The Potter family of four (dad Harry Potter Sr, mom Anne Potter, their son Harry Potter Jr and daughter Wendy Anne Potter) are moving into an apartment complex in the Bay Area of San Fransisco. As the daughter Wendy Anne (Jenny Beck) starts exploring, she goes down to the laundry room in the basement where she encounters — drumroll — a troll! This little goofy-looking monster creature, which looks as menacing as a fluffy baby panda, wears a magic green ring that allows him to take the appearance of other people.
And no, just for clearance, this girl is not the twin sister of Heather O’Rourke, nor does she spit acid on people’s face (for those who took the V: The Final Battle reference).
The troll, now in Wendy Anne’s innocent appearance, goes from apartment to apartment and transforms the tenants to trees, bushes and whatever. One of the tenants, played by a young and unknown Julia Louis-Dreyfus (four years before she got the big break), gets the pleasure to get transformed into a nymph and spends the rest of the screentime running around half-naked in her forest-transformed apartment as she giggles and laughs like an overstimulated little girl high on too much sugar. The whole complex is to turn into a schlocky B-movie madhouse which is soon to crawl of mythical creatures.
As they emerge in the apartments they have a catchy little satanic chant that could as well have been written by Danny Elfman for a Tim Burton movie. A scene I ‘d guess the kids of the 80s were pretty mesmerized by while the parents had a thumb ready to click the off-button.
As things get more and more weird around the complex, Wendy Anne’s brother, Harry (played by The Neverending Story star Noah Hathaway) gets in contact with the elderly woman Eunice St. Clair. She’s a witch, but don’t worry, she’s from the north. And we learn that she has some close connection to the troll and that he must be stopped. Is Harry Potter Jr. the one to save the day from evil trolls, wizards and whatnot?
Or what do you think, J. K. Rowling?
Beg your Pardon..? How could she know, when she denies to have even seen the movie. Yeah right. And I have never seen a porno movie. The filmmakers took it pretty far, though, and even considered to file a law-suit against Rowling after they suspected her of copying both the name of Harry Potter and the magical theme from the film. A remake was also planned to be made in the mid-2000s where John Carl Buechler, who also directed this film, was to return as director – but the success of Rowling’s Harry Potter and its film adaptations somehow made it convoluted due to copyright. What a mess. So yeah, Charles Band and company had their reasons to be a little bitter.
And speaking of Charles Band, this was the only film under the Empire Pictures banner (pre Full Moon) to have a PG-rating, if I’m not mistaken. Except some very minor hint of body-horror this a safe enough film to play at your kid’s sixth birthday. Despite the kid-friendly approach, the film has the Charles Band/Full Moon fingerprints all over the place with its silly humor and overall goofy, whimsical nature with actors who seem both confused and disoriented. The effects reek of 80s cheese and the troll costume worn by the Willow actor Phil Fondacaro is cute. Some of the other puppet creatures were recycled from The Dungeonmaster (1984).
Troll is also notable for having the Seinfeld star Julia-Lous Dreyfus in her first film role. And she couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this film and look back with some humble, nostalgic joy. So proud in fact that she called Jay Leno an asshole twice after he screened some clips from the film when she was a guest on his Late Show. Not much of a thick skin on that lady’s meatsuit or much sense of self-irony, being a comedian and all. Just like Jennifer Aniston’s view of her first filmrole in Leprechaun, she’s seriously ashamed as if she got reminded of that time she ripped a wet fart in public that went on repeat for ten hours. She should at least consider herself damn lucky for not being a part of the unofficial sequel that is Troll 2, because oh my God!
Director: John Carl Buechler
Writers: John Carl Buechler, Ed Naha
Country & year: US, 1986
Actors: Noah Hathaway, Michael Moriarty, Shelley Hack, Jenny Beck, Sonny Bono, Phil Fondacaro, Brad Hall, Anne Lockhart, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Gary Sandy, June Lockhart, Robert Hathaway