Troll (1986)

Troll is about a family who move into a new apartment block only to find themselves potential victims of, you guessed it, a troll who takes the place of their young daughter and begins turning the building into a forest-like base of operations. It also features the most superior incidence of a pint-sized wannabe wizard named Harry Potter to ever be committed to the screen, to my mind at least. J K Rowling take note, if your boy-wizard-centric opus had had more in common with this Buechler-directed masterpiece then I might have paid a bit more attention to it. Actually that’s a filthy lie on both counts; this film is neither a masterpiece nor does Rowlings popular series differ that greatly from this, and to avoid a libel suit, that’s all I’m going to say on the subject…….

I’ve long been a fan of the acting tour de force that is Michael Moriarty and he definitely doesn’t disappoint here. All his scenes are a joy thanks to his, simply bonkers, performance as Harry Potter Sr. The majority of the rest of the cast provide fairly throwaway performances with the only other possible exception being June Lockhart as the crazy lady in the building who looks like, and probably is a witch, and who befriends Harry Potter Jr, and Phil Fondacaro who, quite predictably, ended up here after a stint as an Ewok in Return Of The Jedi and as a precursor to a turn in Willow. Heather O’Roarke-a-like Jenny Beck is suitably precocious but her manic display soon grates and Julia-Louis Dreyfuss is bland as the bitchy woman who takes the Trolls fancy.

We all know how difficult it is to get the balance between horror and comedy just right and this film only serves to prove that. It veers much closer to comedy than to horror; the puppets are laughable in this day and age, however adequate they were at the time, and due to that, they aren’t remotely frightening. Some of the comic elements work quite well and I laughed at more than a few points throughout. Given Charles Bands’ involvement, I imagine that it was the directors intention to amuse the audience more than it was to terrify it.

Despite the directors previous involvement in the field of special effects, there’s little here to warrant labelling ‘special’. His lack of directorial experience is obvious but not appallingly so and some of the poorer shots are easy to forgive with that knowledge in mind. It was pretty clear to the me why this film has such a cult status. Most of the script is genuinely quite amusing but there are so many plot-holes that they aren’t worth mentioning. Nothing is ever fully explained which would be frustrating if anything made any sense but it’s just easier to suspend disbelief entirely and sit back and turn off your brain.

Regardless of my criticisms there is a lot to enjoy and I found myself, however begrudgingly, being quite entertained. I’d never particularly had the desire to watch Sonny Bono turn into a sticky-looking plant before but now that I have, I feel like a better person for it. You might too, give it a chance.

Rating: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

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