Tag: Troma

toxicavengerposter1

The Toxic Avenger is my favorite film of all time bar none. No other film even comes close. I’ve seen it hundreds of times and showed it to everyone I’ve gotten the chance to. It’s why I call myself the B-movie Avenger and was a huge influence in making me feel so passionately about the often genre defying off kilter culture that is true independent filmmaking..but it’s also a film i have never reviewed here on B-is For Best. I’ve been asked  many times why this is (including once by Melvin himself Mark Torgl, who’s a great guy by the way.) and I always give different reason.  I’ve said I was waiting for the Blu ray release (which has long since happened) I said i was waiting until I had the free time to do an article that would showcase all the films collectively and couldn’t do so yet since the 5th (and supposedly final) installment had yet to be made (This is a complete lie considering although i enjoyed all four films I see the 2nd and 3rd as self parodying and existing in a separate universe and feel pretty much the same way about the 4th) The truth of the matter is..honestly I’ve been afraid to do it. How does one go about doing a review article on a film that he holds in an almost religious reverence? (especially since the film’s many flaws are one of the reasons why i consider it to be the best film of all time) and do it any justice? I had planned on saving this review for my upcoming autobiography (D-Is For Drew:The Now told Tale Of A Renegade Film Reviewer) But I know if I wait I’ll never have the nerve..so for those who waited and asked..here it is..

Alot was happening in the early to mid 80’s. Aerobics gurus and muscle bound action stars had pushed America into the body talk age where Health clubs had sprouted up on every corner. Workout shows, tapes and even movies flooded the market as the young pushed their bodies (and hair of course) to the limit and beyond. Cocaine, speed and other uppers  took the throne from marijuana and psychedelics as the drugs of choice for this constantly moving crowd. Big business was also on the fast track as more and more factories and refineries emerged. With them though came countless biproducts: corrosive, cancerigetic and toxic, these emerging evils captured the fears and imaginations of the thinkers of the era, terrifying them almost as much as the increasingly violent youth, so different from the flower children of the ’60s and disco ducks of the 70’s. The heroes of yesteryear were washed up, their golden boy boyscout approach to fighting evil had become laughable when compared to the endless supply of evil figures the 80’s was churning out, from Jason to Freddy to Karl The Butcher and Cropsy. The 80’s needed it’s own hero; one as brutal and real as the evil he would fight and destroy, In 1984 That hero emerged. His name is Melvin Ferd but you’ll know him as THE TOXIC AVENGER!

tromaville

THE TOXIC AVENGER: Welcomes us to Tromaville (The Toxic waste dumping capital of the world) A small town in suburban New Jersey. At first glance Tromaville is just like any other small town in the U.S. but under the surface is the pestilence of political corruption. It’s Mayor (a morbidly obese self obsessed pervert) has sold the town out to corporate ghouls who are dropping hundreds of pounds of toxic waste within it’s borders. He has also hired on vicious thugs and drug dealers to shake down the population and control the simple Tromites. In the busier side of town is the Tromaville Health club, a place where  it’s inhabitants go to get in shape and socialize. This too is plagued  by a despicable group of thugs: Bozo, Slug, Julie and Wanda, a sadistic group of teens who spend their days terrorizing the club’s members and their nights playing a deplorable points game by running over innocent victims with their car. When the group sets their sites on on local 15 year old Uber nerd Melvin Ferd (The mop boy) for one of their more cruel pranks poor Melvin winds up falling into an (inexplicably open) barrel of toxic waste on the back of an illegally parked truck. What emerges (after an extremely painful transformation) is a 7 foot tall hideously deformed creature of super human size and strength (in a burnt tutu..trust me it’s bad ass) with the ability to sense evil and the uncontrollable urge to destroy it. Tromaville wreaked of crime and The Toxic Avenger was just the Janitor to clean it up!

Genre defying, perfectly paced, managing to be simultaneously completely filthy and utterly innocent, The Toxic Avenger is quite possibly the most multi-faceted and enjoyable filmof all time..Even hardcore fans of the film are likely gape mouthed at that statement (and Uncle Lloyd probably just shit his pants laughing)…Let me explain why it’s an undeniable fact. Let’s talk about the many things this film manages to successfully be:

toxicavengeropening

IT’S AN 80’S PERIOD PIECE: Yeah, I know, naysayers “the film was shot in the 80’s of course it captures the 80’s!” This goes well beyond that copout reasoning. From the way it’s many themes (aerobics, Violent youth, political corruption,drug abuse and pollution to name a few) perfectly capture the fears and values of the era, to the use of power ballads, jam band music and bubble gum pop in it’s score and the cartoonish over the top gore and characters, The Toxic Avenger doesn’t just conjure nostalgia for the 80’s IT IS THE 80’S!!!

 

funnytoxieIT’S A COMEDY: Yes, you read that correctly. A film featuring an 11 year old kid getting his head crushed by the tire of a car is a comedy.skippy

From the not so subtle choice of taking the heroes in tights concepts to laughable extremes by placing Toxie in a full blown Tutu, to having Toxie’s kills often based on classic gags from Charlie Chaplin (mop twirling) and The Three Stooges (eye gouging, mops in the face etc.) and of course the endless barage of so stupid they’re funny one liners (Including the often stolen “Have you seen my mother in law..Now that’s gruesome” line) The Toxic Avenger undeniably works as a stellar comedy as well as a parody of the hyper violent direction Hollywood was taking at the time the film was made.

transformation

IT’S A MODERN DAY FRANKENSTEIN STORY: This was confirmed by Co-Director Llooyd Kaufman in his first book (All I Needed to Know About Film Making I learned From The Toxic Avenger) but most fans pick up on it right away. You have a tragic monster, The (in this case initially) fearful townsfolk, The child-like nature of Poor Melvin and of course the blind friend (only in this case case it’s a super hot blonde who’s Toxie’s love interest, Sarah) The biggest difference here is the monster lives and triumphs, something the majority of fans of Marry Shelly’s classic wished happened all along.

