Year of Release: 1986
Running Time: 83 minutes (1:23)
Director: John Carl Buechler
Noah Hathaway ... Harry Potter Jr.
Michael Moriarty ... Harry Potter Sr.
Shelley Hack ... Anne Potter
Jenny Beck ... Wendy Anne Potter
Sonny Bono ... Peter Dickinson
Phil Fondacaro ... Malcolm Mallory / Torok the Troll
Brad Hall ... William Daniels
Anne Lockhart ... Young Eunice St. Clair
Julia Louis-Dreyfus ... Jeanette Cooper
Gary Sandy ... Barry Tabor
June Lockhart ... Eunice St. Clair
Charles Band ... Young Couple on T.V.
Debra Dion ... Young Couple on T.V.
Jacquelyn Band ... Older Couple on T.V.
Albert Band ... Older Couple on T.V.
Long ago the earth was inhabited by trolls, fantastic beings who lived a fairytale existence. Torok's goal is to transform all humans into these mystical beings to regain the power that all trolls once possessed. Little Wendy Potter is Torok's first victim - he inhabits her body an uses her guise to carry out his mission. As Wendy, Torok works his evil magic on the residents of the Mockingbird Lane Apartments, transforming each human into a troll and each dwelling into a magical kingdom! Wendy's brother, Harry, is on to Torok. Now it's up to him and a 2000 year old sorceress to save his sister, his family and the world!
Troll provides us with a rare opportunity to learn about a very specific type of creature that we rarely see outside its natural habitat. That being, the Youtube comments section and Fark.com. They're popular websites, so you probably already have a good understanding of how trolls spend their work hours, but the movie gives us a rare insight into their ambitions, interests, and how they behave off the clock. Our guy, Torok, has big dreams. But before we go into what those dreams consist of, let's make the most of this opportunity to learn about trolls, as they existed before the internet. First of all, trolls love basements. This hasn't changed much since trolls appeared on our planet so long ago, it's a great place to skulk about in the darkness, plot your revenge on society, and even get a load of whites done while you're at it. Secondly, trolls are strong proponents of women's rights. In the movie, that nap haired idiot, Sonny Bono, doesn't treat his woman with a great deal of respect. Even after she went through what must have been an unbearable four to five minutes of sex with him, the first thing that comes to his mind afterwards is for her to make him breakfast. You can see how Torok really had no choice but to teach Sonny a lesson an turn him into a giant pickle. Like Judge Joe Brown, Torok is protecting womanhood an promoting manhood. Don't wanna be a giant pickle? Then show some respect. Third, trolls love sing alongs. Fourth, shooting a troll results in little more than heartburn, an once he's popped a couple Zantac capsules, he's not only ready to go again, but he's now good an pissed off. Torok's really a pretty decent guy when given half a chance, unlike Antropophagus, he's someone with whom you might be able to talk things over. Don't try to go Rambo, or you'll end up pickled, punk. Important observational information, remember this stuff the next time you encounter a troll, it could save your life. But Troll has brought to light a stunning revelation, which I will now share with you. Everything is suddenly falling into place. Environmentalists, are trolls in disguise.
Now I know what you're thinking, they don't hide it well at all, how can we possibly have overlooked this for so long? Well, I can't do everything around here, I'm only human. You guys need to start pulling your weight an keepin' your eyes peeled for this kind of thing. For the enviros reading this, you'd probably like to know how I've come to discover your secret. Thought you were so clever, didn't you? Well, I'm onto you. I'm onto you like stupid on Fred Phelps. First, you're only interested in what you want. Like pretending all your homes aren't made of lumber an making sure everything grows up so dense that the tiniest of sparks annihilates everything for miles. Better a burned out cinder than thinned for the health of the forest, the animals, the creation of jobs an the building of homes, right? Quite frankly, Torok is one of your better representatives, he at least doesn't live in a house, an makes his home in the forests he's labored so hard to create. He stands by his convictions, and even though he's a bit misguided and overzealous, he's as genuine as they come. You hypocrites could learn a lot from him. Second, you'll do anything to get what you want. I'm talking about tree spiking. So it's okay to maim the tree so long as you can potentially kill the logger that saws into it, yes? Oh that's classy, that's a good way to build a support base. You're so very concerned about the trees, yet you hammer metal spikes into them hoping a logger will buzz saw into one an potentially kill himself in the process. An what if no one ever does saw that particular tree? You maimed it for nothing. That's about the kind of chicken shit behavior I'd expect out of you. Again, you would do well to look to Torok. Torok meets his adversaries head on. Face to knee cap. Not like you sniveling tools desperately clinging to your misconceptions developed in the heart of your concrete jungles. I suppose it's all the more important that we never fall a single tree, considering you've leveled an entire forest to make your base of operations, you need as much oxygen in your pitiful little grey matter as you can get. Torok has again out classed you. An third, at least when Torok seeks out the eventual destruction of our world, he does so deliberately. You asshats can't even see the folly of what you're "achieving." Ironically, if Torok achieves his goals, while there were be no humans, there will still at least be trees.
