I noticed that Troll 2, which some people have called the worst movie ever made, is on Amazon Prime. Well, to get to that one I have to go through the original, right? This one features Sonny Bono, a young Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Gary “WKRP” Sandy. Do we really need to check it out? Oh, yeah.
If Troll 2 is the worst movie ever made, then holy crap is it bad, because this is one of the most unpleasant movie-watching experiences I’ve suffered through, and just in the last year I’ve seen Jurassic Shark and Space Boobs from Space.
Coming fresh off the heels of Gremlins, and by “fresh” I mean a whole two years later, comes this rubber critters attack turd-movie. It’s a Charles Band production, which means it’s guaranteed to have a certain level of quality: decidedly crappy, and in a cheap and ugly way.
Now I’ve always been biased against seeing Troll because Trolls are some of my favorite fantasy creatures, so I refused to watch it until now. I always imagine trolls to be more like the Hill Troll from Harry Potter, or Mountain Troll from Lord of the Rings, or that Colossal Troll from Troll Hunter. You know, big and menacing and scary. Instead, we get a little person in a rubber suit, who is barely mobile, with hair shorts and snot running down his nose, not to mention a punchable, smug face. It’s a really cheap, terrible outfit and never is the least bit frightening. I’ve only made it through five minutes of Leprechaun, but this might be a worse rubber suit design.
This movie suffers from a plot that makes no goddamn sense. For no reason, a troll appears in a laundry room in a not-at-all impressive apartment building. He immediately kidnaps and, we presume, eats a tiny blonde girl, improbably named Wendy Anne. Then Torok the Troll turns himself into a likeness of Wendy Anne and harasses the rest of the “past their prime” TV actors in the cast. The Troll could probably finish his mission in about 20 minutes, so the movie is padded out with long scenes of nothing happening, painfully unfunny sitcom business, and lingering shots on crappy hand puppets drooling.
Wendy Anne is one of the most intolerable screen characters ever and it’s 100% the director’s fault. Wendy Anne is shrill, obnoxious and yes, since she’s a troll she’s supposed to be horrible, but she’s horrible in a “Holy crap, I can’t take her any more, get her off my TV” way. Wendy Anne barges into everybody’s apartment. Do they scream and throw things at her? No, they humor the little monster and are rewarded by being turned into troll vegetation. I felt violent urges to harm this child character. I spent the whole movie wondering why nobody tries to strangle her. And worse yet, she never gets her comeuppance, instead she has to be rescued at the end. I could see a far superior movie where bad things happen to this blonde moppet, like falling down stars or being punted into a shark tank.
Anyways, we’re explained the plot far too late in the movie, which is that Torok is using his crappy special effect ring to turn the rooms of this building into fairy lands, and that when he turns them all into fairy lands, he conquers the world or some garbage. We’re told this important plot information by veteran TV actress June Lockhart, who for no reason at all transforms into her real life daughter Anne Lockhart. Luckily, Torok is stymied by Noah “Neverending Story” Hathaway, who also gives a comedically bad performance as Harry Potter Jr. Do you think J.K. Rowling was a Troll fan? I doubt it. Nobody is a Troll fan. I say “luckily Torok is stymied” because a monster this embarrassingly decrepit, slow-moving, and non-threatening doesn’t deserve to conquer the world.
The main problem with Torok’s stupid plan is that the Troll is pretending to be Wendy Anne for most of the movie, no doubt because blonde child actresses are easier to portray on screen than slimy troll men in immobile suits. And what’s the one apartment he needs to complete world domination? Yeah, the one where he lives for the whole damn movie. At any point in the film, Torok could’ve turned Wendy Anne’s parents into mushroom monsters and the movie would be over. But he doesn’t. Why? Because this movie is stupid.
This is a movie about a ridiculous troll and a bunch of slimy, ugly, badly manipulated hand puppets. So of course, there’s a heartfelt monologue delivered by little person actor Phil Fondacaro, who does double duty as Torok and Malcolm the creepy English tutor who befriends Wendy Anne. He’s good as Phil but terrible as Torok. Why can the troll speak perfect English as Wendy Anne, but only communicates in grunts and congested breathing as the troll? Because this is a stupid movie.
The best scene features Sonny Bono who, is far too convincing as a gold chain and silk kimono wearing horny scumbag. He’s the first victim of Torok’s crappy magic effect ring and turned into a slimy green poop. Other lowlights include June Lockhart’s pet puppet mushroom that is supposed to be cute comic relief, like Gizmo the Gremlin, but looks unsettingly like a large penis with eyes. Also suffering a career-worst performance is Julia Louis-Dreyfus who’s turned into a nymph and spends her brief part of the movie in a leaf bikini.
Indifferently directed by John Carl Buechler, the whole thing is over-lit and never scary. It’s a PG-13 horror movie that’s not funny, frightening, or weird enough to pay attention to. Every single scene in the movie goes on too long. Half the running time features Noah Hathaway in pants pulled up to his neck wandering slack-jawed through empty, brightly lit hallways.
THE BOTTOM LINE
This is the wrong kind of bad movie. It’s boring and nonsensical. Never graphic enough to generate modest thrills and never funny enough to generate laughs. I liked the scene where Sonny Bono’s face oozes green goo but, sadly, he can only be killed off once. And with the intolerable Wendy Anne sucking in every scene of the movie and generating rage and resentment from me as a viewer, I endured this stink-bomb of a movie through gritted teeth, falling asleep at least twice. So yeah, if you want to try to suffer through it to get to Troll 2, consider yourself warned.
SPOILER ALERT: At the end, there’s a ridiculous-looking demon with embarrassingly floppy wings. He throws plastic rocks and misses every single toss. He is killed by that crappy ’80s lightning special effect that was all the rage in cheap horror movies. So I give it a paltry 1 on the Kill-o-meter.