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10 Hospitable Facts About Troll 2

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You’d assume that a film titled Troll 2 would include at least one troll. It does not. However, the 1990 cult classic does come with supernatural popcorn, a high-flying simian, and a cult following of Rocky Horror-like proportions. Today, we’re tipping our hats to what just might be the most talked-about B-movie since Plan 9 From Outer Space.

1. IT HAS NO REAL CONNECTION TO THE ORIGINAL TROLL.

Troll tells the tale of a family whose apartment complex is besieged by a shape-shifting creature with magical powers. Fun fact: Two of the main characters are Harry Potter, Sr. and Harry Potter, Jr. (Yes, really.) For the record, Troll came out in 1986—11 years before J.K. Rowling introduced her boy wizard to the world.

Anyway, Troll 2 technically isn’t a sequel to that 1986 movie. In fact, the films have nothing to do with one another. Troll 2’s working title was Goblin, in reference to the mythical species it features, but the film’s distributors felt that it would be a bigger hit if audiences thought it was a follow-up to Troll. Thus, Goblin was rebranded as Troll 2.

2. IT WAS CONCEIVED AS ANTI-VEGETARIAN PROPAGANDA.

The goblins in this movie prey on humans—yet they can only eat plant matter. So the monsters force people to eat special foods that convert them into vegetable paste. It was Italian screenwriter Rossella Drudi who concocted Troll 2’s unusual premise. “I came up with a story about [goblins] who were vegetarians because at that point in my life, I had many friends who’d become vegetarians and it pissed me off,” Drudi explained in Best Worst Movie, a 2010 documentary on the making of the film. “So I had the idea of replacing the vampires in the [traditional] vampire story with vegetarians.”

3. THERE WAS A SERIOUS LANGUAGE BARRIER ON THE SET.

Drudi’s husband, Claudio Fragasso, co-wrote and directed the film, which was shot in Utah. Although Troll 2 was filmed stateside with an American cast, almost nobody on the production team spoke fluent English. According to George Hardy, who played Michael Waits, the script suffered from this linguistic divide. “The way it was written was not the way Americans speak,” Hardy recalled. “One of us would say to Claudio … ‘This is not the way you say this in America.’ But they would say, ‘No, no, no, this is the way you do it.’ We just did what we were told. I think that was because of the language barrier. How can you argue with someone who doesn’t understand what you’re saying?”

4. GEORGE HARDY WAS—AND STILL IS—A PRACTICING DENTIST.

When the casting process began in the summer of 1989, Hardy was working as a dentist in Salt Lake City. At the urging of his patients, he decided to audition for the film. The very next day, Hardy was told he’d been hired. Troll 2’s three-week shoot was tough on his professional life. “I would go into the [dentistry] practice and work, and then I’d shoot, and then I’d go in and see some patients,” Hardy told /Film. In 1991, Hardy relocated to his hometown of Alexander City, Alabama, where he’s been fixing smiles ever since. 

5. THE INFAMOUS TABLE SCENE WAS CHANGED AT THE LAST MINUTE.

To keep his family from eating a tableful of food that some goblins have obviously tampered with, young Joshua, played by Michael Stephenson, stands up and urinates all over the spread. At first, a less revolting approach was planned. “In the original script I jump on the table and I say, ‘I’m possessed, I’m possessed,’” Stephenson told Entertainment Weekly. But as soon as this scene was actually performed, Fragasso decided to tweak it. “You!” he told Stephenson. “You walk around the table, up to the chair, and piss on this food.”

The child actor was speechless: “I [thought], ‘Did I just hear this right?’” Stephenson recalled. Still, he followed Fragasso’s directions and the scene became a signature moment in Troll 2.

6. ONE ACTOR WAS FORCED TO STAND IN PLACE FOR HOURS ON END.

Like many characters in Troll 2, the bespectacled Arnold meets an unfortunate end. Tricked by the wicked goblin queen into drinking a magical broth, he slowly transforms into a humanoid plant. The rest of Arnold’s short life is mainly spent inside an oversized pot. For these scenes, actor Darren Ewing was forced to stay put. “They took my shoes—mind you, my shoes, not theirs,” he recollected, “and they screwed them into the base of the pot where I stood for almost 14 hours in makeup.”

7. THAT ODD MOVIE-WITHIN-A-MOVIE IS 1983’s GRUNT.

At one point in Troll 2, we see Arnold and his friends hanging out in front of a TV set, watching a man in an ape costume being rocket-launched through the air. This clip was from 1983’s Grunt, an Italian-made caveman comedy in which some Cro-Magnons worship a magical egg.