Troll begins with an apple pie American family moving into a new apartment building in Anywhere, USA. The mother (Shelley Hack), charges the male child (lets call him, Atreyu) with the responsibility of watching his little sister to make sure she doesn't wander off an get captured by trolls. Well, Shelley never did have very good judgement. I cite marrying Terry O'Quinn in The Stepfather as exhibit A. Not five minutes later, Wendy (the daughter) wanders down into the apartment complex's basement an gets nabbed by a nasty little creep that looks about like Dorf after a decade on skid row. So Dorf starts practicing his best little girl impression because he's gonna need every ounce of acting skill he can muster to pull off this role convincingly. When Atreyu comes downstairs looking for Wendy, Dorf uses his secret decoder ring to take on her form an initiates phase one of his diabolical plan: infiltrate the enemy. Upstairs, Mike Moriarty (the Dad) has brought home what may possibly be the most disgusting fast food ever conceived in cinema an Wendy (we'll refer to her as Wendy, even though for the entire review it's actually Torok in her guise) goes to town on it until her portion is gone, snags the rest, an runs off to find a dark corner in which to devour the remainder. Atreyu gives chase, followed by Mike an Shelley when Wendy trips the fire alarm an the entire apartment building's residence come out one at a time for a neat an tidy character introduction. First, is Sonny Bono, who gets plowed over by Wendy as he exits his apartment. You'd think Sonny would be used to being used as a stepping stone for women, but you'd be wrong, an Sonny is pissed. Sonny, being the handsome man that he is, has a bevy of last call hotties at his disposal, an he's not about to miss out on any rusty trombone action on account of Mike's noise factories, an doesn't have any qualms with telling him about it. After Sonny storms off, Duke (Apparently the characters in the movie gave him this nickname because he resembles John Wayne, which is far more laughable than any joke I could come up with, so we'll run with it) busts in, having either been out on a 50 mile sprint, or a swim in the town fountain, an clarifies himself as a former military man turned insurance salesman. Probably rather successfully, he doesn't seem like the kind of guy you wanna refuse offers from.
Next, is Jeanette (we'll call her Elaine) an her boyfriend, who suffer from chronic dullness as human beings. Then the foul mouthed June Lockhart (from the 50's - 60's Lassie TV series) comes out to round out the ensemble an to tell Mike that he'd better work on his parenting skills or she's gonna have to beat his ass right in front of the whole cast. Then the fire alarm finally goes off an Shelley an Mike are finally able to wrangle Wendy back into their apartment, an just when it seems like they're gonna have to call Jason Miller an Max Von Sydow in to handle the situation, she plays it off as a game an Mike an Shelley are none the wiser. Atreyu on the other hand, needs a clean pair of shorts. The next morning, Sonny's upstairs blasting his music an shamelessly dancing around his apartment in a Hugh Hefner bathrobe like he's just scored for the first time in his life. His date's got that disappointed look that Cher usually had on her face an she's trying desperately to get her clothes on so she can get home an wash the smell of 2nd banana off her. Sonny tries to get her to stay, but it didn't work on Cher an it doesn't work now. Below, Wendy is not amused, an on the way to Sonny's place she has to pitch Atreyu across the room to reestablish dominance. When she gets to Sonny's room he pulls himself together, thinking the girl's come back for a second round of disappointment, but alas, it was not meant to be. Sonny tries to get her out so he can spray on some Hai Karate an pick up some lonely women down at the bingo parlor. Only Wendy turns back into Dorf an produces a small syringe from his ring, pokes Sonny with it, an turns him into a rabid Mexican who then continues morphing into a giant cucumber. Eventually the cucumber cracks open an about 500 miles of kudzu comes out an makes the apartment eco-friendly, an pretty quick little trolls start flooding in like the Palestinians when Israel vacated the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, Atreyu's gone looking for Wendy an checks to see if June's seen her. She hasn't, an Atreyu asks if he can come in an get another clean pair of shorts. He has to settle for granny panties, but that's better than nothing, an he's able to make friends with June before she realizes what a panty waist he is.
