9 Rails Film Festival presents ‘Troll 2’ at The Monarch on Halloween night
The 9 Rails Film Festival returns Sunday, Oct. 31, this year celebrating the famously terrible 1990 comedy-horror flick “Troll 2,” starring Ogden-based musician and actor Darren Ewing, who will be in attendance for a Q&A at the film screening.
There will also be a costume contest with prizes, a silent auction, cash bar, food trucks and more at the free, all-ages event at The Monarch in Ogden on Halloween night.
“Oh my gaaaaaaaawwwd!” exclaims Ewing in the film upon realizing he’s about to be eaten — not by a troll, but a goblin. Trolls do not appear anywhere in the movie. This is one of many oddities that make this one of the most celebrated cult classics.
“Troll 2,” a film about a family hunted by vegetarian goblins who are trying to mutate them into plants so they can eat them, has no connection to the 1986 movie “Troll” (or the Dreamworks animated “Trolls”).
Originally titled “Goblin” by its Italian producers, American distributors tacked the “Troll 2” name onto it hoping to cash in from the totally unrelated semi-successful ’80s film that preceded it. But straight to VHS and forgotten was its fate, until cult movie fanatics unearthed it years later, making it one of the most successful catastrophic flops in cinema history.
It was Ewing’s first movie, what he’d hoped would be his “big break.” He didn’t see the completed film until three years later when he found it at Blockbuster Video with the strange “Troll 2” title. The whole family got together for a watch party and thought it was hilarious, Ewing said.
“I loved it. I love bad movies, and I love horror movies,” he said. “I thought, ‘If I like this, I can’t be the only one.'”
Ewing found out in 2006 that his movie had attracted a big following. He started getting fan mail and touring the country for screenings and having a great time during those initial five years of “Troll 2” mania. “‘Troll 2’ fans are the coolest,” he said.
In 2009, a highly acclaimed documentary about the film was released called “Best Worst Film,” directed by Michael Stephenson, a Utah native who starred in “Troll 2” as a child. The documentary centers around the film’s endearing lead actor, a dentist from Alabama named George Hardy, for whom it was his first and last acting stint. The other cast members were from Utah where “Troll 2” was filmed.
Why was it filmed in Utah by Italian filmmakers? “We did not choose Utah, Utah chose us,” is what director Claudio Fragasso said, according to Ewing.
Connie Young, who played teenager Holly Waits in the movie, later starred in the LDS flick “The Singles Ward.” Don Packard, the drug store owner with the infamous line, “There’s no coffee in Nilbog. It’s the devil’s drink!” admits in the documentary to being an outpatient from the University of Utah psych ward during the filming of “Troll 2” and confessed to hating the child actor Stephenson and that he was “not acting.” Other leading actors in the film were Jason Steadman, Jason F. Wright and Robert Ormsby.
Nilbog, Goblin backwards, is the name of the fictional town where the story takes place. The entire film was shot in three weeks by director Fragasso (under the pseudonym Drake Floyd) in Morgan and Porterville during the summer of 1989 on a minuscule budget. The goblin queen Creedence Leonore Gielgud’s house is the 1898 Old Porterville Chapel that is on the Utah State Register of Historic Sites.
Cult movie writers in Ogden, Doug Gibson and Steve Stones, journeyed there to do a podcast for their blog, “Plan 9 Crunch,” which featured an article about “Best Worst Film” and the Nilbog Invasion event of 2008. Both say it’s the hilariously weird dialogue that makes “Troll 2” so extraordinary.
The language barrier between the Italian filmmakers and American actors didn’t help, nor were the actors’ attempts to warn the director that their lines were “not how American teenagers talk.” Fragasso ignored their cries and made them speak the lines verbatim, such as the revered Holly quote: “If my father discovers you here, he’d cut off your little nuts and eat them.”
These lines, among other atrocities, have fed “Troll 2” fans with years of gleeful viewing experiences.
Stones calls cult films “lost puppies.” “They’re a time capsule that says something about the time in which they were made,” he said. To Gibson, “the secret to a cult film is that it can’t be replicated.”
There can never be another film like this lost puppy. Is “Troll 2” spectacularly awful or misunderstood brilliance ahead of its time (as the director claims)? See it, and decide for yourself on Halloween night!
The 9 Rails Film Festival features local artists and their associated films with a focus on raising money for artists and local nonprofit organizations that support the arts in Ogden and especially in the 9 Rails Creative District.
9 Rails Film presents “Troll 2” at The Monarch on Sunday, Oct. 31, at 7 p.m. The all-ages event is free, but donations are graciously encouraged. All proceeds from donations and the auction will go to Ogden Contemporary Arts and to assist in funding for next year’s event.
The original “Troll 2” artwork by Ogden artist Stones will be included in the silent auction, along with other fantastic items donated by sponsors: Art Box, The Bonneville, The Big O Doughnuts, Cuppa, Ellis Printing, Hope & Evolution, Indie Ogden, Iron Pine Co., Kev Shoots, Madison Place, Morgan Sculpture Studio, The Monarch, Taboo Pizza, Thomas Printers, Star Firm Realty and Wasatch Roasting Company.
Donations may be made in person or in advance through Venmo @MonarchVenues.
9 Rails Film Festival 2021 Lineup
- Costume contest registration
- Cash bar
- Food trucks, including Los Churros del Norte with a special green “Troll 2” treat
- Silent auction bidding
“Troll 2” screening
Q&A and meet and greet with actors from “Troll 2”
Silent auction winners announced
Costume Contest winners announced
The Monarch is located at 455 25th St., Ogden, 84401. Free parking is available on the street and in adjacent lots. Visit 9railsfilm.com for more information.