YouTube
YouTube

10 Hospitable Facts About Troll 2

YouTube
YouTube

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.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Zach Hyman, HBO
10 Bizarre Sesame Street Fan Theories
Zach Hyman, HBO
Zach Hyman, HBO

Sesame Street has been on the air for almost 50 years, but there’s still so much we don’t know about this beloved children’s show. What kind of bird is Big Bird? What’s the deal with Mr. Noodle? And how do you actually get to Sesame Street? Fans have filled in these gaps with frequently amusing—and sometimes bizarre—theories about how the cheerful neighborhood ticks. Read them at your own risk, because they’ll probably ruin the Count for you.

1. THE THEME SONG CONTAINS SECRET INSTRUCTIONS.

According to a Reddit theory, the Sesame Street theme song isn’t just catchy—it’s code. The lyrics spell out how to get to Sesame Street quite literally, giving listeners clues on how to access this fantasy land. It must be a sunny day (as the repeated line goes), you must bring a broom (“sweeping the clouds away”), and you have to give Oscar the Grouch the password (“everything’s a-ok”) to gain entrance. Make sure to memorize all the steps before you attempt.

2. SESAME STREET IS A REHAB CENTER FOR MONSTERS.

Sesame Street is populated with the stuff of nightmares. There’s a gigantic bird, a mean green guy who hides in the trash, and an actual vampire. These things should be scary, and some fans contend that they used to be. But then the creatures moved to Sesame Street, a rehabilitation area for formerly frightening monsters. In this community, monsters can’t roam outside the perimeters (“neighborhood”) as they recover. They must learn to educate children instead of eating them—and find a more harmless snack to fuel their hunger. Hence Cookie Monster’s fixation with baked goods.

3. BIG BIRD IS AN EXTINCT MOA.

Big Bird is a rare breed. He’s eight feet tall and while he can’t really fly, he can rollerskate. So what kind of bird is he? Big Bird’s species has been a matter of contention since Sesame Street began: Big Bird insists he’s a lark, while Oscar thinks he’s more of a homing pigeon. But there’s convincing evidence that Big Bird is an extinct moa. The moa were 10 species of flightless birds who lived in New Zealand. They had long necks and stout torsos, and reached up to 12 feet in height. Scientists claim they died off hundreds of years ago, but could one be living on Sesame Street? It makes sense, especially considering his best friend looks a lot like a woolly mammoth.

4. OSCAR’S TRASH CAN IS A TARDIS.

Oscar’s home doesn’t seem very big. But as The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland revealed, his trash can holds much more than moldy banana peels. The Grouch has chandeliers and even an interdimensional portal down there! There’s only one logical explanation for this outrageously spacious trash can: It’s a Doctor Who-style TARDIS.

5. IT’S ALL A RIFF ON PLATO.

Dust off your copy of The Republic, because this is about to get philosophical. Plato has a famous allegory about a cave, one that explains enlightenment through actual sunlight. He describes a prisoner who steps out of the cave and into the sun, realizing his entire understanding of the world is wrong. When he returns to the cave to educate his fellow prisoners, they don’t believe him, because the information is too overwhelming and contradictory to what they know. The lesson is that education is a gradual learning process, one where pupils must move through the cave themselves, putting pieces together along the way. And what better guide is there than a merry kids’ show?

According to one Reddit theory, Sesame Street builds on Plato’s teachings by presenting a utopia where all kinds of creatures live together in harmony. There’s no racism or suffocating gender roles, just another sunny (see what they did there?) day in the neighborhood. Sesame Street shows the audience what an enlightened society looks like through simple songs and silly jokes, spoon-feeding Plato’s “cave dwellers” knowledge at an early age.

6. MR. NOODLE IS IN HELL.

Can a grown man really enjoy taking orders from a squeaky red puppet? And why does Mr. Noodle live outside a window in Elmo’s house anyway? According to this hilariously bleak theory, no, Mr. Noodle does not like dancing for Elmo, but he has to, because he’s in hell. Think about it: He’s seemingly trapped in a surreal place where he can’t talk, but he has to do whatever a fuzzy monster named Elmo says. Definitely sounds like hell.

7. ELMO IS ANIMAL’S SON.

Okay, so remember when Animal chases a shrieking woman out of the college auditorium in The Muppets Take Manhattan? (If you don't, see above.) One fan thinks Animal had a fling with this lady, which produced Elmo. While the two might have similar coloring, this theory completely ignores Elmo’s dad Louie, who appears in many Sesame Street episodes. But maybe Animal is a distant cousin.

