Troll (1986)

The Halloween Countdown Day 17


Troll is available to rent or buy now.

Sometimes a silly, low-budget fantasy horror is just what you need. After a tough day at work or a stressful journey, there’s nothing better than a movie so ridiculous it’s funny and let’s face it, despite all the snobbery in film criticism, some bad movies are damn good fun. Troll is not one of the worst movies ever made by a long stretch; no, that title goes to its 1990 sequel. But, it’s fair to say Troll did have some serious problems, from its confusing mix of gothic fairytale horror and comedy to its low-budget Gremlins-inspired effects. However, despite these flaws, John Carl Buechler’s movie remains one of my Halloween guilty pleasures.


In Buechler’s strange fantasy world, we are introduced to The Potter family; Harry Potter Senior (yes, that’s right, Harry Potter!), his wife Anne, teenage son Harry Junior and young daughter Wendy. The Potters have just moved into a brand new San Francisco apartment building filled with more than a few colourful characters. But just a few hours into their arrival, Wendy is attacked in the basement by a troll who takes her physical form, its mission to convert the apartment block into a new Troll kingdom. Of course, Harry Jr immediately notices his sister’s strange behaviour. Meanwhile, all the adults remain oblivious to Wendy’s changed persona, leading Harry to seek the help of a mysterious witch named Eunice St. Clair, who lives upstairs.


If all this sounds nuts, it is! In essence, Buechler’s movie is a bizarre yet entertaining mix of fantasy, horror and comedy that never quite decides where its true heart lies despite the joy, creativity and engaging performances. There’s no doubt that the cast makes Troll a deliciously mad, sharp slice of fantasy horror. For example, the Potter family unit feels genuine, with Michael Moriarty’s Harry Potter Sr and Shelley Hack’s Anne Potter utterly brilliant as two parents desperate to make their move a success. But absolute praise has to go to Noah Hathaway’s Harry Potter Jr, June Lockhart’s Eunice St. Clair and Jenny Beck’s Wendy Anne Potter, all of whom genuinely steal the show.


Released ten months before Critters (1986), Troll bombed at the box office, but thanks to a host of film fans, it found a new world of love on VHS. Of course, it’s not perfect; it’s fatally flawed. Yet, Troll carries a warmth you can’t help but fall for and will always hold a place in my Halloween heart.

However, I can’t talk about Troll without also briefly mentioning its 1990 sequel, Troll II, a movie that has often been called one of the worst ever made. Now, I have no intention of entering into that debate here, but I will leave you with the following thoughts; sometimes bad movies are great fun, so go on, pour a drink, fill a bowl with popcorn and indulge in a double bill of Troll and Troll II; you won’t regret it, I promise.

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