CONTENT: THE LO-FI MAN – Horror Short

“Filmmaker” Brian Lonano tries to talk about a beloved cult film. What happens next will shock you.

 

CONTENT: The Lo-Fi Man is a hilarious and insane horror short where a “content creator”, Brian Lonano, is trapped in a facility where machine-gun wielding guards wearing Mickey Mouse ears demands everyone to be “content with the content”. He manages to escape, meets a group of filmmakers outside who gets attacked by the facility’s robot who wants these content creators to “submit their ideas for experience and exposure” (the oh so classic thing some corporations tell content creators when they want their skill and efforts while giving practically nothing in return for it), ending up killing and maiming them. Then Brian finds a VHS of Tetsuo: The Iron Man and, well…watch the video to find out for yourself what happens next.

And to quote one of the ladies struggling with the AI/Robot who tries to make her submit to it: “fuck your experience and exposure“!

CONTENT: THE LO-FI MAN - Horror Short

 

Director: Brian Lonano, Blake Myers
Writer: Brian Lonano
Country & year: USA, 2023
Actors: Clarke Williams, Soleil St. Louis, Marilyn Chung, Jessica Shipp, Brian Lonano
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt26771199/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Watcher in the Woods (1980)

The Watcher in the WoodsPaul and Helen Curtis moves into a manor located in rural England, together with their two daughters Jan and Ellie. The manor is owned by an elderly woman named Mrs. Aylwood, and she lives in the guest house next door. Mrs. Aylwood once had a daughter, Karen, but she disappeared in an abandoned chapel in the woods thirty years ago. Upon seeing a photo of Karen, Jan notices that she actually looks a lot like this girl. And she also starts sensing something strange about the place, witnessing strange lights in the woods, glowing objects, and visions of a blindfolded girl in the mirror. When getting to know some of the townspeople, Jan wants to find out more about Karen’s mysterious disappearance in the woods all those years ago, and finds that she was together with a bunch of friends that night. What they were up to and what happened to Karen is something only they would know, but none of them are willing to talk about it.

 

The Watcher in the Woods is a supernatural film from 1980, directed by John Hough and Vincent McEveety, and Produced by Walt Disney Productions, being one of several live-action films from a time when the studio focused on targeting young adult audiences. It is based on a novel from 1976 by Florence Engel Randall, and it was filmed at Pinewood Studios and the surrounding areas in Buckinghamshire, England. The building that’s being used in the film is called Ettington Park Manor, and it was also used in The Haunting (1963).

 

Upon its release, the film had to be pulled from the theaters pretty fast as the response was overwhelmingly negative, both from critics and audiences, and many considered it “too dark”. Thus, the studio made the decision to make changes to the movie, with extensive reshoots and a brand new ending, and re-released it eighteen months later in 1981. Despite the critical response being so harsh, the film still ended up gaining a cult following over the years.

 

Now, this movie is certainly not one to watch if you want something scary. It’s from a time when Disney started dipping their toes into PG-rated films, with…well…rather mixed results. Something Wicked This Way Comes is probably one of their best and most memorable efforts among these. While The Watcher in the Woods is more aimed at a young audience, it still does have a certain appeal with a gothic teenage mystery vibe to it, and it is of course heightened by the performance of Bette Davis, who plays Mrs. Aylwood. There are some spooky goings-on, with some charming old-school supernatural effects, and I can easily imagine that seeing this as a kid during the 80’s would make a certain impact. Then again, the director John Hough previously directed the 1973 horror film The Legend of Hell House, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there is at least some spookiness here.

 

So I’d say that overall, The Watcher in the Woods works as a family suspense thriller, layered with a certain old-school charm.

