If you follow me on Facebook, you've probably heard all this, and are sick of it. :P
The Girl Who Returned (1969)
Lloyd Kaufman's first film from Yale.
Boring, lousy, but...interesting....
In black & white, no audio, with narration dubbed over.
About an alternate future where there are only two countries left, Luxembourg, and Mongolia, the former, inhabited solely by women, the latter, by men.
Every year, they compete in an Olympic games for control of the world.
Set on this backdrop, the film's heroine rebels against her bitchy track instructor, and blowhard teachers, and runs off to Mongolia to try to re-unify the genders, and bring about "the new golden age".
Crap as a film, but if you dissect it, it's the subliminal mission statement for Troma.
You've got rebellion against the system, you've got girls exercising, and touching each other, you've got a dystopia obviously brought about by radical feminism, which Lloyd is on record as being no fan of, and sexual love as the highest goal.
Bam, there you go, there's Troma.
Anyhoo, this flick is an Easter-egg in "The Sexy Box", a boxed set of Troma's early films, and, I'm bouncing back and forth on whether to get it or not.
On Youtube, the ending cuts off.
Hope the DVD one is fixed.
Although, I doubt it would help much.
The Battle Of Love's Return (1971)
Well...better than "The Girl Who Returned", I'll give it that.
Lloyd actually stars in this one.
He plays a shlubby guy who shlubs around shlubbily, like the Little Tramp, and then the film switches to black & white, and characters are taken out of the reality of the main film, and are interviewed by Lloyd as a filmmaker instead of a character, and they spout philosophical bullshit.
Bullshit, because, they turn right around, and don't live up to it, when they cut back to color, and the universe of the main film, and tell Lloyd's character to go fuck off.
This goes on and on, until finally Lloyd bumps into an Army recruitment sign, teleports into the world of the sign, and is suddenly in 'Nam, gets shot, and teleports back to Jersey in a parking lot, as a corpse.
Helicopter shot pull back to a cityscape view of Jersey, the end.
Oliver Stone got his start in this one.
Seeds of "Platoon", perhaps?
Lloyd's father said his favorite part was "when Lloyd dies".
Can't be a coincidence he mostly hid behind the camera for the next 30 years.
Although, there's more Troma seeds here, the documentary cut-away thing is kind of the precursor to Lloyd's digital camcorder filming of the DVD bonus interviews and "All The Love You Cannes".
A poster for this can be seen in "Tromeo & Juliet".
This one is also an Easter-egg in "The Sexy box".
Big Gus, What's The Fuss? (1973)
A miserable piece of shit that Lloyd hates, and was mentioned both on the Toxie 1 DVD, and in "All The Love You Cannes".
A detective comedy filmed in Israel in Hebrew with English subtitles.
I only got 5 minutes into it, and couldn't stand it anymore.
This is also an Easter-Egg in "The Sexy Box".
So then Lloyd and Michael Herz invented Troma in 1974, (I've heard it stands for Tits R Our Main Attraction), then, Lloyd played a wino in Rocky in 1976, then Lloyd directed 4 pornos, dunno if they're hardcore or not, I heard they were artsy, but you can't acquire them now, then, the first actual Troma movie...
Squeeze Play! (1979)
Very goofy and corny.
But...revolutionary for its day.
Lloyd doesn't get any credit, but he invented the teen sex comedy.
R rated sex, and screwball funny, had never been combined in American cinema until this moment.
"Porkys", "Screwballs", "Revenge Of The Nerds", "Zapped", they all ripped these next 4 off.
And then "American Pie", ripped those off, and pretended they got it all from "Porkys".
Nuh-uh, all Uncle Lloydie.
Now, as lame as this one is in hindsight, I still like it better than "Porkys".
"Porkys", sucks. Fuck "Porkys".
The one Toxie seed I saw in this one, a heel named Bozo.
Except he was a big fat hairy guy instead of a weightlifting bully.
Anyway, the plot of this one, the guys of this small Jersey town (not yet Tromaville) are all wrapped up in playing softball, and the wives can't stand it, so they make their own team to fight with the guys.
Everyone comes together at the end.
Shades of "The Girl Who Returned".
Also, some blatant "Rocky", parody scenes.
A poster for this can be seen in "Tromeo & Juliet".
This is one of the main features in "The Sexy Box".
Better than "Squeeze Play", but still pretty corny.
Imagine a string of the Barth's Burgers skits from "You Can't Do That On Television", interspersed with boobies.
You can see seeds of "Poultrygeist", there in the grossout gags in the kitchen.
