Thursday, 22 October 2009

Troma Inc.

(Scroll down to the bottom for a list of my Troma reviews)Troma is a lot of things. It's a brand, a team of filmmakers, an aquired taste and the world's oldest independant film studio. Founded in the 1970s by Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz, the company has repeatedly produced unique, raunchy, satirical and boundary pushing comedy films. They started mostly using established genres - the sex comedy, relationship comedy, Mel Brooks-like fantasy comedy - and pushing boundaries and tastes within them, with films like "Stuck on You!" and "The First Turn On!!" but as time went on, they begin to throw as many genres together as possible, breaking new territory at every turn. A film like "The Toxic Avenger" is part gruesome horror film, part superhero film, part raunchy sex comedy and part environmental satire. "Class of Nuke 'Em High" is a teen movie with sci-fi monsters, mutant punks and rock & roll music, done in the style of a "Reefer Madness", over-the-top, propaganda film. As time went on, they experimented with the mainstream ("Troma's War", "Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD" and the two "Toxic Avenger" sequels), with limited success.

They restaged a kind-of comeback in the 1990s when Kaufman and James Gunn (now, more successful as a Hollywood screenwriter and director - he wrote "Scooby Doo", "Dawn of the Dead" and "The Specials", and directed "Slither") collaberated on the memorable "Tromeo & Juliet". This new Troma had a harder rock soundtrack than ever before (apparently inspired by Alex Winter's Troma-on-crack style cult classic "Freaked", which Kaufman admits on the "Stuck On You" commentary was a "great movie"), a more offensive and less justifiable sense of humour and a faster, "Simpsons" and "South Park"-influenced, style of comedy. This same approach was reused (along with Tromeo's penis monster) in two more films, "Terror Firmer" and "Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger Part IV", before being modified slightly (with music) for "Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead".

Lloyd Kaufman hard at work toppling the giant conspiracy of the bureaucratic and labour elites.

But Troma also releases films that are not directed, written or even produced by the Troma team head up by Kaufman and Herz. Since the very early days, Troma has purchased the rights to smaller movies that fit somewhat the companies brand (comedic, horrific, sexual, strange) and released them to the general public. Some of them are older, awful films Troma must've gotten for a song and a dance ("Capture of Bigfoot", "The Dark Side of Midnight") but some Troma pick-ups rank up there with the best of the in-house productions - "Combat Shock", "Cannibal! The Musical", "Redneck Zombies" and "Mother's Day" for example.

Some Troma "pick-ups" are actually better made and more professional than the (surely bigger budget) in-house productions! "Def by Temptation", "Surf Nazis Must Die!" and "Chopper Chicks in Zombietown" all spring to mind.

Troma also has quite a large selection of old-school slasher films they've picked up over the years. These include "Graduation Day", "Christmas Evil", "Blood Hook", "Girls School Screamers", "Mother's Day", "The Children" (kinda...), "Zombie Island Massacre" (no, no zombies here) and the slightly newer "Decampitated". You could argue "Fanatic/The Last Horror Film", "Beware: Children at Play", "Bloodsucking Freaks" and "Igor and the Lunatics" fit the mould too. They also used to own distribution rights for Richard "Class of Nuke 'Em High" W. Haines' earlier "Splatter University".


(In chronological order) The Kaufman-directed/in-house Productions:

  • "The Girl Who Returned"
  • "The Battle of Love's Return"
  • "Big Gus, What's the Fuss?"
  • "Squeeze Play!"
  • "Waitress!"
  • "Stuck On You!"
  • "The First Turn On!!"
  • "The Toxic Avenger"
  • "Class of Nuke 'Em High"
  • "Troma's War"
  • "The Toxic Avenger Part II"
  • "The Toxic Avenger Part III: The Last Temptation of Toxie"
  • "Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD"
  • "Tromeo & Juliet"
  • "Terror Firmer"
  • "Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger Part IV"
  • "Tales from the Crapper"
  • "Parts of the Family" (Tromatic re-edit)
  • "Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead"

In addition to these, the company has or had the rights to the following movies:

  • "Actium Maximus: War of the Alien Dinosaurs"
  • "Alien Blood"
  • "Backroad Diner"
  • "Beware: Children at Play!"
  • "Blades"
  • "Blood Hook"
  • "Bloodspell"
  • "Bloodsucking Freaks"
  • "Bugged!"
  • "Buttcrack"
  • "Cannibal! The Musical"
  • "The Children"
  • "Chillers"
  • "Chopper Chicks in Zombietown"
  • "Christmas Evil" (aka. "You'd Better Watch Out!")
  • "Class of Nuke 'Em High Part 2: Subhumanoid Meltdown"
  • "Class of Nuke 'Em High Part 3: The Good, the Bad, the Subhumanoid"
  • "Combat Shock"
  • "Coons: Night of the Bandits of the Night"
  • "Cyxork 7"
  • "The Dark Side of Midnight"
  • "Decampitated"
  • "Def by Temptation"
  • "Drawing Blood"
  • "Evil Clutch"
  • "Fanatic"
  • "Fat Guy Goes Nutzoid!"
  • "Fatty Drives the Bus"
  • "Frostbiter: Wrath of the Wendigo"
  • "Garden of the Dead"
  • "Graduation Day"
  • "Igor and the Lunatics"
  • "The Last Horror Film"
  • "Mad Dog Morgan"
  • "Monster in the Closet"
  • "Mothers Day"
  • "Nightbeast"
  • "A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell"
  • "Parts of the Family"
  • "Rabid Grannies"
  • "Redneck Zombies"
  • "Screamplay"
  • "Space Daze"
  • "Splatter University"
  • "Star Worms II: Attack of the Pleasure Pods"
  • "The Stendhal Syndrome"
  • "Strangest Dreams: Invasion of the Space Preachers"
  • "Sucker: The Vampire"
  • "Surf Nazis Must Die!"
  • "Unspeakable"
  • "When Nature Calls"
  • "Zombie Island Massacre"
They sure like them exclamation points!(!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

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