 

The Watcher in the Woods The Watcher in the Woods The Watcher in the Woods

 

Director: John Hough
Writers: Brian Clemens, Harry Spalding, Rosemary Anne Sisson
Country & year: UK, US, 1980
Actors: Bette Davis, Lynn-Holly Johnson, Kyle Richards, Carroll Baker, David McCallum, Benedict Taylor, Frances Cuka, Richard Pasco, Ian Bannen, Katharine Levy, Eleanor Summerfield, Georgina Hale
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081738/

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Resurrected (1991)

The ResurrectedCharles Dexter Ward is showing increasingly bizarre behaviour, and his wife Claire hires a private investigator to look into his strange affairs. The investigator, John March, starts peeking around the isolated farmhouse which Charles recently started using after uncovering his family history and discovering that this abandoned farmhouse belonged to his ancestor. Said ancestor’s name was Joseph Curwen, to whom Charles bears an uncanny resemblance. John notices that there are numerous deliveries made to the place, and upon asking Charles himself, he explains that he is undertaking some chemical tests where he uses animal cadavers. While certainly showing off eccentric behaviour, there’s nothing John can use here to offer any explanations to the worried wife. Then, after a man in a neighboring house ends up brutally murdered, where his remains have been attacked and eaten as if by a crazed animal, John starts to believe it’s not a coincidence. He brings Claire with him to the farm in order to confront Charles, but find him in a state where he ends up committed to a hospital. The doctors find that his metabolism is inexplicably high, which causes him to become extremely hungry, and his cravings are for blood and raw meat. John decides he must uncover the secrets of the old farmhouse and what Charles was doing at the place.

 

The Resurrected (aka The Ancestor and Shatterbrain) is a 1991 horror film directed by Dan O`Bannon, and it’s an adaption of the H.P. Lovecraft novella The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. The screenwriter, Brent V. Friedman, had developed a version of the script which was titled Shatterbrain, while O`Bannon wrote his own ideas and had imagined the title to be The Ancestor. Friedman’s script was mainly used, but O`Bannon also incorporated some of his own ideas into the movie. Interstar Releasing planned for a wide theatrical release in 1991, but they went bankrupt before it could happen and thus it ended up straight to video in 1992. This movie was O`Bannon’s second and final movie as a director, after his directorial debut in 1985 with The Return of the Living Dead.

 

The Resurrected is not the first film to be based on Lovecraft’s The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. In 1963, Roger Corman made a film called The Haunted Palace, starring Vincent Price, which also provides a take on this story but very loosely and mixed with the Edgar Allan Poe’s story by the same name as the film. I haven’t yet seen this one, so can make no comparisons here. I have read the Lovecraft novella, and while it should go without saying that movie adaptions rarely manages to capture the essence of horror and wonder in Lovecraft’s stories (there are, of course, exceptions), this movie actually does follow the original story for the most part, just setting it in more modern times. Many Lovecraft adaptions tend to change so much that the original story is barely recognizable, and some just doesn’t really do the original stories justice. However, this is something I’ve come to terms with a long time ago, I don’t expect any Lovecraft adaption to be on par with the source material. I just want to be entertained. And some of the movie adaptions (both the decent and the bad ones) often manages to do exactly that, so I’m not gonna complain.

 

Now, most horror movie fans are well aware of O`Bannon’s The Return of the Living Dead, and have most likely witnessed some of his screenplay work in several of the movies in the Alien franchise, and other horror films like Lifeforce. Just like the original Lovecraft story, it starts in a mental asylum where Charles is incarcerated, and then the story moves backwards in order tell what happened. It’s set up a bit like a detective mystery, with a pretty blonde wife begging the investigator for help and all. Set in the modern times, which were the 90’s when the movie was made, works well enough. The opening scene which includes a bit of blood and gore before getting a scene where the investigator starts retelling his experience, helps fuel the story as the next parts are, unfortunately, a little bit too slow before it finally picks up the pace and delivers.

 

While there were some issues with the pacing, the viewing experience was upheld by a constant feeling of mystery. You keep wondering what Charles has been doing at the farmhouse, but it takes a little too much time to actually get there. Once secrets are revealed we get some really nice shots of monstrous creatures and a hellish underground basement lab. While apparently trying to veer away from your typical B-Horror cheeseflick with a more serious approach, there’s no doubt that once the blood, guts, and otherworldly creatures fill the screen we get to see that this movie doesn’t stray too far away from the B-movie range. And I mean that in a positive way, of course. Originally, O`Bannon actually planned for the movie to have more humor, but it was re-edited and re-cut which removed this, much to his disapproval.