8. COOKIE MONSTER HAS AN EATING DISORDER.

Cookie Monster loves to cram chocolate chip treats into his mouth. But as eagle-eyed viewers have observed, he doesn’t really eat the cookies so much as chew them into messy crumbs that fly in every direction. This could indicate Cookie Monster has a chewing and spitting eating disorder, meaning he doesn’t actually consume food—he just chews and spits it out. There’s a more detailed (and dark) diagnosis of Cookie Monster’s symptoms here.

9. THE COUNT EATS CHILDREN.

Can a vampire really get his kicks from counting to five? One of the craziest Sesame Street fan theories posits that the Count lures kids to their death with his number games. That’s why the cast of children on Sesame Street changes so frequently—the Count eats them all after teaching them to add. The adult cast, meanwhile, stays pretty much the same, implying the grown-ups are either under a vampiric spell or looking the other way as the Count does his thing.

10. THE COUNT IS ALSO A PIMP.

Alright, this is just a Dave Chappelle joke. But the Count does have a cape.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
17 Things to Know About René Descartes
iStock
iStock

The French polymath René Descartes (1596-1650) lived after the Renaissance, but he personified that age's interest in mathematics, philosophy, art, and the nature of humanity. He made numerous discoveries and argued for ideas that people continue to grapple with. (His dualist distinction between mind and the brain, for example, continues to be debated by psychologists.) Get to know him better!

1. NOBODY CALLED HIM RENÉ.

Descartes went by a nickname and often introduced himself as “Poitevin” and signed letters as “du Perron.” Sometimes, he went so far to call himself the “Lord of Perron.” That’s because he had inherited a farm from his mother’s family in Poitou, in western France.

2. SCHOOL MADE HIM FEEL DUMBER.

From the age of 11 to 18, Descartes attended one of the best schools in Europe, the Jesuit College of Henry IV in La Flèche, France. In his later work Discourse on the Method, Descartes wrote that, upon leaving school, “I found myself involved in so many doubts and errors, that I was convinced I had advanced no farther in all my attempts at learning, than the discovery at every turn of my own ignorance."

3. HIS DAD WANTED HIM TO BE A LAWYER.

Descartes’s family was chock-full of lawyers, and the budding intellectual was expected to join them. He studied law at the University of Poitiers and even came home with a law degree in 1616. But he never entered the practice. In 1618, a 22-year-old Descartes enlisted as a mercenary in the Dutch States Army instead. There, he would study military engineering and become fascinated with math and physics.

4. HE CHANGED CAREER PATHS THANKS TO A SERIES OF DREAMS.

In 1618, the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Ferdinand II, attempted to impose Catholicism on anybody living within his domain. The result of this policy would be the Thirty Years' War. It would also prompt Descartes, a Catholic, to switch allegiances to a Bavarian army fighting for the Catholic side. But on his travels, he stopped in the town of Ulm. There, on the night of November 10, he had three dreams that convinced him to change his life’s path. “Descartes took from them the message that he should set out to reform all knowledge,” philosopher Gary Hatfield writes in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

5. HE COULD BE EASILY DISTRACTED BY BRIGHT AND SHINY OBJECTS.

In 1628, Descartes moved to the Netherlands and spent nine months doggedly working on a theory of metaphysics. Then he got distracted. In 1629, a number of false suns—called parhelia, or “sun dogs”—were seen near Rome. Descartes put his beloved metaphysics treatise on the back burner and devoted his time to explaining the phenomenon. It was a lucky distraction: It led to his work The World, or Treatise on Light.

6. HE LAID THE GROUNDWORK FOR ANALYTIC GEOMETRY ...

In 1637, Descartes published his groundbreaking Discourse on the Method, where he took the revolutionary step of describing lines through mathematical equations. According to Hatfield, “[Descartes] considered his algebraic techniques to provide a powerful alternative to actual compass-and-ruler constructions when the latter became too intricate.” You might have encountered his system in high school algebra: They’re called Cartesian coordinates.

7. ... AND THE REST OF WESTERN PHILOSOPHY.

Everybody knows Descartes for his phrase Cogito, ergo sum (which originally appeared in French as "Je pense, donc je suis"), or "I think, therefore I am." The concept appeared in many of his texts. To understand what it means, some context is helpful: At the time, many philosophers claimed that truth was acquired through sense impressions. Descartes disagreed. He argued that our senses are unreliable. An ill person can hallucinate. An amputee can feel phantom limb pain. People are regularly deceived by their own eyes, dreams, and imaginations. Descartes, however, realized that his argument opened a door for "radical doubt": That is, what was stopping people from doubting the existence of, well, everything? The cogito argument is his remedy: Even if you doubt the existence of everything, you cannot doubt the existence of your own mind—because doubting indicates thinking, and thinking indicates existing. Descartes argued that self-evident truths like this—and not the senses—must be the foundation of philosophical investigations.