julie

IT’S A HORROR FILM: With the approach to some of Melvin’s kills s well as the creative use of lighting, location, and cutaways, The Toxic Avenger is a brilliant patchwork of styles ranging from 70’s slasher/Gialo to 50’s style monster movie influences. More than any other film in Troma’s library The Toxic Avenger shows Directors Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz’s wide array of interest and study into the Horror Genre and what works within it…a feat all the more impressive when you note that  Kaufman stated neither of them were really Horror fans before they began working on the project! Quite a bit of Homework must have been done in such a small span of time.

realtoxie

IT’S THE MOST HUMAN SUPER HERO MOVIE EVER MADE: While other heroes  tend to take the haughty better than thou approach to crime fighting, poor Melvin is forced to do it. He’s terrified  of his ability and doubts the morality of his actions. He still needs the approval of his peers and fears he’ll never have it. All of these things make Toxie more approachable, more lovable and most importantly MORE HUMAN. It’s also why despite all the  gore, sophomoric humor and nudity in the film I’m more comfortable letting my kids watch The Toxic Avenger then I am the Newest Batman movie or Disney shitfest. This film has some of the firmest lines between good and evil ever set in film.

carflipIT’S AN ACTION FILM: With car chases, crashes, gang fights, and even a fleet of army  personnel with tanks (how the fuck did that afford that…?) The Toxic Avenger also functions as one hell of an Action movie!

toxieandsarahIT’S A LOVE STORY: Amongst the violence and madness in this film we get the tender, innocent blossoming love between Toxie and his beautiful blind girlfriend Sarah. Her Naive and child-like personality perfectly mirrors the true Melvin inside the hideous monster and their love works wonderfully to illustrate that under it all Melvin is still the shy, self conscious gentle teenager he always was. We also see his character mature into a more confident, heroic figure through his love for Sarah..Just try not to think about the fact that despite his dramatic size increase Melvin is still 15 years old and Sarah looks to be around 25..For these reasons the film is also A COMING OF AGE STORY..and a SEDUCTION OF THE YOUTH TALE

toxieThe acting here is so laughably off that it’s brilliant. Each character is so garish and over the top the entire affair comes across as a live action cartoon. This has a major benefit though as it softens the effect of some of the more potentially offensive subject matter and makes it more palatable. Toxie himself was actually played quite brilliantly when one considers the level of depth of a character that needs to be at turns a completely ruthless killing machine and a shy naive kid..All done in heavy makeup with a voice over added in post..rule or not I gotta name Mitch Cohen here. You were fucking brilliant and were sadly missed in parts 2-4..Please for the love of God come back for part 5 we need you man!

The cinematography and special effects here were..uneven..Ranging from breathtakingly believable (the badass car crashes,head crushing, and health club basement chase scene) to terrifically terrible (The day for night to night to day for night again fight scene with cigar face and his crew, the scalped to not scalped Knuckles) but even these fuck ups only add to the insanely bizarre world Kaufman and Herz have created in their opus..and the transformation scene..Holy fuck man!

Is The Toxic Avenger perfect? No, but if it were it wouldn’t be nearly as endearing as it is.

Overall I give The Toxic Avenger two middle fingers chopped off and sanded to the bone. It’s the only film I watch at least once a year and that’s a tradition I will never tire of. Kaufman and Herz should seriously consider doing whatever it takes to reassemble the original cast (those whose characters didn’t die) for the 5th and final installment of the franchise and for the love of God get Herz. We fans deserve at least one more visit from our favorite hidiously deformed creature of super human size and strength and we want to see him played by Mitch Cohen no matter what shape he’s in these days!

 

Troma Team Video is a company most followers of the indie circuit find synonymic with odd-ball, fucked up, undeniably ballsy and innovative trash cinema. However, even the die hard Tromites will tell you that the majority of the films Troma picks up that aren’t made by them tend to be…poop..and not the good kind either. Standing out among these though is a film so damn weird in it’s concept, so damn campy and cheesy, that it couldn’t help but become the cult classic that it is today. That film is Jim Larsen’s Opus of ass BUTTCRACK. Soon after the release of the film Jim Larsen seemed to have simply disappeared from the public eye. Could he have been abducted by aliens? Gone to Mexico to join a relentless gang of drug peddlers? Could it be that I’m exaggerating and dramatizing what essentially is just a career change in an attempt to make this article more interesting? After several full minutes of searching I located the elusive genius himself and set down for a good old heart to heart..or email to email if you prefer.

jim larsen 5
While Buttcrack may not be as huge as say, The Toxic Avenger, It has a pretty sizable underground fan base. How did you come up with the film?

buttcrack
The idea for Buttcrack came to me in the 1988/1989 timeframe. I was a freshman in college at Montana State University. I lived in a dorm, and one of the people in my circle of friends in that dorm was a rather rotund guy who had the same problem as Wade- keeping the sight of his buttcrack covered by drooping pants. It was unsettling, yet I found it fascinating in a way that he could be so un-self-aware over such a basic thing. I knew one day I wanted to make a movie based on that idea.

 

How did the film get picked up by Troma and what was your experience with them like?
At the conclusion of the production, we wanted to announce to the world that we had this movie made, with the hopes that some distribution entity would see it and start making offers, so we took out an ad in Fangoria Magazine. And sure enough, Troma saw it and contacted us. One good thing about Troma is that they are very open and helpful to independents that fit their mold. While getting rich from distributing with Troma is unlikely, for getting your film and your name out there, they are great.

jim larsen 6

What was the budget on the film and what were some of the biggest challenges with the project?
The budget was somewhere around 100k. The challenge of the production came from the fact that it was filmed over a scan of two years. We’d raise some money, and plan some shoots.We kept going like that until it was wrapped. This created a challenge keeping up with continuity. We had to make sure everything looked exactly the same from shoot to shoot, right down to a bloodstain on the wall of the house. And the actors hair always had to be the same.

 

 

The gore effects were rather subdued compared to alot of Troma’s releases. was this due to budget constraints or more of an artistic decision?
In a perfect world, this film would have been a total gore fest, but it was enough of a challenge raising money to pay for the film and the pay the crew. So, we tried to make due with subdued gore and accentuate the performances instead with the idea to make this somewhat of a character piece over a splatter film.

