There are no trolls in “Troll 2.”
There are goblins. In fact, the film’s working title was “Goblin,” but the film’s distributors rebranded the film in hopes that it would get more clout as a sequel to “Troll.” This was a strange decision given that “Troll 2” didn’t even have the same filmmakers as its predecessor.
It starts to make a little bit more sense when you pull back the layers and realize that “Troll 2” was a terrible, terrible movie—so much so that people began referring to it as the “best worst movie” (a term coined by a documentary about the production). The low budget, painfully awkward deliveries and laughable scenarios garnered a cult following for the film. So, while “Troll 2” had nothing to do with “Troll,” the torch of Trolldom had been lit nonetheless.
Since then, other filmmakers have made sequels—“Quest for the Mighty Sword” and “The Crawlers,” which have both confusingly been referred to as “Troll 3.” And now there’s “Under ConTROLL,” which has its PA premiere on Oct. 19 at Midtown Cinema. Each film has carried that torch, creating a strange, beloved fanbase of people who indulge in the ridiculousness of it all. None of these films had any actual connection—different production team, different storylines, etc.—except for the title of “Troll.”
But “Under ConTROLL” has a trick up its sleeve. It does manage to unite at least two of the films in its makeshift past. This time, the story is about trolls, adhering more to the world of the original “Troll,” while also borrowing one of the starring characters from “Troll 2”: George Hardy’s Michael Waits.
In anticipation of the PA premiere, I interviewed Hardy to fill in the blanks about this strange, beloved series. Hardy plans to be at the double feature—yes, that’s right, both “Troll 2” and “Under ConTROLL” will be playing that night—for a Q&A after the premiere.
What does Hardy think of the two films?
“We just wanted to make a fun little film,” he said.
Hardy had been new to his acting career for his performance in “Troll 2,” being a dentist by trade, and what an experience for his first production. The director, Claudio Fragasso, is Italian and had a difficult time explaining his vision to his English-speaking cast.
“There was a language barrier,” Hardy explained, which made most of the lines come across as stilted and strange.
In contrast, German filmmakers made “Under ConTROLL” with a mostly German cast (except for Hardy, of course, whose lines were dubbed over in English, creating a wonky, disconnected effect in the process). But, at least this time, there was much more communication between the cast and crew.
“Under ConTROLL” is much more self-aware than the other films, even making several references to its infamous predecessor. “That sounds like a really, really bad movie,” one character drawls after Michael Waits explains the nightmare he went through previously.
It is a story of a troll who disguises himself as a beautiful woman in order to collect the things he needs—a magician, a book of magic and a male virgin—to free his fellow trolls from a magical prison. At times, the film feels like a low-budget version of “Labyrinth,” playing up the fantastical, ridiculous costumes and leaning into its personal history of low-production value. Hardy praises the crew as “efficient and hardworking individuals, and it really shows—that they were able to do so much with such a small budget.”
While the film definitely plays up its B-movie qualities, it accomplishes just what Hardy and the rest of the cast and crew hoped—it’s a fun movie to watch. The tried-and-true fans of this series will love the new addition, that’s for sure, and the film even leaves room for more sequels to come. Whether you’re a fan or a “Troll” virgin (watch out—the trolls can smell you out if you are), you will want to check out this double feature.
“Troll 2” and “Under ConTROLL” play Oct. 19, starting at 7 p.m., at Midtown Cinema, 250 Reily St., Harrisburg. A Q&A with actor George Hardy follows the double feature. For more information, visit www.midtowncinema.com.
OCTOBER SPECIAL EVENTS
AT MIDTOWN CINEMA
Central PA Open Screen
Thursday, Oct. 3, 7 p.m.
“Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (1975)
Friday, Oct. 4, 9:30 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 5, 7:30 p.m.
National Theatre Live
“One Man, Two Guvnors”
Sunday, Oct. 6, 1 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 20, 4 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 27, 4 p.m.
Down in Front! presents
“The Crawling Eye” (1958)
Friday, Oct. 11, 7 p.m.
Vidjam of Horror screening
Sunday, Oct. 13, 7 p.m.
3rd in the Burg $3 Movie:
“Hocus Pocus” (1993)
Friday, Oct. 18, 9:30 p.m.
“Troll 2”/”UnderConTROLL” Double Feature
With George Hardy Q&A
Saturday, Oct. 19, 7 p.m.
with improvised rock score by The New Mutants
Monday, Oct. 21, 7:30 p.m.
“The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” (1920)
with improvised score by jazz trio, including pianist Anthony Haubert
Tuesday, Oct. 22, 7:30 p.m.
“Carnival of Souls” (1962)
Wednesday, Oct. 23, 9:30 p.m.
“Practical Magic” (1998)
Thursday, Oct. 24, 7:30 p.m.
“VHS Trick or Treat”
Friday, Oct. 25, 9:30 p.m.
“The Witches” (1990)
Saturday, Oct. 26, 2 p.m.
“Rocky Horror Picture Show” (1975)
Saturday, Oct. 26, 8 p.m. & 10:30 p.m.
“Freaks” on 16mm
Sunday, Oct. 27, 7 p.m.
“Night of the Living Dead” (1968)
Monday, Oct. 28, 9:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 29, 9:30 p.m.
“The Exorcist” (1973)
Wednesday, Oct. 30, 8 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 31, 7 p.m. & 9:30 p.m.