Spidarlings (2016) Review

rsz_spidarlingsv2SPIDARLINGS (2016)

Starring Sophia Disgrace, Rahel Kapsaski, Lee Mark Jones and Rusty Goffe

Written and Directed by Salem Kapsaski

Available NOW online at – http://watch.troma.com/

Poverty stricken lovers Eden and Matilda have enough trouble just getting through the days. Their Landlord is trying to terrorize them and strange things seem to be going on at “Juicy Girls”, the place where Matilda works… but when Eden buys a pet spider the real troubles start.”

Despite a myriad of technical issues, Spidarling’s is a pretty endearing piece of trash cinema, and it’s easy to see why it was picked up by Troma.

Opening with a funk-tastic animated title sequence that’s accompanied by a quite polished punk song, Spidarling’s immerses you unapologetically in the lives of skint couple Eden and Matilda, lovers who are the definition of punk. Their tiny flat and style screams “I don’t give a fuck and I don’t give a fuck if you give a fuck that I don’t give a fuck” but a lot of this is blamed on their lack of income. Eden is smart but lazy and doesn’t work, and Matilda appears to just lounge around the burlesque club Juicy Girls. Bored, fed up, behind on their rent and without a clue what to do. Enter, a spider!

For what will be a penny budget Spidarlings doesn’t lack ambition. While technical issues are rife, the experimentation is great to see. Lots of inventive animation and sudden disorienting edits, as well as ransom cutting to songs all really sell the attitude and world of the characters.

rsz_sd1However, Spidarlings falls into a lot of traps that show a lack of experience. Whether down to a choppy colour grade or lack of equipment, the film looks as if it were shot on a consumer camcorder from the nineties. It misses a lot of visual detail and just looks jarring. Also the sound was flimsy. Eden seems dubbed in post while Matilda is often inaudible, and many of the musical sequences are either too loud or too quiet.

But then again, this all adds to the DIY, trashy John Waters micro-budget transgressiveness of it all. You don’t feel like you’re dealing with a safe group of filmmakers, which is great. And it’s two hour runtime manages to flirt from body horror, domestic melodrama, black comedy, slasher and musical as if it’s on shuffle. Each situation however shares a common theme, and that is the strong undercurrent of feminism. Every bloke around the lovers is either a pervert, greedy fucker and often much worse. Some of it doesn’t always hit the spot but that’s the risk of throwing the kitchen sink in there.

The performances are eager and veer from OTT, to delightfully strange, or almost zombie-like and it all adds to the kaleidoscope of tones. Disgrace and Kapsaski hold the thing together and are a surprisingly sweet couple. Along with the engaging leads and diverse supporting cast are the the tunes, and again while the recording and editing holds them back, they are still surprisingly catchy and may just stick in your head for better or worse!

rsz_sd2With gallows black humour and a story that throws the rules out the window, Spidarlings won’t be for everyone. And it can’t be denied that at two hours it’s way too bloody long. But for fans of John Waters, Troma and underground cinema you could do a lot worse. One thing is undeniable, the feminist blood runs strong through this with, viscerally and unapologetically.

Is this a good film? I’m not sure it’s trying to be. But it’s an experience.

6/10

Tromeo & Juliet (1996) Blu-Ray Review

tromeo1Tromeo and Juliet (USA, 1996)

Dir: Lloyd Kaufman

Starring: Jane Jensen, Will Keenan,William Beckwith

Out now on UK Blu-Ray from 88 Films

Plot: The William Shakespeare classic tragedy re-imagined in the grungy punk-rock style of Troma. Star-crossed lovers Tromeo (Keenan) and Juliet (Jensen) fight for their love against their two warring families, The Ques and the Capulets. Can Tromeo whisk Juliet away before her abusive father (Beckwith) can marry her off?