8. HE'S THE REASON YOUR MATH TEACHER MAKES YOU CHECK YOUR WORK.

Descartes was obsessed with certainty. In his book Rules for the Direction of the Mind, “he sought to generalize the methods of mathematics so as to provide a route to clear knowledge of everything that human beings can know,” Hatfield writes. His advice included this classic chestnut: To solve a big problem, break it up into small, easy-to-understand parts—and check each step often.

9. HE LIKED TO HIDE.

Descartes had a motto, which he took from Ovid: “Who lives well hidden, lives well.” When he moved to the Netherlands, he regularly changed apartments and deliberately kept his address a secret. Some say it's because he simply desired privacy for his philosophical work, or that he was avoiding his disapproving family. In his book titled Descartes, philosopher A. C. Grayling makes another suggestion: "Descartes was a spy."

10. HE WASN'T AFRAID OF CRITICS. IN FACT, HE RE-PUBLISHED THEM.

When Descartes was revising his Meditations on First Philosophy [PDF], he planned to send the manuscript to “the 20 or 30 most learned theologians” for criticism—a sort of proto-peer review. He collected seven objections and published them in the work. (Descartes, of course, had the last word: He responded to each criticism.)

11. HE COULD THROW SHADE WITH THE BEST OF THEM.

In the 1640s, Descartes’s pupil and friend Henricus Regius published a broadsheet that distorted Descartes’s theory of the mind. (Which, put briefly, posits that the material body and immaterial mind are separate and distinct.) The two men had a falling out, and Descartes wrote a rebuttal with a barbed title that refused to even acknowledge Regius’s manifesto by name: It was simply called “Comments on a Certain Broadsheet.”

12. HE NEVER BELIEVED MONKEYS COULD TALK.

There’s a “fun fact” parading around that suggests Descartes believed monkeys and apes could talk. He believed no such thing. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Descartes denied that animals were even conscious, let alone capable of speech. The factoid comes from a misreading of a letter Descartes had written in 1646, in which he attributed the belief to “savages.”

13. HE TOTALLY HAD THE HOTS FOR CROSS-EYED WOMEN.

In a letter to Queen Christina of Sweden, Descartes explained that he had a cross-eyed playmate as a child. “I loved a girl of my own age ... who was slightly cross-eyed; by which means, the impression made in my brain when I looked at her wandering eyes was joined so much to that which also occurred when the passion of love moved me, that for a long time afterward, in seeing cross-eyed women, I felt more inclined to love them than others.”

14. WHEN HE MET BLAISE PASCAL, THEY GOT INTO AN ARGUMENT ... ABOUT VACUUMS.

In 1647, a 51-year-old Descartes visited the 24-year-old prodigy and physicist Blaise Pascal. Their meeting quickly devolved into a heated argument over the concept of a vacuum—that is, the idea that air pressure could ever be reduced to zero. (Descartes said it was impossible; Pascal disagreed.) Later, Descartes wrote a letter that, depending on your translation, said that Pascal had “too much vacuum in his head.”

15. HIS WORK WAS BANNED BY THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.

Back in the late 1630s, the theologian Gisbert Voetius had convinced the academic senate of the University of Utrecht to condemn the philosopher’s work. (Descartes was Catholic, but his suggestion that the universe began as a “chaotic soup of particles in motion,” in Hatfield's words, was contrary to orthodox theology.) In the 1660s, his works were placed on the church’s Index of Prohibited Books.

16. HE REGULARLY SLEPT UNTIL NOON (AND TRYING TO BREAK THE HABIT MIGHT HAVE KILLED HIM).

Descartes was not a morning person. He often snoozed 12 hours a night, from midnight until lunchtime. In fact, he worked in bed. (Sleep, he wisely wrote, was a time of “nourishment for the brain.”) But according to the Journal of Historical Neuroscience, he may have had a sleep disorder that helped end his life. A year before his death, Descartes had moved to Stockholm to take a job tutoring Queen Christina, a devoted early-riser who forced Descartes to change his sleep schedule. Some believe the resulting sleep deprivation weakened his immune system and eventually killed him.

17. HIS SKELETON HAS TRAVELED FAR AND WIDE.

Descartes died in Stockholm in 1650 and was buried outside the city. Sixteen years later, his corpse was exhumed and taken to Paris. During the French Revolution, his bones were moved to an Egyptian sarcophagus at the Museum of French Monuments. Decades later, when plans were made to rebury Descartes in an abbey, officials discovered that most of his bones—including his skull—were missing. Shortly after, a Swedish scientist discovered a newspaper advertisement attempting to sell the polymath’s noggin [PDF]. Today, his head is in a collection at the Musée de l’Homme in Paris.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios