by Eddie Fleisher
With Halloween approaching, I wanted to dedicate the column to one of my favorite things about the holiday: horror movies. The rest of the year, I watch a ton of eye-opening documentaries, heartbreaking dramas, and smart, well-written comedies. But, during the month of October, I take a break from all that, to indulge in pure fromage. Some people like their horror movies to have awesome special effects, or to be somewhat convincing. Not me. I want the cheesiest, most ridiculous ones you can find. The more awful the better. Thankfully, there’s Troma. The company has been churning out low-budget masterpieces since 1974. Owner Lloyd Kaufman prides himself on running the “oldest continually operating fully independent movie studio in the world.” Big names like Kevin Costner, Marisa Tomei, Samuel L. Jackson, and David Straitham got their start in Kaufman’s over the top gorefests. These are definitely not for children, or the easily offended. With that warning out of the way, here are ten of Troma’s finest films. Happy Halloween!
RABID GRANNIES (1988)
Tagline: "They Love Their Grandchildren...Well Done!"
Fun Fact: This is actually a Dutch movie that was acquired and distributed by Troma. The gore in the original was so bad, that even Troma decided to edit some of it out. They made the uncut scenes available as a bonus feature on the DVD release.
SURF NAZIS MUST DIE! (1987)
Tagline: "The Beaches Have Become Battlefields. The Waves Are A War Zone!"
Fun Fact: Roger Ebert admitted that he walked out of the movie after 30 minutes. I'm really surprised he lasted that long.
KILLER CONDOM (1996)
Tagline: "The Rubber That Rubs You Out!" (Amazing, right?)
Fun Fact: The film is based on a German comic book.
DEF BY TEMPTATION (1990)
Tagline: "She's Every Man's Dream...And Your Worst Nightmare."
Fun Fact: It starred Kadeem Hardison, who was well-known at the time for his role as Dwayne Wayne on A Different World, and a pre-fame Samuel L. Jackson, as Minister Garth.
In one of his earliest pre-Pulp Fiction performances, Samuel L. Jackson helps face off against a supernatural menace to society in this theatrical sleeper hit shot on colorfully vivid 35mm. A sexy female succubus is hell-bent on destroying Joel (A DIFFERENT WORLDs Kadeem Hardison), a young divinity student, through her powers of seduction. One by one, Joel's friends fall victim to her charms, leaving Joel to face the temptress...and his destiny...alone. Bill Nunn (DO THE RIGHT THING) also stars in this terrifying story of vampires and lust. Featuring star power, lavish production values and smoking urban locales, Def By Temptation showcases the brightest young black cast and crew in a thoughtfully frightening horror extravaganza.
REDNECK ZOMBIES (1987)
Tagline: "Tobacco Chewin', Gut Chompin', Cannibal Kinfolk From Hell!"
Fun Fact: The film had a budget of just $10,000.
SGT. KUBIKIMAN NYPD (1990)
"Fatal Sushi...Lethal Chopsticks...And As American As Apple Pie!"
Fun Fact: To save money, they reused the car scene from this film for their 1996 feature, Tromeo And Juliet.
CANNIBAL! THE MUSICAL (1993)
Tagline: "All Singing! All Dancing! All Flesh Eating!"
Fun Fact: It was written, directed, and produced by South Park co-creator, Trey Parker. He also stars in the film as well.
CLASS OF NUKE 'EM HIGH (1986)
Tagline: "Readin'...Writin' and Radiation!"
Fun Fact: They revisited the classic earlier this year, with Return To Nuke 'Em High Volume 1. You can read about the film in a fascinating Time article on Troma and their venture into crowdfunding here: http://entertainment.time.com/2013/02/27/the-toxic-investor-a-legendary-indie-film-company-turns-to-crowdfunding/
POULTRYGEIST: NIGHT OF THE CHICKEN DEAD (2006)
Tagline: "Humans...The Other White Meat."
Fun Fact: PETA called the film "a vegetarian-manifesto masterpiece." Makes sense. I certainly wasn't hungry for chicken after seeing this one. http://www.troma.com/films/poultrygeist-night-of-the-chicken-dead/
THE TOXIC AVENGER (1984)
Tagline: "He Was 98lbs. Of Solid Nerd Until He Became..."
Fun Fact: Steve Pink (Hot Tub Time Machine) is slated to write and direct a Hollywood reboot of this film. Arnold Schwarzenegger is reportedly in talks to star in the film, but not in the title role. "http://www.troma.com/films/the-toxic-avenger/
PS: Aspiring filmmakers should pick up a copy of Lloyd Kaufman’s book, Make Your Own Damn Movie. It’s a great read, and a pretty informative look at movie making from a DIY perspective.
Also, don’t miss the 4th annual “12 Hours Of Terror,” an all night horror movie marathon at the Capitol Theatre on October 19th. It’s part of the Melt Bar & Grilled Late Shift Series. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door. You must be 18 years old. For more details and a list of films, check out the event page on Facebook: https://www.