My first experience with Troma was Cannibal! The Musical (Also known as Alferd Packer: The Musical), a film by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. I was already accustomed to the rude and crude humour of South Park so it only seemed like a natural progression to start watching films from Troma. Troma is famous for two things, 1) being incredibly crude, and 2) being passionately DIY. Lloyd Kaufman, director of Tromeo and Juliet and Co-founder of Troma, is a firm believer that anyone who wants to make movies should make movies. It’s that punk rock ideology of learn three chords and write a song, substituting three chords with a couple buckets of blood. Yet much like punk rock, if you’re not into punk or cheap blood effects this might not be the movie for you.

tromeo2Lloyd Kaufman has created an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, sticking very close to the plot of the Shakespearian source material. A lot of the scriptwriting for Tromeo and Juliet was done by James Gunn, another alum of Troma that has gone onto bigger things including writing two Scooby Doo movies and directing Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy (look out for Kaufman’s cameo in the space prison). Troma is not known for it’s tasteful period dramas, so this film is much closer to Kaufman’s other work such as The Toxic Avenger than it is to Downton Abbey. There is gore by the bucketful, plenty sex, and a giant rubber penis monster. It really sets the tone of what kind of movie this is.

It’s quite difficult to review a Troma film because I think you really need to find their films by yourself.It’s the kind of rite of passage for grungy outcast teenagers who just want to see something really messed up and kind of stupid. Troma specialises in films that you could find in video stores back in the day when you would browse somewhere between the horror films and theadult films. You’d pick one and you’d laugh your ass off and you’d want to watch more. Thankfully, despite the demise of the videostore, Troma has taken to you-tube so it’s easy for the uninitiated to get that first taste.

tromeo3Tromeo and Juliet is classic Troma for better or worse. It’s the filthy fun version of Romeo and Juliet, and that’s enough to peak the interest of those who might know Shakespeare but not as educated on the work of Kaufman. It’s also agreat film for nerding out, with things like Troma’s running car-flipjoke, and Sean Gunn (James Gunn’s brother and the motion-captureactor for Rocket Raccoon) appearing as Sammy Capulet. If you like weird foul humour and being part of a rabid fan-base, Tromeo and Juliet is a great film for introducing yourself (and all your friends) to the world of Troma.

The blu-ray copy of Tromeo and Juliet has plenty of special features including four commentary tracks, deleted scenes, rehearsal footage and the original trailer.

8/10

The Toxic Avenger III (1989) Blu-Ray Review

toxieIIIcoverThe Toxic Avenger III (1989) Blu-ray review

Directors – Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz

Starring – Ron Fazio, Phoebe Legere, Rick Collins

Run Time – 102 minutes

Label – 88 Films

OUT NOW

Times are hard for Toxie. What is a hideously deformed creature of superhuman size and strength to do after he’s eliminated crime from his hometown? Desperate to raise money for the experimental surgery that could restore his blind fiancés eyesight, Toxie accepts a lucrative job with the evil multinational conglomerate Apocalypse Inc. Now, Toxies transforming into an even more monstrous creature: a yuppie. And all of Tromaville is paying the price of Toxies Faustian bargain. The Toxic Avenger must defeat his own inner demons before taking on the Devil himself in a battle royale, while the fate of Tromaville hangs in the balance. – 88 Films

Starting with a wonderfully daft and self knowing fight scene in a VHS rental store (that seems to rent only Troma films, how uncanny) that lasts ten minutes and is loaded with Troma trademarks, the movie carries on in a frivolous fashion for the rest of it’s run time. As usual with the studio, its a case of organised chaos.

This time the unlikely plot is ‘our hero’ trying to go about a normal life in which he is seen as a salesman, trying to help his bimbo fiancée regain her sight and making kids eat their greens. However he is unhappy and, in a parallel with some religious drivel he overheard attending gospel singing at a local church, he is a changed mutant.

toxieIII1As a result he eventually turns evil, falling foul of the manipulative mega power corporation Apocalypse capitalists. This is not a new theme in a Troma feature, yet in an attempt to put a twist on it Toxie III aka The Last Temptation of Toxie sees the ‘everyman’ (believe it or not Toxie himself) being seduced by the businessmen and if he can break free of their way of thinking.