 

Caleb Kreischer rocked house as the breathtakingly awkward Wade, how close to the character was the actor in real life?
The actor Caleb was a very outgoing person with an infectious sense of humor and personality. It’s hard not to like the guy. Unlike the character Wade though, he is self-aware and way more personable.

 

With all the remakes of more and more obscure cult classics happening, how would you feel about a grittier darker remake of Buttcrack?
I think a version of Buttcrack with a million plus budget would be awesome. I would shy away from cgi effects though. While they are great for creating dinosaurs, I think the titular buttcrack should remain real. So yeah, I wouldn’t say no to a proper remake. If Buttcrack were to be remade, I personally would like to see it more epic in scope. I wrote my version with practicality in mind. I knew it would have a small budget and it would be filmed in my own home. I wanted to tell the best story I could within these narrow confines. But if budget had not been an issue, it would have been more apocalyptic.

 

How’s about a sequel to Buttcrack, have you ever toyed with that idea?
I actually have written a sequel. It’s called “Buttcrack 2: Crack of Dawn.” The chances of me myself making it are pretty slim. I live in Hawaii now, whereas Buttcrack takes place and was filmed in Virginia. Plus, I spend a lot of time traveling the world. As of right now doing this interview with you, I’m spending six months as an English teacher at a Buddhist monastery populated by monks from Tibet, Nepal, and Bhutan. I say that just to give you the idea of much I don’t stay in one place to focus on a film project as I once did. Plus, the house that the original was filmed in no longer exists. It was sold to the county school board and there is a school on that property now. And also, it is getting close to twenty years since the original was filmed. My sequel takes up right after the events of the original, with Ken in Heaven with Jesus trying to get his angel wings by undoing the events that led to everybody’s death, thus rescuing Brian and Annie from Hell. And Hank the Redneck of course, creates all kinds of problems in the process. And with the aging of the actors, I don’t think they fit their roles anymore, and would they even want to anymore? I’m not even sure how to track them all down. Whatever happened to them all? I don’t know. We all went our separate ways in the years following Buttcrack. One thing though, I have been getting into other forms of writing lately, including working on my first novel. I am really digging the process and the art of novel writing. I do have this idea in mind of a novelized version that incorporates the stories of parts one, two, and the concept I have for a part three. This novel will be titled “Buttcrack and Beyond.” It will be the total Buttcrack Apocalypse that I’d love to create. This will either be my second or third novel. Perhaps that might be picked up for a movie. That would take care of the remake and the sequel all in one.

 

Some fans have called out for a retro game version of the film for Atari, do you think that would work?
Really? I have not heard this, but I love the idea. I still have my old Atari. It’s in the attic of my parent’s house in Virginia. I’d play it for sure.

jim larsen 2

You left Directing after doing Buttcrack, what led to that decision?
It hasn’t been so much that I said, “Okay, that’s it. I’m done directing.” It’s more like so much changed in my life in a short amount of time, that I just haven’t gotten back into that game. The late 90’s and the early 2000’s were a crazy time in my life. A whole lot happened all at once that just shoved me off in other directions. Buttcrack was released in 1998, and right after that I had to deal with my marriage falling apart, and the real estate situation where I owned my house was taking some interesting turns with developers buying up what once was private farm land in my area. My property and my family’s property, as I mentioned, got bought up by the school board, so that kept me busy. And more and more, I realized I just didn’t want to live in the area I was living in anymore. I had had enough of Northern Virginia and I needed some big changes, and making these changes took me away to other places, eventually landing me where I live now- at a retreat center in Hawaii.

 

What sorts of things have you been up to since?
Most recently, as I mentioned, I’m getting into novel writing, but I have done lots of other writing these past years. I write humorous poetry and prose and perform them out loud at home in Hawaii. I’ve published a book of some of them called “Art is the Best Revenge.” I have a website for my writing- www.byjimlarsen.com if anybody is interested in looking at that. I’ve also developed a serious meditation practice, and in so doing, I’ve tapped into this whole other esoteric world of ideas. From this I have written a serious series of books called “Knowings from The Silence: Simple Wisdom for an Enlightened Life” where every page offers a meditation and an inspiration for living. It’s a far cry from Buttcrack and my humor writing. I feel like I have two very distinct entities within me. One is very mystical and esoteric and the other is just crazy, dark, and more than a little disturbed. This novel I’m writing right now is an attempt to bring the two together. It’s working out nicely. Speaking of my esoteric side I’m also very big into tarot cards. I do readings, and I write about my thoughts about the cards for examiner.com. I have a whole other website for them if anybody wants to look. That’s www.foolspathtarot.com. I’ve written two books on the subject, “The Double Oh Fool Guide to Tarot Mastery,” and “What’s Tarot Got To Do With It?” Another thing, when I was a teenager, I was one of those kids who liked making movies with his camcorder. Back then, I made a series of videos called “Nigel the Psychopath.” In 1994, I re-edited the footage to make one movie. Now days, a low to no budget distributor in Texas is selling it on VHS to those people who still have VCRs. I’m planning to do another re-edit and get it for sale as a digital download. It’s very funny and anybody who likes Buttcrack will love it. Info about that is on my website.

Jim Larsen 3jim larsen 4jim larsen 7

Do you plan on coming back to making movies or is that a part of your life you’re done with?
My main objective right now is to keep on writing. Writing novels, writing screenplays, writing crazy poetry. Writing esoteric wisdom that I find when I meditate. Write about the different things that tarot cards mean to me. Write my observations of the human condition. If any of this pulls me back to making another movie, I’m not going to resist it. I’m a go with the flow kind of guy. If the flow drifts me into the role of director again, great. I’d love it. If it just keeps me at my computer writing, well I’m getting a lot of satisfaction that way too. Another novel I plan to write is based on a screenplay I wrote after Buttcrack called “All My Chitlins.” This is my favorite screenplay that I have written. It’s more or less a spinoff from Buttcrack that deals with Hank the Redneck’s family and the dramas they are up to with the main character, Sean Wayne Payne, Hank’s brother, as an apprentice to a backwoods gynecologist who has his clinic setup in a garage. I still have hope that this might get made some day.

