Triskaidekafiles is a love letter to cheesy cinema from the 80s and 90s, with the occasional dip into other eras.  if you're a fan of MST3K, Elvira, Joe Bob Briggs, or just bad horror movies in general, Trisk is the place for you.

Troll (1986)



DIRECTOR: John Carl Buechler

STARRING: Noah Hathaway as Harry Potter Jr.
    Michael Moriarty as Harry Potter Sr.
    Shelley Hack as Anne Potter
    Jenny Beck as Wendy Potter
    Sonny Bono as Peter Dickinson
    Phil Fondacaro as Malcom Mallory/Troll
    Brad Hall as William Daniels
    Anne Lockhart as Young Eunice
    Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Jeanette Cooper
    Gary Sandy as Barry Tabor
    June Lockhart as Eunice St. Clair

QUICK CUT: At long last, we turn our eyes towards a classic bad movie, in which Harry Potter stumbles into a magical world filled with trolls, wizards, witches, and dangers galore as...hey waitasec!


    Harry Potter Jr. - Your typical teenager who just moved into a new place.  He can't stand his sister, he's all alone, and he has monsters capturing his new neighbours.  But as much as he dislikes his sister, she IS family, so tries to stop the trolls anyways.

    Harry Potter Sr. - Harry's dad, and he's a bit of a big dork.  He wears silly hats, dresses like Mister Rogers half the time, and likes to goofily dance around his living room.

    Peter Dickinson - A fellow tennant in the Potters new apartment building, and he is your typical 1980s player.  His apartment looks more like party central with its kickin' stereo system and fully stocked bar.  Although from the way women treat him, you might think he is the titular troll.

    Barry Tabor - Or as he insists, Duke.  A marine, an excercise nut, another overly wacky character.  He's a hunter, likes the new kids in town, and seems way more sympathetic than soldiers tend to be in movies.

    Malcolm Mallory - Possibly the most sympathetic character.  An english professor, a little person, and slowly dying from an unspecified disease.  Talk about drawing the short straw.  He befriends Harry's sister, although she's a troll at the time.

    Eunice St. Clair - The local witch in the building, and she doesn't do any work to hide that fact at ALL.  She opens up completely to Harry when he asks the most basic questions.  Although it's a good thing, since otherwise the building would be overrun by trolls.

    Torok - The troll.  Played in two ways, one disguised as Harry's sister in which she eats more scenery than the Big Bad Wolf eats pigs, and as a full on troll that is way less vocal, way less annoying.  All he wants is to take over the universe.

I'm trolling.

THE GUTS: The time has come at last.  Triskaidekafiles finally turns its eyes towards a classic of bad movies.  A movie so awful that is one of the first movies people mention when you say 'bad movies'.  The original Troll film.  It's been reviewed everywhere by now, and I've avoided it for just that reason...yet it is such an iconic movie the site feels incomplete if I never do it.  So, I torment myself with this.  All for you.  ALL FOR YOU!

And as the credits roll, I see it's a Charles "Full Moon Productions" Band movie.  Just freakin' great.

The movie dives right into the thrilling antics of the Potter family moving into their new apartment after an entirely irrelevant credit sequence over a castle that is never seen again, and yes.  The star of this movie is named Harry Potter.  I will not be making any jokes or observations about that, since that is the lowest hanging fruit that everyone before me has already plucked.

While Harry watches his sister, he immediately fails at the one thing his parents asked him to do, and she goes off to the basement losing her ball.  She follows it inside, and you get the impression that she is supposed to find it creepy and scary, but the bright, well lit basement just looks dull and ordinary, instead.  At least the movie has the decency to start off with Something Happening when the girl is grabbed by a furry hand.

Ahh geeze, I can see his fig leaf.

Harry decides to do his job and actually look for Wendy, and as he's calling out for her, the troll ducks behind the washer.  And again, surprised to see them jumping right into showing us stuff.  Before Harry can stumble across the fuzzy guy in the basement, the creature uses its magical abilities to disguise itself as Wendy.

