AKA: Torok El Troll (1986) - Spain
AKA: Peikko (1986) - Finland
AKA: Troll - O Mundo do Espanto (1986) - Brazil
AKA: Troll: Criatura del mal (1986) - Mexico
(Release Date: January 17, 1986)
I'm sorry... what?
In that Troll 2 had about sixty shades of absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with its purported prequel, 1986's Troll, many bad, bad, bad movie fans (including me) never bothered to even watch the "original" film.
But, hell, I'm watching it now. Here's the thing... it's hard to say whether Troll is only still known because it's the prequel to that hemorrhoid on the asteroid that is "off-Hollywood" or if it might have enjoyed greater success if it had not been weighted down by that pressurized crap anchor of a sequel. What I can say, however, is that any way you part this coif, Troll is one of the very, very strangest-ass films I've ever seen. You're not likely to see a weirder one either.
Let's start with the kooky cast! As soon as the credits start rolling, virtually any audience member who can read and has seen movies will respond with "Really?"
This "Wait What?" moments start with the name Sonny Bono! What a resume this guy has. Top 40 recording artist, Variety TV icon and pioneer, Ex-husband of Cher, Mayor, Congressman... Star of Troll! Awesome! He even plays a swingin' ladies' man.
If that's not weird enough, June Lockhart plays Eunice St. Clair, the good witch of the West Side of San Francisco. That is when she's not spontaneously morphing into her daughter Anne Lockhart. Really... she just spontaneously becomes her daughter. It's like... what?
Who else? Well, you've got not only Julia Louis-Dreyfus running around a faux-forest almost completely naked (don't get too excited... she has strategically placed leaves covering up most of her parts) but also her husband Brad Hall playing, as near as I could tell... Brad Hall.
Even the focus-family in this film is interesting gosh darned heck. Pop Quiz, hotshot... what's one of the best known fantasy films of the 1980s, that's remained popular and has a dedicated fan base of all ages even today? How about The NeverEnding Story? Well, guess what? Noah Hathaway, who starred as Atreyu, stars in Troll as... no shit... Harry Potter! Yes, the star of The NeverEnding Story has the same name as the best known fantasy series of all time, that remains popular and has a dedicated fan base of all ages.
I'm not even dickin' around, man! Atreyu plays Harry Potter in Troll! How many times can anybody EVER write a sentence like that?
THANK you, Troll!
"Harry Potter" is also the name of the kid's father, played by a Michael Moriarty who has clearly seen better days. So has Shelley Hack who plays the kid's mom. And you thought Harry Potter was an orphan! His sister Wendy Anne is even played by Jenny Beck... T.J. Hooker's daughter and that groovy little clone chick from V: The Final Battle.
Now before this "review" becomes a long-ass litany regarding incredulity over the credits, might I just mention that veteran actor Phil Fondacaro plays not only the title character, Torok The Troll, but also resident English Professor, Doctor Malcolm Mallory? Yeah, man! I guess they figured they could either only afford one dwarf actor or Philly-boy wanted to really show his range by playing both a Lit Professor and... just about as far as one can get from a Lit Professor in the same film.
What's even weirder is that when Torok starts taking over the apartment complex all these (recognizable) weirdos live in and turning it into some kind of Mental Middle Earth, they have to make a silly-looking rubber Phil Fondacaro puppet to represent Prof Malcolm to differentiate him from the Troll Fondacaro is ACTUALLY playing.
And, basically, that is the plot... some ancient Troll named Torok shows up in a San Francisco apartment building, hoping to turn each apartment into (somehow) an outdoor forest scene (with the use of his handy-dandy Green Lantern power ring... not kidding), populated by weird-ass, cheap, rubbery, throbbing, singing (!) puppets for Elaine from Seinfeld to run through dressed like Margi from Hell of the Living Dead! Okay, once again, how often does one get to type a sentence like THAT one? Thank you again, Troll!
On the good side of things, I can point out that the makeup used on Torok (created by John Vulich, Alessandro Jacoponi and Monica Celotto) is pretty decent for the time (and budget). On the other hand, the rubbery puppets, primarily created and constructed by John Carl Buechler, are pretty damned lame... even for the time.
And therein lies another really oddball anomaly about Troll. It's hard to imagine who exactly the target audience for this thing really was. There are definite elements of real horror here, but when the time comes for these horrific hints to come to fruition, we're greeted with jerky stop-motion animation and sub-Follow That Bird-like puppets. So... is this for kids? Much of the silly comedy would seem to suggest so, but it seems equally likely that this was intended to be some kind of tongue-in-cheek terror farce in the vein of the same year's House.
It's no surprise to find the names Charles Band and Albert Band as producers and even Richard Band as the composer. That's not even mentioning that the whole thing was conceived in a story by John Carl Buechler himself, shaped into a screenplay by Ed Naha and then directed by none other than... John Carl Beuchler.
The thing is... Troll isn't really all that bad, actually. While it's almost impossible to tell just exactly what it thinks it is or is trying to be, it's pretty clear that it never really takes itself all that seriously. Then again, the filmmakers did eventually try to suggest that one Jo Rowling actually ripped off her own Harry Potter from this film. Good Lord... Really? That said, it's still worth somewhere around Two and one half Stars out of Five!
While I maintain that it's almost impossible to be sure whether this film would be better remembered or mostly forgotten without the pitchfork-to-the-groin known as Troll 2, I can confirm one thing beyond the shadow of a doubt... even at its worst, Troll, most assuredly, comes off as a much better film when compared to Troll 2! In that regard, I can say for the first (and only) time: "Thank you, Troll 2!"
See you in the Next Reel!
And don't go looking for a Comments Section!
I don't include them... to avoid... Trolls.
reviewed by J.C. Mašek III
Who is solely responsible for the content of his reviews...
And for the fact that instead of reviewing
Looper, Resident Evil: Retribution or The House at the End of the Street
He decided to review THIS thing!
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