While the feature film Troll 2 is often held up as the “worst movie ever,” a closer analysis reveals it to be much more than a shitty movie made for cheap in a small town in Utah. In fact, lying beneath the often confusing plot are powerful messages about the ills and dangers associated with a rapidly changing society.Â I will identify three major messages, or themes, within the film and formulate questions that will serve to heighten our understanding of Troll 2, regardless of whether or not we, as individuals, enjoy the film as entertainment.
GOBLINS & PREDATOR-VEGETARIANISM
The creatures in Troll 2, referred to as Goblins, are best described as carnivorous vegetarians, or what I like to refer to as “Predator Vegetarians.” Essentially, these creatures do not consume meat directly and “preach” about the horrors of meat and its effects upon the body. In fact, meat is actually repellent to them (see scene X in which Joshua escapes Goblin attackers by brandishing a deli meat sandwich).
And yet, the plant material they ingest must be converted from human tissue and organs. The chemical process by which human flesh becomes plant is unknown – mysterious “green matter” dispensed as frosting on baked goods, dishes of ice cream, apples or corn causes a breakdown in human systems that reducesÂ humans to palatable green ooze. Ooze is presented as the essential sustenance for Goblins and it is never revealed what would happen if Goblins were to simply ingest vegetables or fruits directly. Would carrots kill them? Would a banana give them irritable bowels?
Why are these vegetarian Goblins consumed by a need to trick, strangle, maim and murder in order to enjoy a diet ofÂ vegetable matter? I put forth the theory that the Nilbog Goblins’ adherence to human-to-ooze sustenance is a thinly disguised screed against vegetarians and the ways in which a vegetarian lifestyle stands in direct opposition to what is seen as a traditional, meat-eating existence in small towns or on farms throughout the United States. [See also Witness, Little House on the Prairie, Back To the Future, Peggy Sue Got Married and Charlotte’s Web.]
Vegetarianism in this story is seen as unnatural. The vegetarians are the villains, not only destroying humans but an entire way of life. The town of Nilbog is isolated, filled with “weird-o’s” and is unsafe. It is devoid of fun. It is not prosperous. This is what will happen, the filmmaker conveys, if we embrace lifestyles that do not include eating meat. Here, the green ooze is a substitute for the blood associated with most horror movies. There is little to no blood in Troll 2. Instead, green matter, and those who desire it, are seen as evil.
A vegetarian lifestyle has traditionally been tied to what is often referred to as the “New Age.” People often associate vegetarianism with a turning away from the dominant religions and a return to paganism. In the film, the Goblins’ religious gathering centers not on worshipping God but on the shared belief in the dangers of meat. Creedence, the Goblin Queen, has a “magic rock” modeled after Stone Henge within her home (which is, interestingly enough, a converted church). She uses this rock to heal herself and gather strength to committ more evil acts in the name of the Goblins and their quest for ooze (vegetariansim).
SOCIETAL ACCEPTANCE OF HOMOSEXUALITY IN THE LATE 20TH CENTURY
Although Troll 2 contains no explicit sex, an undercurrent of homophobia suffuses the narrative, implying that homosexuality is something to be alternately scoffed at, laughed at and feared.
- Teenage daughter, Holly, hits her love interest, Eliot, in the nuts. Eliot asks her if she’s “trying to turn him into a homo?” It would then follow that Holly and Eliot view homosexuals as men who literally lack functioning balls, are unable to reproduce and so turn to sex with same-sex partners as an “alternative” or admittance of failure.
- Deeper into their discussion, Holly complains that Eliot doesn’t do anything without “his boys.” She wants him to choose between her and his friends – explaining that if he hangs out with his friends all the time, he will remain a virgin. What remains unknown is whether or not Eliot considers himself a virgin or if he has already experienced sexual intercourse with his friends. Holly says, “You even take them to bed with you and I don’t believe in group sex.” Could this really be a passing comment made by a jealous teen girl? It would seem not, as further on in the film we witness:
- Eliot passing up the opportunity to go on vacation with Holly and her family so he can vacation on the outskirts of Nilbog with his maleÂ friends in an RV, even sleeping in the same bed with one of them, both shirtless (or naked). This then illustrates Holly’s earlier comment about taking his friends to bed with him.
- Although they spend their vacation time together watching television in the RV, Eliot and his friends make frequent comments about finding, “single, unattached horny girls.” However, no action is put into such a search and the boys seem perfectly happy to stay with each other in the RV. When one does venture out on his own, to pursue a woman who is running through the woods, he is quickly captured by the Goblins and taken to Creedence the Goblin Queen to be turned into plant matter, i.e. if one “comes out of the closet” one will quickly be taken in by scary vegetarians and other alternative lifestyles and die.
- Creedence eventually seduces one of the teen boys over a cob of corn which they both eat. This eating of the phallic cob brings on a sudden onslaught of popcorn that fills the RV. After the act takes place, the boy is left to morph into Ooze after partaking of the forbidden “fruit,” clearly a comment upon the dangers of unsafe sex and cultural anxiety over the AIDS epidemic.
MISREPRESENTED GOBLINS & ENVIRONMENTAL DESTRUCTION
Many question why the film Troll 2 features no trolls but instead amped up, steroid-fueled versions of Goblins. Noted Goblin traits include crabbiness, an inclination for mischief and a nomadic lifestyle (which makes Goblin residence in one small town with a limited food source unlikely). They are generally recognized as a “more grotesque variety of gnome.” While they can be “evil,” there are few stories of Goblins attacking and murdering humans. Instead, traditional Goblin activities include upsetting milk pails, tweaking noses, untying shoelaces and switching sign posts. It would appear that the activity of the Nilbog Goblins falls well outside the parameters of these harmless pranks.
Why would the filmmaker choose to corrupt such impish creatures and turn them into homicidal maniacs? The answer is quite simple: the corrupted Goblins are much like the hideously deformed frogs discovered by Minnesota schoolchildren in 1995. They represent the destruction and perversion of our natural environment. The goblins we “knew” as children through storybooks are gone; replaced by unrecognizable monsters. Soon we will not recognize our frogs, squirrels, deer, etc. if something is not done to curb pollution in all its various forms.