 

Is there anything you’d like to share with the fans or advice you’d give those who want to get into filmmaking?
I believe in inspiration. When an idea comes to you, big or small, follow it. If you have an idea for a story that you think would make a good movie, novel, comic book, whatever, make it happen one way or another. Don’t let it slip away. If you feel strongly about it, stay in charge of it. Don’t let it get watered down by other people. Remember the adage “Too many cooks spoil the stew.” If you try to please everybody bringing your vision to light, you’ll likely end up with crap. Make the movie or whatever creative vision you have as you want it to be made, and chances are it will be awesome. Please yourself, and like-minded people will find you.

 

artoftheslash

Making a Slasher film used to be a sure fire way to get your movie sold, After Halloween and Friday the 13th caused such a ruckus everyone rushed to make their own cheap, bloody slasher. The trend has died down and been resurrected many times from generation to generation and sadly the Genre has become so over saturated that the average fan misses out on more then a few great ones or is so turned down by the sea of really really shitty ones that they consider the genre completely dead. Today we’ll take a look at a handful of films that stand out in the vastly overpopulated pool. Films that, while perhaps not perfect, still make  the cut…no pun intended.

The first film we’ll be discussing is one that I received along with my copy of Indemnity. It’s another film that I was a bit…Iffy on but nonetheless was very very curious to see.It’s a little known flick put out by World Wide Multi Media (Who I’m finding more and more really does have some interesting stuff to offer)thankfully I gave this one a shot as it was odd..in a really good way..How could it not be..It’s about the tickle monster!

fetishdolls

FETISH DOLLS DIE LAUGHING Introduces us to the seemingly fearless Detective Greer English, a female detective with something to prove to her male counterparts on the force. When a string of murders begins in her territory involving Maids of Honor she doesn’t hesitate to pose as one herself to take down the sick bastard responsible..But she’s about to get the hardest case of her life when an ancient demon with an odd fascination with tickling women to death takes control of a seedy photographer with a low morality. Can Detective English stop this silly satanic sicko or will she be the next to die laughing?

Wackily Off kilter, and knowingly campy, FETISH DOLLS DIE LAUGHING is a surprisingly  enjoyable, so bad it’s awesome little flick that comes across as the off spring of Maniac and Gitchy.

The acting here wasn’t Oscar worthy but hey this is indie cinema we’re talking about and uneven acting is all part of the fun. One of the things  that made this so wonderfully hilarious was the fact that for the most part the actors seemed oblivious to how ludicrous the concept was and took things completely serious! This gave it the feel of some of the slashers from the late 80’s and early 90’s that had the same going for them, flicks like Don’t Go In The woods and Camp Blood. There was one exception to the rule though and this fucker stole the show completely; Billy Tagg  (the aforementioned photographer) goes from barely controlled sexual deviant to raving lunatic at the drop of a hat and in both incarnations he’s so over the top I couldn’t help but reminded of a small child in a candy store. This fella is obviously a fa of indie cinema and was having one hell of a time at what he was doing. You should also not how closely the actor who plays Billy is able to mimic the movements and facial expressions of the fella in the beginning of the film who was first possessed by the tickle monster, I have to admit, as over the top as the whole thing is I was quite impressed by this little touch.

The kills here were another aspect that worked quite well. While the effects are cheesy and I’m sure alot of the more snobbish horror fans will shout “This Looks fake!” I’d say the cheapness works in this case. I mean come on guys, it’s a tickle monster movie made for a few grand, if you want top of the line effects see a Savini movie! Regardless of the silliness of some of the effects the kills were quite creative and it’s no small feat to be able to come up with so many variants of ways to kill someone with tickles. Director David Silvio could easily have gone the cheaper route and had all the kills be bloodless heart attacks but instead he brainstormed and came up with some fun (though at times hilariously impossible) gory stuff and I’ve gotta give the guy props for that.

I have to be honest, there was a it of a pacing issue here, and the subplot with the Maid Of Honor killer could have been chopped down quite a bit..but this wasn’t enough to really deter me frm enjoying the film.

There’s also some issues with the sound that I keep hearing other reviewers bitch about and I see what they mean. The outdoor scenes tend to have a tinny sound..but let’s be honest here. All of us that have dealt with alot of indie films know this is far from the worst example of bad sound. It’s a bit distracting but you’ll quickly get used to it and only assholes are going to harp on this movie for a problem even alot of Hollywood films (that cost more then 100 times the amount this film cost to make) suffer.

Overall I give FETISH DOLLS DIE LAUGHING 1 middle finger a quarter of the way extended. It has a few problems but if you love so bad they’re good movies with silly plots and over the top acting as much as I do you’re sure to love this little gem.

The Next film we’ll be discussing is one I waited for for quite sometime. I first saw the poster floating around over a year ago and contacted directors every step of the way. I had just about given up on receiving  a copy when one last message their way got me a yes and a few weeks later THE NIGHT BEFORE EASTER showed up in my mailbox.

Before I go any further I’d like to give a bit of back story here. The Night Before Easter is the brain child of director team Joseph Henson and Nathan Johnson. This was the first film either of them took on the role of directing and the film was completely crowd funded on a breathtaking 4 grand. The film was purported to be a salute to 80’s Holiday slashers of yesteryear (something alot of filmmakers are doing now). It was the simplistic illustrated cover that got my attention. Although appearing to be computer generated it’s literal interpretation of what the title implies really gave me a tickle and reminded me of the old VHS jackets I grew up coveting. It was with no small amount of excitement that I went into to this one..But could it live up to the hype?

thenightbeforeeaster

THE NIGHT BEFORE EASTER introduces a group of friends and former classmates who’ve gathered together one last time on the night before Easter before one of them moves away to England. They decide there’s no better place to party then at a currently closed self storage center that belongs to one of their parents. Soon after arriving they decide that in the spirit of  the upcoming Holiday a fun game of hide and seek is in order, but the fun is about to be cut short because a local lunatic has escaped from the asylum, a psycho with a fetish for the Easter Bunny and a nasty habbit of going on murder sprees on the night before Easter!

