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Film / Troll (1986)

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Troll is a 1986 American B-Movie about Torok the Troll (no relation to Turok or Torak). Directed by John Carl Buechler, this was marketed as a Horror Comedy, but shares far more aspects with the Urban Fantasy genre, and in fact works better when regarded as such. The cast includes Noah Hathaway (of The Never Ending Story fame), Michael Moriarty, Shelley Hack, Sonny Bono, Phil Fondacaro, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Brad Hall, and June Lockhart.

The movie focuses on the Potter family. In case you're wondering, yes, there is a Harry Potter – two of them, in fact (father and son) – and this was long before J.K. Rowling wrote the books. Wendy Potter, the obnoxious little girl of the family, is abducted by the troll, who then takes her form and infiltrates into the family. For the remainder of the movie, Torok (voiced by Frank Welker) takes advantage of the weakening of magical barriers on Walpurgisnacht to turn the Potters' neighbors into plant pods to generate more trolls to take over the world with. Anyway, Harry Potter Junior (Hathaway) realizes that his sister has been replaced... only after watching two sci-fi movies. And even then, he assumes she's an alien. It takes a meeting with local witch Eunice St. Clair (Lockhart) for Harry Jr. to understand what is really happening, and then he solves everything.

It's worth noting that this movie has no official sequels. The So Bad, It's Good Troll 2 is actually an Italian movie with no relation whatsoever to it, and has goblins instead of trolls. The two Troll 3 movies (original names being Creepers and Quest For The Mighty Sword, respectively) are even less related; the first has no humanoid creatures or magic whatsoever, instead featuring radioactive plants, while the latter does feature a few trolls/goblins/whatever but it was meant to be part of the Ator series.

Not to be confused with Dreamworks Animation's Trolls, or the dolls that inspired that film, or the 2022 film of the same title. Or, you know, the other kind of Troll.

Tropes present in Troll:

