TROLL/TROLL 2 TROLL
Directed by John Carl Beuchler
Written by Ed Naha
Produced by Albert Band
Cast: Noah Hathaway, Michael Moriarty, Shelly Hack, Jenny Beck, Sonny Bono, Phil Fondacaro, Brad Hall, Anne Lockhart, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Gary Sandy & June Lockhart
1986/83 mins/Color/Dolby Digital 2.0
1.85:1 anamorphic/English/US/NTSC Region 1
Directed by Drago Floyd (Claudio Fragasso)
Written by Clyde Anderson (Claudio Fragasso), Sarah Asproon (Joe D'Amato)
Produced by Albert Band
Cast: Michael Stephenson & Connie McFarland
1991/95 mins/Color/Dolby Digital Mono
1.85:1 anamorphic/English/US/NTSC Region 1
Review from the MGM DVD
"Be afraid. be twice as afraid!"
Being a huge fan of Aristide Massaccessi (Joe D'Amato) was what initially sparked my interest in picking up this double DVD of TROLL and TROLL 2. Before venturing into these films I really didn't care much for seeing the first - I was simply interested in viewing TROLL 2 since D'Amato had a hand in writing and producing the film, and wondered how his mind would handle a children oriented PG-13 rated film.
Before J.K. Rowling made millions with her Harry Potter character, Potter Jr. was fighting off ghouls and goblins in a little known film called TROLL. The premise of the story follows the Potter family who move into a new apartment building. Shortly after arriving, young Wendy Potter goes off alone, exploring the building with her favorite beach ball, when she encounters an odd little creature. The days pass and the Potter family start to notice Wendy acting very strangely. Bothered and frightened of his sister, Harry Potter Jr. finds trust in Unis St. Clair, an old woman residing in the building. Harry later finds Unis is no ordinary tenant. She lives in the building with her mushroom plant like creature Galwin, protecting the world from Torok the Troll's attempts at taking over once more. You see many years ago there was one universe of humans and fairies. The universe clashed and a war arose resulting with the humans triumphing over the fairies creating the world we all know. This caused the fairies to be banished for eternity to their own dimension, and now Torok the Troll is back to regain the world.
TROLL contains an assortment of unique oddball characters, much like the characters in the film BASKET CASE. What differentiates the two films though is the acting. While BASKET CASE has considerably bad acting, this is where TROLL prevails. When not singing "I Got You Babe" as a duo with Cher, Sonny Bono plays the character of Peter Dickinson, a kooky middle-aged swinger living in the apartment complex who is an over-the-top younger version of Mr. Furley. Not long after we are introduced to Dickenson's character is he punctured by the Troll's magic green glowing ring making him slowly inflate, as green slime oozes from his mouth, eventually turning him into a human sized emerald turd cocoon that hatches into a jungle of green plants inhabited by interesting creatures to say the least. Jenny Beck who had the role of Wendy, the often psychotic acting little girl controlled by the Troll did a fantastic job, and you could tell she had fun playing this character. I could understand many people being annoyed by her, but I thoroughly enjoyed her performance, and it's a shame to find out her career never really went very far. Even Julia Louis-Dreyfus has a small role in this film as the tenant Janet Cooper, who is later turned into a fairy goddess by Torok. This was one of her first breaks into the movie industry. Last but not least the star of the show, the awesome looking Troll played by Phil Fondacaro, who also played the role of Malcolm Mallory, Wendy's friend "brother dwarf". Fondacaro has been in just about every horror film requiring a midget, but this time around he really shows his acting side with his Mallory character.
TROLL is a nice little dark fantasy film that people of all ages could enjoy. Even though I was expecting a more horror themed film, I had a lot of fun with this nevertheless. The movie contains a fantastic showcase of creative flair with excellent set pieces as well as some of the coolest little puppet creatures you'll see in a film from the 80's. The make-up and special effects were created by the director John Carl Beuchler, as well as Everett Burrell who have worked on an excess of horror flicks such as INHUMANOID, CARNOSAUR, CASTLE FREAK, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD '90 and a lot more. One cool sequence in particular shows a whacked-out chant like sing-along by all the creatures, which was a nice way to show the birth of them all together.
