Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Phil attends the TROMA MARATHON at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica-March 29, 2014

The Aero Theatre marquee displays the Troma Marathon.
Hello again! So while Bobby, Michelle, and I were attending Monsterpalooza, that same weekend there was a Troma Movie Marathon over at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica, which was about a half hour away from Burbank. They were going to show four classic Troma movies: THE TOXIC AVENGER, CLASS OF NUKE 'EM HIGH, TROMEO & JULIET, and it's newest release RETURN TO NUKE 'EM HIGH: VOLUME 1. Now what made this event even more special was that Troma President and co-founder Lloyd Kaufman was there live in-person!! Now I have been a fan ever since I saw the first three TOXIC AVENGER films on the old USA Up All Night program back on a cold Saturday night in February of 1992. These three films changed my life forever, and 22 years later, I was going to finally meet my hero and idol!!

Mark Torgl and myself outside the Aero Theatre.
The theater lobby was packed with fellow Tromites (Troma fans as they are affectionately called) and for the first time, I felt like I was home. Lloyd and his wife Pat had a table set up filled with Troma merchandise: DVDs, Blu-rays, stickers, buttons, posters, comics, they had it all! Plus Toxie was there as well as other celebrities such as Mark Torgl, who played Melvin the mopboy in the first TOXIC AVENGER film and the sequel CITIZEN TOXIE: THE TOXIC AVENGER PART IV. I was able to shack his hand get an autograph from him. A really cool guy who also just happens to have an Indiegogo fundraiser to help make his new project TOXIC TUTU. To learn more about this project and to make a donation, please visit the website http://toxictutu.com.

I also saw some old friends of mine. SpookyDan was on hand there, as well as Will Keenan from TROMEO & JULIET, TERROR FIRMER, and a film I saw at Cinequest 22 entitled THE GHASTLY LOVE OF JOHNNY X (you can read all about that infamous screening here). Also in attendance was Alyce LaTourelle, Will's co-star from TERROR FIRMER who also just happens to be his wife! How cool is that? Plus Count Smokula was there to entertain fans with his outstanding accordion skills and E. Yarber, the man who wrote tonight's program that was handed out to fans entitled 40 Years of Troma-More Than Meets the Bile. At 7:30pm, it was time for the marathon to begin!

Troma President Lloyd Kaufman and Mark Torgl.
Lloyd thanked all the Troma fans out in the audience that came out for this historic event, which was hosted by the American Cinematheque. He engaged the audience by having a Q&A session, which was being video recorded by his lovely wife and former New York City Film Commissioner Pat. Will Keenan and Mark Torgl also participated for bit. Count Smokula also serenaded the crowd. Plus making his first SoCal appearance was Stefan Dezil, who portrayed Slater in the RETURN TO NUKE 'EM HIGH. For me, it was so great to be able to interact with Lloyd, Pat, Mark, and even Will. What I love about Lloyd and Troma is they are very loyal to their fans. I had Lloyd autograph just about everything I own and he did it without hesitation. Name one studio head that would do that? None! As long as there is a Troma, I will always be a fan! Now, let's talk about all the movies I saw on that Tromatic night!!
Theatrical Movie Poster (1984)

THE TOXIC AVENGER (1984): Meet little Melvin. He's a 98lbs loser who works at the Tromaville Health Club where he gets picked on a lot. But when a practical joke goes awry, Melvin falls into a vat of chemical waste, thus transforming him into a hideously deformed creature of superhuman size and strength. Melvin becomes The Toxic Avenger, the first superhuman from New Jersey! Soon Toxie is fighting crime and cleaning up Tromaville, much to the chagrin of its fat corrupt Mayor Peter Belgoody (Pat Ryan). But can Toxie and his blind and beautiful girlfriend Sara (Andree Maranda) survive the wrath of the mayor's revenge?