 

Despite a few flaws, The Resurrected is a decent horror film with an ominous mystery-fueled atmosphere, great creature-effects by Todd Masters, and a fitting music score by Richard Band.

 

The Resurrected The Resurrected The Resurrected

 

Director: Dan O’Bannon
Writer: Brent V. Friedman
Country & year: US, 1991
Actors: John Terry, Jane Sibbett, Chris Sarandon, Robert Romanus, Laurie Briscoe, Ken Camroux-Taylor, Patrick P. Pon, Bernard Cuffling, J.B. Bivens, Robert Sidley, Des Smiley, Eric Newton
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0105242/

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MARYLA – Horror Short Film

During a trip to Poland, two American influencers are sent by their employer to photograph an old mansion resembling a haunted house deep in the forest. Inside the mansion, the two young girls are confronted by some very strange phenomena.

 

Maryla is a creepy horror short set in a wonderfully spooky mansion!

MARYLA - Horror Short Film

 

Director: Guillaume Heulard
Writer: Stéphane Valette
Country & year: France, 2023
Actors: Otilia de Royer, Christine Lutete, Paul Bandey
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt25578592/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cold Ground (2017)

Cold GroundThe year is 1976, and two young journalists named Melissa and David are in search of their very first big story which will lead to fame and notoriety. They decide to investigate a strange case of cattle mutilations which have happened on the French-Swiss border. With their newly acquired camera they decide to film the entire investigation, from start to finish, where they plan to do interviews with the local residents in the area. Both are excited like a fresh TikTok’er who believes their video will lead to an instant success, and they dive head-in and already start planning to present the full story to a television channel which will get the ball rolling into the inevitable road of success and fortune. No feet planted firmly on the ground here, that’s for sure. Naturally, things don’t go according to plan, and it already goes a bit sideways when they are supposed to meet a scientific team which has inexplicably just gone – poof – missing. They do not give up however, oh no, this is just a little bump on their golden road, so they enlist the help of an expert in first-aid, and American Forensic Investigator and a British Biologist which will escort them into the depth of the mountains in search of the missing scientists.

 

Cold Ground is a French found-footage horror movie from 2017, written and directed by Fabien Delage who also directed the 2016 mockumentary film Fury of the Demon. As far as found footage movies go, this one is certainly not breaking and new grounds as the story and setup threads very familiar roads: it’s your typical story of people lost in unknown territory, slowly finding out that something is wrong and then doing a lot of screaming and running with shaky cameras. Yup, seen all of that a number of times before. Still, it does provide some good stuff: set in the 70’s, they have nailed the 70’s aesthetics which they went for, and the monsters in the movie are actually decent enough, most likely because they are barely visible in any scenes. Their predatory nature is mostly shown in aftermath-scenes where mutilated animals and people are shown, and this actually works in order to heighten the suspense a bit. I’m not sure what the monsters are supposed to be, but I guess they’re some kind of Bigfoot/Yeti/Werewolf hybrid.

 

Overall, despite not being very memorable and having little new to offer in the genre, Cold Ground was certainly rather pleasant to watch where the nature scenery with snowy areas, mountains and caves makes for an interesting viewing experience. I also like the 70’s style, with added camera grain to make the look more authentic. The combination of filming in those snowy nature landscapes and convincing us that it’s indeed the late 70’s, is what makes this movie stand out at least a little bit.

 

Cold Ground

 

Director and writer: Fabien Delage
Country & year: France, 2017
Actors: Doug Rand, Philip Schurer, Gala Besson, Maura Tillay, Fabrice Pierre, Geoffrey Blandin, Cyril Lesage, Regis Testa
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4144350/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

976-Evil (1988)

976-EvilIn this directorial debut of Robert “Freddy Krueger” Englund, we dial the number 976 to hear our horrorscopes. Yes, with three R’s. And anyone who dials this cursed number will hear a voice by Satan himself as he speaks in riddles how you’ll die in just a few moments.