Not much action happens during the spell of the feature when the monster hero becomes the monster sellout. The daft fight scenes and frivolous ‘special’ effects are kept to a minimum until the chairman (played with glee by Rick Collins) reveals himself to be the devil. The costume worn for this is quite impressive by Troma standards.

Despite this movie featuring the return of Melvin, the weakling janitor that would become the Avenger, the original actor Mark Torgl does not play this role. Instead Michael Kaplan is the put upon dweeb. Kaufman has revealed since this was because Torgl asked for more money, which the director wishes he had agreed to.

Special features.

Where in the World is Toxie? (42 mins) – A documentary that follows Lloyd Kaufman as he attends various film festivals around the world. Although this is the Toxic Avenger III blu-ray, this extra is mainly promoting part IV: Citizen Toxie. Troma movies have a lot of fans in numerous countries, showing the draw of Kaufman’s studio. Other cult directors Brian Yuzna and Dario Argento make appearances.

toxieIII2Ron Fazio interview (8 mins) – The actor that played Toxie in parts II & III, Fazio talks about how he became the monster hero (“I’m not that good an actor.”). He reveals he didn’t like co-star Phoebe Legere, nor her boyfriend.

Rick Collins interview (5 mins) – Chairman/The Devil in part III, Collins reminisces about all the Troma movies he appeared in (seven in total).

Joe Fleishaker interview (3 mins) – The large actor who has appeared in several Troma films is interviewed.

There are also several other extras, ranging from trailers, stills galleries and other short video’s of Troma goodness. Two commentaries are included, one by Kaufman and one by Fleishaker.

Calum ‘Doctor’ Waddell does the honours in the booklet, as always this is an enjoyable read.

Verdict.
Daft, distasteful, poorly acted yet with heart Toxic Avenger III is a Troma film with a message.

5 out of 10.

The Toxic Avenger 2 (1989) Blu-Ray Review

toxie2-1The Toxic Avenger II (Blu-ray review, 1989)

Directors – Lloyd Kaufman & Michael Herz

Starring – Ron Fazio, John Altamura, Phpebe Legere, Mayako Katsuragi

Run Time – 96 minutes

Label – 88 Films

OUT NOW

Toxie’s mean, green, and back on the screen! Melvin Junko was a nerdy 98lb weakling until he fell into a vat of toxic waste, turning him into the first ever superhuman superhero from New Jersey. This time the hideously deformed creature of superhuman size and strength takes on Tokyo. – 88 Films synopsis.

Lighter in tone than the original, if such a thing can be believed, ‘Toxie II’ is extremely daft, badly acted and full of cheap effects. A typical Troma studios pictures really, but one that was anticipated upon release in 1989. The original Toxic Avenger was quite a hit for such a low budget cheesy film and had developed a fanbase in the lead up to a sequel.

While Melvin felt compelled to fight bad guys in Toxie 1 due to his anti-bullying stance in this film the character has nothing to do. Literally, much of the film follows his exploits in Japan as he seeks his long lost ‘father’ instead of being in Tromaville.

As the Toxic Avenger is now caught in a soap opera storyline, done in true Troma fashion though, this detracts from the movie. Apart from the occasional silly fight scene the film concentrates on this storyline and involves a lot of dialogue. This means an awful lot of bad acting.

With this being Troma the bad acting is heightened as the actors ham it up. Phoebe Legere is the biggest culprit as Toxies blind girlfriend Claire. Her portrayal of someone visually impaired is to stare wildly into space and wave her arms around as she walks. The casting of this former musician, and her wearing of skimpy outfits, is clearly so she can add some eye candy to the movie.

toxie2-2Some of the already mentioned fight scenes will earn a chuckle for how frivolous they are. A school for the blind is attacked by the evil Apocalypse henchmen at the start of the feature, resulting in the Toxic Avenger beating them up. One henchman is a midget, Toxie picks him up and ‘squashes’ him into a ball. Later he grabs hold of someone’s arms and yanks them off, with the usual level of special effects being utilized to attain this image.