I have to admit, when i first saw this film I didn’t like it…Hell I kinda hated it, I felt they wasted most of the running time on banter with the characters, I thought all the characters came across as spoiled brats and I dreaded reviewing this thing because I thought I had nothing nice to say about it…. but then, as the credits were rolling a funny thing happened, the music snagged me and brought me back to my childhood.

I started thinking about other films I felt this way about at first, films like New Years Evil, Black Christmas..Hell even Silent Night Deadly Night..So I took a deep breath, directed the DVD back to the menu and started the whole thing over again..To my surprise, the second run pulled me right in.

The characters here ARE annoying, each of them spoiled in their own way with the only characters even deserving an inkling of mercy being Dante, the slightly preppy down to earth fellow with an unhealthy attraction to the almighty dollar and Riley the nerdy though insightful comic book aficionado who just wants to make a living doing what he loves. While these two were the ones I rooted for the most, one character definitely stole the show every time she hit the screen. Melissa, the heartless conniving bitch. I know everyone else has song this character’s praises so I won’t waste too much time kissing her ass but I will say one thing, she’s the most reminiscent of the walking stereotypes of the classic slashers of my youth, perhaps that’s why I enjoy her so much..It’s difficult to really say anything bad about the characters because they ARE believable and realistic..but I feel like we got to know them a bit too much. When we’re dealing with a film that barely clears an hour, spending more then half of that on banter almost took this one out..almost but not quite. I just wish more of the characters had been more likeable and memorable…then again, if they had been It wouldn’t have been as much fun to see them get slaughtered, now would it?

The killer here was very well done, he moves with a slightly off kilter gait, has no hesitation in dispatching his victims and that damn bunny suite is fuckin’ creepy as hell, looking more like something made based on a John Wayne Gacey painting then it does a mascot.

The kills were interesting and provided a pretty large range, from off screen blood splatter to a pretty brutal throat slash. Some effects are better then others but all were done practically and even the inconsistency of them was true to form for the genre.

The off white, almost featureless look of the storage shelter made for an excellent location, providing plenty of places for the killer to hide. I wish more blood could have been thrown around but considering the tiny budget I imagine that just wouldn’t have been feasible. I’ve dealt with Kyro syrup and red number 5 myself in my youth making super-8 and mini-vhs movies and I’ll tell you that shit just doesn’t come out. Those who have gone on rants about this and the lack of blood on the bunny costume are honestly just looking for something to get sand in their cunts about, sure more blood would be better but come on, this is a low budget picture and if you’re going to piss razors about that shit you need a new brand of tampon and a new genre to watch.

The cinematography here was another aspect that was a bit odd to me at first. There’s a weird out of focus effect on the corners of the screen that was off putting at first and there’s a few scenes where character’s heads are cut off or things in the foreground are out of focus..but to be honest I’m only bringing this up at all because it’s another point the cinema snobs have ranted about. I’ve seen alot of indie productions, even before I began my life as a reviewer of the art form and I’ll tell you right now, this isn’t even close to the worst I’ve seen, in fact considering the lack of experience of the crew this is good, damn good, and once you get used to it the smokiness kind of adds to the fun, gives it a bit of a sleazy feel that reminded me alot of the Scream Queen movies like Santa Claws.

The deal sealer for me (in fact as I mentioned before the first thing to really grab me) was the score..Holy shit does this thing groove! From experimental sounds and extended silences that reminded me of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre to synth heavy grooves that reminded me of Goblin’s work in Dawn of The Dead and even some chord heavy pieces that evoked the score in John Carpenter’s Halloween, this thing blew me the fuck away. Composer Scott Henson better have gotten at least a few cold brewskies and a handy for this beauty because he deserves that shit!

Overall I give The Night Before Easter one middle finger a quarter of the way extended, It’s a prime example of what we movie heads used to call a sleeper. I hated it and then it grew on me like a tumor and I dare any of the assholes who shit all over it to watch it again and say they still dislike it.  I can’t wait to see what comes from Joseph Henson, and Nathan Johnson next. I have a feeling these 2 fellas will only get better as they go.

This last film we’ll be talking about was one I was a little worried about.

After seeing (and loving) Drew Rosas and Nick Sommer’s BILLY CLUB I was so in love with these guys’ style of film making that I immediately placed an order for their first film together BLOOD JUNKIE..Now if you don’t know me this probably doesn’t sound like a big deal but I’ll let you in on a not so secret…I’m NOTORIOUSLY cheap. I get so many screeners every week that actually buying a film is a very rare thing for me and buying a film AND reviewing it..that’s just fuckin unheard of. Now you may think this makes me an asshole but consider this. I spend a good 5 or 6 hours a day on this site, top that off with the minimum 4 hours I spend watching the films I receive and that’s about 9 hours out of my day, no small chunk of change. Contrary to what people may think independent reviewers like myself don’t get paid for what we do, so by buying a film and then reviewing it I’m essentially paying to work. I’ve told more then a few filmmakers to go fuck themselves (although in a much nicer fashion…unless they’re dicks about it) who have suggested I buy a copy of their film to review (9 times out of 10 the people who suggest I do so have made really really shitty films and know they’re likely to get a bad review so they want to make sure they get that 10 bucks.)

I had no doubt that, had I asked Drew Rosas or Nick Sommer would have sent me a copy of Blood Junkie to review, but this was one I didn’t mind taking a chance on these guys..soon after I placed the order I began to worry though, afterall this WAS their first films and BILLY CLUB set my expectations very, very high. COuld this thing live up to BILLY CLUB more importantly would it be just like BILLY CLUB and ruin my love for the latter film..

