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Okay, so my title is facetious, but know this: I am very close to enjoying Claudio Fragasso’s Troll 2 unironically, and it’s beginning to scare me. Start with the basic premise of the film. Obviously, a cheesy horror flick can go in about a million directions. It could involve a family starting a home-based cafe that becomes a murder den. You could have trucks and appliances springing to like (Maximum Overdrive-style), or how about just a rabid frickin’ dog (a la Cujo). Well, “Troll 2” is a dumb lil’ movie about city folk who want to experience country life, so they do a home exchange vacation with a family from the community if Nibog. And yes, “Nilbog” is “Goblin” backwards!

I know what you’re thinking: “Wait? Goblin? I thought this movie was about trolls!?” Believe me, we’ve all been there if we’ve seen this movie. However, as the inanity and insanity ensue, you’ll probably stop caring as much about this quaint deviation. Frankly, this clumsy classic is crammed with quaint deviations, so it’s hard to focus on just one!

Don’t Wait! Meet the Waits

The Waits family seems normal enough at first, but there’s something bubbling beneath. You see Michael (George Hardy) and Diana Waits (Margo Prey), a married couple looking to experience a brief excursion into farm life. Of course, the couple’s marriage begins to crumble as the bizarre events of Troll 2 unfold, it seems there’s a serious argument between them just around the corner. This is usually triggered by their son, Joshua (Michael Stephenson), who’s learned from the ghost of his Grandpa Seth (Robert Ormsby) that those pesky Goblins are out to poison his family (who hasn’t been there before, am I right?).

Basically, Josh ends up trying to prevent them from eating anything during their stay in Nilbog, which makes him both a nuisance and a lifesaver.
While this is a silly-billy movie by any sane standard, there are moments where it is vaguely serious. There are times where Josh seems deeply despondent (well, to the extent that child acting in a cheesy movie can convey it).

Also, much like a similarly panned-yet-classic movie Children of the Corn, there’s a sense of feeling alienated while in another town, and like the outsiders cannot trust anyone who offers to help them. While that hardly makes the movie deep, it is evidence that there actually is something there, whatever “there” ultimately is.

The Cheesy Wondrous Monsters of “Troll 2”

Honestly, no review can truly do this movie justice, whether trying to praise its eccentricity or heap piles of scorn onto it. It’s just a devastating, cheesy thrill ride, thanks to the intense overacting and the heavy doses of WTF moments. I could spend a full month examining every nook and cranny of Troll 2, but I’d probably end up in a psychiatric facility, so I’ll spare myself that level of treatment. Suffice it to say that Troll 2 will forever be remembered most for two key performances: Deborah Reed as Creedence Leonore Gielgud and Darren Ewing as Arnold.

Reed and Ewing are absolute rockstars for these performances. Due to performances such as theirs, Troll 2 somehow lumbers along at a breakneck pace. Yes, this movie somehow manages too slowly ooze along, while somehow hypnotizing some viewers like a bonafide action epic. The silliness helps you better appreciate this winding road of twisted vegetarian ethos, and you’ll become enamored as the goblins attack Joshua, his parents, and your goddamn consciousness (though you probably won’t be rendered comatose). You’ll risk being enamored with Josh who, along with his whole family, is at serious risk of consuming poisonous, green-tainted food!

Written by Rossella Drudi and Claudio Fragasso, you’ll ponder the nature of Stonehenge. You’ll marvel at goblins-as-troll-substitutes, human meat as vegetable substitute, human-to-tree transformations, and the seductive powers of corn. You’ll ask why Joshua’s sister (Connie McFarland) dances so oddly, and also why only Joshua is so attuned to their poisonous environment (why doesn’t grandpa just warn the entire family about the dreaded goblins?!).

In any case, there is always a new thing to be afraid of in Nilbog, and the mostly hapless humans are always expecting something other than what’s really there. Also, trust me when I say unto you: After you’ve seen Troll 2, you will not look at corncobs the same way again. And remember, you can’t piss on hospitality!

What are your thoughts on the bizarre journey that is Troll 2? Veg out in the comments!

