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Its story makes little sense. Its production values look like something from a grade-school play. Its acting is awful, and its script contains such priceless lines as, "They're all eating my mom!"
And yet "Troll 2" is so strangely watchable, in a train-wreck kind of way, that hundreds of fans are expected to pack Salt Lake City's Tower Theatre Saturday night for a special screening of what many consider the worst movie ever made. Like followers of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" a generation earlier, many will dress in costume, shout out lines and toss bologna sandwiches at the screen.
"Most bad movies have one or two redeeming qualities. But 'Troll 2' is just one bad scene after another," says Blair Sterrett, an Ogden student who organized the screening. "There's magic to it. It pays off through the entire film."
If you've ever wanted to see this cinematic curiosity before a live audience, you may never get a better chance. Most of the cast, including at least one actor who has never seen the movie, is expected to attend the screening and participate in a Q&A afterward. So is director Claudio Fragasso, who flew in this week from his native Italy.
Except for its title, "Troll 2" has nothing to do with the little-seen 1986 comedy-horror flick "Troll." Also, "Troll 2" contains no trolls. Originally titled "Goblin," the movie is about a suburban American family who go on vacation to the mountain town of Nilbog, where they are menaced by vegetarian goblins who try to turn them into edible plants. The film's main character is 10-year-old Joshua, who tries to warn his family after realizing that Nilbog spells "goblin" backward.
Fragasso cast the film with Utah actors, some with no previous experience. The monthlong shoot, around Morgan, Portersville and Heber City, was frugal; the goblins were played by little people wearing potato sacks and cheap latex masks. Actors believe Fragasso didn't worry about line readings because he planned to dub the movie for European audiences.
After a limited European release, the film quietly arrived in video stores as "Troll 2" and started showing up on late-night cable TV. In 2003 MGM released it on DVD, bringing its wretchedness to new audiences. Bloggers began raving about it, and in 2006 the Internet Movie Database ranked "Troll 2" the No. 1 worst film of all time.
Sterrett organized the first public screening of "Troll 2" in April 2006 in Provo, attended by a packed house and several of the movie's actors. Sterrett invited the cast after tracking them down through the phone book. Since then, "Troll 2" has screened before sold-out audiences in New York, San Francisco, Boston and other cities, where its cast members have been mobbed like rock stars.
One of the actors, Darren Ewing, a member of The Tribune's online staff, has attended four "Troll 2" screenings and is amazed by fans' enthusiasm for the movie.
"They're sort of creating their own mythology around it," says Ewing, who enjoys "Troll 2" more every time he sees it. "It used to be really hard [to watch], because I'm so lousy in it. But it's getting funnier."
Travel to Nilbog
"TROLL 2" screens Saturday at 10:30 p.m. at the Tower Theatre, 876 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, followed by a Q&A with the director and cast and a second screening. Tickets are $10 at the theater (801-359-5158) or online for $10.50 from the MySpace page of "Troll" actor Jason Steadman at http://www.myspace.com/jasonsteadmanmusic.