8. THE VILLAINESS’S COSTUME WAS DESIGNED BY THE ACTRESS WHO PLAYED HER.

On the Best Worst Movie DVD, there’s a bonus feature interview with Deborah Reed, the goblin queen of Troll 2. Among other things, the actress reminisces about creating a look for her character. Together with Fragasso’s team, she scoured a costume shop for usable garments. When they failed to locate anything that seemed appropriate, Reed asked if she could simply assemble an outfit from her own personal wardrobe. This request was granted. Accordingly, Reed owned more or less every garment that she wore on screen. The pièce de résistance was an olive green coat passed down from her grandmother. Unfortunately, it took lots of abuse on the set. “[My] beautiful coat used to be just covered with green slime. It was very hard to get out,” Reed lamented.

9. TWO SORT-OF SEQUELS WERE MADE.

Films with multiple titles are the bane of every movie buff’s existence. Confusingly, both Quest for the Mighty Sword (1990) and The Crawlers (1993) are also known as Troll 3. The former is part of the larger Ator series, which revolves around an ancient society rife with magic and samurai-like warriors. In one scene, we meet a little creature named Grindel, whose suit was a recycled goblin costume from Troll 2. Meanwhile, The Crawlers is about killer vines that terrorize Alaska. Like Troll 2, it was shot in Utah and had an Italian director (Fabrizio Laurenti)—and that's where the similarities end.

10. ONE OF TROLL 2’S MAIN FILMING LOCALES GAVE FRAGASSO THE KEY TO THE CITY IN 2008.

Much of the now-legendary B-movie was shot in Morgan, Utah. Back in 1989, the town acted as a stand-in for Troll 2’s fictitious “Nilbog”—which, as Joshua points out, is “goblin” spelled backwards. Nineteen years later, Morgan commemorated its place in movie history with a weekend-long festival called “Nilbog Invasion.” Hundreds of Troll 2 fans gathered at the town ballroom—decorated with green balloons for the occasion—to hear the cast and crew reminisce. By most accounts, Fragasso stole the show. As a way of saying “thank you,” alternate mayor Dan Snarr approached him with a giant foam key to the city—and an invitation to film another Troll movie in Morgan.

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25 Things You Might Not Know About Home Alone
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On November 16, 1990, what appeared to be a fun-filled little family yarn about a kid left to his own devices at Christmastime and forced to fend off a couple of bungling burglars, became an instant classic. Today, no holiday movie marathon is complete without a viewing of Home Alone, the movie that turned Macaulay Culkin into one of the biggest kid stars of all time. And while you may be able to recite its dialogue line for line, here are 25 things you might not know about the John Hughes-penned picture. So settle in and enjoy, ya filthy animals. 

1. WITHOUT UNCLE BUCK, THERE’D BE NO HOME ALONE.

The idea for Home Alone occurred to John Hughes during the making of Uncle Buck, which also starred Macaulay Culkin. Always game to play the precocious one, there’s a scene in which Culkin’s character interrogates a potential babysitter through a mail slot. In Home Alone, Culkin has a similar confrontation with Daniel Stern, this time via a doggie door.

2. THE ROLE OF KEVIN WAS WRITTEN SPECIFICALLY FOR MACAULAY CULKIN.

But that didn't stop director Chris Columbus from auditioning more than 100 other rascally pre-teens for the part. Which really was all for naught, as Culkin nailed the role.

3. MACAULAY WASN’T THE ONLY CULKIN TO APPEAR IN THE FILM.


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Macaulay;'s younger brother Kieran also landed a part as Kevin’s bed-wetting cousin, Fuller. Though the film marked Kieran’s acting debut, he has since gone on to build an impressive career for himself in movies like The Cider House Rules, Igby Goes Down, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

4. CASTING CULKIN TAUGHT CHRIS COLUMBUS A VERY IMPORTANT LESSON.

Since Home Alone, Columbus (who also wrote the scripts for Gremlins and The Goonies) has gone on to become one of Hollywood’s premier family-friendly moviemakers as the director of Home Alone 2, Mrs. Doubtfire, and two movies in the Harry Potter franchise. But one lesson he learned from Home Alone is that when you agree to work with a kid actor, you’re also agreeing to work with his or her family.

