Troma Entertainment is an American indie film studio that has been running for over 40 years. Known particularly for fun ‘schlock‘, Troma has actually had success in a number of different genres although all of their films do have their tongue somewhat in cheek. Troma has become an important mainstay in the indie film sector and it has helped with the early careers of successful creators like Trey Parker, James Gunn and Eli Roth to name a few.
The latest from Troma; Essex Spacebin has been hailed as the most original British film of the modern age, unlike anything put on film before. The cult narrative of the new movie pushes comedy into uncharted territory as we follow the adventures of the lovable Lorraine Willy, a middle-aged woman who has suffered a life of mental illness. Lorraine believes she has been infused by God with a divine purpose that only she (and an Intergalactic Rasta named Hogan) can fathom. She begins her journey looking for a “star key” – which she believes can help her access a parallel world known as the 7th Realm where she hopes to meet the maker. Will Lorraine herald the existence of a portal to another world?
“The most excited about a Troma Film I’ve been since The Toxic Avenger” said Troma co-founder Lloyd Kaufman.
To coincide with The Prince Charles Cinema’s 18th February Special Troma Q&A and release of Essex Spacebin, we look back at some of the best Troma films so far…
The Toxic Avenger (1984)
About as cult as it gets! This superhero horror comedy film went largely unnoticed upon its original release yet gained cult classic status after a lengthy and successful midnight movie stints in New York. In the film, Melvin is a social misfit who works as a cleaner in a health club, but when he falls into a barrel of toxic material he becomes ‘The Toxic Avenger’. With new powers ‘Toxie’ finds himself dealing with bullies and becoming the saviour opposite the corrupt Mayor of Tromaville. The impressive make-up effects and stunts were one element which added to its charm. A head-crushing scene in the film was inspired by a real-life when Troma President Lloyd Kaufman backed his car out of his garage and accidentally hit his younger sister. She wasn’t seriously harmed but it was an experience that still upsets the Troma boss to this day. Interestingly, the film was actually directed by Lloyd Kaufman under the pseudonym Samuel Weil. Toxie’s cult popularity led to three sequels and even a children’s animated show.
Combat Shock (1986)
This entertaining war film was made by Buddy Giovinazzo whilst he was still
attending college. He borrowed the equipment from the film school he was at and cast his friends, family and fellow film students to cover all the roles. Combat Shock is about Frankie, a dangerously disturbed Vietnam veteran whose life is in turmoil fifteen years after his return from war. The film follows a day in the life of Frankie as he slowly descends into insanity and it was praised for its gritty realism. As such, the film offered an honest attempt to add some insight into the predicament of returning war veterans to poor inner city areas. Troma President Lloyd Kaufman regards Combat Shock as one of the company’s best.
Class of Nuke ‘Em High (1986)
A science fiction horror comedy directed by Lloyd Kaufman, once again under the pseudonym Samuel Weil. Class of Nuke ‘Em High was another Troma film successful enough to spawn sequels. In the film, two high school pupils buy contaminated drugs from a worker from a strange power plant next door. When one of them later gives birth to a bloodthirsty mutant, they must stop it before it eats everyone in the school. Reportedly, the monster in the film is never seen in a full length shot because the costume was never fully finished. Only bits and pieces of the costume like the legs, hands and face were complete and operated like hand puppets. The fun comedy horror was another hit for Troma and it was praised for its production values despite having the low budget.
Cannibal! The Musical (1993)
Not many people realise that this musical comedy was written, produced, directed by and starred Trey Parker of South Park and Book of Mormon fame. The film was made before the fame of South Park and also featured his creative partner Matt Stone from the show. In the film, the sole-survivor of an ill-fated mining expedition is found guilty of murdering and eating his companions and is ordered to be executed. We then follow his trial as he tells his story through flashbacks, detailing how his taste for gold was transformed into the taste for human flesh. Trey Parker even gave his college professors roles in the film as extras.
Tromeo and Juliet (1996)
Co-written by James Gunn (director of Guardians of the Galaxy) Tromeo and Juliet is a romantic comedy loosely adapted from the Shakespeare. The film is set in modern-day Manhattan and follows the original tale faithfully for the most part, except for the predictably Troma use of sex and violence. Tromeo is a filmmaker who falls in love with Juliet, who happens to be the daughter of a business partner who betrayed him. The film is narrated by Lemmy and Motorhead even contributed a song to the soundtrack. In a scene where the character London Arbuckle dives through a window, a stuntman nearly had a fatal accident. When the stuntman first jumped through the window, the sugar glass was too thick to smash. Upon the second take they took the glass out, but the stuntman forgot. He dived full force out the window and seriously injured himself.
Troma presents ESSEX SPACEBIN special double bill with TROMEO & JULIET and Lloyd Kaufman Q&A on Saturday February 18, 2017 at The Prince Charles Cinema.
Available now on Amazon Prime.
Available on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital from February 18, 2017.
Find out more at the official website