Good thing the ring has voice altering capabilities too, or else people would think puberty came REALLY early for the poor girl.  And passed Harry right on by.

Harry sees his sister's ball, and as he steps into the basement, the door closes behind him.  He barely jumps, but otherwise doesn't seem to question this, despite there being no one else nearby.  His only question is if his sister has been playing with dead cats.  No, worse.  Furries.

By your powers combined...

There's a nice mirror to the troll grabbing Wendy scene, when the camera makes the same move with Wendy's arm reaching out to grab Harry.  Or, it would be nice if we hadn't just seen it two minutes ago!  You don't put bookends on the same end of the shelf!  And man, does the troll blend in well as a little sister, laughing and giggling while practically dancing at having grabbed Harry.  It's hard to tell where the sister begins and the troll ends.

Their dad, Harry senior, returns with some takeout, and Wendy the troll stares at the thing in wondrous bemusement, repeatedly asking what's in it.  Believe me, kid.  You don't want to know.  Even I'm not sure.

They keep calling them ratburgers, and that may be more accurate than anyone wants to think about.

People really do love those McRibs.

Wendy runs off to find more burgers, and suddenly a fire alarm is going off.  The kids run downstairs, being chased by their upstairs neighbour, Peter Dickinson.  And he sure is one.  Somehow, Pete manages to trip right in front of the Potters' door, and Harry Senior trips over him.  Oh, the non-hilarity.

Sonny Bono clues the Potters in that he likes the ladies, and doesn't want the kids to cramp his style.  He then storms off into the Potters apartment.  I almost think it's a terrible blocking error, but no.  It's just a terrible plot contrivance for humour.

And that's when another neighbour called Barry literally runs in.  And runs in place.  And keeps running.  It's a little disturbing to watch, actually.

He's gonna blow!

During all this wackiness, the fire alarm continues to go off.  Somehow, it manages to be the least annoying thing about this entire sequence.

As if this wasn't bad enough, Elaine Benes comes stumbling down the stairs, accompanied by someone I only wish was Kramer.  We also learn that Barry's nickname is Duke.  Because he's like John Wayne.  My ass.

This entire scene may well serve as the most annoying cast introduction ever.  And not because of the never ending fire alarm.

Thankfully, once we meet old Ms. St. Clair, we can just focus on the Potters and their focused annoyingness.  Wendy has decided that she's tired of living out of boxes, and it's time to unpack by throwing around as much stuff as possible.  Oddly enough, this behaviour remains undetectable from any normal kid.

Then she bites Harry Senior.  I guess she developed a taste for meat from the burger.  A taste...FOR BLOOD!!  I always knew fast food was bad for you.

The next day, the apartment is mostly settled in, thanks to Wendy's help unpacking, and the kid is so tired, she's still asleep in bed.  Or she would be sleeping, if Pete Dickhead wasn't swinging loudly upstairs.

Come on in, Cher!

She finally gets up and heads to the kitchen for breakfast, but doesn't like the cold of the fridge.  Harry tries to find out what's wrong, and gets tossed clear across the room.  He covers for his sister because she'd likely take his lucnh moeny if he squealed, and I can see many beatings in Harry's future at school.

Wendy sneaks upstairs, and passes by Pete's date, grunting as she does so. that Torgo's music from Manos?!  Where did that come from??

Pete opens the door for the kid, thinking his girlfriend is coming back for more.  He tries to get rid of Wendy, and does a better job than he probably expected.  She ducks behind the bar, and when he looks, she has completely disappeared, but can still be heard laughing

She keeps popping up all around the apartment like a demented game of Where's Waldo, and eventualy gets bored enough to turn back into the troll and chase Sonny around his swingin' bachelor pad.

The troll makes the ring grow a needle that he jabs Pete with, and makes his arm pulsate unnaturally.  Which is probably the worst of his problems, as the changes wreak havoc upon his handsome features, and forever ruins him for any woman to touch again.  Unless they like asparagus.