So, the plot revolves around the three separate but interconnected stories of three waitresses.
One, sent undercover to the restaurant to write an article for some women's rag-mag.
Another, the spoiled brat bad-girl daughter of the owner sent to work there as punishment.
She was kind of Paris Hilton meets Ryoko, and was my favorite.
The third, and probably the main character, was an aspiring actress obsessed with being cast as Joan Of Arc, who you see there on the poster in the armor on the horse.
In "Squeeze Play", the hints were there, but in this one, you really start to see Troma become itself.
Another Toxie seed, a nerd named Melvin is a secondary character.
Also a scene where a character is chased around in a baggy clown suit echoes a similar sequence in "Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD".
Calvert DeForest (a.k.a. Larry "Bud", Melman) makes a cameo.
A poster for this can be seen in "Tromeo & Juliet".
Also, it's one of the main features in "The Sexy Box".
Stuck On You! (1982)
Bigger in scope, and in terms of stuff going on, than "Waitress!", but, for some reason, I dig "Waitress!", better.
About a bickering couple who are breaking up, and are suing each other for palimony.
The judge (who turns out to be the angel, Gabriel) takes them into his chambers, and becomes their de-facto marriage counselor, and listens to their flashbacks of their relationship, and he compares it to some couple in history with similar troubles.
So, really, the whole divorce court thing becomes a framing device for these history vignettes, and it's a roundabout way for Lloyd to do his own "History Of The World Part 1".
There's a bit with chickens in the middle that's a seed for "Poultrygeist".
And, a gag with a chicken being ground up, and the machine spitting out processed fast foods was recycled in "Citizen Toxie".
It's got some mild chuckles, and it's got a syrupy lovey-dovey ending, but...think about it, if you remade this today with say, Steve Carrell, and Tina Fey, it'd be box-office boffo.
This kind of thing still sells.
Anyway, the title comes from a scene where the couple flashes back to an incident where they got high on pot, waxed philosophical, put on hippie body paint, accidentally mixed Super Glue with the paint, and got stuck to each other.
A poster for this can be seen in "Tromeo & Juliet", and a t-shirt with its logo can be seen in "Class Of Nuke 'Em High".
This is also one of the main features in "The Sexy Box".
The First Turn-On! (1983)
Probably my favorite of these 4.
If I give in, and get "The Sexy Box", it'll be for this, and "Waitress!", and the rest will be bonus features.
Still corny, but the closest one to the Toxie and beyond Tromaverse.
And, this one came just before Toxie.
Mark Torgl who plays Melvin in Toxie 1, and Evil Melvin in Toxie 4 shows up, and his performance is so weird and outrageous, I think Troma as we know it is truly born the minute he steps on camera.
The final Toxie seed in this one, is a nature film played by one of the head counselors is from a New Jersey toxic waste manufacturer.
So, you see the topic was on Lloyd's mind.
Anyway, the plot,..um, imagine a hornier "Meatballs".
Or..."American Pie Presents Band Camp", if it didn't suck.
It's a fun one.
Vincent D'Onofrio got his start in this.
The poster for this can be seen in "Tromeo & Juliet", and a t-shirt of its logo can be seen in "Terror Firmer".
Also, of course, it's the final feature in "The Sexy Box".
Then came Toxie, then "Class Of Nuke 'Em High", and then they were off and running.
Troma's War (1988)
Oh man, I'm sooo happy to re-discover this one!
I saw this way back when I was a teenager on basic cable, and it was censored all to hell, and therefore, boring.
Also, my dumb young mind wasn't ready for the politics.
But, seeing it now, uncut, oh man, this is the movie I've been looking for, and dreaming of!
If you ever wanted a lefty revolutionary antidote to Rambo 2-3, and/or "Red Dawn", this is for you.
This was deliberately made as a middle-finger to Reagan.
SO getting this on DVD.
I consider this, Toxie, and Nuke-em, "The Classic Trilogy".
They all came one after the other, they all interconnect through Tromaville, they all highlight a hellish facet of Reagan's America, they're all equally great, and they're just before...the bad years.
Also, (the actors that play) Bozo, Slug, and Mayor Belgoody are in Nuke-em, and Cigarface is in War.
So, yeah, I did it, I forced myself to watch it again for the first time in almost 20 years to see if it was as lame as I remember.
It's fucking WORSE!!
It takes 40 fucking minutes for the boring unfunny normal guy to turn into Kabukiman, then they piss away the middle 15-20 minutes with him as a clown instead of Kabukiman (see "Waitress!"), then, the big monster fight at the end is a stupid unfunny anti-climax.