Special features.

Behind the Scenes in Japan – A clip from a Japanese TV show featuring Mayako Katsuragi (Masami) being interviewed as footage is shown of the film being shot in Japanese streets. Poor picture quality throughout and there is no English translation.

Toxie Thoughts by Fangoria managing editor Michael Gingold – 2 minutes long, editor and sometime Troma actor Gingold talks about how he got involved with the film. He just showed up.

Tromatic Comments with Mike Mayo – 2 minutes long and seemingly shot in a vet practice, Mayo sings the praises of Toxie II.

Thoughts from Lisa Gaye – The lead female villain of the feature, Gaye discusses her Troma career in this 2 minute video. She proudly shows off her large breasts, Troma at it’s ‘finest’.

Scenes from the Tromaville Cafe – 5 minutes long video from Troma’s Edge TV, hostess Dsylexia and Lloyd Kaufman celebrate Toxie’s birthday. Sgt Kabukiman and Toxie go to Japan (which looks suspiciously like Manhattan) to finally find his father.

Most of the above have been released on other Troma home videos.

The disc also features a Kaufman commentary, trailers for the Toxie series and other 88 Films releases.

Ultimately this is not as good as the original but has the usual Troma charm to please those that ‘get it’.

5/10

The Toxic Avenger (1984) BluRay Review

toxiccoverThe Toxic Avenger (Blu-ray review, 1984)

Director – Lloyd Kaufman

Starring – Mitch Cohen, Mark Torgl, Andree Maranda, Pat Ryan Jr

Run Time – 88 minutes

Release Date – Monday 18th August

Label – 88 Films

88 Films dive into the Troma Studios back catalogue, starting with one of its most iconic movies – The Toxic Avenger.

Melvin (Torgl) is the janitor of the Health Club of small town Tromaville. He is a geeky looking, sexually deprived individual who is mocked by everyone he encounters. Some of the people at the Health Club are obnoxious, vain bodydonna’s that think they can treat anyone how they like and also do what they like. They harass Melvin and even trick him into kissing a sheep in front of everyone at the Health Club. Humiliated he runs away but they give chase, mocking the distraught man. In order to escape his tormentors he jumps out of a window and lands directly into a barrel containing toxic waste (on the back of a flat-bed truck that just so happened to be parked outside).

Melvin manages to get out but he is covered in toxic waste and is in agony. While he lies on the pavement in unbearable pain the tormentors stand over him, laughing. Melvin staggers home and has a bath, but once in it the toxic waste causes him to drastically mutate into an ugly, super strong giant of a man. Roaming the streets of Tromaville he seeks to punish the bullies and stop the criminals of his town and in doing so he becomes known as The Monster Hero (Cohen).

toxic1One of director Lloyd Kaufman’s most infamous creations, The Toxic Avenger is a slice of classic 80’s Troma trash. On the surface it is frivolous and cheaply made, but beneath it tackles themes that Kaufman has been crusading against for decades.

With the typical over-the-top acting Avenger is a movie that knows serious drama and acting will not be what is expected from the viewer. It basks in its absurdity, especially with the character of Melvin. Torgl is hilarious with his pathetic facial expressions as the perving janitor. Andree Maranda somehow keeps a straight face during her oddball romantic scenes with Toxie. For a movie with this low standard of quality acting to survive, it must have had some sort of charm.