Pete eventually transforms completely into a pod creature, and before you can say Body Snatchers, the thing cracks open and spews vines all over the place.  The redecoration is actually an improvement.  And inside the foliage, three more trolls pop out.  I don't think Pete wanted kids, and I don't think this is how he wanted to have them, even if he did.

And thus began the war between Sonny and the trees.

Harry is looking around for his sister, but doesn't find her at Eunice's place.  She, or the troll imposter, is still lurking inside the forest apartment, which is probably where Sean's closet went in Jack-o, and playing with the troll dolls inside.  And it's not just trolls.  There's some funky alligator creature, and something from the Black Lagoon.  Things got real weird, real fast.

Inside St. Clair's apartment, Harry got inside by saying he was going to be sick.  While he's barfing, we see Eunice doing some painting and...why the Friday the 13th does she have an anthropomorphic mushroom?!  And does Princess Peach know??

Uh, anyways, she's pretty cold to the kid, until Harry blurts out how he has no friends, his sister is acting weird, and things are creeping him out.  Somehow, this endears him to the old woman, and she says he's always welcome to come visit.  That was a sudden shift.

Outside, the troll girl is playing in the street, when she's almost mowed down, if not for the brave act of...Hey!  Phil Fondacaro!  Yay!  He's been in several of our movies, and is always a treat.  Even if he does have a silly porn 'stache in Troll.

Troll and the Dwarf. This fall, on ABC.

And in a large coincidence, we learn that Phil lives in the same building as Wendy.  Man, that place can really pack in the tennants, as long as they're all trolls and elves and little people.

Harry heads off to the store, but not before Wendy scares him.  He runs out the door, and right into Barry.  Because I refuse to call him Duke.  How come no one can exit the Potters' apartment without comitting a pratfall?

Potter the elder takes out a record and cranks up the volume, starting to...oh.  Oh no.  Don't do that.  Just...don't.  He starts dancing.  White guy in a sweater, dancing.  Shudder.  At least it's a good song.  But that still doesn't help that it looks like he's having a seizure.

Meanwhile, back in the interesting parts of the movie, Wendy pays a visit to Barry.  He babbles on for a bit, before saying he knows what death looks like.  Uh oh.  Wendy tells him she knows too, and the troll tosses the marine around the room like he's her brother.  But he does not go down easily.  Or he wouldn't, if the shotgun blast he fires didn't go zoop right through the troll.  Damn you, Beelzebub and your magical ways!

Anyways, cue another needling and act of herban renewal, just in time for Harry to come home and hear Barry's screams.    He tries to get into his apartment, but his dad is still convulsing in the living room, and his mother can't hear over the music.  Wendy comes out and zaps Harry with the ring, making him pass out.  Which again makes me question why she keeps letting Harry live.

Yes, I know the joke I can make here.  I won't do it.

Prepping for life after this turkey ruins what little career he has.

The Potter parents find their progeny outside and take him to his room, a room with several posters of other Charles Band classic crapfests.  Movies I have every intention of getting to someday, so this movie is only giving me more fodder for the future.  Oh yes.

This is going on while more pods crack open in Barry's apartment, and spew out more trollings.  The internet is so doomed.

Not to mention as we pan through the overgrown living room, there is what can only be described as mildly Satanic chanting going on.  In my mind, the trolls are the ones singing, calling out to their dark lords.  Or the director.

What the hell?

Ugh, why do the trolls have to be snotty?  They're disgusting enough without drippings.  And speaking of disgusting, I could've passed on a shirtless Harry Junior.

Phil comes over to the Potters for dinner, and they were under the impression that Wendy's little friend would be slightly less literal.  Awkwardness abounds, but they mostly handle it well after the initial shock, and Malcolm makes a few jokes at his own expense.  I do rather like this scene.  It plays real enough, despite there being a troll crossdressing as a girl.