  • Antiquated Linguistics: Torok (in disguise as Wendy) refers to Jeanette Cooper's boyfriend as a "suitor".
  • Apartment Complex of Horrors: The movie takes place in an apartment where the Potter family had moved in. The apartment has a troll and a gateway to a dimension full of monsters.
  • Asshole Victim: Peter is an unpleasant sort who openly hates children and treats women like objects. He's the first of Torok's victims and his demise is quite gruesome.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Peter Dickinson asks the woman he spends the last night of his life with how she would feel about breakfast. Assuming he's offering to provide her some she agrees, but then he clarifies: He expects her to make breakfast. She isn't amused.
    Peter Dickinson: Feel like breakfast?
    Dickinson's Girlfriend: Sure!
    Peter Dickinson: There's some pancake mix in the kitchen. Why don't you cook us up some?
  • Big Bad: Torok, the troll trying to summon the fae upon the Earth.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: The troll's male victims all become (or give rise to) rather ugly, wrinkled or brutish fairy creatures. Ms. Cooper, however, the only female tenant to be permanently transformed, becomes a bunch of scantly clad nymphs and glittering wood sprites.
  • Bigger on the Inside: The apartments achieve this as a result of the Reality Warping going on.
  • Book Dumb: Duke considers this a mark of pride: he thinks reading books is unmanly.
  • Brown Note: The horn Eunice blows to shut the singing faeries up.
    Eunice: That oughta give those little suckers something to think about!
  • Bumbling Dad: Harry Potter Sr. He means well but he's in over his head.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Peter Dickinson is a man well into middle age who's biggest interest in life is seducing and bedding women. "Duke" Tabor even refers to him as "the creep upstairs".
  • Child Hater: Peter Dickinson does not like children. He considers them loud and annoying.
  • Cool Old Lady: Eunice, once she and Harry Jr. start getting to know each other.
  • Creepy Basement: Torok's lair is located in the apartment building's laundry room, which is in the basement.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: When Torok turns people into plants, it's a slow and very painful process.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: The so called "sequels" were all original movies renamed in order to look like sequels to this movie.
  • The End... Or Is It?: The cornerstone to Torok's world is destroyed and the world collapses around him. Then, as the cops are investigating, Torok grabs one, presumably to take his form.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Troll features one troll. The rest are The Fair Folk.
  • Fanservice: It really just depends if you're either into girls running around wearing nothing but leaves covering naughty bits or into teenager boys showing their naked torsos, but either way you will be satisfied. An in-universe case for Torok, who stares at the body of the girl he turned into a fairy/elf/whatever.
  • The Fair Folk: Torok began his evil ways when he was still an elf (he was turned into a troll for punishment), and after mistaking a midget for an elf he turns him into an actual elf. He also turns a woman into some sort of fairy that lures her boyfriend, and it is slightly implied Eunice may be a fairy.
  • Femme Fatale: After Jeanette is turned into a nymph, she lures her boyfriend into the forest that used to be her apartment and takes him straight to Torok.
  • Forced Transformation:
    • Torok turns his victims into giant plant pods. These pods are essentially incubators that produce fairytale-like creatures (goblins, bugbears, wood nymphs, etc). When the pods burst open they release these creatures while transforming the surroundings into a fairytale forest.
    • Torok turns Eunice into a talking tree stump.
  • Foreshadowing: Harry Potter Sr.'s crack that the "apartment fairies" helped put things away
  • Green Thumb: One of the few times not only a villain has it, it also doesn't fall into Good Powers, Bad People because of the way it is used.
  • Gun Nut: Barry Tabor owns several firearms. He attempts to use one on Torok when the troll attacks him in his apartment, but with no success.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: Walpurgisnacht.
  • Jerkass: Peter Dickinson, who hates kids, is rude to Harry Potter Sr. (admittedly because his first interaction with him is after having been trampled by the latter's children running around the building while the fire alarm is going off) and who thinks he's a lot smoother with the ladies than he actually is. Duke is a lot nicer, except for the fact that he thinks reading is for pansies and liberals
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Eunice is a bit abrasive at first, but soon warms up to Harry Potter Jr.
  • Kid Hero
  • Little People Are Surreal: Averted somewhat with Malcolm, who seems like a fairly regular guy for an English professor... he just happens to be about three feet tall. All of the other little people in the movie are actual supernatural creatures.
  • Lousy Lovers Are Losers: Peter's ladyfriend did not enjoy spending the night with him.
    Peter Dickinson: Well, babe, was it what you expected?
    Dickinson's Girlfriend: Unfortunately.
  • Manly Men Can Hunt: The very masculine "Duke" Tabor has hunting trophies, archery equipment, and hunting rifles in his apartment.
  • Meaningful Name: Aside from the presumably coincidental "Harry Potter" thing, Sonny Bono's character is named Peter Dickinson, the name of a fairly prominent fantasy writer
  • Nice Guy: Malcolm Malory. He's helpful and friendly towards the other residents and he doesn't get offended when Wendy asks him if he is an elf.
  • The Nicknamer: At one point Eunice facetiously refers to Tabor as "Jungle Jim", presumably due to his military background and his love of hunting.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Eunice wears a good one when her own mushroom faerie joins in on the Cantos Profanae.
    • Peter when he looks behind a couch in his apartment and comes face to face with Torok.
  • One-Word Title
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Barry Tabor prefers to be called by his nickname, "Duke".
  • Our Demons Are Different / Our Gargoyles Rock: A gargoyle/demon thing attacks our protagonists in the end.
  • Painful Transformation: Peter's transformation into a pod is the only transformation shown and it isn't pleasant. A tar-like substance oozes out of his mouth as his skin turns green and hardens while his facial features gradually recede. Throughout the experience Peter is conscious, frightened, and in great pain.
  • Pet the Dog Torok turns Malcolm, who was suffering from cancer, into an elf.
  • Porn Stache: Peter Dickinson, the resident Casanova Wannabe, sports one.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Eunice. Notably, she can look younger than she is (and does do so once she goes hunting for Torok) but she chooses to look like an old woman (although significantly younger than the centuries she must be)
  • Reality Warping: Seems to be a side effect of the ring's transformation process although from the transformed perspective it's Reality Warping Is Not a Toy.
    • It isn't a side-effect, it's part of what Torok is plotting. He's trying to recreate a faerie kingdom in the apartment building, so that he can have another go at what got him turned into a troll in the first place.
  • Retired Badass: Barry "Duke" Tabor presents himself as this. He introduces himself as a retired United States Marine Corps officer who now "fights the battles of insurance."
  • Semper Fi: Lt. Barry Tabor, USMC, Retired. He's a former officer in the U.S. Marine Corps and he's very patriotic, obsessed with physical fitness, and has an assertive personality. He's also the only (mortal) tenant who tries to fight Torok.
  • Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing: As Peter transforms into a pod the pajama shirt he's wearing tears apart and his bathrobe pops open and falls away, revealing that his body is now a large, green plant pod.
  • Shirtless Scene: Harry Potter Jr. while in bed.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Tabor pulls a shotgun off his living room wall and fires on Torok with it.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Spawn Broodling: Although the plant pods seem to be the same people that are killed, with a different body, it otherwise fits since they become rather mookish.
  • Transflormation: The troll turns the apartment building's residents into plant pods in order to create more trolls.
  • Troubled Fetal Position: As Torok approaches Peter with the intention of turning him into a pod, the terrified man curls into a ball and covers his face with his hands.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Turok-as-Wendy will often do and say things that are very bizarre for a young girl to say and do (generally when around Malcolm), but no one aside from Harry Jr. seems to notice
  • Uncertain Doom: The nymph that used to be Jeanette lures William into the fairytale forest that used to be her apartment and straight to Torok. What happens next isn't shown, but William isn't seen again.
  • Villainous Crush: Torok finds Jeanette beautiful and turns her into a wood nymph in order to preserve her youthful beauty.
  • Villains Out Shopping: When Peter begins the process of transforming into a pod, Torok sits down with a Playboy Magazine and begins flipping through it, occasionally looking up to check on Peter's progress.
  • Waiting for a Break: Jeanette Cooper is an aspiring actress who works as a waitress between auditions.
  • Wall of Weapons:
    • Tabor has several firearms mounted on his living room wall. He tries to use one on Torok, with no success.
    • Eunice has various medieval weaponry hanging on the wall in her entryway.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: At the end of the film Eunice has turned back into a human. Does this mean Torok's other victims also turned back?
  • When Dimensions Collide: Torok's intended plan. First turn all the apartments into pocket dimensions that once complete would expand and absorb the outside universe.