You’d assume that a film titled Troll 2 would include at least one troll. It does not. However, the 1990 cult classic does come with supernatural popcorn, a high-flying simian, and a cult following of Rocky Horror-like proportions. Today, we’re tipping our hats to what just might be the most talked-about B-movie since Plan 9 From Outer Space.
1. IT HAS NO REAL CONNECTION TO THE ORIGINAL TROLL.
Troll tells the tale of a family whose apartment complex is besieged by a shape-shifting creature with magical powers. Fun fact: Two of the main characters are Harry Potter, Sr. and Harry Potter, Jr. (Yes, really.) For the record, Troll came out in 1986—11 years before J.K. Rowling introduced her boy wizard to the world.
Anyway, Troll 2 technically isn’t a sequel to that 1986 movie. In fact, the films have nothing to do with one another. Troll 2’s working title was Goblin, in reference to the mythical species it features, but the film’s distributors felt that it would be a bigger hit if audiences thought it was a follow-up to Troll. Thus, Goblin was rebranded as Troll 2.
2. IT WAS CONCEIVED AS ANTI-VEGETARIAN PROPAGANDA.
The goblins in this movie prey on humans—yet they can only eat plant matter. So the monsters force people to eat special foods that convert them into vegetable paste. It was Italian screenwriter Rossella Drudi who concocted Troll 2’s unusual premise. “I came up with a story about [goblins] who were vegetarians because at that point in my life, I had many friends who’d become vegetarians and it pissed me off,” Drudi explained in Best Worst Movie, a 2010 documentary on the making of the film. “So I had the idea of replacing the vampires in the [traditional] vampire story with vegetarians.”
3. THERE WAS A SERIOUS LANGUAGE BARRIER ON THE SET.
Drudi’s husband, Claudio Fragasso, co-wrote and directed the film, which was shot in Utah. Although Troll 2 was filmed stateside with an American cast, almost nobody on the production team spoke fluent English. According to George Hardy, who played Michael Waits, the script suffered from this linguistic divide. “The way it was written was not the way Americans speak,” Hardy recalled. “One of us would say to Claudio … ‘This is not the way you say this in America.’ But they would say, ‘No, no, no, this is the way you do it.’ We just did what we were told. I think that was because of the language barrier. How can you argue with someone who doesn’t understand what you’re saying?”
4. GEORGE HARDY WAS—AND STILL IS—A PRACTICING DENTIST.
When the casting process began in the summer of 1989, Hardy was working as a dentist in Salt Lake City. At the urging of his patients, he decided to audition for the film. The very next day, Hardy was told he’d been hired. Troll 2’s three-week shoot was tough on his professional life. “I would go into the [dentistry] practice and work, and then I’d shoot, and then I’d go in and see some patients,” Hardy told /Film. In 1991, Hardy relocated to his hometown of Alexander City, Alabama, where he’s been fixing smiles ever since.
5. THE INFAMOUS TABLE SCENE WAS CHANGED AT THE LAST MINUTE.
To keep his family from eating a tableful of food that some goblins have obviously tampered with, young Joshua, played by Michael Stephenson, stands up and urinates all over the spread. At first, a less revolting approach was planned. “In the original script I jump on the table and I say, ‘I’m possessed, I’m possessed,’” Stephenson told Entertainment Weekly. But as soon as this scene was actually performed, Fragasso decided to tweak it. “You!” he told Stephenson. “You walk around the table, up to the chair, and piss on this food.”
The child actor was speechless: “I [thought], ‘Did I just hear this right?’” Stephenson recalled. Still, he followed Fragasso’s directions and the scene became a signature moment in Troll 2.
6. ONE ACTOR WAS FORCED TO STAND IN PLACE FOR HOURS ON END.
Like many characters in Troll 2, the bespectacled Arnold meets an unfortunate end. Tricked by the wicked goblin queen into drinking a magical broth, he slowly transforms into a humanoid plant. The rest of Arnold’s short life is mainly spent inside an oversized pot. For these scenes, actor Darren Ewing was forced to stay put. “They took my shoes—mind you, my shoes, not theirs,” he recollected, “and they screwed them into the base of the pot where I stood for almost 14 hours in makeup.”
7. THAT ODD MOVIE-WITHIN-A-MOVIE IS 1983’s GRUNT.
At one point in Troll 2, we see Arnold and his friends hanging out in front of a TV set, watching a man in an ape costume being rocket-launched through the air. This clip was from 1983’s Grunt, an Italian-made caveman comedy in which some Cro-Magnons worship a magical egg.
8. THE VILLAINESS’S COSTUME WAS DESIGNED BY THE ACTRESS WHO PLAYED HER.
On the Best Worst Movie DVD, there’s a bonus feature interview with Deborah Reed, the goblin queen of Troll 2. Among other things, the actress reminisces about creating a look for her character. Together with Fragasso’s team, she scoured a costume shop for usable garments. When they failed to locate anything that seemed appropriate, Reed asked if she could simply assemble an outfit from her own personal wardrobe. This request was granted. Accordingly, Reed owned more or less every garment that she wore on screen. The pièce de résistance was an olive green coat passed down from her grandmother. Unfortunately, it took lots of abuse on the set. “[My] beautiful coat used to be just covered with green slime. It was very hard to get out,” Reed lamented.
9. TWO SORT-OF SEQUELS WERE MADE.
Films with multiple titles are the bane of every movie buff’s existence. Confusingly, both Quest for the Mighty Sword (1990) and The Crawlers (1993) are also known as Troll 3. The former is part of the larger Ator series, which revolves around an ancient society rife with magic and samurai-like warriors. In one scene, we meet a little creature named Grindel, whose suit was a recycled goblin costume from Troll 2. Meanwhile, The Crawlers is about killer vines that terrorize Alaska. Like Troll 2, it was shot in Utah and had an Italian director (Fabrizio Laurenti)—and that's where the similarities end.
10. ONE OF TROLL 2’S MAIN FILMING LOCALES GAVE FRAGASSO THE KEY TO THE CITY IN 2008.
Much of the now-legendary B-movie was shot in Morgan, Utah. Back in 1989, the town acted as a stand-in for Troll 2’s fictitious “Nilbog”—which, as Joshua points out, is “goblin” spelled backwards. Nineteen years later, Morgan commemorated its place in movie history with a weekend-long festival called “Nilbog Invasion.” Hundreds of Troll 2 fans gathered at the town ballroom—decorated with green balloons for the occasion—to hear the cast and crew reminisce. By most accounts, Fragasso stole the show. As a way of saying “thank you,” alternate mayor Dan Snarr approached him with a giant foam key to the city—and an invitation to film another Troll movie in Morgan.