Bloodjunkie

BLOOD JUNKIE Introduces Craig Wilson  and Teddy Bender, two fun loving slackers and recent graduates who just want to play video games, get high and most importantly party with chicks. We also meet Laura, a shy teenager who’s parents have gone away for the weekend and left her to care for her little brother Andy. Laura’s parents have left her with 35.00 and like any teenager in the 80’s she knows just what to buy with it..a shit ton of booze. Laura hooks up with her best friend and local hussy Rachel and the two head off to the liqueur store. While there they meet Craig and Teddy and with a little coercion the 4some head off to a secluded camp ground by the supposedly haunted old mill with little Andy in tow. Teddy frightens the group with the local legend about a Mill worker who was mutated and turned psychotic by a freak accident. Supposedly the man survived but was never found. Legend has it the now deranged freak of nature lives in the woods tearing out the throats of animals and unlucky teens and gorging on their blood…but this is just a ploy to help the fellas get into the high waisted pants of these foxy young ladies…Or is it?

Slow burning, on point and addictivly re-watchable, BLOOD JUNKIE is a film that, like The Night Before Easter spends alot of time on character development..unlike the aforementioned film however, BLOOD JUNKIE’S characters are that perfect mix between borderline cliches and believable, lovable human beings. Here the build up works in the film’s favor to the max because by the time these people start to die we, the audience are invested in them. I felt as if my friends were being killed in front of me, and unlike the majority of slasher films I’ve seen in the past, here I dreaded the arrival of the killer, I didn’t want these folks to die..and honestly I feel like that makes this one even better then the slashers of old that it’s homaging.

All of the characters were played with that slightly off kilter, inexperienced approach us slasher fans are so familiar with, particularly our two male leads who ooze that special kind of almost homoerotic machoness.This is particularly true of Craig, the comic relief of the group who’s too much of a smart ass to keep his mouth shut but too stupid to come up with anything amusing or witty to say..This was a ballsy approach to a main character considering if not handled just right it would have completely ruined the film..but somehow someway it WAS done exactly right and made for some hysterically bad sequences that had me grinning for the first 2/3s of the film. Teddy played our straight man, just trying to look cool by living in the shadow of Craig’s charisma. His awkwardness makes for some great exchanges between the two and the fact that the 4 break up into couples in a way that matches them with their polar opposites also adds to the fun.

The kills here are admittedly few and far in between and not all that bloody..but that fact (believe it or not) serves this movie perfectly. The bottom line that most people forget is that the vast majority of Slasher films from the 80’s really weren’t all that gore ridden. There used to be a firm line between slashers and splatters and typically Slasher movies were about the mystery and the fear of killers popping up out of nowhere. You’d see perhaps 3 or 4 kills with 1 being very gruesome and everything else would be off screen. BLOOD JUNKIE remembers that and is true to it, which just adds to the authenticity of the project. To be honest I feel they should have stuck with the original title for the film(Rocky Trails) I feel it fit the film alot more and would have brought in the proper crowd more..But I have a feeling the title chance had alot more to do with Troma then it did with Rosas and Sommer.

rockytrails

The cinematography here was an era where this thing really really shines. Plenty of extended scenery shots, wide angle pick up shots and more of the epic driving shots I’ve grown to expect from these fellas really made this one pop, but little touches like layered scenes, creative transitions and even some purposely bad edits all add to the overall experience.Most importantly this thing LOOKS just like an 80’s movie. I’ve seen countless attempts (very very few successful) to make a film look like an 80’s movie but this one is perfect, fuckin seamless man, the dulled color saturation, the slightly degraded filmstock look, everything is dead on DEAD THE FUCK ON! I don’t know how this was done but God bless them. If this film has a VHS release I need it and I need it now!

Other little touches got me as well, like the many montage scenes, the almost nonsensical surprise ending, the blaming of junkies when one of the girls go missing..The big thing that got me laughing was this film wasn’t modeled after the Friday the 13ths of the world..HELL NO This thing is an homage to the underdogs, the B-movies of the Slasher films like Pieces, to me that shows me these fellas are true blue genre fanatics, not trenders, not hipster assfucks with something to prove, not pickle buffing crowd pleasers with one hand wrapped around Hollywood’s dick and the other buried in the fans’ pockets, these are horror fans just like us..Only much much more talented.

I’d be remiss to end this review without touching on the score, which was another aspect that was completely dead on with the lower rent slasher films of the era. Sounding as if it was recorded on a Casio by an Acid head who originally designed it for an Turbo Graphics game (and I mean that it a good way) this heavy handed electronic storm of synth is so fuckin 80’s it should come with a half shirt and a mullet! This was the cherry on the fuckin cake for me.

Overall I give BLOOD JUNKIE two middle fingers chopped off and sanded to the bone. I loved it and I hope the demented duo that is Drew Rosas and Nick Sommer will continue this trend of era specific horror further, perhaps with a 70’s style revenge film or even a 50’s creature feature…Now that would be something.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyone who grew up in the 80’s or 90’s remember a phenomenon not seen very often today, that phenomenon was the Mom and Pop video store. Walking up and down isle upon isle of cardboard cases with bright vibrant pictures proudly displayed. Pictures of scantily clad women, monsters, animals, explosions, you name it, it was there. The smell of stale popcorn and old cardboard and Styrofoam mixing with the smells of cheap perfume, meals recently consumed, stale farts and unwashed bodies, the sound of ancient computers clacking away as rentals are scanned and checked out.

Where else can you find Jesus, Barny the dinosaur, Mutants, monsters and people fucking in the same place? Anyone who remembers these things most likely remember something else.