This is the film that put Troma on the map. Originally, nobody wanted to see the film. But when it was booked at the midnight screenings at the Bleeker Street Cinema, the word of mouth spread. Soon there were lines around the block. With its gratuitous nudity, gore, the infamous head crushing scene, toilet humor, and not so special effects, the film went on to win the hearts of fans and became an instant cult classic! The film spawned three sequels to date (with a fourth one in the works), a children's cartoon show, merchandise, action figures, books, games, etc. As we speak, Hollywood is working on a big budget remake of the film. Click here to view the film's original trailer.

Theatrical Movie Poster (1986)
CLASS OF NUKE 'EM HIGH (1986): Tromaville High is your typical ordinary American high school, with just one exception. It's located only one mile away from the Tromaville Nuclear Power Plant! When the plant has a major meltdown, its toxic chemical waste seeps into the school's water supply, thus transforming students into Cretans! High school couple warren and Chrissy (Gil Brenton and Janelle Brady respectively) are the only ones who notice that something's wrong, but when their mutant baby becomes a chemical creature of destruction, they have no choice but to blow up their school!

This is personally my favorite Troma film. It has it all: hot naked chicks, high school pranks, mutant monsters, Cretans, teenage rebellion, destruction to private and public property, and drug usage. What's not to like about all of that? My favorite scenes were all the exterior shots, which were filmed beautifully. Troma Fun Fact: When the film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, the radioactive dust from Chernobyl was blowing over the south of France (this fun fact came courtesy of Lloyd Kaufman's first book All I Need to Know About Filmmaking I Learned from the Toxic Avenger which I highly recommended reading). Click here to view the film's original trailer.

Theatrical Movie Poster (1996)
TROMEO & JULIET (1996): Body Piercing, Kinky Sex, Dismemberment. The things that made Shakespeare great! With both Will Keenan and Jane Jensen cast in the lead roles as our favorite star crossed lovers, the film takes place in the modern world where the war between the Capulets and the Ques begin to escalate. But can true love conquer hate or will Tromeo and Juliet suffer the same fate as their past incarnations?

After being in a creative slump, Kaufman bounces back with this ingenious adaptation of Shakespeare's beloved classic. The film also boasts an exceptional soundtrack with music by bands such as Motorhead, Superchunk, Ass Ponys, Supernova, The Meatmen as well as Jane Jensen herself. Troma Fun Fact: the movie was written by James Gunn, who would go on later to write the two SCOOBY-DOO films and the DAWN OF THE DEAD remake. He also wrote and directed the horror film SLITHER, the superhero parody SUPER, and the upcoming Marvel Studio blockbuster GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. Hard to believe it, but it's true! Click here to view the film's original trailer.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2014)
RETURN TO NUKE 'EM HIGH: VOLUME 1 (2014): The newest Tromamasterpiece from Lloyd Kaufman. The Tromaville Nuclear Power Plant has been torn down to make way for the Tromorganic Foodstuffs Conglomerate. But when bloggers and lesbian lovers Chrissy and Lauren (Asta Paredes and Catherine Corcoran respectively) begin to sense that something is amiss, the Tromaville High Glee Club is mysteriously transformed into a vicious gang of Cretins! And just what is wrong with Lauren's pet Kevin the Wonder Duck? Can these two luscious lipstick lesbian loves lick this investigation?

While both equal parts a remake and a sequel, Kaufman demonstrates that he still has that magic touch. The film is filled with humor (both political and satirical), social commentary on school lunches, evil corporations, violence in schools, and gay rights. Oh, and it still has all the gore, violence, and nudity that one would expect from a Troma movie. Originally the film was one long feature until Quentin Tarantino suggested to Kaufman that he split the film into two volumes like he did with his film KILL BILL. Overall this is another worthy entry in the franchise that all of you out there should see! And guess what? The movie is available on both Blu-Ray and DVD so go out there and pick up a copy for yourself! Click here to view the film's trailer.

And folks, there you have it! One of the most amazing cinematic experiences I have ever had! Meeting Lloyd, Pat, Mark, Keenan, Toxie and the rest of the gang was awesome!! So do yourself a favor, if you've never seen a Troma film, I would recommend seeing these four movies today! All of these cinematic gems and more are available to buy on Blu-Ray, DVD, and digital download. To learn more about Troma, their film library, and to make purchases, visit their website at www.troma.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

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