And, everything that makes a flick Troma-y is de-nutted.
There's no edge.
The corners are sanded off.
There's no balls.
This ruined Troma for me.
I walked away from it for well...20 years.
I didn't lay eyes on a Troma flick until I re-bought the fucking Toxies.
(Well, okay, no, I saw Citizen Toxie back in like, '07 or so)
Thankfully, the fire in my heart is re-ignited.
Man, was I missing out.
This is what was missing from my life.
Not love, and fancy cars, fucking TROMA, man!
So...yeah, fuck you, Kabukiman.
Well, you got yours in "Citizen Toxie", so pppt!
Apparently, all longtime Troma fans (and Loyd) now look back on those years as "the dark times".
But, shit, the 90's were the dark times for everything.
Then, came "the rebirth", as everyone calls it.
"Tromeo And Juliet", "Terror Firmer", "Citizen Toxie", "Poultrygeist", and the upcoming "Return To Nuke 'Em High", which looks to be an apology the way "Citizen Toxie", was, and then Toxie 5.
Um, yeah, so that lays down the overall timeline....
I finally fucking saw it, and it's fucking wonderful!
Totally getting it on DVD.
Written and directed by Lloyd's brother, Charles.
He's a talented bastid. Wow.
So...yeah, imagine all the shit that sucks about "Friday The 13th", imagine the opposite, and here it is, it's this fucking movie.
This is the one you've dreamed of.
If you own the Friday series, take it out back, whole thing, burn it with lighter fluid, and replace it with "Mother's Day".
It kills the whole stupid lame-ass franchise in one stroke.
Good-guy women that don't suck, that have personalities, and back-stories, villains that are goofy, but not stupid goofy like "Last House On The Left", they're believably crazy like the original "Texas Chainsaw Massacre", and all the frustrating cliche horror movie bullshit that makes you yell at the screen, fucking antidoted.
And better kills, and more satisfying revenge.
I think it might even stack up with "I Spit On your Grave".
And you know how much I love that goddamned thing.
Yeah, that good.
When Troma is firing on all cylinders, they're the fucking CURE to fucking Hollywood drek.
Well....not as good as I remember it from childhood at all....
Even though it wasn't "ha ha", funny this go-around...it was strangely fascinating.
I miiight still get this on DVD for nostalgia's sake....
Another one written by Charlie Kaufman.
When Nature Calls (1985)
Another one from Charlie.
A collection of skits like "Kentucky Fried Movie".
This could easily stack up in a double feature with that one.
Got some cool celebrities too.
Gates McFadden just 2 years before she was Crusher on TNG.
Morey Amsterdam from "The Dick Van Dyke Show".
Freddie Blassie from wrestling.
And "Watergate celebrity", G. Gordon Liddy.
It's got a lot of corny bits, but...so does "Airplane", so does "Kentucky Fried Movie", so do a lot of fuckin' 80's flicks people have put up on a pedestal in their minds.
Despite a bunch of groaners, and forehead slappers, I liked this one.
I might just get this.
But, I kinda wanna support this one out of economic spite too.
See, that poster there, that's obviously a parody of "Gone With The Wind", right?
No big deal, right?
Fucking "Fletch Lives", got away with it fer chrissakes.
Well, fucking MGM threatened to sue Troma if they didn't change it.
Even though parody is fair use.
Troma couldn't afford the court costs, so they kowtowed, and rotated and flipped the bear and woman, and changed the sky to blue.
And that's what you get on the DVD.
And it's fuckin' ugly.
But, there's the fucking original, right there.
No harm to anybody.
Fuck you, MGM.
I happen to think "Gone With The Wind", is tedious overrated soap-opera bullshit, and you can cram it up your evil corporate asses.
Polish them apples.
Anyway, the poster for this can be seen in "Poultrygeist".
I won't say which one, in case MGM is actually sniffing around.
Combat Shock (1986)
The first one I'm aware of that Troma distributed, but someone else entirely made.
It's a good 'un.
I don't love it, but it is something special.
Plot wise...the song "Frankie Teardrop", dragged out into a movie.
Fuck, the character is even called Frankie.
So, if that's something you were looking for in life, a "Frankie Teardrop", movie, bam, there you go.
They Call Me Macho Woman (1989)
Ayep, same year as Toxie 2, and we're back into the dark years.
Couldn't watch it, saw the trailer, and it looked fucking miserable.
But, the poster for this is all over the place in "Terror Firmer".
Guess it has a cult.
A Nymphoid Barbarian In Dinosaur Hell (1990)
Now doesn't that title just sound fucking great?