That something is Troma. For those who don’t know Troma Team Video is the brainchild of brilliant (and quite possibly insane) Film Makers and screenwriters Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Hertz. Kaufman and Hertz made sex comedies in the 70’s and 80’s and then switched over to virtually genre-less films: Cult classics like Class of Nuke ’em High, and their most memorable creation (who is now their mickey mouse) The Toxic Avenger (picture Jason without the mask, switch his machete for a mop and put him in a burnt tu-tu and make him a good guy…not kidding) the problem with movies with no genre is the big companies that had monopolized the movie houses at that point didn’t know how to cash in on such a thing. they were so cut and dry about categorizing everything that the idea of trying to offer MORE was completely unthinkable to them (thinking in general was unthinkable of course)

mitchtherealtoxieMEANWHILE ACROSS TOWN: the mom and pops had a huge problem too: namingly they were running out of movies for people to rent! Turns out people didn’t want to watch Total Recall 4000,000 times. And E.T. that loveable little rubber penis just wasn’t cutting it for most Americans. Troma had the solution. Troma did the unthinkable. THEY MADE MORE MOVIES! Not only that but they bought up the rights of hundreds (probably more like thousands) of movies no one would otherwise see and they sold them to the stores at the smallest possible profit region!

INSANITY!!!! A MOVIE COMPANY THAT CARES ABOUT MOVIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And not just any movies either, gaudy, flashy, trashy titles, like CRY UNCLE (which tells the story of a very oversexed very overweight and repulsive crime detective) and REDNECK ZOMBIES (which showcases idiotic rednecks {one of which is a homosexual in daisy dukes who thinks he’s the chick from Beverly Hillbillies} mistaking a toxic waste barrel for a moonshine keg and making moonshine with it, transforming their entire redneck town into flesh hungry, postulating zombies) These movies wern’t artsy or fancy, they didn’t pretend to be better then you or even as good as you, they only aimed to do one thing ENTERTAIN! and god damn it they do the job!

For what they lacked in “quality” they make up for in heart, and if Troma has anything it’s heart! Big maggot infested radioactive heart (and tits of course) To an outsider Troma is  now seen as trash, it’s hard for people to imagine that these movies were once at the top of the pinticle in any way but to the mom and pops and the people who loved them Troma was (and is) the bees knees (or the mutant’s tits whichever you prefer) Throughout the 80’s and 90’s Troma did the unthinkable for a low budget underground film company THEY FLURISHED!!!!!!! But just like anything else good and pure the evil corporate scoundrels got wind of all the fun and had to put a stop to it. First they created their own monoliths. Stores like BLOCKBUSTER and HOLLYWOOD VIDEO. BLOCKBUSTER, first banned troma from their shelves altogether and then followed suite with what HOLLYWOOD VIDEO was doing, releasing (and often illegally i might add) eviserated, castrated R-rated versions of Troma’s beautiful masterpieces of cinematic shluck.

Toxic Avenger and the 3 sequels that followed suffered the most, losing up to an hour of their play time! Terror Firmer and countless others suffered the same fate. Meanwhile films like Titanic which has an almost minute long scene focusing on a woman’s breasts and pubic region and playfully encourages adultery,(and still gets a PG13 rating!!!) and Pretty Woman which teaches young girls that the life of a prostitute is ok because one day a prince will come save them, go unmolested and uncut. They made these edits not to make the films more appropriate for general audiences (which in and of itself would be the move of fascists and censors, both of which are evil) but to destroy the plot lines making the films nonessential and less appealing to audiences.

The few copies of troma films these stores carried were completely buried by the mindless violence and nonsense bubblegum romances that dominate the hollywood spectrum. The purpose of these new huge corporations was clear, to snuff out and destroy the small businesses and in turn destroy the last of the independent film studios, and slowly but surely the plan worked. Mom and Pop video stores, one by one dropped like flies leaving behind empty store fronts and jobless Americans and the monoliths, having fulfilled their purpose also closed shop. Nowadays they’re all but gone. i mean sure we have netflix, youtube, alluc and countless other streaming sites but the quality is complete shit and the fun is gone the magic just isn’t there.

Troma, somehow, through magic or grace or maybe just love and dedication has chugged along and is still around today, but in comparison to what they once were. it is almost sad to look at. Not that good movies do not still come from them (Poultrygiest:night of the chicken dead was in my opinion their best since Toxic Avenger) they just don’t have the resources to get their movies out there the way they once did, instead relying mostly on the internet, word of mouth and the Tromadance film festival (free to enter your movie, free to go see everyone else’s movie. Proof that Troma still gives a shit) And now with the devastating news of an upcoming mega million dollar Hollywood-shitfest remake of the toxic avenger on it’s way, many of us Tromaites are very concerned that this may indeed be the last of Troma, these may be Toxie’s death rattles. So if it is the end, if this is truly the death of troma, then what would be left? Full Moon? Brain damage? the list is dwindling and to be honest not a single one shines a light to Troma’s awesomeness. But if this is the end then i want to say thank you Lloyd, thank you for sacrificing so much for us nerds, for dedicating every waking moment of your life to idiocy and madness for us, for being there for us and giving us a place to call home, our sweet, sweet Tromaville. LONG LIVE TROMAVILLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

BISFORBESTNEWBACKGROUND

A low-budget film is a motion picture shot with little or no funding from a major film studio or private investor….WELL IN THAT CASE (following taken directly from wikipedia no rights claimed) Sleepaway Camp November 18, 1983 cost $350,000 made $11,000,000 night of the living dead cost $114,000 and made 18 million Rocky Horror Picture Show cost $1,200,000 and made $365 million Frankenstein cost $262 000 and grossed $12 million in one week Three Ninjas cost $2.5 million and made $29,000,301 Ghostbusters cost $300,000.00 and made at least $300 million the Toxic Avenger (also see Toxic Crusaders, toxie, Troma Inc, Troma video, Troma team and troma.com)- cost $475,000.00 (That’s right, more then Ghostbusters!) and made enough money to keep a low budget film company running for over 35 years! troma.com ! troma.com ! troma.com! (alright damn it these fuckers should be paying me by now..musta spent a million dollars with them “mutter” “mutter” Pout ..eeehem…continuing

