This one’s for you, Mike Tully!
Two weeks ago, I’d never even heard of Troll 2 – or maybe I had, but cast it off alonside Ghoulies 2, Critters 2 and other late-80s pint-sized monster sequels – and their predecessors, for that matter – whose posters made an impression on me on childhood trips to the videostore but whose promises I never sought to later fulfill. When I first read that the news that the Alamo Drafthouse was going to be screening Troll 2, I actually misinterpreted it as Leprechaun 2, and wondered what all the hype was about. Then I watched this clip, which pretty much sealed my fate. How could you not want to see this?
The people to whom I’d mention the film’s title would fall into two distinct camps; those who had no idea what I was talking about, and those who’d already seen it about ten times and, upon hearing about a midnight screening at the best movie theater in the country with most of the original cast present, would get this strange light in their eyes. Dear reader, I now understand that reaction.
My friend Clay and I drove down to Austin and made it to the Alamo about ninety minutes early, just as the line that would soon wrap around the black was just beginning to form. The theater, when we were finally admitted, quickly filled to capacity (rumors trickled in that fans who had driven all the way from New Orleans were among the many turned away at the door). Green cookies and milk were passed out, the cast was introduced to great applause, they apologized profusely for what was about to be exhibited, and then the lights went down. A few vintage trailers for upcoming screenings preceeded the feature (Grizzly, Humanoids From The Deep) and then, with the annunciative roar of the MGM lion, Troll 2 – a film from whose negative not a single print was ever struck – trickled across the silver screen in front of the single largest audience ever assembled to view it.
I can’t imagine a better context in which to watch such an amazing movie. It is absolutely, beautifully wretched, and just competent enough in execution to be insanely watchable (unlike, say, Manos, The Hands Of Fate, which is often its chief competition for title of worst film of all time). There’s really no point in trying to describe it, but this really brilliant trailer (which they projected after the film) hints at a lot of what makes it so wonderful.
The Q&A; afterwards was fun and enlightening. It was revealed that since the screenplay was entirely in Italian, with only the dialogue translated into English, the cast had no idea what was going on in the film as they were making it. Michael Stephenson, AKA Joshua, talked about how he had to live the film down all through high school. Darren Ewing, the stellar thespian who played Arnold, got up on the stage and gave a performance of his infamous “They’re eating her!” monologue.
Most endearing of the bunch was George Hardy, who was randomly cast as Mr.Waits before returning to a quiet life of dentistry in Alabama. He seemed tickled pink that he’d somehow – in this theater, at least, for this one night – become a cult icon. Of course, the cult seems to be growing; more screenings are being planned, and Lions Gate is producing a documentary on the phenomenon, in which you might actually catch a glimpse of yours truly, sitting near the front row of this landmark event and grinning in disbelief at how great this awful little movie really is.