The charm, or appeal at least, can be found in the plight of downtrodden Melvin. Many people will have felt as if they are being mistreated or bullied by others and wish to strike back at them somehow. This is the point of The Toxic Avenger – the nerd conquers the tormentors. Once mutated by the toxic waste Melvin punishes those that do wrong (criminals) or those that have wronged him (the annoying teens at the health club). The weakling has been transformed into a force to be reckoned with and will no longer be the butt of everyone’s jokes. The character has lasted so long because in a way people can related to it. Also, Kaufman has never pretended Troma is anything other than what it is: low-budget independent film-making. Both the studio and the viewer know the movie isn’t about winning praise, it’s about pure entertainment.

toxic2On another level the movie works as sheer fun. Toxie and Sara having sex, the bodydonna’s running over a child’s head that is clearly a melon and a dog being slung across a restaurant floor (after being ‘shot’) are all laughable and perhaps even bad but it will cause a smile or too and even some laughter. This is integral to Troma’s survival, most the studio’s films may have a small budget but they are big on laughs and fun. They don’t let a lack of resources stop them from doing something, such as Toxie ripping off a thugs arm in one scene. They simply hired a one-armed man and had him attach an arm from a shop mannequin until the ‘big moment’. The absurdity clearly has appealed to many over the decades and The Toxic Avenger may be the best example of Troma-tainment.

A big selling point for this release of the original Toxie is that it is now in high-definition thanks to it being on Blu-ray. The sound isn’t brilliant but the picture quality is very good. A little grainy still yet it allows the viewer to see the naff effects in all their ‘glory’. Occasionally the image on-screen with shake a little and blur slightly as a result, although this is a minor complaint that won’t distract from the movie.

Lloyd Kaufman himself does the commentary duties (it is available on other releases of the movie, it should be noted). As ever he is very honest and frank as he recalls his time making The Toxic Avenger. For those that are not very familiar with the film or who have never heard the commentary before it enhances the feature as Kaufman reveals such details as making the film without even having a name for it (Health Club Horror was considered) and how Torgl pleaded to stop shooting at one point.

toxic3There are also a whole host of extras, again some may be known to the viewer and others not. They are:

Introduction to the Japanese Cut – A brief video featuring Lloyd talking about the film in front of a crowd of Troma employees (with canned laughter).

Alternative Japanese Cut – Standard definition

15th and 30th Anniversary introductions by Lloyd – The director talks about the impact the film has had as it reaches various landmark birthdays.

The Radiation March – An odd 53 second video of children dancing in front of a building, urging people to stop pollution.

Intro from the Toxic Crusaders cartoon – the catchy-as-hell beginning from the Toxie kids cartoon that proved to be a hit.

Toxie: 15 Years Later – 4 minute video of Toxie at ‘home’ at his mansion, basking in his success.

Tromaville Cafe: Death of Toxie – Confusion at the café as it appears Lloyd has killed Toxie.

Troma Studio Building Tour – tongue-in-cheek and nudity heavy guide of the offices.

Mopboy Secrets with Mark Torgl – ‘Melvin’ talks over one scene of the Toxic Avenger

toxic4Why Is Lloyd Kaufman Living in a Refrigerator Box?

Public Service Announcement – some nude ladies encourage viewers to masturbate about them.

Aroma du Troma – Music video featuring clips of Troma movies. Music provided by Motorhead.

Plus the usual slide show, reversible sleeve and various trailers for all the Toxic Avenger movies and 88 Films releases. The film is also available in a hmv exclusive edition (2000 copies) and a Zavvi steelbook exclusive edition (4000 copies).

An impressive release undoubtedly, The Toxic Avenger is a movie that is worth seeing and this blu-ray release is great value for money.

Film: 8 out of 10

Extras: 7 out of 10

Amazon order page: Click HERE

Zavvi order page: Click HERE

SURF NAZIS MUST DIE (Original 1987 Motion Picture Soundtrack) from Strange Disc Records

SURF NAZIS MUST DIE (Original 1987 Motion Picture Soundtrack)

SNMD_originalStrange Disc Records is proud to announce their debut release, the soundtrack to *Surf Nazis Must Die*. The film itself was released in 1987 by Troma Entertainment, but the soundtrack has never seen the light of day until now.