 

In real life, 976 was an actual premium-rated telephone number that allowed people to call services of everything from Tech support, overall entertainment to phone sex. And, of course, having your horoscope read (with one R). The service also charged extra, which was every parent’s nightmare when they got the next phone bill.

 

Fun fact: Robert Englund still meets fans at comic cons who tell him that their worst grounding by their parents was when they called Freddy himself on a 976 number where Englund laid down a bunch of stock replies. He would also on occasions answer the phone for people all over America for an hour. This was at the peak of Freddy mania. Fun times.

 

One of the callers we meet here is the teenager Hoax (Stephen Geoffreys). He’s an awkward nerdy introvert on the spectrum of mentally retarded. He lives across his cousin Spike (Patrick O’Bryan), who is the polar opposite of Hoax: cool and a badass pussy magnet. And Hoax looks up to him as Spike has to protect him from being bullied. He also lives with his crazy, religious mom who doesn’t make things easier. And Spike can’t protect his sorry ass every minute as he also has a girlfriend to be with. Hoax gets frustrated, angry and now wants to show the bullies and even his mom that he’s no longer to be messed with. After a Satanic ritual and a 976 call, he gets slowly possessed by Beelzebub, develops supernatural powers and big claws to have his sweet revenge.

 

The first forty minutes or so in this “anti-bullying film” (as Englund calls it) are pretty slow and clunky, and with a script co-written by Brian Helgeland (A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Highway to Hell, Mystic River), I expected some more insanity, for lack of a better term. We have a weird love/hate relationship between the cousins Hoax and Spike to build up some dramatic tension. Unfortunately, their chemistry isn’t quite there. Spike also has a girlfriend, Suzie, who mostly looks bored until she gets attacked by spiders. We have a detective, who investigates the source of the cursed 976 call, who looks even more bored. The only one who stands out among the flat characters is the clumsy goofball Hoax as he wears the same nerdy outfit throughout the whole film, except some scenes where he’s wearing a cute pajamas.

 

The real fun is when Hoax starts to get possessed through several stages with some really tasteful make-up effects by Kevin Yagher, who also worked on the original Child’s Play and several of the Elm Street films. We also have some clever use of miniatures, and a climax with set-designs which look like something from a dream sequence from the already mentioned franchise. The direction is mostly solid with colorful, vibrant cinematography in the purest 1980s style. Robert Englund is of course the one behind the evil 976 voice, where he does his very best to not sound like Freddy Krueger. The gore is very minimal, as low-budget as this is, but the little we have is at least well done.

 

As much as we love the cheesy and distinct corniness of the 1980s it must be said how ridiculously dated the film is. Such as being a nerd in that decade was the most “gay and uncool” thing ever. The concept with payphones and if not novelty phones where you actually had to get your fat ass from the couch to dial the number to the local pizza delivery. Could anyone born after the 2000s even grasp to imagine? My oh my, the ole’ days… It’s funny how Robert Englund had to repeat himself during the commentary track on the Blu-ray to remind the Gen Z how insanely different the world actually once was.

 

976-Evil overall is a very mixed bag that maybe works best just as a curiosity to see how our favorite boogeyman from the 80s is as a director. Slow first-half, full popcorn entertainment with some extra cheese during the rest. The film was released on Blu-ray from Eureka Classics in 2020 with an extended version and commentary track by Robert Englund and his wife Nancy Booth, which both met on the set of the film and has been married since. How cute.

