Hobgoblins 2 (2009)

1 hour 32 minutes – Unrated (But I’ll give it a PG-13) for puppet on human violence, language, and things you might not want to explain to little kids

Hobgoblins was never a modern cinema classic. The only time that I have seen it was in the 9th season of Mystery Science Theater 3000 where Mike and the bots thankfully riffed it as it went on. Since that happened, making fun of bad movies has become more and more popular. However, these days it feels like it has become a little harder. Bad movies like the Sharknado series fully realize how bad they are so they spend the movie being ridiculous and winking at the audience. This is the old defense to bullying from grade school. If you act like the criticism does not bother you, then the bullies will eventually give up. It is hard to make fun of something when it actively shows that it does not care what you think. It already got your money. This is similar to higher budget movies like the Transformers series of movies. Screw you, I got mine.

Beneath the terrible acting, writing, and budget, Hobgoblins actually scared me a bit. It focuses on beings that can make you lose yourself by invading your mind with fantasies. The teenagers involved become different people under the power of the Hobgoblins. I have spoken a little about that previously but loss of self is one of the things that scares me the most. I may not love everything about myself but each part of me is the result of how I chose to respond to the world. It was my choice. Having those choices and potentially my memories of those choices taken away is a terrifying thought. I would feel my ‘correct’ thoughts slip through my fingers one by one only to replaced with foreign, alien thoughts against my will. I love growing and changing but I like that it is my choice.

First, the movie goes very low budget on everything. The acting talent is commercial quality, the locations look like they were filming while nobody was looking and the film quality looks like it was filmed on somebody else’s semi-expired film. Of course, it is hard to tell how much of this is on purpose or not. The first film was so poorly done that it feels like they leaned into it this time and tried to go the Troll 2 route. In fact, doing a little research, the movie was shot on old school 35 mm. Also, everyone seems to be as dumb as a box of rocks on purpose so the poor acting actually works. They reused the hobgoblin puppets from the first film and they are just as ridiculous and awesome as I remembered. They saved a lot of money on this movie probably because they had to because I am one of the few people who actually bought this on DVD or watched it at all.

The story here is that the titular hobgoblins, a psychic race similar to gremlins, are back after surviving the first film. They use their mind powers to ambush their targets with fear instead of bringing out deep fantasies as they did in the first film. The movie is kind of a self-aware retread of the original movie. It is kind of a combination of Sharknado with Troll 2 in that way. They hired lookalike actors from the original to play the same characters. Somehow, the original characters both do and do not remember the events of the first film. There are sly references to the original and plenty of acknowledgments that the first film was pretty awful and boring. This includes references to the MST3K episode on the original movie.

Overall, this was way more fun than I thought it would be. I am glad that the original director was forced to wait for 21 years to make the sequel. If Rick Sloane had written and directed the sequel in 1990 as planned, he would not have seen the MST3K episode. Although he submitted the original to MST3K for mocking, he probably did not realize just how dumb the original was. These days, there is a market for self-aware, purposefully bad movies. I would liken this movie to Troll 2, the recent Plan 9 remake, Sharknado, and a lot of other low-budget horror movies. It is a movie that took a little while to settle into but once I did, I found it pleasant to yell at the stupid characters. I definitely recommend it especially if you are a long time fan of MST3K. Watch the episode here and decide for yourself.

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