Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John Carl Buechler|
|Produced by||Albert Band|
|Written by||Ed Naha|
|Story by||John Carl Buechler (uncredited)|
|Music by||Richard Band|
|Edited by||Lee Percy|
|Distributed by||Empire Pictures|
Troll is a 1986 cult dark fantasy film directed by John Carl Buechler and produced by Charles Band of Empire Pictures, starring Noah Hathaway, Michael Moriarty, Shelley Hack, Jenny Beck, Sonny Bono, Julia Louis-Dreyfus. The film was shot in Italy in the Stabilimenti Cinematografici Pontini studios near Rome. It is unrelated to Troll 2 and Troll 3.
The film begins with the Potter family moving into a new apartment complex in San Francisco. While unpacking, their young daughter Wendy is attacked by a grotesque little creature, who had long ago been transformed from a powerful wizard into a troll. Using a magic crystal green ring, it captures Wendy and possesses her form. After meeting the other eccentric tenants, the family notices Wendy's unusual behavior (roaring, biting, tossing people across rooms, punching people in the groin), but they attribute her behavior to the stress of the move. The only one that notices something is terribly wrong is Wendy's brother, Harry Potter Jr. (Noah Hathaway).
Frightened by his sister's sudden and violent changes, he seeks solace in the company of a mysterious old lady, named Eunice St. Clair (June Lockhart), who lives upstairs. When he tells her of the strange goings-on, she reveals to him her real profession: a witch. Harry asks Eunice to teach him magic, but she says that there isn't time. She does instruct him as to the ways of a hidden magical world, and tells him of her long history stretching back to a time when she and a powerful wizard named Torok were in love. At that time the world was divided between fairies, which includes trolls, and humans. The realms were equal and independent of each other; however, Torok and some of the fairies challenged this balance resulting in a great war in which the humans prevailed. Torok was transformed into a troll as punishment. Eunice stands guard, as she has for centuries now in her apartment, waiting patiently for Torok to challenge the realms again, which is happening now. The troll wizard has already begun his secret war, going from apartment to apartment, attacking the tenants and transforming them into mythical creatures according to their personalities, such as goblins, nymphs, an elf and a bugbear, and it transforms their rooms into lush fairy worlds. When every apartment is transformed the world of the fairies will burst forth into the world of the humans.
Harry is told by Eunice that Torok can be stopped by plunging a magic staff into the heart of Torok's world. Eunice tells Harry the heart of the new fairy world will be a large and vicious magical creature. Armed with magic staffs which shoot bolts of energy, Eunice and Harry launch a final attempt to stop Torok's hostile takeover of the world and enter the troll's magical alternate universe. Eunice is attacked by Torok and turned into a tree stump, and Harry finds his sister trapped in a coffin of glass à la Snow White. Suddenly Torok's great bat monster attacks and disables Harry. When it goes after Wendy, Torok kills it, destroying his carefully constructed fairy realm. As the magic world collapses around them, Harry and his family are given a chance to escape, leaving just as the police arrive. Eunice is restored to normal as well as she bids Harry farewell and departs. As the police investigate the house, one of them is drawn into a remaining fragment of the alternate fairy world.
Torok's arm rises into view, preparing to use his ring on the cop. The door closes while the film goes black. The credits roll.
- Noah Hathaway as Harry Potter Jr.
- Michael Moriarty as Harry Potter Sr.
- Jenny Beck as Wendy Anne Potter
- Sonny Bono as Peter Dickinson
- Shelley Hack as Anne Potter
- Phil Fondacaro as Malcolm Malory & Torok the Troll
- Anne Lockhart as Young Eunice St. Clair
- Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Jeanette Cooper
- Gary Sandy as Barry Tabor
- June Lockhart as Eunice St. Clair
- Frank Welker as the voice of Torok the Troll
Box office and reception
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The estimated budget for Troll was between $700,000 and $1.1 million. Troll opened in the U.S. on January 19, 1986 on 959 screens making $2,595,054 that weekend. The film placed ninth on the box office charts for opening weekend. The film received poor reviews by critics , including by Janet Maslin, Patricia Smith, and Alan Carter. Rex Reed had a few positive comments, but was predominantly negative. Despite the negative response, the film did become a cult classic and spawned its notorious but unrelated sequel Troll 2.
Troll's plot has no relation to the films Troll 2 or Troll 3, which are intended to be more horror than fantasy. Its first "sequel", Troll 2, produced under the title Goblins, is considered to be one of the worst films of all time, and was similarly titled to cash in on the success of the original.
The films, Quest for the Mighty Sword (also known as Ator IV, Ator III: The Hobgoblin or Hobgoblins) and Creepers (also known as Contamination .7 or The Crawlers) both adopted Troll 3 as an alternate title (for the same reason as Troll 2) despite also having no plot relation to previous Troll films.
Similarity to Harry Potter
Since the release of the Harry Potter books starting in 1997, some of those involved in the film have accused J. K. Rowling of borrowing elements from Troll. The producer, Charles Band, stated in an interview that "there are certain scenes in Troll, not to mention the name of the main character, and this of course predates the Harry Potter books by many, many years. So there's that strange connection since both stories are about magic." In 2008, John Buechler's partner in the Troll remake, Peter Davy, said about Harry Potter: "In John's opinion, he created the first Harry Potter. J. K. Rowling says the idea just came to her. John doesn't think so."
- "Troll (1986)". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. Retrieved May 16, 2011.
- The New York Times, January 17, 1986; The Chicago Sun-Times, January 20, 1986; The New York Daily News January 17, 1986.
- Collis, Clark (May 8, 2010). "The 'Troll' trilogy: Is this really the 'Best Worst' movie franchise of all time?". Entertainment Weekly.
- "Charles Band interview with MJ Simpson (Part 2)". Archived from the original on 2008-05-10. Retrieved 2008-06-10.
- Paul Heath (2008). "Helmer says he invented Harry Potter". The Hollywood News. Archived from the original on May 1, 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-10.