Synopsis: Lock the doors and pull out the weed-wacker for this house party of horror! One family is about to find out there’s no place like home when a troublesome troll starts taking over their building, transforming each apartment into an overgrown garden of ancient evil and turning ties tenants into a horde of hairy hobgoblins!
Michael Moriarty and Julie Louis-Dreyfus star in this super-slimy scare-fest that’s “a special-effects pig-out” (Daily News)!
Well, if it ain’t October and it ain’t time for a few weeks’ worth of horror films to get in the Hallowe’en spirit! Boy, do I have a series of fascinating titles in store this year…
Starting with ‘Troll’.
The reason I started with this one is twofold: 1) I thought its low-budget puppetry would follow-up nicely after the animatronic extravaganza of the TMNT; 2) because I was curious to see the lead-in to the abysmally poor (and yet devastatingly funny! ) ‘Troll 2’.
I honestly had no idea what it was about (presumably, a troll – but, based on ‘Troll 2’, even that can’t be taken for granted! ) and, thus, had no expectations at all. It could have been a gruesome monsterfest, a gory creepshow, a low-budget cheesefest, a horror-comedy… anything.
It turns out that it’s a low budget fantasy horror-comedy.
However, since ‘Troll 2’ was unintentionally side-splitting, I was unsure what to make of ‘Troll’ during this first viewing. It was corny and somewhat funny, but was it intentional? Or was it the product of a mind so poorly attuned to good taste that it actually took itself seriously and failed miserably (see ‘Troll 2’)?
So I was bemused for most of the movie. And yet I was entertained – despite a lack of cohesion, some laughable performances, crummy effects, simpleton direction, …etc. I can’t explain it: there was something fun about this film, even as I sat there in utter confusion about what to make of it.
From the beginning, the film doesn’t make much sense:
A family moves into this apartment complex. Cliché alert: their daughter drops a ball into the basement and goes to fetch it, only to find a troll hiding there. What was the troll doing there? What did it want? And what in the world did it do to the little girl? We will never know. We only know that it has now somehow taken her place and infiltrated the family for undisclosed reasons.
I also didn’t know what to make of the fact that Sonny Bono (yes, THAT Sonny Bono!) played a womanizer and that Julia Louis-Dreyfus got her first film role in this movie. While they are secondary characters, they get a heck of a lot of screen time. It was just so strange to see them in such a… um… modest production, in something you’d think any winning actor would steer clear of (having said this, George Clooney did make ‘Return of the Killer Tomatoes!’, so you never can tell… ).
Anyway, there’s a back story in this film, but the essential piece is that each character in that apartment complex has to be knocked off by the troll for our viewing pleasure. Motive is of little consequence so long as there are deaths – even if the end result is supposed to be a full-on takeover of the world by said troll. Really, we don’t care ‘cause that’s truly inconsequential.
It’s strange to write about a movie that has so little to give other than mindless enjoyment (“enjoyment”, if you’re into this sort of cheese, that is ). It’s like eating a bag of cheese puffs: you know it’s not good, you know it’s a total waste of time (and stomach space), and yet you sometimes get a craving for it – and, sometimes, you even enjoy thoroughly.
I can’t say that I was totally thrilled by this film, but I would certainly watch it gain. Since I was unsure of what to make of the film, I’ll reservedly give the movie a 6.0 (with the option of possibly hiking it later ). However, from a purely objective perspective, the film is no more than a 3.5 – it’s a load of rubbish on so many levels. I’m still amazed that they make movies like this – and that they’re still in distribution. But it takes all kinds, I suppose…
Anyway, all this to say that I suspect that I’ll enjoy ‘Troll’ more the second time around. Snicker, snicker… I have no doubt there will be another viewing – perhaps even as a double bill with ‘Troll 2’
-originally published October 3, 2011