And, the opening 4 minutes promise a comedy branching off of the Tromavillian Lloyd-verse.
But, alas, from there on, it takes itself seriously, and is kinda dull, with hardly any dialog.
The stop-motion monsters are good though, but too far between.
Anyway, the title is a lie, there are no dinosaurs, the monsters are mutated animals, its landscape is lush, and far from a Hell, and the Barbarian isn't a nympho, much less a nymphoid, and...she's not much of a barbarian, come to think of it.
Her pits are shaved, her hair is clean, her teeth are straight and white, and, she's built like a yoga chick.
Nope, the title promises a flick ten times what is actually delivered.
Give it a miss.
...although...I hear the DVD has a funny commentary.
For me, it's not worth it, but it might be to you.
Fertilize The Blaspheming Bombshell (1990)
Another one with a great title.
Another one I couldn't bring myself to watch after seeing the miserable trailer.
But...I could SWEAR I saw it on "USA Up All Night", back in the day.
I can totally picture Gilbert Gottfried mouthing that title joyously.
Def By Temptation (1990)
All right, now, Troma is proud of this one, but, I think it sucks.
Just not my cup of tea for some reason.
Well...it's more Exorcist rehash shit.
The reason they're proud of it, is it's Sam Jackson's first movie.
Well, if it were me, I'd be blowing that trumpet too.
Anyhoo, the poster for this can be seen in "Tromeo & Juliet", and "Terror Firmer".
So, it's counted among their classics, I guess.
Wow, another one that didn't hold up to how I remembered.
Acting as bad as a bad high school play.
I couldn't get through it.
I peeked at the final fist fight though, and that's still fun, but...gawd, what insufferable crap to get there.
All The Love You Cannes (2002)
And, we're back to the renaissance age.
And, back to Uncle Lloydie.
But, this is split off, cuz it's a documentary.
It's fucking brilliant.
And a laugh riot.
As hard as I used to laugh at "Ferocious Female Freedom Fighters", I laughed at this.
I thought I'd lost that laugh.
Thank you, Uncle Lloydie.
Take your Michael Moore DVDs, and burn them next to the melted plastic that used to be your Jason DVDs. This is the only documentary you need.
I own "Class Of Nuke 'Em high", and "Tromeo & Juliet", and "Terror Firmer".
Short review, they're fucking wonderful.
Ran out to Bull Moose Music, and nabbed them days after the Toxie review, in fact.
And taking its sweet time arriving by Amazon is "Poultrygeist", and, I'm heroin craving for "Troma's War".
But, I'll review all of those next time, once the collection is all together.
Anyhoo, here's some left over non-Troma flicks I watched.
Alexandra's Project (2005)
So, "Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome", was on TV, and it gets to the part where he finds that village of wild children, and he has a battle of wills with the teen girl who runs the show, and I thinks to myself, I thinks, "man, she was a hot little pistol, I wonder if she ever went anywhere".
So, I IMDB her up, and she's Helen Buday, and one of her flicks is this "Alexandra's Project", and, it's supposed to be this disturbing psychological horror.
So...well, you know me, that's right up my alley.
All right, plot, Alexandra is the wife, and her husband goes to work on his birthday, he comes home, Alexandra's gone, kids are gone, and Alexandra's left a tape for him to play...and it's got creepy shit on it.
Apparently, she's unhappy in the marriage.
Well....I thought it was a dud.
I was expecting a lot better.
The performances are great, but the writing is a bit in love with itself, and the plot is implausible, and the ending is really stupid.
My logic processor wouldn't shut up, it was constantly saying "yeah, but if she felt that way about it, why not just...", and "he's an asshole, but he doesn't deserve this drawn out bullshit".
And most of all "wah wah, what a drama queen".
Consider this entry a teensy followup to "That's IT?!!?!?".
Cuz, critics raved about this thing.
My expectations were raised.
I saw this at Shady Dave's flea market in the 90's, and aaaaalmost bought it.
Dunno why I didn't.
I kick myself.
Had it right in my hand.
Now that I've seen it, totally need to get it.
About a boy and his talking alien parasite that latches onto his neck, and gives him the ultimate high, in exchange for him finding people to murder, so the parasite can eat their brains.
The trip-out effects are experimental, and wild, and a real treat.
And the parasite, Aylmer, is a fucking hoot.
Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things (1973)
Okay, this one, I always saw on either the Nicelys shelves, or the Home Vision Video shelves, or at Shady Dave's, and...I never worked up the nerve to just grab the damned thing.
So, this was the last one I was curious about from the VHS days.