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The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine Special Live Watch Party February 10th!

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The sweet putrid stench of love lingers through the air which can only mean one thing…Valentine’s Day and its annoying little winged cherub mascot, Cupid, is fast approaching. Soon, partners will be spoiling one another with extravagant bouquets of roses, heartfelt Hallmark cards, obnoxiously large teddy bears, glistening diamond jewelry, and heart-shaped candies or boxes filled with assorted mediocre chocolates. You know? Normal things couples do. I tend to prefer my chocolate boxes filled with bleeding hearts, à la ‘My Bloody Valentine’ but, beggars can’t be choosers, right? All jokes aside, Valentine’s Day is special for many couples, however, there are also many others who find themselves celebrating this day without a significant other. Luckily, Shudder, along with drive-in king Joe Bob Briggs and co-host Darcy the Mail Girl (Diana Prince) will graciously be keeping us lonely mutants’, and yes, all you horror fanatic couples’ company on Friday, February 10th as they return with The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine, premiering live at 9pm EST.

Love Spells Abound…

Back in 2021, Joe Bob and Darcy invited us to a gruesomely passionate night of spell-binding love witches and animatronic dinosaurs infused with teenage human brains during The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob Put a Spell on You. Many, including myself, were introduced to the tantalizing 70’s inspired retro throwback ‘The Love Witch’ and the graphically goofy cult classic ‘Tammy and the T-Rex’, providing the perfect viewing pleasure to mend any broken heart. While the two films for this year’s morbid love-induced special have yet to be announced, as a special treat, Briggs has announced for the first time on The Last Drive-In, he will be marrying one lucky couple during the live showing. We here at HauntedMTL are eagerly awaiting the return of the ghoulish duo so, as is tradition, we will be proudly hosting a watch party on Twitter during the broadcasting of The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and tag us  @hauntedMTL as well as @shudder@therealjoebob, and @kinky_horror to partake in this night of unholy love.

Drawn image of Joe Bob Briggs pouring  a drop of pink liquid into a clear glass potion bottled filled with a glowing red substance. To his left lies a book a magic spells with a golden pentagram necklace resting on top. Also on the books rests a human skull with heart shaped pupils for eyes hiding behind a pair of clear glasses. In bold white letters a text reads "Join us on February 10th as we live tweet The Last Drive-In Valentine's Day Special".
Follow @hauntedMTL for live tweets and replies!

What started off as a one-time special premiering on Shudder July 13, 2018, ‘The Last Drive- In’ was originally meant to be Brigg’s swan song; one last special before hanging up the bolo tie in retirement. However, due to so many mutants, excuse me…viewers tuning in and breaking the Shudder servers, it was only natural to announce an official full season of ‘The Last Drive-In‘, which would make its explosive debut March 19, 2019. Since then, Darcy and Briggs have spawned many exclusive holiday specials, have graciously donated to many charities within the community, and have accumulated 4 seasons of ‘The Last Drive-In’, with a fifth currently in production premiering on Shudder’s 2023 schedule sometime this year, let’s hope sooner rather than later.

Picture of Joe Bob Briggs, Darcy the Mail Girl, John Patrick Brennan and Yuki Nakamura standing together dressed in medieval costumes. A cardboard cutout of Tom Atkins stands between Darcy and Yuki. Darcy is seen drapped in a beautfiul elegant princess dress, satin white with gold trim. Yuki is seen holding a small wreath of purple, white, and yellow flowers that match his loud medieval king costume. Resting atop both their heads are golden crowns. Joe Bob Briggs is seen standing to the left of Darcy, as he smiles whilst wearing a half-put together jester costumer. Lastly, we see Brennan with two wooden recorders in his hand as he mimics playing them both dress clad in a bright yellow dress.
An unexpected ceremony during The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob Put a Spell on You (2021) special.

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Movies n TV

Horror Noire, a Film Review

Horror Noire is a horror collection that includes “Daddy,” “The Lake,” “Brand of Evil,” “Bride Before You,” “Fugue State,” and “Sundown.”

