TromaPPRECIATION

Troma Logo

Everyone has that one movie that changed their life, that experience that completely altered the way they viewed the world. For some people it is Citizen Kane, for others it might be Twilight. For me, it was Terror Firmer

I was 14 when I had my first Tromatic experience, Channel 4 were running Troma flicks late night on a Friday and I just happened to catch Terror Firmer this one Friday while I was dozing off (I would later find out that I missed Cannibal: The Musical the prior week and weep). I remember it so well, I switched to 4 and this movie was already some of the way through. A guy called The Todster was snorting coke with a mysterious lady who rips out a part of his brain and fries it. At that point I had only really known about zombie flicks and mainstream horror fare, so to see gore that extreme, sex that gratuitous, and some of the wittiest satire I had seen since Duck Soup, really struck me right where I needed it. Well that was it, I was hooked! I followed the Troma season on TV until it stopped and then tried to find every Troma video I could*.

Lloyd Kaufman with the Toxic Avenger

If you don’t know about Troma, first take a run at the nearest wall, head first to knock some sense into yourself, read this and then hit the Troma site to buy the DVDs (http://www.troma.com/). Troma was started back in 1974 by Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz and focused on sex comedies like The First Turn On. Later they hit the masses with a little movie called The Toxic Avenger. After their success was secured by that smash hit they continued making and distributing films of all genres, even though they are mainly known for their exploitation titles.

The thing about Troma and its movies is that they are ridiculous and fun but they almost always have plenty of subtext. They have something important to say, and if you can watch a blind girl fuck a hideously deformed creature of superhuman size and strength while they whisper it to you, then all the better! When I was a kid it was just to watch the boobs, see the gore, taste the Bromo Seltzer, and hear the squelching. But now Troma works so well for me because of Kaufman’s staunch principles and dedication to independent cinema. He consistently refuses to compromise his artistic vision and keeps afloat the largest independent film company remaining without bowing to the pressure of the Hollywood machine. These ideals and their commitment to finding and showcasing exciting, new talent from around the world should be an inspiration to anyone with a vested interest in film and the industry that surrounds it.

Here is a list of some of my favourite Troma films, with a bit about why I love them so.

The Toxic Avenger

The Toxic Avenger Troma

The film that launched a thousand mops and a Saturday morning cartoon series! Melvin Junko starts off as a nothing and ends up Tromaville’s own superhero, The Toxic Avenger. It is almost your basic superhero origin story, with added freaks running people over, head squashing, arm ripping and toxic waste. It deals with important themes that touch on bullying, revenge and most importantly, our waste. Toxie was the first eco superhero, fighting for the little guy and the big planet at the same time. Also, it is a whole skip full of fun.

Poultrygeist

Poultrygeist Night of the Chicken Dead

If you have seen Poultrygeist then you will know that the allegory isn’t subtle. The plot follows young Arbie who is starting off his career in fast food at American Chicken Bunker. ACB are a huge chain of militia-themed restaurants run by General Lee Roy; I wonder who they are referring to there? Well anyway, this new restaurant is built on an old Indian burial ground and everything turns to shit when chicken zombies start tearing stuff up. An obvious lampoon of evil conglomerate fast food chains, that also manages to strike out at teens sexual experimentation, protest group hypocrisy and, um, chickens or, um, something. Also, it’s a musical. What more do you want?

Bloodsucking Freaks

Bloodsucking Freaks

This movie treads a lot of the same ground as HGL’s classic The Wizard Of Gore, but with midgets (well, one) and feral caged ladies. It is also one of the few movies on this list that wasn’t produced in-house by Troma. Dealing predominantly in themes of sadomasochism, it seems to look specifically at sexism in the entertainment industry. Master Sardu only sees women as objects for his sick torture and that eventually becomes his downfall. It is an interesting and graphic tale about the lack of morality that populates the industry, while not skimping on the gore. It could well be considered an early entry into the “torture porn” canon.

Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD

Sgt Kabukiman N.Y.P.D

The tale of New York cop Harry Griswald who is imbued with the powers of an ancient Japanese hero is clearly a story about the wholesale import and bastardisation of foreign culture by American conglomerates. The flick’s villains seek to extract the part of Griswald which makes him Kabukiman for the nefarious scheme of gaining power and wealth. It is presented as a screwy comedy actioner, with loads of belly laughs and some food for thought.

Terror Firmer

Terror Firmer

Terror Firmer is the story of an independent movie set plagued with such inconveniences as a blind director and on-set deaths, which does little to mask Kaufman’s true intentions to show how fucking difficult it is to make a low budget movie. Sure, there are probably slightly less hermaphrodites involved on a usual Troma set, and perhaps a touch less cold blooded murder but you get my point. It’s the movie that kicked it all off for me, and I don’t think I could ever stop loving it.

And so we have come full circle. There are literally thousands of other Troma releases, which differ in quality but never in message: Keep independent film independent.

Troma have recently re-released a few of their films on blu-ray, so if that is your particular poison then go and buy buy buy (There are plenty of DVDs still available to us technological luddites too).

Lloyd Kaufman Poultrygeist

*I remember the first being The Action Hunters, which starred this Ron Jeremy looking dude who gets embroiled in a scheme and has to take some beautiful girl on the run. I also remember having an Australian VHS of The Last Temptation Of Toxie that I guess used to live in a rental shop. It was in a box even larger than those of UK rental cases and was made of the flimsiest plastic ever forged by man. The video didn’t even work in my PAL player.

3 Comments on “TromaPPRECIATION”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jamie Carruthers and GOREPRESS, GOREPRESS. GOREPRESS said: Hey folks, reads _dangerous's ode to Troma over at Gorepress.com: http://bit.ly/5eFg1n [...]

  2. [...] TromaPPRECIATION – an ode to Lloyd Kaufman and Troma « Gorepress [...]

  3. [...] Movie Review, Nudity, Sex Comedy, Troma I wrote a piece for Gorepress about how much I dig Troma (clicky!) and funnily enough, this movie didn’t come up in it. Back when Troma were making phat cash [...]

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