- Troma Entertainment
Troma is a
filmproduction and distribution company founded by Lloyd Kaufmanand Michael Herz in 1974. The company produces very low-budget, independent movies, many of which have developed cult followings.
Troma films are known for their shocking imagery; some would categorize them as "shock
exploitation films". They typically contain overt sexuality, graphic violence, gore and nudity, so much that the term "Troma Film" has become synonymous with these characteristics. Troma's sloganis "Movies of the Future." Many Troma films are intentionally produced in the Brechtianform which is vastly different from mainstream horror movies. Troma is also known for reusing the same props, actors, and scenes over and over again, sometimes to save money. At a certain point, however, this became another hallmark of Troma. Examples include a severed leg, the Penis Monster, and the flipping/exploding car filmed for the movie " Sgt. Kabukiman, NYPD", which, though blue, is used in place of any other car that needs to crash and explode.
Troma produced or acquired many early films with rising talents before they were discovered such as
Kevin Costner( Sizzle Beach, U.S.A.), Samuel L. Jackson(" Def by Temptation"), Marisa Tomei(" The Toxic Avenger"), Vincent D'Onofrio( The First Turn-On!), James Gunn (" Tromeo and Juliet"), Trey Parkerand Matt Stone(" Cannibal! The Musical"). Their latest production, " Poultrygeist", was released in early 2007.
The Birth of Troma Studios
In the mid 1970s,
Lloyd Kaufmanand Michael Herzbegan producing, directing, and distributing raunchy sex comedies such as "The First-Turn On" and "Squeeze Play". In 1985, Troma experienced its first hit film with the violent, dark-comedy superhero film " The Toxic Avenger". The film went on to become Troma's most popular film, inspiring sequels and an animated television program. However, following the financial demise of the company Troma itself, the sequels to the film were box office bombs, and the cartoon adaptation quickly folded. The Toxic Avengercharacter is now Troma's official mascot. Lloyd's follow-up film to The Toxic Avengerwas The " Class of Nuke 'Em High", co-directed with Richard W. Haines. The film was also a hit nearly as successful, though it inspired two unsuccessful sequels, both following the financial demise of Troma. At one time, it was the highest-selling VHSfor Troma.
"The Toxic Avenger" is being turned into a musical which will debut at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, New Jersey before opening in New York in the fall of 2008. It will be "The Toxic Avenger Musical" with a book by Joe DiPietro the author of the long-running "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change"and "All Shook Up". The music is by David Bryan, keyboardist of Bon Jovi.
The Decline of Troma Studios
Soon after "Class of Nuke 'em High" was completed and distributed, Kaufman directed "Troma's War". Intended as a criticism of
Ronald Reagan's attempt to glamorize war, the story concerns a group of freaks who crash-land on a remote island, only to find it populated by an isolationist militia that intends to overthrow the U. S. government. However, "Troma's War" was a box office bomb. In the aftermath of the film's poor financial performance, Troma would experience extreme financial hardship, jettisoning the company from the Hollywood mainstream. In the years that followed the financial failure of their films, Troma tried to re-establish itself as a much smaller, independent film company, mostly out of financial necessity. Despite several unsuccessful attempts to assert itself in the mainstream Hollywood community, notably with two direct sequels to "The Toxic Avenger", and another stab at the superhero genre " Sgt. Kabukiman, NYPD", Troma was unable to re-enter the mainstream film market and found the remainder of its films released directly to VHS videotape and DVD.
From 1995 to 2000, Kaufman directed three independent films released in limited theatrical releases: "
Tromeo and Juliet", a loose parody of Shakespeare's play; " Terror Firmer", a slasher film loosely based on Lloyd Kaufman's book " All I Need to Know about Filmmaking I Learned from the Toxic Avenger", and independent film sequel to The " The Toxic Avenger" trilogy titled "". Troma's financial hardship worsened after the botched funding of a low-budget video feature titled " Tales from the Crapper", which cost $250,000 despite most of the footage being completely unusable. India Allen, one of the producers, backed out of the film halfway through, and sued Troma, citing breach of contract, slander per se, sexual harassment, trade slander, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Lloyd personally supervised a reshoot in an attempt to salvage the film, dividing the footage into two parts and recasting the film as a double-feature. " Tales from the Crapper" was released on DVD in September of 2004.
In 2008 Troma released it's as to date latest feature film "Poultrygeist".
The Future of Troma Studios
Today, Troma still produces and acquires independent films, despite many financial hardships and limitations.
Troma Films has distributed many films from third parties including
Trey Parker's " Cannibal! The Musical". Lloyd himself encourages independent filmmaking, making cameo appearances in many low-budget horror films-- occasionally for free. Among his more recent appearances is in former collaborator James Gunn's directing debut " Slither".
Kaufman's newest film, "" was released in 2008.
Some of their more famous films include:
The Toxic Avenger" series
Tromeo and Juliet"
Class of Nuke 'Em High" series
Chopper Chicks in Zombietown"
Sgt. Kabukiman, NYPD"
Cannibal! The Musical"
Blood Sucking Freaks"
Surf Nazis Must Die"
Vegas In Space"
In addition, the documentary film "All The Love You Cannes" (much of it shot by Lloyd Kaufman himself) chronicles the Troma team at the 2001 Cannes film festival in France. This includes about 30 Troma volunteers who attempt to get attention for Troma by dressing as characters from Troma films or in some cases by simply wearing very skimpy outfits and then parading around the most crowded areas of the event.
Troma holds the annual
Tromadance Festivalin Park City, Utah at the same time as the Sundance Festivalto accentuate their true independence from the mainstream. The festival screens submitted movies from independent filmmakers from around the world, the best of which are usually released on DVD by Troma or compiled in the Best of Tromadance series. In parallel, Troma acts as advisor to aspiring filmmakers with Lloyd Kaufman teaching classes, contributing cameos and often releasing the finished films on DVD.
Lloyd Kaufman has written two books about his experiences with Troma in low-budget cinema. One, "
All I Need to Know about Filmmaking I Learned from the Toxic Avenger", is an autobiography of sorts co-written with James Gunn. The other, " Make Your Own Damn Movie", is a how-to book about making low-budget films. In 2006 a novelization of "The Toxic Avenger" was released.
List of Troma films
* [http://www.troma.com Troma Entertainment]
* [http://www.tromateamvideo.com TromaTeam Video]
* [http://imdb.com/company/co0019150 Troma Entertainment] at the
Internet Movie Database
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