I had been puzzling for an irritatingly long time about a made-for-t.v. movie I saw a bunch of times as a kid but couldn’t remember the name of. The thing is, I remember EVERYTHING, so when a face or memory pops up in my mind and I can’t place it, I go a little nuts. I’m usually able to solve these quandaries with a good ‘ole search on the interweb. That’s where I found the title of a book I remembered reading in my childhood but all I could recall about it for years was that the story involved a creature called “the wicked Oni” who lived under the earth and had one eye and that it was incredibly creepy. (The book is called, “The Funny Little Woman”, by the way. It’s a Japanese folktale. Glad I put that one to rest!)
There were a few concrete elements I remembered from the t.v. show but most of it was the mood of it... the vaguely menacing and nightmarish quality. I remembered there being some sort of alternate universe that a kid goes to and realizes he can’t stay in. That’s about it. Then last week I had a breakthrough: one of the main characters was played by Sam Waterston. I thought I was on the right track until my various Google permutations for “Sam Waterston” 80s and t.v. yielded a bunch of unrelated garbage.
Until last night, that is, when I was bugging B with my various fruitless searches and finally came upon a filmography for Sam Waterston and scrolled down to the 80s part. The title I’d been searching for for years literally jumped out at me and I screamed it out: “The Boy Who Loved Trolls”! Lo and behold, there exists about 15 minutes of it on YouTube and goddamn, it’s exactly as I remember it: the weird synthesizer music, the narrator’s voice, the depressing mall montage, the condescending parents, the prepubescent boy and his inappropriate fixation on trolls (while at the same time admiring ladies lingerie?).
Take a look:
But what I didn’t remember (and wouldn’t have) were all the obvious drug references and the general bizarre spaciness of it all. (What’s up with all the rainbows?) B and I were watching it and remarking to each other, “These people were totally HIGH!” It was part of a series that ran on PBS in the 80s and 90s called “Wonderworks”. Back when I was a kid living with hippie parents out in the woods, our little t.v. only got one channel (unless it was windy) and it was PBS. At some point we got a VCR and it was a pretty big deal, but the great part is that we almost never rented VHS tapes... instead we would tape things off t.v. and watch them over and over when, say, PBS was running a pledge break. I remember taping various episodes of Wonderworks and basically memorizing them from start to finish. The trolls episode was one of them and obviously it’s never really left my consciousness.
With all that settled, I feel like I’ve reached a new chapter in my life. Next up: ordering the DVD from Amazon and totally tripping my balls off.