Troll (1986)
Troll (1986)

Genre: Horror Running Time: 1 hr. 22 min.

Release Date: January 17th, 1986 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: John Carl Buechler Actors: Noah Hathaway, Michael Moriarty, Shelley Hack, Jenny Beck, Sonny Bono, Phil Fondacaro, Anne Lockhart, Julia Louis-Dreyfus




hen the title sequence begins and the words “A Charles Band Production” rolls across the screen, it’s quite obvious just how detestably slapdash the movie “Troll” is going to be. After all, Band is the creative force behind such low-budget franchises as “Trancers,“ “Subspecies,” and Puppetmaster,” and schlock productions like “Beach Babes from Beyond,” “Test Tube Teens from the Year 2000,” and “The Exotic Time Machine.” The special effects are pitiful, except for the makeup effects, which are laughably amusing, the dialogue is silly, and the characters are unusually annoying. The fact that most of the plot doesn’t make sense certainly doesn’t help this 82-minute snoozefest.

“My name’s Harry Potter Jr.” The Potter family, headed by Harry Potter Sr. (Michael Moriarty), a family man and book reviewer (with the most noticeable distinction of possessing a coincidental name that predates J.K. Rowling’s famous literature), moves into a new apartment. His son (Noah Hathaway) is a bit of a wimp, his wife Anne (Shelley Hack) is completely forgettable, and daughter Wendy Anne (Jenny Beck) is immediately attacked by a hideous mutant midget that resides in the basement. The film reveals the troll right away – a funny, Lilliputian humanoid with overgrown, ugly features and a wide, permanent grin.

Torok the Troll (Phil Fondacaro) turns some of his victims into thick vegetation, which spreads out across the apartments with the help of some interesting makeup effects and slimy little puppets. His ultimate goal is to take over all of the buildings and reclaim his throne – or something along those lines. For some reason, the film isn’t serious at all, especially with the introductions of the supporting characters (one is overly chatty, one jogs insanely to music, and one dances about in a woman’s bathrobe). Everyone seems to get a dance scene, including Moriarty – all for the sake of embarrassing themselves beyond simply participating in this movie. Wendy’s “possession” is about the only thing that is approached with an ounce of intrigue, but it’s short-lived.

Jeanette Cooper (Julia Louis-Dreyfus in her first role, and one that she probably wishes never existed, especially as her most memorable scene involves a naked striptease for the troll) is a lightheaded actress just begging to be bait for the villain. Eunice St Clair (June Lockhart), the slightly odd, elderly neighbor with a potted singing mushroom creature in her home, appears to be the only one who can act – and she’s much more involved in the troll’s existence than she lets on. Phil Fondacaro isn’t bad either, playing both a side character, little person Malcolm Mallory, and Torok, presumably for the sake of not paying an additional actor.

When Malcolm recites “The Fairy Queen,” it’s obvious the screenwriters weren’t intent on keeping up with suspense or true horror elements. Instead, it’s yet another aside, arranged so that the anti-Muppet, deformed puppets can get their own song and dance moment. In fact, the movie seems to focus on the life and times of Malcolm more than the evil presence of the hobgoblin. “I just don’t understand any of this,” exclaims Anne Potter. Truer words were never spoken.

– Mike Massie

  • 1/10