Troll (1986) Review

How strange it must be to have a sequel more famous and infamous than the original? Everyone who loves horror, bad movies and laughing their ass off has heard of Troll 2 even if it’s just that they have watched the ‘Oh my God!’ scene on YouTube, which by the way has over 5.9 million views, but ask them if they have seen the first Troll film and they will probably shrug and say “what there was a part 1?”

Produced in 1986 by Charles Band, the man behind the Puppet Master series amongst other things, this fantasy horror sees a family move into an apartment building in San Francisco only to have their youngest daughter Wendy Anne (Jenny Beck) kidnapped by a wicked troll who takes her form and starts to overtake the building with his malevolent magic.

The only person standing in the terrible troll’s way is Wendy’s brother Harry Potter Jr. (Battlestar Galactica and The NeverEnding Story star Noah Hathaway) who sees through the devious deception and desperately tries to tell his mother and father before its too late.

Oh did you notice the kid’s name? Yes Troll stars the Potter family and not 1 but 2 Harry Potter’s with juniors dad played by Michael Moriarty. Yep more than 10 years before J. K. Rowling’s multi-million selling franchise first hit book shops there was a movie about Harry Potter featuring trolls, witches, magic and a young boy standing alone to battle them all. Coincidence? Who knows but it does make this movie pretty hard to take seriously that’s for sure.

As far as the film goes what we get is Harry Jr being harangued for his all too real fears as the Troll mascaraing as Wendy goes round the unhinged inhabitants of the building who include a mad military health nut, sex crazy Sonny Bono and Seinfeld’s Julia Louis-Dreyfus before she knew better and transforms them and their homes into an enchanted fairytale forest complete with strange monsters some off which are better realised than others special effects wise,.

Luckily for the young Potter Eunice St. Clair lives upstairs, a powerful witch who has spent her life defending Earth against the Trolls evil will. Played by Lost In Space’s June Lockhart and later her daughter Anne Lockhart when the action is upped both actors commitment to what is fundamentally a ridiculous character in an even more stupid story does earn them some credit.

Best and sadly most underused of all is Phil Fondacaro who not only plays the role of the Torok the Troll but also Malcolm Mallory an English professor living in the same building who the possessed Wendy takes a shine too believing he is another magical creature.

Rather than a comedy aside or offensive oddity Malcolm is the most real character in the movie battling not only prejudice but an illness that sees him slowly deteriorating and Fondacaro fleshes out the character with an emotional depth wasted on such a throwaway film. Sadly rather than rise as the hero of the piece as he should have he is turned into an elf and forgotten about which is a far worse fate for the character and any credibility it had.

Although it’s not a terrible film aside from the effects and stupid story the main issues with Troll lies in its tone and in the central villain. At times more of a kids adventure movie in the same vein as The Goonies or The Gate than a straight up horror Harry’s quest would have worked well for a younger audience if not for all the more adult moments including misfiring comedy, gore and sex references. The odd combination ends up alienating both audiences and sadly entertaining no one.

Lastly even after watching the whole film I still have no idea what the hell Torok the Troll wanted. Barely able to string a sentence together in his full hideous form due to the creature effects we are left with a hasty and unconvincing bit of exposition at the end from Eunice St. Clair and the crazed performance of Jenny Beck as the Wendy/Troll which although extremely good for a child actor does not illuminate the purpose behind the story book beings actions at all.

Say what you like about the equally absurd Leprechaun films (and many people have said a whole lot!) but Warwick Davis brought the titulature villain alive through the costume and make up with his performance and rhyming quips and this personality and motivation is something Troll is sadly lacking.

Not fantastically good or brilliantly bad Troll is an oddity for sure and there are some people who may love its far out blend of fairy tale and horror and with Eureka Entertainment releasing Troll: The Complete Collection featuring three Troll films and packed with extras now is the time to get hold of this film for sure.

Movie Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 

Trailer:

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