21st November 1999

“The aroma of Troma” by Christer Persson

posted in Interviews |

Interview and intro made in 1999| Christer Persson

Mr. Lloyd Kaufman has, together with Michael Herz, built up Americas smallest, cheapest and most independent film industry: Troma. They do not only produce films, but also distribute outings from other small and independent filmmakers (most notably, maker of South Park, Trey Parker’s odd Cannibal: The Musical and some old shitty films with natural born loser Kevin Costner). Troma’s films are not for everyone, they are made cheap, so they look cheap and smell cheap. Nevertheless, the films are filled with filthy sex, bad jokes, meaningless violence and tons of charm, i.e. the aroma of Troma. But things have not always been like this in Tromaville.

From the start Mr. Kaufman had another idea with his life and studied at Yale University. But soon he got bitten by the film-bug and met with long-time associate Mr. Herz. It didn’t take long before they knew what they had to do: They had to give the world films of the future! The road to success has not been short (and they hasn’t really got to the end yet) and after several fiascos like Squeeze Play (a comedy about female softball) and a Jewish comedy Big Gus, What’s the fuss? (a film which according to Mr. Kaufman has made more damage to the Jewish people than Mein Kampf) things looked really bad. Mr. Kaufman then worked on several mainstream films like Rocky and Saturday Night Fever, but the way things were made at Hollywood never interested him. He was a man with a mission. If he only could figure out what the mission was.

But eventually Lloyd found out what his mission was, why he was put on this grave earth. He came up with the brilliant idea that became The Toxic Avenger (and eventually grew into being Troma’s own distorted version of Mickey Mouse)! And from that moment on things fell into place and the rest is history. Troma was to make cheap movies with some nudity and some more violence! And admit we all fell for it. I know that some of the films suck, but they are at least sincere and are made just for our, the viewers’, entertainment. Films that has intoxicated viewers’ brains include Troma’s War, Monster in the Closet, Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD, Rabid Grannies, Surf Nazis must Die and A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell. The last years has been very kind to Troma and the more recent releases Tromeo and Juliet and Terror Firmer (in which Mr. Kaufman stars as a blind (!) low budget horror director) has got real good reviews. It seems like more people are at last appreciating the kind of movies that Troma makes. In the workings are the fourth film about the Toxic Avenger, Citizen Toxie, and Troma’s very own filmfestival Tromadance. As said, the aroma of Troma may be that of a toxic stench, but once used to it you can’t live without it. So, lean back and read the interview with the one and only Mr. Lloyd Kaufman. And always remember that Toxie loves you!

At Troma you make »Films for the Future«. With new millennia coming up, do you think that your films are going to be noticed and accepted by a larger audience, or is the future further away?

I believe that the future is always further away, because if it was not, it would be the present. But I definitely think Troma will be noticed more in the year 2000. Between the release of The Toxic Avenger 4: Citizen Toxie coming up and the launch of our online community, http://web.archive.org/web/20010713154349/http://www.tromaville.com/, we have many new things that appeal to a vast audience. All types of people can unite in Tromaville. Also, on January 26th, the Troma team is throwing our own film festival, Tromadance, in Park City, Utah. We are going to be showcasing short films all day, followed by a showing of Troma’s newest movie, Terror Firmer. Then there will be a huge party, Troma-style! This event should also help us gain audience.

You and Michael Herz have worked together for twenty-five years now. Most people are not even married for such a long time nowadays. What is your secret recipe for such a happy and successful relationship?

Michael Herz has the stomach of an Iron Ox. He’s a saint. I am an asshole. So it is a perfect Yin and Yang fit.

In your book All I need to know about filmmaking I learned from Toxic Avenger you mention your reaction to the Howard Stern’s movie Private Parts as confusing. People, and foremost your own wife Pat, were laughing their socks off to simple fartjokes, sexjokes and plain disgusting jokes mixed with bare naked ladies. When you direct a film with the very same ingredients, people and foremost your wife, don’t appreciate it. Does that bother you?

Howard Stern’s movie is mainstream. That’s why it’s ok for him to do what he does. It’s what people expect from him. Troma movies are always changing with the times, it’s always a new perspective on things. People don’t know what to expect, so they don’t appreciate it. They don’t »Get it«. Sure, for every person that doesn’t get it, there are some that do. And those are the people Troma makes the movies for. We make movies for the fans, and for myself. Anyone else who doesn’t »Get it«, fuck them. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it.

It’s no secret that you are the brain behind The Toxic Avenger, the flagship of Troma. Would Troma be as big without Toxie at the wheel?

That is a good question. It’s hard to say. I mean, if I didn’t come up with Toxie, I’m sure there would be another figurehead. I would have thought of something else. But I’m glad we have Toxie, that’s the way things worked out. I consider him my child.

One of the things I think of when I watch a Troma film is the way they’re made (hold on, I don’t mean cheap). I suggest that the Troma films in more than one way are familiar to the Hong Kong movies of today. The films, whatever the genre, contains humor, sex and over the top violence. A way of moviemaking where improvisations on the set are common behavior. Can this be applied on your films made at Troma, or am I wrong?