While Harry watches a body snatchers movie in his room, complete with gratuitous Charles Band appearance, Phil recites "The Fairy Queen" to the rest of the Potter clan.  And while that's going on, the trolls start...singing.  This movie started out somewhere in the realm of harmless entertainment, and at some point in the last 30 minutes veered hard into WTF-ville.

This is what the scriptwriters were on, wasn't it?

The worst Muppet Show ever is drawn to a close as Eunice realises something is going on, and blows a horn she has hanging on her wall.  The noise is annoying enough to make me twitch, and it has much the same effect on the trolls, including Wendy.  I love that she seems to know exactly what's going on, but decides to not do much about her flatmates being turned into cabbages.

The next day, Wendy continues to annoy her brother by taking his juice, drinking it, and pouring the remainder on the floor rather than give it back.  Again, indistinguishable from any little sister.

Harry goes to visit Eunice rather than deal with the little monster, and he points out that Eunice isn't normal, and only has stuff a kid would have.  Uhh?  Books?  Painting supplies?  A weird horn?  Candelsticks?  How does this scream, 'kid'?  Looks like a typical lair of an older woman, frankly.

It is a veritable childhood paradise!

Bluntly, Harry asks if Eunice is a witch.  She doesn't outright answer yea or nay, and he asks why she's here.  To that she at least says she has to be.  My guess is because of court order.

Remembering there's other people in this movie, Wendy visits Elaine before she heads off to her audition for Seinfeld.  And upstairs, we learn that Eunice used to be a princess, then got lost in space for awhile, then decided to become a witch.

Anyways, she tells about how she was in love with the dinosaur hunter,, the wizard, Torok, and that she studied magic to be closer to him.  Harry wants to learn to be a wizard from Eunice, but she fears she won't have the time.  Damnit movie, why are you making this so damned easy??

It's time to clean the dishes when the fungus gains sentience.

Harry tells Eunice about the concerns he has over his sister, and she pretty much spills the beans right then and there.  Because the plot called for her to keep quiet for the past hour.  Meanwhile, elsewhere, we see Elaine popping out of a pod.  I guess the movie didn't want to waste our time with interesting stuff happening.

Unlike everyone else in this movie, she's not been converted into about a dozen trolls, but instead pops out of the pod like Venus on the half shell, except wrapped up in vines.  How come she gets the special treatment?

Back at Eunice's she's telling Harry that the day they moved in, the day his sister was changed, was Walpurgis Night, an important night in the wiccan religion, so of course it happened then.  Of course.  In fairness, I give them credit for actually doing some research and using a real pagan holiday.

And that's when he finally notices the squeaky mushroom person thing.  About time.  He takes it rather well, considering.  Oh, and the mushroom is the wizard she studied magic from.  Oh, I bet she got lots of magic from the mushroom.

Eunice tells Harry that time is running out, and when he asks her what his sister truly is, she says they don't have time to get into that.  Sure, we have time to talk to Galwyn the pizza topping, but not the actual plot.  Bah.

William and Phil try to get into Elaine's place, since she was supposed to meet Will, but she was busy transforming into kudzu.  After the dwarf gets bored, the door magically opens, and William stumbles into a rather plant-free apartment.  See, she just had to clean up, first!

Still a better Poison Ivy than Uma.

He blinks, and suddenly the place is full of plants again.  Upon seeing his mostly naked girlfriend, William chases after her, and somehow her apartment has become the TARDIS, as it is way bigger on the inside, now containing an entire forest.

After stabbing William with the magical ring off camera, Wendy finds her little friend, who has locked himself out of his apartment.  She magically is able to open the door and let herself in which...actually kinda explains something from earlier in the movie.  It's a lame "She's got magic!" explanation, but I was wondering how she ran into the apartment after zapping Harry, when he couldn't get in.

Inside, we learn that Malcom is dying, and how he used to wish he was magical when he was a kid, and that was why he was so messed up, not because he was genuinely sick.  Ah, I know that feeling.  And Wendy the troll actually seems to be sympathetic to all this.  It's kinda sad that the Wendy version is a more well-rounded character than the troll itself.

