Director: John Carl Buechler
Screenwriter: Ed Naha
Cast: Noah Hathaway, Michael Moriarty, Shelley Hack, Jenny Beck, Sonny Bono, Phil Fondacaro, Julia Louis-Dreyfus Scream Factory
Release Date: November 17th, 2015
Before John Carl Buechler directed films like Cellar Dweller, Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood, and Ghoulies III: Ghoulies Go to College, he made his feature-length debut with Troll, a 1986 fantasy film about a kid named Harry Potter.
Yes, over a decade before J.K. Rowling’s magical novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, there was another Harry Potter who dealt with trolls, hobgoblins, elves, and nymphs. Played by Noah Hathaway (Atreyu from 1984’s The NeverEnding Story), this Harry Potter moves into a rundown apartment building in San Francisco with his mom (Shelley Hack) and dad (The Stuff‘s Michael Moriarty), and little sister Wendy Anne (Jenny Beck), who seems to be a clone of Carol Anne from Poltergeist.
While unpacking, Wendy Anne is possessed by a troll. This isn’t your garden-variety troll, though. This troll was once a great and powerful wizard, cursed and made to spend eternity as a grotesque creature. Using a magic ring, the troll possesses Wendy and makes her do terrible things, like throwing people around and punching them in the groin. Oddly enough, the only person who seems to notice this erratic behavior is good ol’ Harry Potter.
Concerned for his sister’s well-being, Harry seeks solace in the sage wisdom of Eunice St. Clair (June Lockhart), an old woman who lives in the building. Turns out Eunice is a witch who was once in love with Torok, the aforementioned powerful wizard who is now a possessive troll. For centuries, Eunice has stood guard over this particular apartment complex, waiting for Torok to start some shit again – and it looks like that shit has officially started again.
What results is one of the most bizarre genre films ever created. A movie with goofy hats and lip-syncing battles, mythical creatures, Sonny Bono as a ladies’ man, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in her first role as scantily clad nymph named Jeanette. What’s even weirder is the fact that I must have seen Troll dozens of times as a kid. Maybe it was the VHS box art, or maybe it was just a craving for more films about creepy little monsters in the vein of Gremlins, Ghoulies, and Critters, but I couldn’t get enough of Harry Potter and the Troublesome Troll™.
Fast-forward 30 years and here we are, with Troll on Blu-ray, thanks to those lovable cretins of cult at Scream Factory. In the words of Drake, “What a time to be alive!” If you’ve ever dreamed of seeing singing animatronic toadstools and hairy hobgoblins in stunning 1080p high-definition widescreen, this release is a must-own.
With an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.85:1, this presentation of Troll features noticeable film grain – especially during optical effects sequences. The transfer is accompanied by a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track that really accentuates the ridiculous dialogue and goofy sound effects.
For all intents and purposes, Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release of Troll is definitive – it’s hard to imagine anyone else putting as much time and effort into making such a bad movie look and sound so good. Did I mention this comes in a double feature collection with Troll 2 – widely considered the best worst movie ever – as well?
Troll 2 Blu-ray
Director: Claudio Fragasso
Screenwriter: Claudio Fragasso, Rossella Drudi
Cast: Michael Stephenson, George Hardy, Margo Prey, Connie McFarland, Deborah Reed, Jason Wright, Darren Ewing Scream Factory
Release Date: November 17th, 2015
Claudio Fragasso‘s 1990 sequel, Troll 2, isn’t a sequel at all. It has no connection to John Carl Buechler’s original film. Hell, there aren’t even any trolls in this damn movie. Why? Because Fragasso’s film was originally produced under the title Goblins.
United States distributors were skeptical about the direct-to-video movie’s chances of succeeding as a standalone and renamed it Troll 2 in an attempt to market it as a sequel. Instead of apartment trolls, Fragasso’s film features a family pursued by vegetarian goblins who seek to transform them into plants so that they can eat them. Goddamn vegetarian goblins, gentrifying our neighborhoods and removing the gluten from our artisanal kimchi tacos. Give ’em an inch and they’ll take a mile!
Anyway, back to the plot. Michael Waits (George Hardy) arranges a sort of home-swap vacation in which he and his family will spend a month in the rural farming community of Nilbog. The night before the big trip, Michael’s son Joshua (Michael Stephenson) is contacted by the ghost of his dead grandfather (Robert Ormsby), warning him that these goddamn vegetarian goblins want to turn him into a plant so they can eat them.
First off, let’s just take a moment to appreciate that Troll 2 isn’t satisfied with the idea of vegetarian goblins. No, there also needs to be a ghost in this movie. And not just your run-of-the-mill apparition either, but the creepy specter of a grandfather who looks a lot like Santa Claus and a little like Orson Welles. Finally, a movie that isn’t afraid of pushing boundaries and exploring new territory!
Meanwhile, Joshua’s sister, Holly (Connie McFarland), is pumping iron in her bedroom when she receives a visit from her boyfriend Elliot (Jason Wright). Like most romantic encounters I’ve experienced, this late night rendezvous ends with Holly punching Elliot in the groin and accusing him of being a homosexual. Why? Because Elliot prefers spending time with his friends. Gee, I wonder why?
Once the Waits make it to Nilbog, they encounter all kinds of crazy townsfolk. There’s the terrifying drugstore owner (Don Packard) who shouts, “There’s no coffee in Nilbog. It’s the devil’s drink!” And who could forget Sheriff Gene Freak (Gary Carlston) who actually says the following line of dialogue: “There’re sandwiches for tonight in here! It’ll go easier on you if you eat ’em. It’ll make our work easy. Otherwise, we’ll be forced to kill you VIOLENTLY!!”
The real star of Troll 2, however, is the goblins’ queen, Druid Creedence Leonore Gielgud (Deborah Reed), who uses the “Stonehenge Magic Stone” to give the goblins power. Creedence tricks her hapless victims into drinking a magic potion that turns them into vegetable matter. At one point in the film, Creedence transforms herself into a beautiful woman in négligée who seduces a teenage boy in an RV and drowns him… in popcorn. To describe the scene any further would do it an injustice – you have to see it to believe it.
Troll 2 is without a doubt one of the worst movies ever made – but it’s also one of the most fun movie-watching experiences you’ll ever have. If you’ve never experienced the joys of watching this cult classic with a group of friends and a few pizzas, you’re wasting your life. Seriously, what are you doing? What are you, some kind of vegetarian goblin?
Scream Factory’s Troll/Troll 2 double feature Blu-ray is a fantastic release that provides hours of entertainment. As an added bonus, the first 5,000 copies sold also include a DVD of Best Worst Movie, a documentary by Michael Stephenson – yes, the same one that starred in the film – that serves as an affectionate tribute to the greatest bad movie ever made.
This Blu-ray release is now available at Amazon. Check out the full list of bonus features, trailers, and cover art below!
*NEW: The Making of Troll – interviews with John Carl Buechler, Charles Band, Ed Naha, Richard Band, John Vulich And Gino Crognale, Jim Aupperle, James Belhovek, Linda Drake and Kevin Kutchaver
*NEW: Troll 2 audio commentary with George Hardy and Deborah Reed
*Theatrical trailers and photo gallery