Troll (1986) review

Troll posterDirector: John Carl Buechler

Starring: Noah Hathaway, Michael Moriarty, Jenny Beck, June Lockhart, Phil Fondacaro, Julia Louis-Dreyfus

“Harry, your sister isn’t an alien. She’s something much worse.” (Eunice, Troll)

You may already be aware of Troll 2, the movie some claim is the worst film ever made. I’ve already reviewed it, because that’s how cutting edge and cool and shit I am.

But what about the first Troll? What was so interesting about that film that someone decided it needed a sequel? Is it just as bad as its successor? How do they link up?

Actually, Troll has nothing to do with Troll 2. The latter was originally named Goblin until it was decided that changing the name to pretend it was a sequel to Troll would gain it extra credibility. No punchline necessary.

Troll, then, tells the story of a young lad called Harry Potter – and this is eleven years before JK Rowling came up with the same name, mind – who moves into a new apartment with his mum, his sister and his dad. Who’s also called Harry Potter.

Here's Harry Potter. Look, just trust me, it is. I know he isn't being played by that prick with glasses but seriously
Here’s Harry Potter. Look, just trust me, it is. I know he isn’t being played by that prick with glasses but seriously

Within minutes his sister, Wendy, goes down to the basement of the apartment block and encounters a troll, which possesses Wendy’s body and pretends to be her.

Cue shits and/or giggles as Wendy starts acting like a slob and saying bizarre things like “I know what death looks like” while her parents look on confused.

Young Harry’s onto her though: he knows that isn’t his sister anymore and he plans to find out what’s going on. Thankfully, as luck would have it there’s a witch called Eunice living in the apartment block who knows.

"Why are you in this film?" "Because midgets"
“Why are you in this film?” “Because midgets”

You see, the troll is called Torok and he’s a bit of a prick. Years ago he was married to Eunice but he started to want too much power so he was banished or some shit. I don’t know, I got confused.

Either way, now he’s back and disguised as Wendy, and he’s using a magical green ring to transform the apartments of other residents into woodland environments so he can turn the world back into his own troll forest, one apartment at a time.

Not only that, but Torok is also ‘killing’ the people in each apartment, using his green ring to transform them into elves, fairies, nymphs and other trolls. Look, I didn’t say this was going to be 12 Years A Slave or anything.

It’s therefore up to Harry and Eunice to figure out a way to put a stop to Torok so the world isn’t transformed into a massive troll land and Harry’s sister can get her body back.

It was safe to say this was the most intense shite Jack Black had ever had
It was safe to say this was the most intense shite Jack Black had ever had

In case you haven’t guessed by now, Troll‘s plot is madder than a fire-breathing kiwi fruit. Points for originality though, especially with the Harry Potter name. Talk about being ahead of its time.

It’s also got a number of surprisingly big names starring in it: some already accomplished at the time, others pre-fame. Michael Moriarty (Law & Order) plays Harry Potter Sr while his son is Noah Hathaway, otherwise known as the wee dick from The Neverending Story.

Meanwhile, Sonny Bono plays a swinging neighbour who gets turned into a plant, while a pre-Seinfeld Julia Louis-Dreyfus lives in another flat and becomes a nymph, complete with skimpy fig leaf bikini. Bet she regrets that now.

"Jerry, do us a favour and give us my drawers over. I'm dressed like a fucking shrub here"
“Jerry, do us a favour and give us my drawers over. I’m dressed like a fucking shrub here”

Finally, Eunice is played by Lost In Space (the TV version) and Lassie actress June Lockhart and, in a genius touch, later transforms into a younger version of herself, played by her real-life daughter Anne Lockhart (who starred in the original Battlestar Galactica).

Troll is certainly a more accomplished film than its pretend sequel: of that there’s no question. Sadly, it’s also not quite as bad, which in a bizarre way means it’s not quite as entertaining, merely smile-inducing than hysteria-breeding.

By all means give it a go if you’d like to see a film that certainly offers something you won’t have seen before, but if you’re expecting another Ed Wood-level helping of shite you might ironically be disappointed by its moderate quality.


Troll has yet to be released on Blu-ray, so if you want to get your hands on it your only option is to get it on an MGM double feature DVD which features both Troll and Troll 2. Here’s the UK version and here’s the US version.


Leave a Reply