ANYWAY..i could (and would if i didn’t feel it was unspeakably boring) continue with this for thousands of pages only to come to one central point and that is this ALL OUR MOVIES GROWING UP WERE LOW BUDGET AND NOW AS WE SIT BACK POWERLESS THE EVIL CORPORATE MEGA-CONGLOMERATE “ENTERTAINMENT” ELITE EVISCERATES THEM ONE BY ONE. BIG BUDGETS ONLY MEAN THE BIG ASSHOLES GET TO MAKE THE “BIG” MOVIES AND DESTROY THE CLASSICS (AT LEAST PARTIALLY AND AT LEAST FOR THE YOUNGER GENERATIONS) FOREVER! SHIELD YOUR EYES TO IT AND SAY IT MEANS NOTHING JUST BECAUSE YOU DON’T GIVE A FUCK IF TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (ONE OF MY FAVORITE FILMS BUT ONE OF THE ABSOLUTE LEAST DESERVING AND NONSENTIAL FRANCHISES IN HISTORY ) IS NOW CREEPING INTO THE DOUBLE DIGITS SLOWLY BUT SURELY OR THAT OUR KIDS THINK TOBY FUCKIN MCGUIRE IS SPIDERMAN AND THAT NAMELESS ACTOR FROM AMERICAN HISTORY X (ANOTHER FILM RIPE FOR UNNEEDED AND VASTLY UNWANTED SEQUEL AND REMAKE TREATMENT) IS THE INCREDIBLE HULK AND THAT SMEAGAL WITNESSED THE CRUCIFICTION FROM A DAMN AMERICAN EAGLE BACKPACK! bmovieavengerBUT BROTHERS AND SISTERS I SAY VARILY UNTO YOU THAT THE MAN RESPONCIBLE FOR HOT TUB TIME MACHINE (A “COMEDY” SO MEDICORE THAT I COULDN’T BARE TO SIT THROUGH IT EVEN WITH AN ALTERED STATE OF MIND!) IS NO DIRECTING A MEGA MILLION DOLLAR REMAKE OF THE TOXIC AVENGER STARRING JOHN FUCKIN “MURDERED HAIRSPRAY” “GREASE IS SHORT FOR GREASED ASSHOLES” “AND I HATE YOU STUPID FUCKIN DISCO MOVIE TOO” TRAVOLA.. I AM NOT KIDDING! I WISH THAT I WAS! AND THE MOVIE IS GOING TO BE RATED PG13 AND WILL COME OUT BEFORE (AND SO BI-PROXY INSTEAD OF) THE TOXIC AVENGER 5! TROMA ALREADY SOLD THE RIGHTS TO MOTHER’S DAY AND IT TURNED TO SHIT MAKING FUTURE MOVIE GOERS EITHER NEVER WATCH THE ORIGNAL AND THINK IT MUST SUCK BECAUSE OF THE REMAKE OR TYPICAL HOLLYWOOD SHITSUCKERS RAISING THEIR NOSES AND CONVINCING THE MASSES THAT THE SHITTY COMPLETELY DEVOID OF LIFE REMAKE IS SUPERIOR! HAVE WE NOT HAVE ENOUGH BROTHERS AND SISTER? ENOUGH CHILD MOLESTER FREDDY WITH NO NOSE! ENOUGH MULLET SPORTING ELECTRIC BILL PAYING POT GROWING JASON VORHEEZ! ENOUGH ABE LINCOLN IN GENERAL FOR FUCKSSAKE THE MAN DIED OVER 100 YEARS AGO IN A FUCKIN THEATER I DO NOT THINK HE WOULD APPROVE YOU FUCKSTICKS!

THINK ALL OF THIS IS FAR FETCHED? HERE’S A LIST OF NEW REMAKES YOU MIGHT ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT…OR WANT TO KILL OVER THUNDERCATS ROBOCOP SHORT CIRCUT BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED CHILD’S PLAY 3 TIMES IN ONE YEAR!(NOT KIDDING) THE THING (5 NEW REMAKES OF THE ALREADY REMADE REMADE REMAKE WITHIN THE NEXT 2 YEARS) ALL OF THE UNIVERSAL MONSTERS BLOOD SUCKING FREAKS NEKROMANTIK EVIL DEAD 2 AND 3 1/2 (IN THE NEXT 6 YEARS) POWER PUFF GIRLS, REN AND STIMPY, THE HEAD, RUGRATS LIVE ACTION ,SIMPSONS LIVE ACTION ,FAMILY GUY LIVE ACTION, TED 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 , AND SEVEN PLUS A REMAKE (IN THE NEXT 10 YEARS) MONEY MIKE 2 :MIKE NEEDS MORE MONEY, LEPRECHAUN (AS A SERIOUS FILM) YOU GOT SERVED THE MUSICAL (A 4 HOUR SPECIAL FILM….FOUR FUCKING HOURS!) GHOSTBUSTERS(BASED ON THE ORIGINAL CARTOON) THE SNORKS, 2 STUPID DOGS, AHHHHH REAL MONSTERS (CGI AND LIVE ACTION), DEBBIE DOES DALLIS (REMADE AS A PG13 ACTION COMEDY….NOT EVEN KIDDING), LUCKY ,THE BURNING (A FILM THAT FRIDAY THE 13TH 2 OBVIOUSLY AND BLATANTLY RIP OFFS.(..SO ESSENTIALLY ANOTHER DAMN FRIDAY THE 13TH WITH A “NEW JASON”….PROBABLY JASON STAMOS KNOWING HOLLYWOOD AND WITH A BLANK PLASTIC MASK…LESS OFFENSIVE THAT WAY!), SAW 7-19 ,HOSTILE VS. SAW (I WISH THIS WAS A JOKE), TOXIC CRUSADERS MEET THE NINJA TURTLES (OK…SO THIS ONE IS MADE UP IN THE HOPES THEY’LL ACTUALLY MAKE IT….WITHOUT WILL SMITH)

AND SO MY FELLOW FIENDS (ALL 2 OF YOU AND THE OTHER 600 READERS WHO ARE TOO ASSHOLEISH TO POST OR JOIN) DON’T THINK FOR A SECOND THAT YOUR FAVORITE FILM IS SAFE FROM THE HOLLYWOOD DISEASE. HELL EVEN YOUR BAR MITZVA WILL BE REMADE STARRING TOM HANKS AS A TALKING ANAL WART….NOW THAT I’D PAY TO SEE.