horror laid dormant for a while — how long, I’m not sure — but it re-emerged in a big way in middle school. I was twelve years old when House of 1000 Corpses hit theatres (I know, I’m probably younger than a lot of you). I asked my mom if she’d take me and was kind of surprised when she did.

Up until that point, House of 1000 Corpses was easily the most violent, most mesmeric movie I’d seen. I remember half the audience walking out in disgust.

I thought that was cool.

Frank Henenlotter’s Basket Case was a major turning point in my movie-going experience. When I was eighteen, I ordered the special edition Something Weird Video DVD from a Cinema Wasteland catalogue on a whim and my life changed forever. Basket Case was the perfect gateway movie for me. It kicked the door down from standard slasher-style horror to a strange new world of obscure no-budget schlock. I’ve said it before, but after that my life became a lot like the scene in Steve Miner’s House where the main character repels through his bathroom mirror down a pitch black abyss and runs into a bat-winged skull monster thing. From there, I discovered the work of directors like H.G. Lewis, Ray Dennis Steckler, and early John Waters, and I haven’t looked back.

I guess this would symbolize good decision making. Credit: House, Shudder.com

I guess this would symbolize good decision making.
Credit: House, Shudder.com

My current obsession is shot-on-video horror, but I’ll watch anything shocking, low-quality, graphic, inartistic, unimaginative, exploitative, subversive or out-there, especially if it has a good retro 80s vibe.

Uhm, what else? Let’s see. I think George Romero is overrated.

Some movies that gave me the heebie-jeebies the first time I watched them are The Exorcist, Suspiria, The Serpent and the Rainbow, The Blair Witch Project, The Ring, Signs, Paranormal Activity, Insidious, Absentia, The Innkeepers, and It Follows.

5. My nominees for the Deadly VHS Award:
Dr. Humpp’s Curious Collection
Horror Binge
Parlor of Horror
Direct 2 Video Dungeon (do you still exist?)

There you have it. I hope you now have a better understanding of where I’m coming from as a horror fan. Have something to say? Leave a comment — it’s more fun that way!