And our friends at One Way Static have the exclusive European Distribution for SURF NAZIS MUST DIE !

Jon McCallum’s score suits the post-apocalyptic setting with heavy synth; fans of Tangerine Dream and John Carpenter’s scores will be at home on this record. McCallum is the composer behind *Miami Connection*, *Terror Eyes* and *Soul Taker*. Aside from his composing work he worked on the special effects for *Phantasm 2* and George Harrison’s “Got My Mind Set On You,” music video.

Limited to 800 copies black vinyl and 200 copies ‘Blood In The Water’ vinyl. The color vinyl variant is randomly inserted. Comes packaged in a deluxe old school gatefold tip-on gatefold jacket with extensive liner notes by Composer Jon McCallum, Director Peter George, and various crew members. Artwork created by Jon McCallum himself and it was mastered for vinyl by Josh Bonati.

The limited ‘blood in the water’ color vinyl is only available from One Way Static, Strange Disc and Light In The Attic. Copies have been equally divided between the three of us but are still inserted randomly with orders.

TRACK LISTING

A1 Once You’ve Caught The Wave
A2 Opening Titles
A3 Youth Of Tomorrow
A4 After The Quake
A5 Across The River
A6 Visit To The Morgue
A7 In The Church
A8 Pushed Too Far

B1 Nobody Goes Home – Album Version (performed by Andrew Spindler)
B2 Mama Sends Her Love
B3 Before The Fight
B4 Chase Through The Boatyard
B5 The Last Wave
B6 Fangoria Weekend 1986 Promo

AVAILABLE FROM

** www.onewaystatic.com
(Europe, Rest of the world)

** www.lightintheattic.net 
(North America)

** www.strangedisc.com 

Return To Nuke ‘Em High: Volume 1 (2013) DVD Review

NUKE EM 001RETURN TO NUKE ‘EM HIGH: VOLUME 1 (2013) DVD

Directed By: Lloyd Kaufman

Written By: Lloyd Kaufman, Travis Campbell, Derek Dressler, Casey Clapp, Aaron Hamel
Starring: Asta Paredes, Catherine Corcoran, Vito Trigo, Clay von Carlowitz, Zac Amico

UK Certification: 18

RRP: £12.99

Running Time: 82 minutes

Distributor: Anchor Bay

UK Release Date: 14th July 2014

I’m probably wrong, indeed I very often am, but by my workings this is the first new Troma film to get UK distribution since Tromeo & Juliet on VHS in 1996! I often muse about how Full Moon are the bastard child of the American genre scene, (until recently) barely able to make it across the Atlantic. If that’s so then surely Troma are the retarded leper of an inbred gang of mutants. How times change though, as only two years ago Arrow released the original Class of Nuke ‘Em High on Blu-ray (Troma in HD is a bizarre concept) as well as DVD editions of the excellent Combat Shock (1984) and Surf Nazis Must Die (1987). As well as this, only a few weeks back 88 Films announced the acquisition of notable chunk of the Troma catalogue all to be released on Blu-ray over the next 12 months. It’s a crazy world.

NUKE EM 002For possibly the first time in his directorial career, the plaudits for Lloyd Kaufman’s last feature had an alarming amount of positive reviews from the mainstream press. Even the New York Times said Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2006) was “… as perfect as a film predicated on the joys of projectile vomiting and explosive diarrhea can be”. What of this return to Nuke ‘Em High then? The last time we visited the franchise was twenty years ago in The Good, The Bad and the Subhumanoid. It was the first movie to debut through Troma’s own distribution company (Troma Team Video), and despite its popularity with fans the company themselves always thought the film was inferior to some of their other titles. Now though comes this re-imagining? Re-boot? What is it exactly? Lloyd calls it remake and states how Kevin Kasha (Starz / Anchor Bay) was a fan and asked him to do it with Troma fronting the money, but receiving half back upon completion.