As the troll is about to make stabby on Malcom and grant his childhood wish, Eunice is running around with a spear, and stops at Elaine's apartment, giving us a glimpse inside of multiple versions of the tennant.  I wonder if one of them used to be her boyfriend...

She moves from apartment to apartment, and all she gets is giggling and grunts, after most of the building has been transformed by the troll's mischief.  Fortunately, the Potters are still...well, I wouldn't say normal, but close enough.

Harry waits for his sister to get home so he can watch her, but she's busy transforming Phil into something else, and that something else is...well, interesting to say the least.

Baby Charles Bronson!

The mustache makes it extra hilarious.

At the Potter family dinner, Harry takes his orders a bit too literally, and watches his sister.  And nothing else.  He stares across the table at her, and that's it.  It's a little creepy.  And for this movie, that is saying something!

While Wendy plays firestarter with the coffee pot, the trolls start to pay a visit to Eunice, and Witch Family Robinson zaps them through her door with her magic spear.

Harry lays in bed that night, and trolling shadows flicker across the wall.  He looks over at his sister, whom I thought had her own room the way the movie was showing things but I guess not!  And when he looks over, she's become a troll.  I guess she either doesn't care anymore, or got too tired to hold the form.

Hand me the funnies when you're done?

The next day, Harry starts wandering the halls of the building, and at every door, plants have begun creeping out.  On top of that, they've apparently left their windows open and are trying to blow the kid down the stairs, with how difficult it looks for him to be walking.

After the brief scene of pointless drama, he makes it to Eunice's, and tells her about what he saw.  She points to a book she has open, and it just so happens to look like what Harry saw!  Well, of course it does.  She knows what's going on.  Turns out, surprise, that the troll is actually Torok, her old love.

She goes on with more backstory, about ancient times before there were countries, only the world, where man and fairy creatures lived together in not exactly harmony.  They were intended to live together as equals, but Torok didn't want that, he wanted more.  He wanted to rule the world.  Nice boyfriend, Eunice.  Anyways, he was stopped and turned into a troll, and now his time has come again.

Things get even wierder, as she says that Torok is going from one apartment to the next, transforming each one into a fairy world, until he has changed the entire building into an entire fairy universe.  I thought universes were supposed to be contained in blades of grass, not apartments?

Torok, son of stone.

Anyways, once he's done, the universe will escape from the apartment, as Eunice puts it, 'like a fourth dimension'.  I don't think that's quite how dimensions work, but I'm too tired to argue.

Since the movie can't off a kid, Eunice tells Harry that his sister is alive somewhere, as the lone specimen that will survive the bursting dimensions, and become Torok's princess.  Next we learn that Torok has just three days to complete his universe.  Which isn't fair.  It took God seven!

Eunice hands Harry a spear of his own, and tells him he needs to stab it into the heart of Torok's universe; the biggest, meanest creature.  So, no big deal.

Once Harry leaves, the witch undoes her hair, and we see that she was keeping it tied up so tight, it was making her look old.  When it comes down, she's been deaged and replaced by her daughter.

Do you know what happens when a troll gets struck by lightning?

Harry returns to the seat in his apartment to wait for the creature to come to him, as Eunice stalks the apartments, and explodes doors to get in.  Now, who is going to pay for that damage??

She wanders through the Tesseract Arms, only finding endless forests, and no creatures, as everyone and everything is hiding from the witch.  Or, they are, until something twice her height swipes her spear.  She reacts like someone just took a cookie for all her concern over this.

Eunice rushes back to her apartment to get a new weapon, but runs right into Torok who zaps her with the ring, turning her into a tree and makes Harry sense a disturbance in the Force, rushing up the stairs.  Stairs which are in a sore need of a gardener by this point.

He runs deeper into Hobbiton while his parents hear weird noises outside their place.  They check it out and see the encroaching progress of trolls.  Eunice the stump tells them to stay inside, to stop Torok from taking over completely.

The Potters take things rather well, considering a stump just told them not to let the trolls inside their apartment.  They have no clue what's going on, but Harry Sr. takes the stump's advice, even though he is well aware how crazy it sounds.