 

976-Evil 976-Evil 976-Evil

 

 

Director: Robert Englund
Writers: Rhet Topham, Brian Helgeland
Country & year: US, 1988
Actors: Stephen Geoffreys, Jim Metzler, María Rubell, Lezlie Deane, J.J. Cohen, Patrick O’Bryan, Sandy Dennis, Darren E. Burrows, Gunther Jenson, Jim Thiebaud, Robert Picardo, Paul Willson, Greg Collins
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094597/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RHYME OR DIE – Horror Short

Five kidnapped strangers are forced to rhyme to their captor’s funky beats – or die.

 

Rhyme or Die is a fun horror short where five kidnapped people must play a Saw-esque game of rhyming…and only one of them will survive!

RHYME OR DIE - Horror Short

 

Director: Max Lincoln
Writer: Alex Moran
Country & year: UK, 2021
Actors: Victor Alli, Mohammad Amiri, Samuel Blenkin, Bethan Cullinane, Racheal Ofori, Olumide Olorunfemi
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt14915826/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cat’s Eye (1985)

Cat's EyeThis feline adventure starts with a stray tabby cat which is getting chased by a dog, and ends up hiding in a delivery truck. This truck drives to New York City, where the cat sees the vision of a young girl through a display window. She pleads for the cat to come and help her, but then a guy comes and pick the cat up and puts it in a cage, and here the first story of this film starts. The cat is taken to a clinic called “Quitters, Inc.”, where smokers are coming in order to kick their smoking habit. Dick Morrison, a smoker who has been advised by a friend to join Quitters, is signing up before he knows anything about what he’s in for: he’s told that from now on, every time he fails holding back the urge and smokes a cigarette, horrors will befall his wife and child. The sadistic counselor shows him a room, where Dick gets to see the tabby cat inside where electric shocks comes from the floor, causing the cat to jump around in fright and pain. After this display, he says it will be his wife in that room if the smokes just one cigarette from now on. If he fails a second time, it will be his child. And if he fails a third time…well, I’m not even going to say what he claims they’ll do to his wife then. What could possibly go wrong from here… but at least, in the end, our cat hero manages to escape the place so we can get to the second story of the film.

 

Next, the cat manages to leave Manhattan via the Staten Island Ferry, and ends up in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where he once again sees the disembodied image of the girl asking for his help. But then, the cat is taken home by a crime boss and casino owner, Cressner, whose wife plans to leave his abusive ass for another man named Norris. Cressner has Norris kidnapped, blackmails him, and gives him the chance to get away if he manages to successfully circumnavigate the exterior ledge of Cressner’s penthouse. Nothing goes smoothly for the people involved in this story either, of course, but once again the cat manages to get away of course.

 

Then we get to the final story, where the cat gets on a freight train and ends up in Wilmington, North Carolina, where he finally meets the girl that he’s been seeing visions of. Her name is Amanda, and she eagerly adopts the cat and names him General. The mother tries to protest, because she’s afraid the cat will harm their parakeet Polly. What they don’t know is that something else has gotten inside the house that will harm not only Polly, but Amanda as well: a malevolent little troll who kills the parakeet with a tiny dagger. Guess who gets the blame for that. But the troll is also after Amanda, trying to steal her breath while she sleeps, and General is the only one who can save her.

 

Cat’s Eye is a 1985 anthology fantasy horror film, directed by Lewis Teague and written by Stephen King. Teague also directed Cujo (1983), another film based on a Stephen King book. The three stories included are Quitters, Inc., The Ledge, and General. The first two are based on two short stories from Night Shift, while the third story was written for the film. It had a budget of $7 million, and grossed a little over $13 million at the box office. It was nominated for the International Fantasy Film Award for Best Film in 1987. The theatrical trailer for the movie actually claimed that this was Stephen King’s first motion picture screenplay, but that’s actually incorrect, as he previously wrote the screenplay for Creepshow (1982). This being a movie based on Stephen King’s stories, it comes as no surprise that it’s stuffed with several easter-eggs from King’s other stories, where the dog chasing the cat in the start of the movie is none other than Cujo himself, and the cat also nearly gets run over by Christine. The child actor who plays Amanda, Drew Barrymore, previously appeared in Firestarter (1984).