Elsewhere, Wendy's outside playing in the street when Phil Fondacaro yanks her out of the path of a speeding taxi. She likes Phil because he too has suffered under the oppression of the giants for too long an feels she can convert him to her cause. Back inside, Mike is getting down with his Dad self in the living room listening to his old records so loud that the washing machines in the basement are starting to break apart from all the vibration. (Incidentally, Mike's dancing is so bad he makes Crispin Glover look like Adolfo Quinones) Upstairs, Wendy's back on the clock. This time she's got her eye on Duke. Duke takes an instant dislike to her, assuming that because she's young she's probably a Democrat. He tries to run her off, but she slings him across the room an turns back into Dorf. Duke realizes it's worse than he'd originally thought, an pegs Dorf as a socialist an blasts him back to the European Union. But the bullet just gives Dorf an ice cream headache an he takes the gun away an gives Duke a booster shot with his decoder ring an it's off to the Good Ole Boy's club in the sky for Duke. Downstairs, Atreyu is trying to get in his apartment, only the door's locked an Mike's still listening to his ancient music an can't hear him banging on the door. So while Mike rocks out with his Bach out, Wendy rocks out with her Spock out an sets her decoder ring to stun on Atreyu, who collapses like Fannie Mae into a heap on the floor. Then Wendy goes inside an plays innocent an tells Mike that Atreyu's fallen an he can't get up, an they put him to bed. Later that evening, Phil comes over for dinner an Wendy makes him read poetry so her minions have something to sing along with an party to. But June doesn't like all the noise cause it's 5pm in the afternoon an she's trying to nap, so she blows the horn of Gondor until all the little twerps start clutching their ears an whimpering like Roseanne just started singing the national anthem an Wendy starts choking on her milk an having her eyes roll back like Linda Blair. With their party thoroughly pooped, the trolls cower in their kudzu for a while an Mike an Shelley just kinda figure Wendy's sudden reaction was a result of the bad poetry an leave it be.
The next morning, Wendy heads up to Elaine's apartment an turns her into a Nymph so she'll act like the girl in 'Up in Smoke' that does the three lines of Ajax an fills her apartment up with more lettuce an kudzu to make it more hospitable for his gnomies. About that time her boyfriend shows up an, while at first he's a little confused by the jungle where her apartment once was, he gets over it pretty quickly an chases her until he finds her hanging all over Dorf an he realizes that she's just not that into him. With her work done here, Wendy heads for Phil's apartment and listens to him prattle on about how he could have been a contender and humanely gives him the booster shot so he can be a real elf. Outside, we're down to the two minute warning an June is checking to see how many apartments look like a salad shooter exploded inside them. Of course, all of them do except for hers, an Atreyu's. The following morning, Atreyu is heading up to June's place but stops along the way to check out one of the apartments near his, when the door bursts open an he gets rocked like a hurricane. He fights his way through the wind machine an kudzu storm until he's able to reach June's place where he's given the straight skinny about what's goin' down. It seems that back in the olden days there were humans and fairies. It also seems like the more things change, the more they stay the same, because the humans an fairies were having themselves a big time jihad over who was gonna get to live to become technologically advanced enough to destroy the planet. The good humans heroically slaughtered the badly outnumbered fairies, led by Dorf who was a human at the time, an turned Dorf into a short, hairy malcontent. And unfortunately for Dorf, he's got a really small window in which to execute his plan, otherwise he's stuck working at Keebler for the rest of his days, and time is drawing short. So with story time coming to a conclusion, June gives Atreyu a mean lookin' harpoon an sends him on his way. Then she lets her hair down an reveals that she was a hot redhead all along, grabs another harpoon, an goes looking for Dorf. But somehow a twenty foot tall monster sneaks up on her an takes her harpoon an she has to haul buns back to her apartment where Dorf is waiting an he stun guns her buns. Then Atreyu senses a disturbance in the force an goes to June's apartment, only when he gets there June looks a lot more like a tree stump than he remembers an he runs off into the forest to avenge her, an find the real Wendy.