I've seen it now, and it's pretty schlocky.
Effects wise, anyway.
I recommend every horror fan drawing breath to see it at least once though, because I swear to you, this is the middle evolution between "Night Of The Living Dead", and "The Evil Dead".
It came out 5 years after NOTLD, and 8 years before ED.
The zombies are flesh eaters, like NOTLD, but they're animated by a magic spell from a book, like ED.
The protagonists are obnoxious college age kids, like ED, and they in-fight, like NOTLD.
They end up in a rickety cabin, like ED, and board it up, like NOTLD.
The resemblances go on and on.
Even shots are similar.
If Raimi didn't study this, I'll eat my hat.
The only thing that drags it down, really, is the terrible zombie makeup.
The characters are fun, the dialog is peppy, the gore is half-decent.
Just those damned makeups.
It's really worth a look.
It's as different from "The Evil Dead", as the 2013 remake is, so...yeah, if I were the maker of this, I'd be pissed I wasn't getting a slice.
I fucking FOUND it!
I've found everything.
I did it....
So, yeah, when "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers", came out, I told anyone who'd listen, that I'd seen it before, that it wasn't new.
No one believed it.
And when I told them there was a villain that said "Wheee! Whee! We're the bloody reptiles that go whee!", they thought I was nuts.
Well...be-fucking-hold, you incredulous bastards.
Skip to 3 minutes in to see the bloody reptiles that go "whee!".
And....that's every little thing.
Until the big Troma DVD reviews.
About a nuclear plant leaking this yellow gas, which mutates a busload of kids, so that they're evil, have black fingernails, have no blood, and have the power to burn you alive with their touch.
Hacking off their hands kills them, and when they die (emitting this disturbing howl), the fingernails turn back to normal.
Saw this when I was 5, and it scared the ever-living shit out of me, and gave me nightmares.
My memories faded, and I thought I'd dreamed the whole thing, and then it became one of those memories that completely vanishes, and every 5 years randomly pops up out of nowhere.
Anyhoo, what should happen to be on the Toxie 1 DVD, but the trailer for this.
Apparently, Troma has been buying up the rights to a bunch of old expired movies, and adding them to their catalog.
Turns out they also own "White "Zombie", and "The Devil Bat", so, they get a slice of those oldies movies sets.
Anyhoo, my jaw dropped when I saw that.
"Holy shit, it's REAL!! I didn't dream it!".
So, about a week or so after that, I noticed they had it on the official Troma Youtube channel, and I watched it yesterday, and...it holds up rather well as a tense little horror flick. I dug it.
I mean, yeah, you can see through the cheesey effects, and no way it would scare me like it did back then, but, taking into account the times, and the budget, not bad.
The bits that disturbed me as a kid where two key scenes.
One, an alien guy peels off his human face, and the mask is some kind of bio-tech, or something, because there are membranes and goo and shit inside.
That made me flat out puke as a kid.
Ran right to the bathroom with a mouthful of chunks
Then, another scene, they display this odd power to turn you into a lifeforce ball, and it's never revealed why they do this, but the transformation process involves you crushing up into an empty skin, and then shriveling away into this ball that has your voice.
Even though, the ball can turn back into you with just glowey animation.
Makes no sense.
Anyway, they do this to a little boy, and you see the legs shrivel, and there's crunching sounds, and the kid groans, and grunts, and gurgles in pain the whole way, then it happens to his face, but I never could make myself look at that point.
That haunted my fucking nightmares for a month.
Now, it totally looks like rubber, and it's silly.
And that's it, that's the good parts, the whole rest of the movie is boring as shit, and stupid as shit.
These asshole aliens allegedly managed to hide for 25 years, but then, all of a sudden, they're fucking morons, and keep doing weird shit to raise suspicion.
Like oh, ordering room service, ripping their bio-masks off, knowing fucking room service is coming, and then having to zap the room service guy.
Or, ball-ifying the hero's dog, even though the dog didn't do anything threatening, acting shifty about it, and when the hero just starts asking about if anyone's seen his dog...laser blasting his car and trying to kill him.
The whole flick is full of "WTF??", shit like that.
Except when it's boring.
Anyway, I've been trying to find this fucking thing for 30 fucking years, and finally I stumbled onto it on Youtube.
Eh, I liked that poster better, so changed it up for this one.
But hey, dig that cast, huh?
And that's those.
Hmm, yeah, they're all about in that 1983 window...
Even the '77 ones I saw at that time.
Interesting to hold it in front of me, and lock it down, instead of it just being melty swirly memories in my head crawling around.