You are absolutely correct. When we start to make a Troma movie, we have a script. As we get into the production, the script changes from day to day, and as we shoot the scenes, lines change, sometimes entire situations. In a way, it is a lot like improvisation, but we have a script to give us a general direction for the story.

Do you think that Troma in a higher degree than big production companies hires people to work on the movies based on their skills, rather than their ethnic background or gender?

I think that Troma is definitely an equal opportunity employer. Whatever you look like, we don’t care as long as you are motivated to do your job. It helps to be motivated by the love of the art. If you’ve got no arms and no legs, but want to be a movie star, just come to Troma. There is a place for everyone in a Troma movie.

Is they’re any big Hollywood production that you think that Troma should have made instead?

No, but I think that one Troma movie that Hollywood should have made is The Toxic Avenger.

Speaking of Hollywood, after twenty-five years of guerilla filmmaking wouldn’t it be nice to have a mega-budget, a big professional crew and the support of a major company and make something more mainstream? Or are you the Che Guevara of filmmaking?

It might be nice, but you wouldn’t get the same sense of togetherness you get on a Troma set. On a Troma set, you meet people that are working there because they want to help make a movie. On a big budget set, you get people working there just because they want to tell their friends they worked on a big budget movie, and they got to meet some famous asshole. Sure there have to be some dedicated people on a big budget set, but you won’t find as many as you would on a Troma set.

I want to gratulate you to the recent successes of your films Tromeo & Juliet and Terror Firmer. The last ten years there have been several big movie adaptations of the William Shakespeare’s work, e.g. Henric V, Romeo + Juliet, A Midsummer’s Nights Dream and several others. So, in the case of Tromeo & Juliet, was it a deliberate decision to make a film based on the bards’ work to gain a wider attention from the media? Or was it just a lucky shot?

I don’t think it was either of those. The Troma Team just wanted to honor Shakespeare’s final wish, that a version of Romeo and Juilet be made to include a 3-foot penis monster.

You’ve had some big stars in your films over the years; Kevin Costner in Shadows Run Black and Sizzle Beach, Vincent D??Onofrio in The First Turn-on, Samuel L. Jackson in Deaf by Temptation and the great Billy Bob Thornton in Chopper Chicks in Zombietown among others. Since they have grown into house hold names, have anyone mentioned Troma as their growing ground?

As far as I know, no one in existence has claimed to have gotten their start in Troma films.

Due to the excessive violence and sex in your productions, have you had any major problems with moral fanatics in some way? And if so, in what way have they tried to stop Troma?

Well, one scene in The Toxic Avenger 4: Citizen Toxie involves the Ku Klux Klan. When we shot it we weren’t in the best of neighborhoods, so the locals were not exactly in the best of spirits. Let’s just say we got a few threats of drive by shootings.

Name five of Troma??s films that you are most proud of. And in what way does those films make you proud?

The Toxic Avenger – It is a milestone, a turning point in Troma’s grand history. Troma’s War – The best war movie I ever made. Tromeo and Juliet – The best translation of Shakespeare’s work Cannibal: The Musical – Trey Parker’s finest work Terror Firmer – Shows what really goes down on a Troma set.

Name five Troma films you really don’t like to mention (but you have to!). And why don’t you wanna mention them?

I like to mention all of Troma’s movies, at every opportunity I get. But to name a few that still make me cringe, Blood Sucking Freaks and Sizzle Beach USA, although both great movies, are not what I would call family entertainment.

The one question you think I should have asked?

I think you should have asked, »What is the meaning of life?«, but since you haven’t asked, I can’t tell you.

One final question and I’ll let you do something more fun than answering stupid questions. Future plans for Tromas world dominion and future film-projects?

Well, in the new millennium, Tromaville will declare itself a nation, and secede from the United States. As for movie plans, we are going to be shooting some sort of Zombie movie in upstate NY, in an abandoned Mental Intuition. It’s in pre production now, so we don’t know much about it. Stay tuned to www.troma.com for details!

There are currently 2 responses to ““The aroma of Troma” by Christer Persson”

Why not let us know what you think by adding your own comment! Your opinion is as valid as anyone elses, so come on... let us know what you think.

  1. 1 On March 21st, 2013, Edward said:

    Lloyd Kaufman and his whole crew should do billions more AIR-BLADDERS Special Makeup Monster Effects Horror Movies like the remake of ‘Toxic Avenger’ and the remake of ‘Class of Nuke’Em High’ and remake sequels.

  2. 2 On March 21st, 2013, Edward said:

    I also think Lloyd’s new crew should make new ideas of doing billions of BODY INFLATION ALIEN HORROR Films. Hope Lloyd and his crew will imitate from the early 80’s horror Mutant Air-Bladders Makeup FX films like ‘The Beast Within,’ ‘Altered States,’ ‘Spasms,’ and ‘The Howling.’

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