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Horror Noire is a horror collection brought by the combined efforts of AMC+ and Shudder. The collection includes “Daddy,” “The Lake,” “Brand of Evil,” “Bride Before You,” “Fugue State,” and “Sundown.” Horror Noire boasts Black directors and screenwriters, providing six unique stories.

As this collection explores six stories, I will skip the usual synopsis to assess the genres and ideas explored, albeit limited as needed. Expect to find supernatural horror, creature features, and psychological thrillers. Many short films deal with these genres while exploring Black issues, but this isn’t universal for the collection.

The directors and writers include Zandashé Brown, Robin Givens, Rob Greenlea, Kimani Ray Smith, Steven Barnes, Ezra Clayton Daniels, Tananarive Due, Shernold Edwards, Victor LaValle, and Al Letson.

Woman and man wearing a vote for candidate shirt, scared of something off screne
Image from “Sundown” Directed by Kimani Ray Smith

What I Like

Each story remains unique, holding different strengths and weaknesses that highlight drastically different perspectives. Collections like VHS hold a similar premise to create their collection, but Horror Noire gives more creative freedom to its talent to be independent.

My personal favorite short film is Zandashé Brown’s “Bride Before You.” This period piece unravels a fable set in the Reconstruction Era. The entry feels Fabulistic in approach, which happens to be my preferred niche.

However, the best example of horror goes to Robin Givens’ “Daddy,” providing an existential horror tied directly to the characters involved.

Woman listening to a preacher amidst a crowd
Image from “Fugue State” directed by Rob Greenlea

What I Dislike

As mentioned, all have a particular style and idea. The downside of this approach always remains to keep the viewer interested long enough to find their favorite. If you find several underwhelming choices, this becomes a chore. But I imagine that is rare as the variety makes the options refreshing.

Personally, “Brand of Evil” had an interesting premise, but the execution fell short. On paper, it might have sounded like my favorite, which makes the lackluster execution a bigger letdown.

Zeth M. Martinez

Final Thoughts

Horror Noire gives power and control to Black creators, providing a formula for a unique collection against others in the space. While the various subjects and approaches mean you aren’t likely to love them all, there should be a short film for everyone.
3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

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Movies n TV

Dahmer, Silenced

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Episode six of Netflix’s Dahmer was not, honestly about our title character. Instead, it was about one of his victims, a man named Tony. We’ve actually seen Tony a few times during this series. We just didn’t know it was him.

Rodney Burford in Dahmer

And, well, he wasn’t exactly alive the first time we saw him.

Tony was born into a supportive, loving family. This is good because soon after he was born a viral infection took his hearing. He is black, deaf, and gay in the early 90’s.

Tony has a dream of becoming a model. And he certainly has the looks for it. He is beautiful, body and soul. He has lots of opportunities for romance, but it’s not what he’s looking for. He wants a real relationship. 

Eventually Tony moves to Madison, trying to pursue his dream. He gets a job and starts getting modeling work.

Then, he meets Jeff Dahmer at a bar. 

At first, we can almost believe that it’s going to be alright. Jeff seems happy. He’s taking care of himself. He’s not drinking as much. He even has his dad and stepmom over for dinner. It seems like his life is getting on track. Even better, he’s treating Tony right.

Then, of course, things go bad. 

One thing that has always bothered me as a true crime fan is that we know so much about the killers, but not as much about the victims. Not so much if we don’t know who the killer is, of course. But the names that are part of our pop culture are those of the killers. Dahmer, Manson, Jones, Bundy, Holms. The names we don’t know are Roberta Parks, Beth LaBiancas, Leno LaBiancas, and Tony Hughes. And clearly, we should know them.

If Tony Hughes was half the shining, positive person that the show Dahmer made him out to be, I’m so sad that he isn’t with us anymore. We need so many more people like him. And many of Dahmer’s victims were likely just like him. After all, he was attracted to them for a reason.

This was a significant episode, and I understand why it’s the highest-rated episode of the series. I finished it with a heavy heart, saddened by the loss of a man who should still be with us today. 

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

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