RTNEHV1 begins with a recap narrated by none other than Stan the Man who reminds us how in 1986 the Tromaville High School water supply was tainted by a Nuclear meltdown. Today though “as Nuclear issues are no long in vogue – at least in the movies”, we learn that Tromorganic Foodstuffs Inc. occupies the site of the former reactor and supplies our nearby educational establishment with a bevy of ‘healthy’ munchies. However, when the students begin transforming into a collection of deformed freaks after eating Tromorganic’s products it’s down to environmental blogger Chrissy (Paredes) and her duck obsessed lover Lauren (Corcoran) to come to the rescue.

A severed penis, boobs, melting bodies, ass cracks, boobs, Lemmy, genital slurping, boobs, frenzied masturbation, gore and boobs. All the ingredients of classic Troma films gone by are on display for our hedonistic enjoyment. It’s all done in exceedingly bad taste which is exactly what makes the films of Lloyd Kaufman so appealing especially in such a sanitised world of politically correct genre entertainment. That’s not to say RTNEHV1 is just solely about the gross out gags and gore. Far from it, Uncle Lloyd manages to incorporate a solid amount of topical satire that stretches from ironic statements about school shootings to wry remarks about Obamacare.

If I had to pick a fault with this movie it would be that it’s almost too good to be a Troma film! A crisp picture, beautifully lit, great sound, decent special effects – what’s going on? Some people have questioned the justification of splitting this film into two volumes, and granted the end of Volume 1 does leave you hanging somewhat, but any padding is pretty much non-existent – in fact there’s so much packed into each scene a second viewing will be mandatory.

NUKE EM 003Lloyd Kaufman is known for his excellent feature length ‘making of’ documentaries that have featured in the extras for films such as Poultrygeist and Citizen Toxie. They show warts and all accounts of just what goes on behind the scenes on these pictures as we see the cast and crew all working for free, holed up in (usually) a vacant church for weeks on end as a litany of things go wrong on the set. It’s chaos. How Kaufman manages to create such a coherent, technically accomplished work of art from that never ceases to amaze me. If you don’t like Troma movies, then this isn’t going to change your mind. If you’ve never seen one, this is an excellent jumping on point, while if you’re an obsessive freak of everything Troma then this will be 82 minutes of mutated magic.

8 out of 10

Extras: None

L.A.Maniac aka The Los Angeles Ripper (2011) DVD Review

 

LA MANIAC 001L.A MANIAC aka THE LOS ANGELES RIPPER (2011) DVD

Review by: Dave Wain

Stars: Celeste Marie Martinez, Randy Tobin, Ava Rose, Chase Monroe

Written by: Craig J. McIntyre, Celeste Marie Martinez, Randy Tobin

UK Certification: N/A

DVD Region: 0

Runtime: 78 minutes

Directed by: Craig J. McIntyre

UK Release Date: 13th May 2014

Distributor: Troma

Troma are renowned for the quality (be it Troma quality) of their in-house productions, the latest – Return to Nuke ‘Em High Volume 1 comes to UK DVD in July. Their acquisitions however vary quite dramatically from the woeful (mentioning no names) to the pretty damned fine, for example Killer Nerd (1991), Cannibal! The Musical (1993) and Father’s Day (2011). Irrespective of the quality of these flicks, the primary thing for me has always been that Troma enabled the distribution of these low budget movies, which in this current environment demands that we should all kneel and kiss the vintage brogues of Lloyd Kaufman.

If anything, the path of LA Maniac shows the length of time it can take for an indie film to find distribution. Shot in 2010, the director Craig McIntyre fully expected his movie The Los Angeles Ripper to cut a deal sooner rather than later. With a premiere in the bag by August 2011 at the New Beverly Cinema in LA no less, that expectation reached fever pitch. However, almost three years later and with a name change to boot is ‘LA Maniac’ finally unleashed to a wider audience.