“I was much younger and I was really too naive to think about the family environment as well,” Columbus told The Guardian in 2013. “We didn't know that much about the family at the beginning; as we were shooting, we learned a little more. The stories are hair-raising. I was casting a kid who truly had a troubled family life.” In 1995, Culkin’s parents, who were never married, engaged in a very public—and nasty—legal battle over his fortune. 

5. THE FILM IS A GUINNESS WORLD RECORD HOLDER.

In its opening weekend, Home Alone topped the box office, making $17,081,997 in 1202 theaters. The movie maintained its number one spot for a full 12 weeks and remained in the top 10 until June of the following year. It became the highest grossing film of 1990 and earned a Guinness World Record as the highest-grossing live-action comedy ever domestically.

6. THE MOVIE’S UNPRECEDENTED SUCCESS LED TO ITS TITLE BECOMING A VERB.


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In his book The Big Picture: Who Killed Hollywood? And Other Essays, two-time Oscar-winning screenwriter William Goldman admitted that the unexpected success of Home Alone contributed a new phrase to the Hollywood lexicon: to be Home Aloned, meaning that other films suffered at the box office because of Home Alone’s long and successful run. “More than one executive said to me, ‘My picture did 40, but it would have done 50 if it hadn’t been Home Aloned,’” wrote Goldman.

7. IT SPAWNED MORE THAN A SEQUEL.

While all of the main, original cast members reprised their roles for Home Alone 2: Lost In New York (with Columbus again directing a script by Hughes), the success of the original led to a full-on franchise, complete with four sequels, three video games, two board games, a novelization, and other kid-friendly merchandise (including the Talkboy). 

8. POLAND LOVES THE MCCALLISTERS.

Showings of Home Alone have become a Christmas tradition in Poland, where the film has aired on national television since the early 1990s. And its popularity has only increased. In 2011 more than five million people tuned in to watch it, making it the most watched show to air during the season. 

9. THE MCCALLISTER HOME HAS BECOME A MAJOR TOURIST ATTRACTION.


A Syn via Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Located at 671 Lincoln Avenue in Winnetka, Illinois, the kitchen, main staircase, and ground-floor landing seen in the film were all shot in this five-bedroom residence. (The dining room and all other first-floor rooms, with the exception of the kitchen, were shot on a soundstage.) In 2012, John and Cynthia Abendshien, who owned the home when it was used as one of the film’s locations, sold the property for $1.585 million.

10. KEVIN’S TREE HOUSE WAS NOT PART OF THE DEAL.

Kevin’s backyard tree house was not originally part of the property. It was constructed specifically for the movie and demolished once filming ended. 

11. ALL OF THE FILM WAS SHOT IN THE CHICAGO AREA.

Though the main plot point is that that McCallister family is in Paris while Kevin’s back home in Illinois, the production was shot entirely within the Chicago area. The scenes supposedly set at Paris-Orly Airport were shot at O’Hare International Airport. And those luxurious business class seats they’re taking to Paris? Those were built on the basketball court of a local high school—the same school where the scene in which Kevin is running through a flooded basement was filmed (the “basement” in question was actually the school’s swimming pool). 

12. ROBERT DE NIRO TURNED DOWN THE ROLE OF HARRY LIME.


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As did Jon Lovitz. Then Joe Pesci swept in and made the part his own. Bonus fun fact: The character is a slight homage to Orson Welles. (It was the name of Welles’ character in Carol Reed’s The Third Man.) 

13. JOE PESCI GOT ALL METHOD ON MACAULAY CULKIN.

In order to get the most authentic performance possible, Joe Pesci did his best to avoid Macaulay Culkin on the set so that the young actor would indeed be afraid of him. And no one would blame the young actor for being a bit petrified, as he still bears the physical scar from one accidental altercation. “In the first Home Alone, they hung me up on a coat hook, and Pesci says, ‘I’m gonna bite all your fingers off, one at a time,’” Culkin recalled to Rule Forty Two. “And during one of the rehearsals, he bit me, and it broke the skin.” 

14. PESCI WASN’T USED TO THE WHOLE “FAMILY-FRIENDLY” THING.

Considering that Pesci’s best known for playing the heavy in movies like Raging Bull, Goodfellas, and Casino, it’s understandable that he wasn’t quite used to the whole family-friendly atmosphere on the set of Home Alone—and dropped a few f-bombs as a result of that. Columbus tried to curb Pesci’s four-letter-word tendency by suggesting he use the word “fridge” instead. 

15. DANIEL STERN HAD A FOUR-LETTER WORD SLIP-UP, TOO.


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And it wasn’t cut out of the film. He utters the word “s***” when attempting to retrieve his shoe through the doggie door (look for it at the 55:27 mark on the DVD). 

