Troll 2

Here in One Star Classics you will find analyses of Netflix’s finest movies.

It is, or at least should be, up for debate if Troll 2 objectively is, as many claim, the worst movie ever made. That it likely is the second most prolific god-awful movie out there (after Plan 9 from Outer Space) is pretty clear, and hell, if this is the place the children start their journey into misunderstood movie territory, then so be it.

And of course there are so many things wrong with Troll 2 that it truly is a laugh-out-loud movie. I’m not talking a detached, ironic kind of funny; I’m talking downright hilarous. Just the foundation of the thing is amazing—the number "2" in the title aside, Troll 2 is not a sequel to Troll, and the title is simply a marketing ploy by some clever Italians. (Not unlike Zombie 2, though that is not an awful film. If you’re wondering about the many unrelated-Italian-sequels to prior works, it simply comes down to their lax trademark system.)

Said Italians apparently didn’t speak English particularly well either, making the script nonsensical. Many know the rather literal «you can’t piss on hospitality» line, but at least that makes some sort of sense, unlike large chunks of dialogue which often seem like randomly stringed together English words. (Apparently the actors—most who were community-theater grade at best, and had auditioned for bit parts—were repeatedly shut down when trying to convince director Claudio Fragasso of the many futilities of direct translations.)

I mean, my god, there really is nothing good about Troll 2. This is a movie where the goblins—they are never referred to as trolls—eat humans, from an idea of a screenwriter being «pissed off» (direct quote) by her friends becoming vegetarians. Not exactly a solid foundation for a film.

More importantly, though… While Troll 2 is its own movie, it is also a warning about what will come 26 years after its release. Right now, the filming of Suicide Squad has just wrapped up, and much has been made of Jared Leto’s Joker promo picture…

Comparison image of Troll 2 and Suicide Squad

Clockwise from top left: Capture from Troll 2; Jared Leto promo image from Suicide Squad; evil witch from Troll 2; original image from Killing Joke. Say what you want, but I think Leto looks awesome in the equally awesome Suicide Squad trailer.

We’ll see how that all works out, but in the meantime, you might as well sit through Troll 2 a few times. I can guarantee you it never gets boring.


Here in One Star Classics you will find analyses of Netflix’s finest movies.

Most One Star Classics recommendations are usually qualified with variations of if, unless, expect, and it actually kinda sucks. This is not the case with Oculus. I don’t entirely remember where One Star Classics Editorial Board read about its awesomeness-ish, but the source was at least semi-credible.

Oculus is part of the recent new-wave of horror movies. Examples of earlier waves would be early-eighties slasher, the mid-nineties teen screams, and the mid-aughties «torture porns». The current crop is usually lower-budget indie films from auteurs who put a lot of emphasis on style and atmosphere. Dario Argento-esque if you like, just less Italian.

It Follows has really been the poster-child of the recent films. It’s a strange, good-looking movie, with a superb-and-a-half soundtrack from Disasterpiece. Oculus, meanwhile, is possibly a good runner-up. It has gotten little exposure compared to It Follows—which has easily achieved broader cult status, and analysis from Quentin Tarantino—but will likely gain some more attention now that it has hit this site is on Netflix. Oculus might look like a recyclable horror movie for anyone who browse through Netflix’s recommendations, but there is a lot more to it than the generic poster-art reveals.

There’s really not one single thing I could point out as being downright flawed here. I mean, maybe the first 20 minutes, but that is all straightened out with a two minute monologue later, so I’m willing to forget about it. The rest is… solid. Like, good workmanship. Acting is professional, the filming is adept, and the story is slick. None of those adjectives are impeccable, I suppose, but add them all up, and you have a movie that is well worth watching. Better than 97% of Netflix in that sense.

Oculus is a haunted mirror movie—people who own the mirror are killed by it and yada, yada, yada—and if I was to compare it to anything, both Poltergeist and the original 1950's Haunting come to mind. The story is sorta predictable, I guess, but a big part of what works are the two mirrored stories. How they join up in the end, and how they are pulled together by some excellent acting from Karen Gillian and Annalise Basso (not to mention Battlestar Galactica’s Katee Sackhoff)… I mean, it might not be Shakespeare, but Oculus keeps you entertained throughout, all with an uneasy feel to it. Hell, even the ghosts-from-mirrors-past don’t look sterotypical.

Force me to describe the movie with one word, and I’d go with enjoyable. (Which probably says more about me than the movie.)

The only reason I really am writing about the film is that it would be easy to skip on Netflix, and that would just be a little bit sad. Oculus is not a fantastic movie, but it really should be watched, at the very least if you enjoy slow foreboding creepiness. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people will get a career-boost based on their work in Oculus, and good on them. They deserve it. And you, as one of the three people who read this, owe it to yourself and them to watch it, too.

The Blackbird

SpoCOOL, often considered by myself to be Spokane’s finest blog, lives on, right here.

The thing, or rather one of the things, we really like about Blackbird is not so much what it is, but rather what it isn’t. Here they could have opened Manito Tap House, Jr, and they would pretty much have been guaranteed success. Instead we got something just a little bit more high-end, a tiny bit less beer-y, and just vaguely different feeling. Go in knowing it’s Manito’s sibling, and you’ll likely see the resembalence, but those who don’t will rather see a spot with good food, good beer, and a great patio.

