Troll (1986) and Troll 2 (1990) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Troll was part of a popular sub-genre in the 1980s which consisted of ordinary middle-class people interacting with fantasy creatures in circumstances both comedic and frightening. Joe Dante and Steven Spielberg kicked the ball off in 1984 with Gremlins, a film which was assembled for $11 million and grossed more than of $150 million. This was the biggest success story in the genre, and the only one that was really any good,  but it wasn't the only profitable one. 1985's dreadful Ghoulies (2.9 at IMDb, #91 on the "all time worst" list) was made by Empire Pictures for a paltry million dollars, and grossed $35 million. One year later, Empire decided to try its luck again, this time with Troll.

According to Troll's myth, we humans banished trolls and their fellow fanciful creatures from our dimension in an ancient war. The king of the trolls, who is still alive, is now trying to return to our world and conquer it through a portal which exists in the laundry room of an apartment building in San Francisco. Where else? King Troll is small, and he doesn't have much of any army, but he does possess a magic ring which enables him to do all sorts of things, the most important of which, at least for plot purposes, is to be able to take human form by inserting his spirit into an existing human body. A new family moves into the apartments on the same day that Mr. Troll makes his move, so he takes advantage of that by starting his world conquest modestly, by possessing their 11-year-old daughter. Hey, even the longest journey begins with a single step. Somebody famous said that. Dom DeLuise, I believe. Interestingly, the father and son in the family are named Harry Potter Sr. and Jr.!

As time goes on, the Troll encounters many former television stars who are living in the building. Gary Sandy (WKRP) is there, and was happy for it, since he had not worked in the three years between WKRP and this film, and unemployment checks do not keep coming forever, even in California. Sonny Bono is there as well, playing the part of a swingin' ladies man who's always trying to hard, ala Austin Powers. June Lockhart (Lassie's mom) is also there, but King Troll is not that happy to encounter her, since she turns out to be a powerful witch who knew him way back when humans and trolls co-existed. Best of all, Seinfeld's Julia Louis-Dreyfus is there - naked. (Discreetly naked. It's a PG-13 movie.)

Dreyfus had two great successes in her career. She was part of two American comedy shows which were cultural landmarks, having spent  four years (1982-1985) on SNL and nine years on Seinfeld (1990-1998). The path in between those milestones was a bit overgrown, and she was struggling to find her way for a while. I presume that's why she agreed to wiggle her bum while prancing around the woods in an faux-ivy thong bikini, playing a human-turned-dryad in this uninspired movie (3.3 at IMDb.)

At any rate, the troll summarily disposes of each of the TV guest stars, dispatching each of them to a separate fate. He turns Sonny Bono into a giant green vagina, for example, although the humans didn't really notice any change, and the fantasy creatures felt it was an improvement, especially the Jolly Green Giant, who called Sonny his "ho" three times and felt a certain tightness in his leafy tunic. We never did get to see how Bono dealt with the niblets and the ol' beanstalk, but I guess he did OK, because he subsequently gave birth to several tiny little green creatures.

Troll isn't really a good movie, as indicated by the IMDb score, but it has all sorts of guilty pleasures, and offers all sorts of loopy fun. I actually enjoyed watching it for the surreal casting, the silly creatures, and Sonny Bono's crazy overacting. The very competent cinematography was provided by Romano Albani, who lensed several giallo films for Bava and Argento.



  • No features except the original trailers
  • Both widescreen transfers are anamorphically enhanced (16x9), and are workmanlike.



Both films are rated PG-13. Troll 2 has no nudity. For a discussion of the Troll situation, see the main commentary

Troll 2 doesn't have any nudity at all, but it is worth a quick mention, since (1) it is currently being offered on the same 2-for-1 DVD as Troll; and (2) it is currently ranked as the worst film of all time at IMDb.

That ranking speaks for itself, but there are some truly curious elements worth mentioning. First, Troll 2 has nothing to do with the earlier movie called Troll. It has none of the same characters and no familiar actors at all. Second, it was made in Italy and was not produced by Empire Pictures, the people who made the first film and presumably owned the Troll name. Third, the film doesn't even have anything to do with trolls, although it belongs to the same fantasy sub-genre as Troll. A family goes on vacation and has semi-scary, semi-funny encounters with goblins in a town called Nilbog. (Get it?)

In other words, it took a big brass set to call it Troll 2.

Well, do you know who had just such a set? The prolific Italian porno producer/director Joe D'Amato, who directed 196 films of his own, and also produced a couple dozen, including this one. This may be the only PG-13 one in the lot. Most of his other films have titles like The Anal Perversions of Lolita, and Robin Hood: Thief of Wives.

One more astounding item. The costume design for Troll 2 was done by the famous softcore porn star Laura Gemser (Black Emmanuelle), who was one of D'Amato's favorite leading ladies.

I know that the IMDb crowd thinks it's the worst ever, but it isn't. It's just another crappy script with bad acting and silly make-up. I can't even call this film an F, because the photography is gorgeous. The film was lensed by Giancarlo Ferrando, who shot many competent gialli for Sergio Martino, and it has been transferred nicely to DVD. In fact, Ferrando's competent cinematography actually made the rest of the film seem worse, because it exposed the clumsiness of the make-up and special effects!

The Critics Vote ...



The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary for Troll 2. IMDb voters score it 1.8/10, worst of all time. It's a truly awful movie, but nowhere near the worst of all time. The photography is actually quite good.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, Troll is a C-, typical, if somewhat below average, 80s-style comedy/fantasy/fright film mixing grotesque small creatures and normal families. (The Gremlins sub-genre.)  Troll 2 is an E. It is rated the worst of all time at IMDb, and things can't get much worse than that, but it does have some capable photography transferred immaculately to DVD.

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