16. IN REAL LIFE, HARRY AND MARV MAY NOT HAVE SURVIVED KEVIN’S ATTACK.

BB gun shots to the forehead and groin? A steaming hot iron and can of paint to the face? A flaming blowtorch to the scalp? The Wet Bandits endure an awful lot of violence at the hands of a single eight-year-old. So much so that neither one of them should have been walking—let alone conscious—by the end of the night. In 2012, Dr. Ryan St. Clair diagnosed the likely outcome of their injuries at The Week. While a read-through of the entire article is well worth your time, here are a few of the highlights: That iron should have caused a “blowout fracture,” leading to “serious disfigurement and debilitating double vision if not repaired properly.” And the blowtorch? According to Dr. St. Clair, “The skin and bone tissue on Harry's skull will be so damaged and rotted that his skull bone is essentially dying and will likely require a transplant.” 

17. THE ORNAMENTS THAT MARV STEPS ON WOULD CAUSE THE LEAST AMOUNT OF DAMAGE.

"Walking on ornaments seems pretty insignificant compared to everything else we've seen so far,” said Dr. St. Clair. “If I was Marv, I'd be more concerned about my facial fractures.” Fortunately, the "glass" ornaments in question were actually made of candy. (But just to be on the safe side, Stern wore rubber feet for his barefoot scenes.)

18. THE TARANTULA ON STERN’S FACE? YEP, THAT WAS REAL.


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At one point, Kevin places a tarantula on Marv’s face. And it was indeed a real spider (Daniel Stern agreed to let it happen—but he’d only allow for one take). What wasn’t real? That blood-curdling scream. In order to not frighten the spider, Stern had to mime the scream and have the sound dubbed in later.

19. JOHN CANDY WRAPPED IN ONE DAY.

But what a long day it was: Twenty-three hours to be exact. Candy was a regular in many of John Hughes’ movies, and Gus Polinski—the polka-playing nice guy he plays in Home Alone—was inspired by his character in Planes, Trains & Automobiles. 

20. KEVIN’S OLDER SISTER IS A JUDO CHAMP.

Two years after appearing in Home Alone, Hillary Wolf—who played Kevin’s older sister Megan—landed the lead in Joan Micklin Silver’s Big Girls Don’t Cry… They Get Even. She also appeared in Home Alone 2, but hasn’t been seen on the big screen since. But there’s a good reason for her absence: In 1996 and 2000, she was a member of the Summer Olympic Judo team for the U.S. 

21. DON’T BOTHER TRYING TO FIND ANGELS WITH FILTHY SOULS.

The Jimmy Cagney-like gangster movie that Kevin channels as his inspiration throughout Home Alone? Don’t bother searching for it on eBay. It’s not real. Nor is its sequel, Angels With Even Filthier Souls, which is featured in Home Alone 2. 

22. OLD MAN MARLEY WASN'T IN THE ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY.

Kevin’s allegedly scary neighbor, who eventually teaches him the importance of family, wasn’t a character in the original script. He was added at the suggestion of Columbus, who thought the film could do with a stronger dose of sentimentality.

23. THE LYRIC OPERA OF CHICAGO BENEFITED FROM THE MOVIE’S SNOWFALL.

When filming of Home Alone wrapped, the production donated some of the artificial snow they had created (the stuff made from wax and plastic) to the Lyric Opera of Chicago. It has since been used in a number of their productions.

24. MARV WAS SUPPOSED TO HAVE GOTTEN A SPINOFF.

Greg Beeman’s 1995 film Bushwhacked, which stars Daniel Stern as a delivery guy on the run after being framed for murder, was originally intended to be a spinoff of Home Alone. The storyline would have been essentially the same: after giving up a life of crime, Marv would have been framed for the same murder.

25. IF YOU BELIEVE THAT ELVIS IS STILL ALIVE, THEN YOU MIGHT BELIEVE THAT HE IS IN HOME ALONE.

No hit movie would be complete without a great little conspiracy theory. And in the case of Home Alone, it’s that Elvis Presley—who (allegedly?) died in 1977—makes a cameo in the film. Yes, that’s right. The King is alive and well. And making a living as a Hollywood extra.

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5 Things You Should Know About Chinua Achebe
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Often referred to as the “father of African literature,” author Chinua Achebe was born in Ogidi, Nigeria on this day in 1930. Though he passed away in 2013, Google is celebrating what would be his 87th birthday with a Google Doodle. Here are five things you should know about the award-winning writer.

1. HE HAD PLANNED TO BE A DOCTOR.

Though he was always an avid reader and began learning English at the age of eight, Chinua Achebe hadn’t always planned to become a beacon of the literary world. After studying at Nigeria’s prestigious Government College (poet Christopher Okigbo was one of his classmates), Achebe earned a scholarship to study medicine at University College in lbadan. One year into the program he realized that writing was his true calling and switched majors, which meant giving up his scholarship. With financial help from his brother, Achebe was able to complete his studies.

2. JOYCE CARY’S MISTER JOHNSON INSPIRED HIM TO WRITE, BUT NOT IN THE WAY YOU MIGHT THINK.

While storytelling had long been a part of Achebe’s Igbo upbringing in Nigeria, that was only part of what inspired him to write. While in college, he read Mister Johnson, Irish writer Joyce Cary’s tragicomic novel about a young Nigerian clerk whose happy-go-lucky demeanor infects everyone around him. While TIME Magazine declared it the “best book ever written about Africa,” Achebe disagreed.

“My problem with Joyce Cary’s book was not simply his infuriating principal character, Johnson,” Achebe wrote in Home and Exile. “More importantly, there is a certain undertow of uncharitableness just below the surface on which his narrative moves and from where, at the slightest chance, a contagion of distaste, hatred, and mockery breaks through to poison his tale.” The book led Achebe to realize that “there is such a thing as absolute power over narrative,” and he was inspired to take control of it to tell a more realistic tale of his home.

3. HE DIDN’T THINK THAT WRITING COULD BE TAUGHT.

Though he studied writing, Achebe wasn’t all too sure that he learned much about the art in college. In an interview with The Paris Review, he recalled how the best piece of advice he had ever gotten was from one of his professors, James Welch, who told him, “We may not be able to teach you what you need or what you want. We can only teach you what we know.”

I thought that was wonderful. That was really the best education I had. I didn’t learn anything there that I really needed, except this kind of attitude. I have had to go out on my own. The English department was a very good example of what I mean. The people there would have laughed at the idea that any of us would become a writer. That didn’t really cross their minds. I remember on one occasion a departmental prize was offered. They put up a notice—write a short story over the long vacation for the departmental prize. I’d never written a short story before, but when I got home, I thought, Well, why not. So I wrote one and submitted it. Months passed; then finally one day there was a notice on the board announcing the result. It said that no prize was awarded because no entry was up to the standard. They named me, said that my story deserved mention. Ibadan in those days was not a dance you danced with snuff in one palm. It was a dance you danced with all your body. So when Ibadan said you deserved mention, that was very high praise.

I went to the lecturer who had organized the prize and said, You said my story wasn’t really good enough but it was interesting. Now what was wrong with it? She said, Well, it’s the form. It’s the wrong form. So I said, Ah, can you tell me about this? She said, Yes, but not now. I’m going to play tennis; we’ll talk about it. Remind me later, and I’ll tell you. This went on for a whole term. Every day when I saw her, I’d say, Can we talk about form? She’d say, No, not now. We’ll talk about it later. Then at the very end she saw me and said, You know, I looked at your story again and actually there’s nothing wrong with it. So that was it! That was all I learned from the English department about writing short stories. You really have to go out on your own and do it.

4. HE WAS WARY OF MACHINES.

Though typewriters, followed by computers, were ubiquitous, Achebe preferred a “very primitive” approach. “I write with a pen,” he told The Paris Review. “A pen on paper is the ideal way for me. I am not really very comfortable with machines; I never learned to type very well. Whenever I try to do anything on a typewriter, it’s like having this machine between me and the words; what comes out is not quite what would come out if I were scribbling. For one thing, I don’t like to see mistakes on the typewriter. I like a perfect script. On the typewriter I will sometimes leave a phrase that is not right, not what I want, simply because to change it would be a bit messy. So when I look at all this … I am a preindustrial man.”

5. HIS DEBUT NOVEL REMAINS ONE OF THE MOST TAUGHT PIECES OF AFRICAN LITERATURE.

Achebe’s status as the “father of African literature” is no joke, and it’s largely due to his debut novel, Things Fall Apart. Published in 1958, the book—which follows the life of Okonkwo, an Igbo leader and wrestling champion—has gone on to sell more than 10 million copies and has been translated into 50 different languages. Even today, nearly 60 years after its original publication, it remains one of the most taught and dissected novels about Africa.

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