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Friday, October 12, 2012

Day 286: Troll

Doing it for the "lols" since 1986

When I think of horror movies, certain characters come to mind: Vampires, zombies, werewolves, ghosts. You know, your typical monsters and villains. One creature that never crosses my mind is a troll. Yes, they have their place in old stories and mythology, but they're never the first choice when it comes to horror. Heck, they're not even the tenth choice. I put trolls somewhere between goblins and Ron Paul supporters on the monster scale. Of course, when a movie is made in the 1980's, everything is fair game, like Patrick Swayze playing a bouncer in Roadhouse.

Troll is a 1986 fantasy/horror movie starring Noah Hathaway (The Neverending Story, Battlestar Galactica) as Harry Potter Jr. The Potter family, Harry Sr, Anne, Harry Jr. and Wendy, move into a new apartment in San Francisco. While unpacking, Wendy goes into the basement where she is attacked by a troll. Using a magical ring, the troll traps Wendy and assumes her form. The troll, as Wendy, returns to the apartment and starts acting strangely. She is far more aggressive and stronger than normal, and Harry takes note. Frightened by his sister, Harry befriends an old woman in the apartment named Eunice St. Clair (June Lockhart, Lassie, Lost In Space). Meanwhile, the troll travels from apartment to apartment, transforming each inhabitant (including Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Sonny Bono, and Phil Fondarco) and their room into a part of the magical realm it once came from. Eunice reveals that she is actually a witch and explains to Harry what is occurring. The troll was once a wizard named Torok who tried to overtake the human realm. Defeated, Torok was turned into a troll as punishment and Eunice stood guard waiting for him to try to take over the realm again. She tells Harry that the only way to stop Torok and get his sister back is to plunge a magic staff into the heart of Torok's world, which is now merging with the apartment. Will Harry be able to stop Torok and save his sister before our world is overrun with trolls, fairies, wood nymphs and all sorts of fantasy creatures?

"I watch you while you sleep. Nighty-night."

This movie has a strange cult following, partially due to it's horrendous sequel, Troll 2. I wasn't really sure what to expect considering it's sequel is so notorious. The movie is clearly geared towards kids as the main character is a young boy who teams up with a friendly witch to save his younger sister. The parents are portrayed in that wacky 80's-style sitcom fashion, with the father doing wacky dances and having semi-funny one-liners. Troll routinely shows up in the horror section, so you'd think it would actually be scary, but unless you're under the age of 10, you won't even raise an eyebrow. The trolls and creatures have a nice variety and look good, far better than the ones in, say, Ghoulies. The story feels strangely random, as if it's starting in the middle of a thought. Usually in fantasy movies, we get the back-story first and then lead into current events. Within the first two minutes of the movie, Wendy is attacked by the troll. That leaves so many questions unanswered until the final 1/3 of the movie like “What the hell is that?”, “Where did that come from?”, and “Why in the blue hell is it in the basement of an apartment?”

I didn't know Ron Jeremy was in this movie

This movie desperately wants to be The Neverending Story, but doesn't even come close. Other than having the same that played Atreyu, Troll does not possess the solid and coherent story that TNS has. The other realm that takes over the apartment is just the a plain old forest. There are no mystical lands for Harry to journey to, which kills most of the adventure aspect of the movie. The acting is fine and it was fun to see real actors in such a goofy movie. The special effects are very cartoonish and pretty laughable. There were actually a few legitimately funny moments, like Sonny Bono talking about picking up chicks. What wasn't funny was the fact that Wendy's parents had no problem letting their little girl wander into strangers apartments. What's worse, these people saw nothing wrong with hanging out with an unaccompanied minor. I know it's essentially a movie for kid's, but come on. That's just insane on so many levels. 

"He took it out."

I really have no idea why Troll ends up in the horror section. Nothing is scary, unless you count the fact that people paid money to see it at some point. The creatures in the movie do look good and the variety gives the audience something to look at. The story is weird and not in the good way as it never seems to find it's footing. The acting and directing are fine and it's fun to pick out the legitimate actors in smaller roles. Troll is better suited for little kids than the horror crowd. It's watchable, but just barely. And yes, I still think trolls are terrible movie monsters.


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