Troll is a top ranked contender for the title of Most Fun Movie ever. Probably not THE most fun, but it's up there. It's got heart, sophistication and charm. Even one of these, in heavy abundance can help a movie attain "Fun" status. Charm is where it shines brightest, but with special effects that look this good, and a storyline that looks like some real thought went into it, sophistication doesn't lag too far behind. Additionally, when you factor in that John Buechler both directed and created all the special effects, you can't help but recognize the amount of heart present. That's a pretty serious undertaking, and it was very well executed. The pacing is excellent, and I believe the single event that keeps the drab scenes to a minimum, is the scene in which Wendy runs off with the food an trips the fire alarm. This brings every character (save one) in the movie out of their apartments for an introduction, one by one. It's extremely efficient and borderline brilliant. We get just enough detail about each of the characters without the scene becoming tedious. It also doesn't hurt that the characters are all distinct, with most of them being entertaining and/or interesting. Julia Louis-Dreyfuss being the exception. Her character didn't get much back story, but that's okay, we get to see her nekkid behind later on. Torok's back story is interesting as well. The acting is pretty good, overall, although Julia Louis-Dreyfuss is the one weighing the overall rating down. Otherwise, great genre names are plentiful. Phil Fondacaro (Willow, Ghoulies II, Phantasm II, Land of the Dead), Michael Moriarty (It's Alive III, Q: The Winged Serpent, The Stuff) and Shelley Hack (The Stepfather). And, although not genre actors in the least, there are the entertaining, if out of place, Sonny Bono and June Lockhart. So an extremely strange grouping of otherwise entertaining and gifted actors, should make this movie a little more difficult for people to easily dismiss. Yes, it should, shouldn't it. 3.8 on IMDB an 29% on Rotten Tomatoes. I'll never understand why everyone is so afraid of what people might say if they admit to liking these movies. Or why people are so afraid of what people think in general. I expect this from Rotten Tomatoes, the critics there have an image to uphold. Heaven forbid they deviate from the norm an risk losing their readershit. Ship. Did I say shit? I meant ship.
Overall, Troll is another great one from the 80s by Empire Pictures, back before Charles Band totally lost it an started producing movies with no redeeming value whatsoever. And may well be the only chance you ever get to see June Lockhart curse, or get to watch Sonny Bono turn into a giant pulsating zucchini. Phil Fondacaro is great as Malcolm, but even better as Torok. The level of sophistication in that suit is just fantastic, and he really knows how to work with it. It's got a remarkably flexible head, allowing for many memorable facial expressions on Torok, although I'd imagine they also made an animatronic head as well for some of those shots, it's still way cool. Perhaps the strangest thing swirling about this movie like a turd that just won't flush is how its sequel has such a cult following, given how terrible it is. Many people refer to it as the worst movie ever made, with a great deal of affection. Those people, of course, really haven't got a clue about truly bad movies. Mike Nelson an Joel Hodgson, now they know about bad movies. I of course use the term sequel as loosely as possible. In fact, not loose enough, it's a sequel in name only. I do enjoy watching Troll 2, but it's got no redeeming value whatsoever. While the original Troll, has almost nothing but positives and apparently, gets less respect than Rodney Dangerfield. In fact, Troll very honestly really brushes up the ceiling between "Fun" and "Good." I say "good" in what the mainstream public would, or should, consider good. Anything I consider to be fun, I enjoyed and believe to be good. But I understand that what I believe to be good is seldom a widely held belief. I suppose I'd have to give this the same kind of lukewarm recommendation I did with Leprechaun 2. I really liked both, but I can't rule out that my taste, or lack thereof, is the problem. With so many negative opinions, who knows. Maybe they saw something I didn't, or maybe they hate anything that's not as good as The Shawshank Redemption. I recommend it, blind. It comes on a DVD with Troll 2, which I only recommend if you've heard about its reputation and are morbidly curious.