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Film: Granddad’s Troll Story

By Henry P. Raleigh
ART TIMES Summer 2013

Raleigh drawing of Troll

Gather around me children and your old granddad will tell the Legend of the Troll just as my granddad told it to me and as told him by his granddad and as ...(OK dammit, I’ll get there.)  It all begins a long, long time ago in a far, far place...(I said I’ll get there so just shut up.)  The year was 1985, a distant time in a far, far...(OK, OK)...and it was a movie known as “troll”.  It was a light-hearted horror story about a little girl taken over by trolls and who goes about turning everyone into seed pods.  A famous scene in the movie was the one in which Sonny Bono transforms into an apartment filled with dripping, creepy foliage.  The trolls themselves, however, looked a good deal like the gremlins featured in a movie of that name the year before.  To be scie ntific about it.... (and I will, whether you like it or not)... trolls are either dwarfs or giants and even uglier than your cousin Lucinda.... (stop whimpering it was just a joke)... and are not a bit like gremlins. Now a year or so later...(no, I’m not done)...along comes “Troll 2”, though some say it was 1992 or 1998, official listings put it at either 1985 or 1986; one of the original cast members claims it was 1989...(all right, it doesn’t make any difference)...whatever, “Troll 2” ’s opening credits show a Mr. Drake Floyd as writer and director; thereafter his appears forgotten and subsequent sources credit a Claudio Fragasso as director and his wife, Rosella Drudi the script writer.  Mr. Fragasso is an Italian director of low-budget horror films which may explain something of all this confusion but I don’t know what.  What is certain is that “Troll 2” is as low-budget as you can get — the actors are amateurs, some apparently pulled in because they happened to be walking by during the filming, the male lead himself the local dentist from Alexander, Alabama.  Shooting took all of three weeks in Utah, never went to theatrical distribution and was judged by any who saw it as the worst film ever made, even beating out Ed Wood’s “Plan 9 from Outer Space” and was then seemingly tossed into the dustbin of movie history.... (no, I’m not done, I’ll tell you when I’m done)...but in 2009 Michael Stephenson, an original cast member eighteen or so years before, brought out a documentary in tribute to “Troll 2” titled “The Best Worst Movie”.  You see, children, “Troll 2” had surprisingly become a cult film, playing in midnight horror showings all over the mid-west and beyond, even assembling the old cast for stage appearances. The director, if that’s what he was, Claudio Fragasso came over from Italy to attend one of these and expressed shock and deep disappointment that American audiences now saw his film as high camp comedy and not the profound social statement he knew it to be.

So that’s where matters stood...(get back here, there’s more)... the Legend of the Troll had gotten off to a pretty bad start until 2010 when a Norwegian filmmaker, Andre Ovredal, got it all sorted out and finally here were the real goods.  It was straight from the horse’s mouth, or maybe I should say the Troll’s mouth...(that wasn’t funny? well, so what?)...because this film was assembled from found footage in that fuzzy, jiggly documentary style that had come into fashion.  And it was prefaced by a claim that the found material had been searched top to bottom and was officially judged to be AUTHENTIC.  The footage had been shot by a gaggle of Norwegian students for a science project and had run into a secret government troll hunter.  The whole bunch vanished mysteriously, the footage was later discovered, giving us “Troll Hunter”.  Here the real Troll story is revealed and I can tell you it’s stomach-turning stuff.  Not many know this but no one has more trolls per square mile than Norway and it has been covered up because trolls eat tourists, particularly Christian tourists though there seems little reason for this.  Trolls are big — eight, ten, twelve feet tall with enormous noses.  Born with one head and one eye, trolls grow more heads as they age just for the helluva it...(no, that’s not a curse so stop whispering) ...gnaw on old tires as well as tourists, smell really, really bad and are stupid.  Just to show you how true and AUTHENTIC all this is, the footage includes an interview with a Norwegian veterinarian who explains that trolls suffer a genetic defect and can’t convert vitamin D from sunlight into calcium.  This isn’t good news for trolls, all right, and means they will explode or turn to stone when exposed to ultra-violet rays. This is why trolls only venture out at night to eat tourists and tires and greatly eases the trouble and expense of special effects since Norway evenings are dark, indistinct, and it’s hard to see anything.  And when you hear scientific sounding words like RINGLEFINCH and RIMETOSSER you know this is AUTHENTIC to beat the band.  There is even an epilogue to the footage pleading for any information leading to the discovery of the missing teenagers.  To date there has been no further word on this.  Still, as found footage films go, “Troll Hunter” is one of the best.

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