My much anticipated TROLL 2 viewing resulted in a mixed bag. The film presents itself as a sequel to the first, but really has absolutely nothing to do with its predecessor. The word "troll" isn't even mentioned in the film for that matter. TROLL 2 follows a family of four as they spend a weekend in the odd little town of Nilbog ("goblin" backwards). When the young Joshua realizes that this is no ordinary town, but resembles that of the stories his deceased grandfather Seth would tell him of people-eating goblins, he tries endlessly to convince his family to return home. In disguise of regular townsfolk, a cult of vegetarian goblins lure their visitors in for a feast of green gourmet which turns humans into tree branch vegetable goblin chow. The house the family are staying in is the kingdom of the goblins, and with the help of apparitions from departed grandpa Seth, can Joshua convince his family to get the Hell out of there before they become "troll" chow?
TROLL in essence, is everything TROLL 2 is not. TROLL has great acting, excellent make-up and special effects, and a nicely paced story, which TROLL 2 has none of. The acting in TROLL 2 is utterly atrocious. It is as if the cast are trying to act as a character much like a crudely written school play, rather than trying to be the character. I would probably say that Michael Stephenson as Joshua had the greatest acting ability of the whole cast, and even his performance was lacking. The acting is bad, but in a good way, often ending in hilarity. Right away you could tell the film was lacking the budget of the first, so the FX aren't going to be up to caliber with the original either. Even though the FX weren't outstanding, the goblin masks and even Exorcistian make-up of the lead goblin witch were definitely cool. The goblin heads reminded me of the stationary zombie heads of BURIAL GROUND, which I thought were awesome in that film as well. The story was very unique and original - I mean, who the Hell would come up with a family trading a house with a brain-dead family, to fight off hordes of vegetarian ghouls? Well Joe D'Amato of course. The story was original, that is a definite, it just dragged at times, and was often more on the boring side. For those of you trivia buffs, D'Amato regular Laura Gemser was the costume designer of the film.
This is a bad film but it does to some extent fit in with the so-bad-its-good mixture, however I don't foresee wanting to put myself through watching it again anytime soon. I do believe the film escapes from the PG-13 rating, unlike TROLL, with scenes of stomach ripping twig gore, and of course the great ending with an orgy of goblins scoffing on a green titty torso for a goblin feast. Another notable scene is when the family first arrives to their weekend getaway. They are presented with a meal consisting of bright green food and beverage. None of this seems out of the norm to the family, but before they gobble up the green grub Joshua gets another apparition from his grandfather telling him to stop his family from eating the food or they will die. He had 30 seconds to do so, and with lightning fast thinking he pisses on the table - saving his family from being goblin food, but resulting in his punishment, having to retire to his room for the night.
MGM presents this TROLL/TROLL 2 double feature in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Each film is on the flipside of the disc, and both films are saturated with vibrant colors and dark blacks. Very little film grain is to be found on either film, but due to the lower budget of the second, the video quality, although slight, lacks the vibrancy of the first. The audio for TROLL is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 while TROLL 2 is presented Dolby Mono. Both films make good use of their soundtrack, and are great the way they are in this presentation. TROLL doesn't really use any directional sound so the audio quality of both films sound relatively the same. The only extras on the disc are a trailer for each film. The cover art is nicely done, but the lack of an insert once again is careless and avoidable for a large conglomerate such as MGM.
Those into fantasy, trolls, goblins, monsters, addictive crap cinema, or even Joe D'Amato would do themselves injustice in avoiding this guilty pleasure double feature.
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Review by Chris Mayo. All Right Reserved. 2003. ©