What’s more exciting than seeing eight of Troma Entertainment founder Lloyd Kaufman’s most celebrated films on the big screen, paired off into four single-ticket Double Features? Getting to meet the man himself at The Frida Cinema on July 20th! Join us as we dedicate our The Directors series to one of cinema’s greatest living pioneers: LLOYD KAUFMAN!
THE TOXIC AVENGER is perhaps Lloyd Kaufman’s most famous film, featuring the infamous title character that has become synonymous with the film’s production house, TROMA Entertainment. Melvin Ferd is a 98 pound nerd who works as a janitor in the fictional town of Tromaville, New Jersey. The customers constantly harass him, progressively getting more and more violent as time goes on. One day, his bullying tormentors chase him around the health club, causing him to fall out of a window into a vat of toxic waste. Miraculously, he not only survives, but is transformed into a hideous monster with tremendous size and strength – The Toxic Avenger! From here, a superhero gore-fest of epic proportions ensues, as Toxie’s fanbase grows as the blood of his villains flows!
POULTRYGEIST: NIGHT OF THE CHICKEN DEAD is…well, let’s start with the name. Yes, you read it right. POULTRYGEIST: NIGHT OF THE CHICKEN DEAD is Kaufman’s 2006 black comedy/musical/horror film which follows a group of consumers and everyday citizens who are trapped in a fried chicken restaurant called the American Chicken Bunker. What’s trapping them in this fried chicken joint, you ask? A chicken-possessed zombie demonic alien spirit, of course! Why, you ask!? The restaurant is built upon an ancient Native American burial ground! Sound familiar? By the way, all of this is happening while the protagonist, Arbie, tries as hard as he can to win back the heart of his high school sweetheart. This movie has a little bit of everything!
SGT. KABUKIMAN N.Y.P.D., released in 1990, is perhaps Kaufman’s second-most recognizable creation, right behind ol’ Toxie himself. Sergeant Detective Harry Griswold is a clumsy N.Y.P.D officer investigating a string of murders all involving…Kabuki actors! But wait…there’s more! (This is TROMA, after all…) One night, while attending a Kabuki show, he witnesses thugs gun down the entire cast. During the shoot out, Harry is forcefully kissed by a dying Kabuki artist, and is inadvertently blessed with the powers of the Kabuki! Soon, he realizes he has gained the ability to transform into Kabukiman!, readily equipped with heat-seeking chopsticks, fatal sushi, and a hunger for justice!
TROMA’S WAR was a 1988 release written by Kaufman as “a response to the Reagan administration’s glorification of war.” Of course, in the world of TROMA, even an earnest satirical critique is going to be…well, TROMA. A small group of typical Tromaville citizens find themselves in the path of a terrorist army controlled by the power elite. The freedom of Tromaville and the world is at stake! Leave it to a used car salesman, a handsome environmentalist, an obese junk-food gourmand, a seventy-year-old housewife, some sensational young women, a year-old jingoistic baby, and even more sensational women to all become deadly soldiers and save the day!
RETURN TO NUKE ‘EM HIGH VOL. I is Kaufman’s 2013 release that took fans back to Troma High School, setting of 1986’s Class of Nuke ‘Em High and its two sequels. Don’t look for Dead Poets or Breakfast Clubs at a TROMA high school, though – this institute of learning boasts a glee club which has mutated into a gang of vicious monsters known as The Cretins, who are hell-bent on destroying the school and devouring everybody in it! Our innocent protagonists, Chrissy and Lauren, are tasked with stopping this gang of mutants and monsters, while simultaneously trying to take down the evil Tromorganic Foodstuffs Conglomerate. How will they possibly pack so much drama and intrigue in just one film!?
RETURN TO NUKE ‘EM HIGH VOL. II – making its big-screen audience premiere at The Frida! – continues the adventures of Lauren and Chrissy as they valiantly fight against the most evil villains to ever descend upon the World! A hilarious sci-fi saga that further’s Kaufman’s famed attention to themes of social justice by ripping stories straight from today’s headlines: the contamination and degradation of the world’s food supply, rampant bullying, and LGBTQ love triumphing over prejudice and violence. Can Lauren and Chrissy – and, um, Kevin the Wonder Duck… – save Tromaville High School – and the world!?
TROMEO & JULIET is what happened in 1996 when at long last, Lloyd Kaufman met William Shakespeare! Set in Manhattan, and narrated by Lemmy of Motörhead (seriously, this movie is a classic), Kaufman’s film is actually a pretty faithful adaptation of the original play – with the addition of extreme amounts of Troma-esque sexuality and violence, of course, and an inspired revised ending. Tromeo Que and Juliet Capulet are both trapped in feelings of unrequited love, cursed by the fact that their families have a long-lasting grudge against each other. The story proceeds pretty much as you remember – except with a plastic cage, and um, a pig creature with a giant, um…
TERROR FIRMER is Kaufman’s 1999 release which is very much a tribute to all the TROMA that came before it, which is why we have selected it to close our July series. Based on Kaufman’s own book “All I Need To Know About Filmmaking I Learned From The Toxic Avenger,” Terror Firmer stars Kaufman himself as Larry Benjamin is an insane, blind filmmaker trying to create a work of art with a low budget crew. The film follows our protagonist Jennifer, as she tries to juggle her job on the film with a love triangle that she is having with the special effects operator and the boom operator. And oh yeah – the crew is also being preyed upon by a sexually conflicted, bomb-toting serial killer!