LA MANIAC 002As the production company logos pop up at the start of the film, the fact that they’re accompanied by the tracking lines of a world weary VHS tape gives us an indication of the inspiration to McIntyre’s flick. It’s a Sunday afternoon in LA when we’re introduced to the seedy looking Grahm (Tobin), sporting leather fingerless gloves and half-mast beige slacks. He picks up hookers from time to time in his non-descript serial killer van and he doesn’t disguise his sneering predilection for anal sex.

Meanwhile arriving into the City of Angels is Kristy White (Martinez) who has the rather dubious privilege of staying with her party going cousin Angel (Monroe) and Aunt Peggy (Beverley Bassette). Being a naïve girl from Ohio, Kristy is about as streetwise as… well, a naïve girl from Ohio. With Angel being a party demon though it’s not long before Kristy is being dragged into the Long Beach nightlife to sample some nocturnal hedonism. Needless to say it doesn’t take long for the nefarious Grahm to appear on the scene – he’s already known to Angel, and before we know it he’s taken a leering interest in Kristy which will eventually develop into something quite sinister indeed.

Any movie whose narrative revolves predominantly around a psychopath is dependent on how that character is written and acted. Happily with L.A Maniac this aspect is pretty successful. Randy Tobin as the psychotic Grahm gives a performance that manifests the sinister edge of Joe Spinell with the innocent wide-eyed misplaced humour of a Will Ferrell character. It’s a bewildering fusion, but it’s one that works quite brilliantly as you find yourself reeling from his candour one minute then smirking at his idiocy the next.

LA MANIAC 003L.A Maniac with its meagre resources is unlikely to ever be embraced by a mainstream audience. In its low budget world though it displays the capability and ingenuity to stand out from the hordes of mediocrity and establish itself as a title to seek out. The director Craig McIntyre shows the ability to create a series of perverse and threatening scenarios, and by enveloping that with a solid cast, pumping soundtrack and sickening violence – the result is pleasing indeed.

6.5 out of 10

 

The Class of Nuke Em High (1986) DVD Review

coneh5Class of Nuke Em High (1986)

Dir. Richard W Haines & Lloyd Kaufman

85 Minutes – Arrow Films Region 2 BluRay

Tromaville High School is not the best place to go to school, it is just a quarter of a mile from the nuclear power plant and the high school honour students have become a biker gang known as The Cretins. So just everyday goings on in Tromaville.

The film starts showing nuclear waste leaking from the local plant and leaking on to the school grounds. Then its to a class room where the school nerd takes a drink from the water fountain only to ingest waste that makes him aggressive and foam at the mouth , he leaps from a 2nd floor window and melts on the car park floor below.

The story deals with straight-up couple Warren (Gil Brenton) and Chrissy (Janelle Brady) who are given some pot (grown by The Cretins in the grounds of the power plant), after smoking it Chrissy becomes really horny and they have sex for the first time.

Warren & Chrissy then both have hallucinations and become ill after smoking the weed , this culminates in Chrissy becoming pregnant and she vomits up a mutated baby into the school toilet and also Warren has super-human strength which he aims at The Cretins who he blames for the mess they are in.

coneh1This was released just after Toxic Avenger and is seminal Troma. It is full of visual gags and gore, anti-establishment teenagers and completely over the top.

 

Visually it is completely from its time, a classic mid eighties film that has the feel of a post apocalyptic New York ( I know its NJ but hey). It really has a look of say The Warriors and also Escape from New York.

As a film it is all over the place BUT this is what makes Troma great. It has no taste and no point but that is the point with Troma right?

This is a must for any genre film fan, a look back on quieter times when the future looked like a ticking nuclear timebomb , and 26 years later I think I would take that now.

 

I used to own this on VHS back in the late Eighties and to get it again from Arrow Films on BluRay was an absolute joy to watch and crammed with features and original DVD version with commentaries etc. Well worth a buy.

 

coneh2There is Return to The Class of Nuke Em High that comes out 2013 and trailers are online, and also there were 2 sequels in 1991 and 1994.

 

But this stands out as a classic piece of 1980′s trash 7/10