 

Now, Cat’s Eye is pretty much exactly what you would expect: fun, whimsical and overall very entertaining. It’s filled with 80’s magic. Prior to watching the movie, on a blu-ray release from 2022, we were greeted with a notification saying “Please note that this film reflects historical attitudes which audiences may find outdated or offensive“. Now, this ghoul woman is certainly not a youngster anymore and literally grew up with movies that are considered offensive today, but I honestly had problems finding what could be so offensive here. The smoking, perhaps? Er, well, whatever. Offended people will be offended, I guess. Talking about the smoking parts, there are some scenes in that story that is truly over the top where the smoke-craving guy starts hallucinating and sees a dude blowing smoke out of his ears while making train noises, and cigarette packs walking around the place with lady legs. Jeez! Overall the movie has a very lighthearted tone, despite a couple scenes that are rather dark, and it mixes the fantasy elements with the horror and humor quite well.

 

The effects are solid, where they used huge props for the girl’s room in order to make the little malevolent troll appear small. While the final story with the troll is a lot more cheesy and fantasy-themed compared to the other two stories, it still fits surprisingly well with the rest as the quirky tone from the very get-go makes us expect pretty much anything to happen. It’s fun, charming, and could easily make you purr over the fanciful 80’s nostalgia. The movie also includes a synth-score by Alan Silvestri, which bears some resemblance to his score for Back to the Future which was also released the same year. And who can resist the catchy theme song!

 

Cat's Eye Cat's Eye Cat's Eye

 

 

Director: Lewis Teague
Writer: Stephen King
Country & year: US, 1985
Actors: Drew Barrymore, James Woods, Alan King, Kenneth McMillan, Robert Hays, Candy Clark, James Naughton, Tony Munafo, Court Miller, Russell Horton, Patricia Benson, Mary D’Arcy, James Rebhorn
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088889/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Troll 2 (1990)

TrollTroll 2 is a film that examines many serious and important issues. Like eating, living and dying. – Director Claudio Fragasso

 

And speaking of dying, dear grandpa Seth is dead. RIP. Even though it’s been six months after his funeral, the ten-year-old kid Joshua has regular meetings with his ghost in his room before bedtime. Grandpa Seth sits in a rocking chair as he tells goodnight stories about goblins and witches who turn people into trees, bushes and everything green.

 

Because you see, once upon a time there were goblins who were vegetarians, and the only way for them to eat was to turn people into everything green. But this is actually not any fairytale. Oh no, these goblins actually exist. So beware. Now, sleep tight and have a good night.

 

The brilliant idea of vegetarian goblins came from Rossella Drudi, the wife of Claudio Fragasso, who co-wrote the script. Here’s a quote from Best Worst Movie, a documentary from 2009 about the making of Troll 2:

I didn’t want to write your typical horror movie. So, I came up with a story about troll (goblins) who were vegetarians. Because at that point in my life, I had many friends who’d all become vegetarians, and it pissed me off. So I had the idea of replacing the vampires in the vampire story with vegetarians (like Duckula).

 

Only Joshua can see grandpa Seth (of course) and no one believes him. His mother has grown tired of him talking to his ghost and has a quick, serious conversation with him:

 

Troll 2

 

Banish him, you hear, boy? And yes, this is the actual piece of dialogue that was written which Josh’s mom says to him with the most dead and soulless eyes ever, as if she was straight from The Westboro Baptist Church. Good night and sweet dreams. Brrr! I prefer the ghost of grandpa Seth, thank you very much. With a script written like this, also by two Italians with very little to no knowledge of the English language, one would assume that the whole script was written in Italian and roughly Google-translated with no corrections. In reality, the script was written in such broken English that even the actors suggested to director Claudio Fragasso that they should at least ad-lib the lines to prevent the dialogues from sounding as retarded as it did on paper. Fragasso, the maestro that he is with an ego bigger than Jupiter, flat-out refused as his script was set in stone and perfect as it was.