Somewhere inside the forest moon of Endor, Harry finds his sister inside a glass coffin, and uses the spear to set her free.  She doesn't wake up, so he scoops her in his arms.  Just as that giant creature arrives.

Please don't kiss her, please don't kiss her.

That wakes the real Wendy up, and since Harry's hands were full, Torok got ahold of the spear.  Now he has a matching set!  Outside, onlookers stare at the building, while vines whip around the roof.  This must be New York, since no one seems all that bothered by this.

Harry gets smacked around by the monster, then it turns its attentions to the real Wendy.  This upsets Torok for no particular reason other than we were told the girl would be kept as the last human specimen.  We were never given any reason to see that Torok gave a shit one way or the other about her.

But he won't let the monster harm Wendy, so it is Torok himself that uses the spear to stop the thing.  Yes, that's right.  No one in this movie does anything of consequence.  The problem is stopped by the thing that started it all in the first place.

Avada kedavra! I'm allowed the one joke.

The kids escape into their apartment as rotoscoped lightning flashes around.  The earthquakes subside, and when the Potters look out their door once more, everything has changed back to normal.  With the added bonus that all the annoying neighbours seem to be dead.

As the family gets the hell out of dodge, the young Eunice gives a wink to Harry, and some cops trying to sort out this mess wonder just what the crap happened.  One of them figures the stereo was too loud.  Yes, that will make people disappear, vines whip around and...y'know what, screw it.  I'll take any explanation if it gets us out of this movie.

But we can't just end there.  A cop goes to check the building out, goes down to the basement, and gets sucked into Narnia.  And there's Torok with his ring, ready to start up all over again.  What about this having to start on Walpurgis Night?  Having a time limit?  Oh screw it, it's over.  I don't care.


Video: Pretty solid for an 80s lower budget film.  The colours are a bit dim, and maybe a bit washed out, but for the most part, it looks good.

Audio: An uninteresting stereo mix, but it gets the job done.  Those vines growing everywhere would be great in full surround.

Sound Byte: "Honey, did you do a lot of drugs before we met?"  Oh, SOMEone in this movie did, Mister Potter.

First Blood: Peter gets what's coming to him when he's the first to be transformed into a birthing pod.

Best Corpse: Again, Peter's death.  His is the one death I can really say IS a death, and one of the few we're shown.

Blood Type - D: The movie is completely bloodless, but the creature effects?  Pretty damned amazing, and deserve at least some points to keep this from being a total failing grade.

Sex Appeal: A mostly naked Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, if you must.

Movie Rating: This movie has such a reputation for being bad, and it deserves every ounce of it.  The legend is maybe a BIT overblown, and maybe it's not quite as bad as everyone says, but yeah, this is still pretty bad.  That sad, it has a story that goes from point A to point B without too much trouble.  Does anyone else notice just how DARK this movie is??  Think about it, for all we know, the movie ends with everyone but the Potters and Eunice dead!  Holy crap!  And this is arguably a more family oriented film!  Maybe by the same people that think Doctor Who is ok for kids...  That's probably the movie's biggest failing, trying to figure out who its audience is.  Kids?  Adults?  The family?  And the wildly shifting tone makes it stumble around in a weird middle ground that works for no one.  It suffers from coherency issues, and some pretty hamfisted acting, but for its faults, it is a well-enough made movie, with some pretty darned good effects that look like they escaped the Henson workshop after hours.  It gets a bonus points for effects alone, just squeaking into three out of five talking mushrooms.

Entertainment Value: Is it any surprise that something this terrible is worth seeing?  This is your typical trainwreck you cannot look away from.  The characters are SO goofy.  The writing is SO bad.  And yet, Fondacaro gives an AMAZING performance.  That is a real standout for this movie.  Wendy is painful as she chews scenery like a rat with a block of cheese.  And yes, there are so many Harry Potter jokes you can make.  Four out of five cabbage pods.