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  Troll Who Needs A Bridge?
Year: 1986
Director: John Carl Buechler
Stars: 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, James Beck, Dale Wyatt, Barbara Sciorilli, Viviana Giusti, Jessie Carfora
Genre: Horror, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: The Potter family are moving into a ground floor apartment, and once they have finished shifting their packing boxes into the place, son Harry Jr (Noah Hathaway) is instructed to look after his younger sister Wendy (Jenny Beck) which he is not happy about, so sits down on the front step and loses himself in a comic book. Wendy meanwhile goes exploring and ends up in the basement, which doubles as a laundry, but as she recites a nursery rhyme and bounces her ball, she attracts the attention of a troll (Phil Fondacaro) who uses his magic ring to spirit her away and take her place, disguised as the little girl...

As you can discern from that, there was a strong element of the fairy tale to Troll, as if Empire had finally given in and made a horror movie for kids. There was certainly a juvenile aspect to this, though some of it seemed strangely inappropriate which of course was guaranteed to garner interest from the type of fans who sought out the tattier end of the horror market, all the better for the unintentional chuckles. Of course, this little item was soon to be utterly overshadowed by its sequel, the ever-notorious (and also Italian-made) Troll 2, which bravely took on the mantle of worst horror movie ever made, though whether that was an accurate description was a matter for the viewer.

That sequel is commonly said to have been made with no connection to its predecessor, but there were similarities should you care to seek them out. Well, there were trolls in both obviously, but there was one scene which appeared to have inspired the director of the follow-up in his anti-vegetarian ranting when the Potter family settle down for a hastily bought dinner of fast food which regulation wacky dad Harry Sr (Michael Moriarty) terms "ratburgers", thus sending the Wendy changeling into a frenzy because they appear to be vegetarian comestibles. In Troll 2, the baddies are determined to make the hero eat his greens, so you could perceive that they had learned something from the magical fairyland in the first instalment.

But we're ignoring the elephant in the room here, and that was the name of the main character. Harry Potter was that teen, and ever since this was rediscovered fans of both have been wondering whether J.K. Rowling had viewed Troll and gotten a selection of ideas from it; this seems doubtful on actually watching it, as while there were parallels with the sorcery and young boy hero you could say that of any number of fantasy movies the makers of this were inspired by. If anything, Troll belonged in its derivation to the Jim Henson efforts like The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth with its variety of puppets devised by director and low budget makeup effects master John Carl Buechler with more ambition than efficiency.

The troll is on a mission to take over the world by turning everyone into a troll with his plant-based powers, or at least everyone in the apartment, so be begins with Sonny Bono of all people, whose political career never seemed so far away and here plays a womaniser who supposedly brings home a different woman every night in spite of looking like a middle-aged Sonny Bono, cheesy grin and all. In a weird scene (which may be a redundant observation) he is transformed into an Invasion of the Body Snatchers seed pod, which bursts open to reveal the former Mr Cher as another rubbery troll puppet. The actor playing the title villain, Fondacaro, has a dual role as an English professor who lives upstairs, which is unfair on him to have to climb that staircase considering his physical difficulties you would have thought, but he's one of the most reasonable presences when you also have June Lockhart as a witch who keeps her lover as a large mushroom, or Moriarty dancing manically to a not very good Eddie Cochran cover apropos of nothing. Music by Richard Band, including the troll song earworm.

[This film is available on blinkbox, a service providing hundreds of movies and television episodes without subscription, just a one off payment to either rent or buy your choice. You can watch blinkbox on your SmartTV, Xbox 360, iPad, Blu-rays, Set-top boxes, PC or Mac or TV connected to your PC or Mac. Click here for the details.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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