We tried the Moroccan lamb special during our visit, and an excellent dish it was. It definitely had the flavor profile of its namesake—plenty of depth through a good mix of spices—yet with just a bit of a… I don’t know… Northwestern twist to it? I’m not entirely sure how to qualify the latter, but I suppose what I’m saying is you can take a look at certain dishes, and you know exactly where it was prepared. (Shut up, it makes sense to me!) And I digress: The lamb was perfectly tender, and the mix of classic flavors and local presentation took me to somewhere halfway from Spokane to Tangier. (Which by my approximation is right in the middle of the Atlantic.)

The Argentine, too, was enjoyable—flank steak cooked perfectly medium-raw with coal-roasted potatoes is a perfect late-summer meal.

Thankfully the beer selection holds parity with what we have come to expect from Manito. During our visit the Abyss '13 was on tap, and hella well had it aged, too. Sampling Avery’s Samael is always fun as a chaser, and with 30-ish taps to choose from, you’d pretty much be a terrorist not to approve of Blackbird’s selection.

(One minus, mind you: The «Manito Head» exists here, too, so make sure your beer has been poured properly.)

With a great view of the downtown skyline and the park, it’s hard to argue with what Blackbird has going for it. It’s the whole upscale-casual thing done well, something I feel the downtown area always needs more of. Thumbs up, then: we’re definitely fans.


Here in One Star Classics you will find analyses of Netflix’s finest movies.

Francis Ford Coppola still makes movies? Val Kilmer still acts in them? Introducing Twixt, a movie few know exist, while those of us who do wish it didn’t.

This is one mess of I-don’t-know-what. It is a movie that ends with Coppola and Kilmer crooning a rousing little number called «Nosferatu» over the end-credits. Mull that over for a second. The man who directed Apocalypse Now and Jim Morrison himself joining together in a quasi-goth karaoke session. The mind boggles, and the numerous references to the Doors’ «The End» in it might serve as some sort of indicator of where Kilmer wishes his career was still floating.

Oh, Val. Val, Val, Val. What happened to you? Here’s a man who truly has acted in some gems—Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, for heaven’s sake—before he just vanished. Yet here he comes, pulled out of retirement by a director I never found to be that awesome in the first place. (The Godfather? In the words of Peter Griffin: «It insists upon itself.» That’s right, I’d rather watch Family Guy than The Godfather.) Hell, for all I know, Val might be on peak-form in Twixt. It’s hard to say when he must deliver lines like «People are saying what's going on up here is evil. Are you worried about that?»

Writing aside, Twixt largely seems unfinished. Some scenes look like they have yet to be color-processed (think that patented The Tomb-look), while others (and this is the movie’s one plus-point) truly are gorgeous looking. Neither make much of a difference, of course, when Coppola’s direction of the actors make George Lucas downright seem like a people-person. I mean, good grief, the best part is Elle Fanning’s acting, and that’s only because her crying seems real. (Which I assume it is, and that it mostly stems from her realizing her career is ending at the age of 12.)

Look, I get it. You stumble across this on Netflix, and you think «how bad can it really be?» The answer is pretty dang bad. This may very well be the most ridiculous movie I’ve ever watched, and that says something. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that this one time the latter-day work of the elder gods will stack up, because it won’t. It doesn’t. Live dangerously, and give something like Mr Jones a shot. Sure it’s flawed, but at least they tried, and that’s more than I can say about Coppola, who I would hope to god would stick to supporting his daughter’s films, as well as his burgeoning wine business.

Left Behind (2000)

Here in One Star Classics you will find analyses of Netflix’s finest movies.

I’m no religious aficionado, but should we ever decide to expand the Holy Trinity, I think Kirk Cameron would be the perfect addition to make a Holy Square. This is a man who clearly feels he is the closest thing we have to Jesus, and he certainly is not afraid to smear on the smugness to prove it. (Not that I’m necessarily saying Jesus was smug; more that Kirk is smug about thinking he is the second (or however many we’re up to) coming.)

As for Left Behind, there isn’t a whole lot to say about it—you already know the story—but there are things to be learned from it, most of which pertains to Kirk. I can only assume he more than influenced the end product.

For example, apparently animals really do not have souls. Kirk and co. want to make this clear, and should you have any doubts, it is hammered in that dogs do not go to heaven. Here they run around the streets, loyally trying to find their owners, all of who were whisked off to the afterlife. I suppose Kirk might be suggesting that biters get what they deserve, but frankly, it looks to me like the animal kingdom has gone downhill in god/Kirk’s estimate after the whole Noah incidence.

Either way, much as he hates animals, one quickly learns that Kirk finds plenty of inspiration in infomercials. I can only assume the script writers—one of which has written a good dozen apocalyptic movies, including the recent Nic Cage remake of this one—were lifted from the latest Magic Bullet spot. We’re talking: “But Kirk, surely there is no way somebody like me can go to heaven now?” “Well, not so fast, Jim, not only can I offer you a one-way ticket, I will also give you a chance to defeat the anti-Christ!”

It’s not a great movie, but it sure is fascinating!

Ever wondered if Kirk was frugal? He clearly is! This is a movie set after the armageddon—no need for extras! (Which further proves that Kirk is kind of a softie (animals notwithstanding)—apparently he feels most of the world would be whisked away when it all goes to crap. Or he ran out of money while filming.)

I suppose there actually is a movie in here, but few would watch the movie for the movie itself. More than anything, this is Kirk-porn, and it is as in-your-face as it ever has been produced.

Want more Kirk? This is the internet and you can find plenty of smut out there!