 

But this little flavor of absurdity we just saw here is only the very top of the iceberg of this incompetent circus of a horror movie. It gets really batshit, to say the least, and it’s the reason why Troll 2 is praised by the same audiences who almost died from laughing at modern so-bad-it’s-good-classics like The Room, Birdemic: Shock and Terror and all the films of Neil Breen.

 

Back to the film: Josh’ parents are taking him and their teen daughter Holly on a summer vacation trip to a small country, hillbilly town in the state of Utah, called … Nilbog. And the place looks like a complete ghost town which has seen better days. Grandpa Seth is still here, though, watching over Josh’s shoulders. They swap houses with a family that welcomes them with a ready dinner table. Talk about hospitality. But that’s not real food, Grandpa Seth tells Josh. It’s Goblin food which will turn anyone who eats it into vegetables – the favorite food of the goblins! Grandpa Seth displays some of his magic ghost force to stop the time for a brief moment, so Josh can prevent them eating the food. He has only ten seconds. The tension and suspense is unbearable. Josh stands on the table while the rest of the family is frozen-out, opens his zipper and – you guessed it – pisses on the food.

 

Or in Claudio Fragasso’s own frustrating words while trying to explain to a confused ten-year-old who didn’t understand the context of the scene, and who the hell could blame him:  – You don’t worry, you jump on table, you unzip zipper, we cut, piss on table!

 

Aha, okey then…

 

His dad, Michael (played by Aaron Eckhart’s doppelganger, George Hardy), gets furious and carries Josh up to his room where he delivers his famous line:

 

Troll 2

 

And yes, this is the actual dialogue. This is also the line that George Hardy used in his audition for the film. In full seriousness, he shouted You can’t piss on hospitality in front of nine cigar-smoking Italian casting agents. And they didn’t understand a word he was saying. The only reason he got the part was because they liked his energy.

 

Like in the original film, we get introduced to a witch by the name Creedence Leonore Gielgud. And this one is from the west and as evil as a Saturday Morning Cartoon character. She lives in a small church where she brews a green, magic, toxic potion that turns people into vegetables, so she can feed her goblins.

 

Alice Cooper was apparently busy feeding his Frankenstein, so the role of the witch went to Deborah Reed. And ‘boy, her performance is a trip. I have not before or after Troll 2 seen overacting on such an absurd animated level, as we see here. It’s all up to eleven and beyond, and I bet she must have burned some calories after reading her goofy lines the way she did. I’d love to se her audition reel and the reactions of the nine cigar-smoking Italians. Reed died last year due to cancer at age 73, but she will always be remembered in her iconic role. RIP.

 

Troll 2

 

The Oh My God clip is the most flawless piece of cinema put together. The way that the music is synchronized with his delayed scream is just perfection, not to mention the fly on the guy’s forehead. That’s Stanley Kubrick-level of perfectionism right there when it comes to subtle details with hidden meanings.

 

Then we have the creature designs, or the goblin costumes, the pure definition of schlock that even makes the creatures from the original film look like something from Stan Winston.

 

Troll 2

 

Troll 2 was filmed during thirty chaotic hot summer days in Utah where all the cast and crew were Italians who, of course, didn’t speak English. The actors were local amateurs, the one worse than the other, and all of whom auditioned to star as extras, but somehow instead ended up in the main roles. That also explains one thing or two. Michael Paul Stephenson, who plays the annoying kid Josh, already had the (un)pleasure of starring in another film by Claudio Fragasso, with Beyond the Darknes (a.k.a La Casa 5), released the same year as Troll 2. He also made the documentary Best Worst Movie.

 

The original title was Goblin, but was released as Troll 2, because that’s what Italian distributors always do to shamelessly cash in on the success of other films.

 

Troll 2 was one of the lost gems, also called The Holy Grail of bad movies, that were rediscovered many years after its release. It wasn’t until the comedy theatre group Upright Citizens Brigade started to screen the film at their base in Los Angeles that the phenomena that was Troll 2 spread throughout the United States like a turkey on fire, and soon after globally. Then the now legendary Oh My God clip was shared on YouTube and the rest is movie history.

 

Director Claudio Fragasso was also curious about the buzz and how the Americans had finally rediscovered his masterpiece, and flew to the states with his wife to get a sense of the phenomenon. Too bad he seems to have zero sense of irony. I’d earlier had an assumption that the guy was a first-class troll (no pun intended), like Birdemic director James Nguyen, but after re-watching some clips from the documentary Best Worst Movie, I’m not so sure. The clown really believes deep down that he made a genuine solid piece of cinema with Troll 2, and during an awkward Q&A after a screening of the film he looks completely lost, confused and irritated, and is about to implode. People were laughing too much at his film, even at parts that weren’t meant to be funny. Uh-oh! And he didn’t like that. His spicy narcissism and true colors really shine at the end of the documentary where he gets jealous of the actors’ popularity, giving them the death stare and even calling them dogs and liars. Classy.

 

Troll 2

 

There are many factors why Troll 2 ended up like it did for all the wrong hilarious reasons, but the main one is on none other than Claudio Fragasso, or the pseudonym of Drake Floyd he was credited as here. It’s the typical Ed Wood syndrome, just with an even more bloated ego, pompous arrogance, insanity and a head stuffed so far in one’s own delusional fantasy-butthole while refusing to hear a single input than your own bubbling farts. And to be fair, Fragasso hardly directed the film, costume designer Laura Gemser did, the one and only on the crew that spoke English fluently and translated the director’s directions to the actors. He also looked down on having any assistance from any English-speaking crew or cast because he was too lazy to learn some of the language himself. Mamma mia. Working on the set of Troll 2 must have been such a pleasant experience. I would like to see a biopic about the making of this turkey, like The Disaster Artist. Leonardo DiCaprio would be a great fit to play Fragasso.

 

There’s far worse movies than Troll 2, surprisingly enough, and at the end of the day, Claudio Fragasso has unintentionally managed to put together one of the best unhinged horror comedies of all time (if not the best) with not a single boring moment followed by a whole notebook of quote worthy lines. That’s a great skill and an achievement in itself. And that the guy to this day seems to be ultra-bitter about the films’ cult status and never seems to come to peace with it, is a bit sad. But that’s what happens when your ego becomes your own worst enemy.

 

There wasn’t made a Troll 3… or maybe it kinda was if we use our imagination a bit. We actually have two titles that were released with a.k.a Troll 3. The first one is Quest for the Mighty Sword (1990), an Italian fantasy film by Joe D’Amato. If the alternative titles wasn’t head-scratching already, this one is also known as The Hobgoblin and Ator III: The Hobgoblin. The other one is The Crawlers (1993), also a Joe D’Amato production about killing plants and was also filmed in the same area in Utah where Troll 2 was filmed.

 

Troll 2 Troll 2 Troll 2

 

 

Director: Claudio Fragasso
Writers: Rossella Drudi, Claudio Fragasso
Country & year: US, Nilbog, 1990
Actors: Michael Paul Stephenson, George Hardy, Margo Prey, Connie Young, Robert Ormsby, Deborah Reed, Jason Wright, Darren Ewing, Jason Steadman, David McConnell, Gary Carlston, Mike Hamil
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0105643/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHO GOES THERE – Horror Short

Minnesota 1880: The trust of three Norwegian sisters is tested when a stranger appears on their prairie. When the eldest invites him in to heal her dying sister, she doesn’t realise that a supernatural force is crossing her threshold.

 

Who Goes There is a creepy and atmospheric horror short, written by William Gillies and directed by Norwegian director Astrid Thorvaldsen who also directed the very chilling horror movie Utburd (which is unfortunately very obscure, with no physical release and currently only available for rent on a select streaming sites in Norway).

WHO GOES THERE - Horror Short

 

Director: Astrid Thorvaldsen
Writer: William Gillies
Country & year: UK, 2020
Actors: Nina Yndis, Siri Meland, Rikke Haughem
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt11277740/