Thursday, February 4, 2016

Phil celebrates the 42nd Anniversary of Troma Entertainment-February 3, 2016

OK, I was planning on writing this anniversary tribute back in 2014 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of America's oldest independent film studio, but my life has had several distractions in it (i.e. work, bills, drunken orgies, etc). However, it's now time to party down because tonight's entry I'll be celebrating the 42nd anniversary of my favorite independent film studio of all time: TROMA ENTERTAINMENT!

As I mentioned previously, I discovered Troma through my favorite television show USA UP ALL NIGHT back on Saturday, March 21, 1992. They were showing all three TOXIC AVENGER films and I stayed up all night, devouring every single frame from each film. I had never seen anything like this before up until that time. This single event transformed my entire life forever and I have been a Troma fanatic and supporter ever since.

Theatrical Movie Poster (1979)
Troma was founded in 1974 by Yale graduates and friends Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz. Inspired by the films they saw from director Roger Corman and Sam Arkoff's company American International Pictures, they sought out to show the world that it was possible to make entertaining and provocative movies on shoestring budgets. Troma made a big splash in 1979 when they released their raunchy slapstick comedy classic SQUEEZE PLAY. They would make several other films in the same genre like STUCK ON YOU, WAITRESS and THE FIRST TURN-ON.

In 1984, Kaufman and Herz scored their biggest hit ever with THE TOXIC AVENGER. Blending over-the-top gore, comedy, horror, sex and the world's first full-on head crushing scene, the film played to huge crowds during its midnight run at the Bleaker Street Theater in New York and became an instant cult classic when it was released on video. The film has since spawned three sequels, a Saturday Morning cartoon show, toys, board games, tee shirts, video games, trading cards and remains to this day their flagship mascot.

Theatrical Movie Poster (1984)
Over the years Kaufman has directed several other cult classics like CLASS OF NUKE 'EM HIGH, TROMA'S WAR, SGT. KABUKIMAN N.Y.P.D., TROMEO & JULIET, POULTRYGEIST: NIGHT OF THE CHICKEN DEAD, RETURN TO NUKE 'EM HIGH PART 1 & 2 and all of the TOXIC AVENGER films.


Among today’s Hollywood superstars who got their start with Troma include Marisa Tomie (THE TOXIC AVENGER), Vincent D’Onofrio (THE FIRST TURN-ON), Samuel L. Jackson (DEF BY TEMPTATION), Kevin Costner (SIZZLE BEACH U.S.A.), Billy Bob Thorton (CHOPPER CHICKS IN ZOMBIETOWN), Trey Parker and Matt Stone (CANNIBAL! THE MUSICAL), Michael Jai White (THE TOXIC AVENGER PART II), Jenna Fischer (LOLLILOVE) as well as writer/directors like Oliver Stone (THE BATTLE OF LOVE'S RETURN), Paul Sorvino (CRY UNCLE!) and James Gunn (TROMEO & JULIET).

Theatrical Movie Poster (2011)
The company has also acquired and distributed early films featuring some Hollywood's biggest stars such as Robert De Niro (THE WEDDING PARTY), Dustin Hoffman (MADIGAN'S MILLION), Carmen Electra (THE CHOSEN ONE: LEGEND OF THE RAVEN), Vanna White (GRADUATION DAY) and David Boreanaz (MACABRE PAIR OF SHORTS).

When he's not making movies, Lloyd Kaufman spends his time writing numerous instructional books, novels and memories. His first book, the autobiography "All I Need To Know About Filmmaking I Learned a From The Toxic Avenger" is recommended reading for anybody who wants to learn about the history of Troma and as well as about Kaufman himself. He's also written an novelization of his creation "The Toxic Avenger" and has a series of how-to books about the filmmaking process. "Make Your Own Damn Movie!" was the first in the series and became very popular amongst fans. He later wrote in chronological order "Direct You Own Damn Movie!", "Produce a Your Own Damn Movie!" and "Sell Your Own Damn Movie!", each book filled with real life experiences, helpful tips and his own unique and grotesque toilet humor which I love to read.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2014)
Kaufman also started the annual Tromadance Film Festival, originally designed to be the antithesis to the Sundance Film Festival, which was held in Park City, Utah at the exact same time as Sundance. The purpose of the festival is to celebrate truly independent cinema from the so-called indie films that were being shown at Sundance. Another appealing aspect of Tromadance is that there is no entry fee for filmmakers and all screenings are free to festival goers. In the past couple of years, the festival has been held in New York City and the month was moved from January to June.

In a show of appreciation to their loyal fans, Troma released over 100 films from their library to be watched for free on their YouTube channel beginning in August of 2012. Then in 2015, they took the next step in their quest in disrupting media (or in this case cyberspace) by launching Troma Now, the company's exclusive subscription Video-On-Demand service available through VHX. For only $4.99 a month, fans and movie lovers can watch their favorite Troma films and shows, new releases and so much more. Their newest film to have its debut on the service back in January was B.C. BUTHCER, the world's first prehistoric slasher film directed by the then seventeen year-old Kansas Bowling, who was the first inductee into "The Troma Institute for Gifted Youth."

To give you an idea of what Troma movies are like, below are several trailers to some of my all-time favorite films. Warning: the following trailers contain gore, violence, nudity, sexual situation, foul language, radioactive squirrels, lesbianism, political and social commentary, cannibalism, singing and dancing, hideously deformed creatures of superhuman size and strength, severed body parts, cretans, nymphoid barbarians, surf nazis and a duck. Viewer discretion is advised.

Let me tell you all a quick story. Years later I was finally able to meet Lloyd Kaufman at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica back on March 29, 2014. While I was attending the annual Monsterpalooza convention in Burbank that weekend, I found out the that the theater was having an all night Troma movie marathon. Not only that, but Kaufman himself was going to be there. So my friends and I rushed out to attend the event and finally, exactly 22 years to the month when I first saw THE TOXIC AVENGER films, I got to meet my hero. He was very kind and generous, answered all my questions and signed every single memorabilia I brought for him to autograph. The very next day I saw him and his lovely wife Pat at the RETURN TO NUKE 'EM HIGH signing at the Dark Delicacies Bookstore. I was able to take a picture with him and the Toxic Avenger. It was one of the best days of my life and do this day I still can't believe how lucky I am to have meet my hero. 

Lloyd Kaufman, myself, and the Toxic Avenger. (2014)
It's hard to describe the impact Troma has had on our society, on pop culture and on film history. For over 40 years, Llyod Kaufman and Michael Herz have done the impossible: created a truly independent movie company with world wide appeal that has captured the hearts of millions of fans. To this day, Kaufman, Herz and Troma continue their fight against the major Hollywood studios and international corporate conglomerates. By going against the system, they have forged their own unique path that inspires fans and filmmakers alike. And after all these years, they still inspire me. 

You can follow Troma on several social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. To learn more about Troma, their enormous film library, to purchase Blu-Rays, DVDs, posters and to sign up for their streaming service Troma Now, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and now let's make some art

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