The Rolling Roadshow that could never happen in a million years...has happened: NILBOG INVASION 2008!!
Yep, the Alamo's mobile Rolling Roadshow unit took off from Austin early in the morn on Tuesday, July 24 and ripped across the southwest to Morgan, UT to celebrate the worst movie ever made: TROLL 2. And what a celebration we'd prepared...35mm outdoor film screenings, a full-scale cast reunion, the writer and director flying in from Italy, a multiple-course Nilbog feast, contests, dancing, etc. Utah was in for a treat.
When we arrived, there was little evidence that the town of Morgan was aware of the impending partystorm. Tim and I met with the mayor and sheriff, who both gave a very tenuous green light to the proceedings, as if they feared we were a pack of bloodthirsty satanists coming to drink the blood of their grandchildren. After paying the bill at Pete's Spring Chicken Inn, we combed the streets looking for evidence of sweaty TROLL 2 anticipation, but found nothing...UNTIL we passed the local butcher shop:
Things were looking up.
Our confidence renewed, we set out to the field to begin preparations. Daniel, Josh and Justin began tackling our enormous screen and the Tims and I got things together for the opening night Dance and Eat party, which was to be held at the Morgan Academy of Dance and Tumbling just down the street from the screenings.
We decked the place out in Nilbog green in no time, just as folks started to pull into town:
The fans we met were unbelievable, and came from everywhere from Chicago to Los Angeles to New York to North Dakota and even Austria! They were all almost as spazzed out to be there as we were, and some were already in costume from the get-go. The locals seemed to keep a wary distance but we partied in spite. Darren "Arnold" Ewing's blues band Skinny Bob & the Blues Dawgs performed and two rowdy goblins danced along without breaking a sweat. As the twilight hour approached, we settled in for the first couple screenings: TROLL and the other Morgan-shot Italian/American horror film CRAWLERS a.k.a. TROLL 3. The crowd consisted mainly of diehards and TROLL maniacs but all had a great time and went back to their hotels and hovels happy.
Saturday was The Big Day, where the film's entire cast was going to meet up with screenwriter Rosella Drudi and infamous director Claudio Fragasso, and the mighty TROLL 2 itself was set to screen. From the morning, we knew the excitement had spread, as Utah residents arrived in homemade TROLL 2 t-shirts and even little old ladies walked their dogs over to the site to see what we were up to. The sun was high, the heat was on, and TROLL 2 fans from every nook and cranny of the earth made themselves visible.
First up for Saturday was a special surprise...even for us! Though Morgan's mayor had been reticent to appear at our event, Michael Stephenson had managed to get semi-local alternate mayor Dan Snarr to come out and award a foam Key to the City to Fragasso! He seemed a little confused by the entire ordeal, but was very happy to additionally be presented with a grant if he ever chooses to return to Utah to shoot TROLL II PART 2! Mayor Dan Snarr was a very nice guy and has a heartwarming mustache. Here he is with some goofball from AMERICAN IDOL.
Then we enjoyed THE CAST PANEL, where 22 members of the TROLL 2 on-screen family gathered to discuss their memories of the masterpiece's production. It was breathtaking and bizarre to see all of them together in one place. The audience asked many questions of the cast, half of which were answered by director Claudio Fragasso, who wasn't even on the panel but managed to get more than a word in regardless. He even got up in front of the room to try and remind Connie how to do her Holly dance again!
We then entered the POPCORN EATING COMPETITION, guest-hosted by that popcorn-devouring witch, Deborah "Creedence" Reed, who watched as several audience volunteers downed unhealthy amounts of buttery popped goodness.
Next up was the mighty JAVELIN TOSS, hosted by Darren Ewing who played Arnold in TROLL 2. Though his character finds himself on the wrong end of a spear in the movie, Darren seemed to love hosting the event and cheered the crowd on as they hurled wood into the ether at a vaguely Darren-esque target. Here's his daughter preparing to spear ol' pop.
Then we moved back inside for the FILMMAKERS' PANEL, where Fragasso and co-writer Rosella Drudi were joined by actors Michael Stephenson and George Hardy to reveal the long story of TROLL 2's production. Despite an unsteady mastery of our language, the Italian duo gave us many amazing tales of TROLL 2's genesis. Fragasso is a fascinating man and I wouldn't buy a used car from him.
As a special completist's event, we held a GUITAR HERO 2 SHREDDING WAR! The video game actually takes place at "Nilbog High School" and we weren't gonna let that go unrepresented at this most TROLL 2-iest of events! So digi-jammers from all sides competed for glory, including Mickie Pace, who played Betty the Goblin in the film. She was on fiyahhhhhh!!!!
We brought in Alamo chefs John Bullington and Trish Eichelberger specifically to create a very special NILBOG FEAST for the cast and Ultimate Pass holders. Though the chefs had to prepare much of the food outdoors on a grill in the alley, all agreed it was a five-star meal and even the sophisticated palates of the Italians were dazzled by the skills of our Alamo culinary wizards.
As the sunset began, folks gathered in the field to prepare for the main event. We played some shorts, including the Filmmaking Frenzy Troll 2 Fan Film winner OGRE by Chris Dasinger, who we brought out to the event as his prize. He also brought along two actresses from the film as well as the titular monster, who vomited in a bucket LIVE before the crowd. They were totally starstruck by him, and even moreso when the cast and filmmakers united again in front of the crowd to introduce their film.
Finally, it was the moment of truth. The projectors flickered to life and the first frame of TROLL 2 hit the screen. The crowd was enraptured, enlivened and filled with joy. It was a very moving experience to see the cast seated among the folks of Morgan and TROLL 2 fans from all corners of the Earth. Truly, a night of majesty.
Sunday featured more fun events, including the panel on Michael Stephenson's TROLL 2 documentary BEST WORST MOVIE, a baloney-eating competition (which Tim "The Glory Chomper" League totally dominated) and an extremely irresponsible display of explosive firepower to cap the weekend off. But everyone's hearts and memories were still radiating from the previous night's screening, which was a most unlikely bit of magic that will never take place again on this planet or any other:
Here's the link to our NILBOG INVASION Flickr photo page!!
(Special thanks to Michael Stephenson, Blair Sterrett, Chris van Campen and his family, The Morgan County News, Darren Ewing, George Hardy and the countless other people who made this all happen. I promise I'll never turn you into green goop and eat you.)