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Words with Lloyd Kaufman Dont Call Troma Schlock Its Art

first_imgLloyd Kaufman is a movie legend. As the co-founder of Troma Entertainment and director of classics like The Toxic Avenger, Class of Nuke’Em High, and Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D., he has been the face of disruptive filmmaking for over 40 years. He doesn’t make blockbusters and he doesn’t work with budgets of hundreds of millions of dollars, but from his Tromaville studio in Queens he produces, directs, acts in, and inspired hundreds of unique, strange, and graphic movies.If you want to be pretentious, call it guerrilla cinema. If you want to be unintentionally insulting (sorry, Lloyd!), call it schlock. However you want to label it, Lloyd Kaufman and Troma have been making striking films on shoestring budgets since the early 80s, with no sign of stopping. They’re best known for The Toxic Avenger, which got three sequels, a cartoon series, a video game, and most recently a Broadway and West End musical that is debuting on the BroadwayHD streaming service at C2E2 April 7. Troma should also be known for helping kick off the early careers of major figures like James Gunn, Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Michael Jai White, and Billy Bob Thornton by producing or distributing some of their earliest works.The streaming release of the musical was the reason I was granted an interview with Lloyd, but that wasn’t the bulk of what we talked about. The musical itself is a remarkable achievement for Troma, but Lloyd was quick to give full credit to writer Joe DiPietro and composer David Bryan for it; he made the original Toxie movies, but the musical adaptation is all DiPietro and Bryan. Instead, Lloyd talked about the legacy of The Toxic Avenger, the artistic value of Troma, and just what “schlock” means.BroadwayHD is where you should go to see the Broadway production of The Toxic Avenger, but if you want to get lost in the world of Tromaville yourself, you’ll have to look elsewhere. Like the Troma Now streaming service, which has world premieres and deep cuts from Lloyd’s career. Or the official TromaMovies YouTube channel, which has 151 full-length Troma movies to watch for free, along with every episode of Toxic Crusaders.Lloyd’s an outspoken treasure who will gladly talk your ear off if you give him a chance and the right subject. So here are the highlights of the 50-minute conversation I had with him, with minimal editing or crosstalk with me.The Toxic Avenger and Troma’s historyThe movie was rejected by all the movie theaters and then one theater understood that it was a satire and not a horror film. And the Toxic Avenger combines revolutionary horror, police genre, romance sex, violence, contemporary satire, famous rock and roll. It’s a Cuisinart of genres. We didn’t buy our notoriety through advertising and big ads in Variety and Hollywood Reporter like our friends, well, our enemies from Sundance buy the Oscars. This movie is an American, iconic movie on its own strength, it had no support from anybody other than the Troma team and fans. And that’s the magic of Toxie.Where is Tromaville (the location, not the studio)?The original movie was shot in Jersey City, and it was an actual dump where Toxie lived, that was a toxic waste dump. Those days, we weren’t as knowledgeable about toxic waste and asbestos. It was a long time ago, it was 1982 we shot the film, a long time ago. There were toxic waste dumps in the middle of Jersey City, so most of Tromaville you see in Toxic Avenger was Jersey City, but the second, third, and fourth movies, Tromaville was primarily filmed in upstate New York. My wife for 20 years was the New York state film commissioner, and if I wanted to keep my penis I had to shoot in New York.The difference between schlock, smut, and trash?We wouldn’t be here for 44 years if we made schlock. I’ve had enough of the Sundance fixed festival perverts who worship Harvey Weinstein, and I’ve had a longer career than any of them. And these movies have influenced everybody from James Gunn to Samuel Jackson to Eli Roth, tons of people who we have brought first including the South Park boys who nobody would talk to until we helped them out with their first movie Cannibal the Musical. Nobody else would touch it. So the schlock thing doesn’t work.And smut, I don’t know, that’s porn, isn’t it? Do people whack off to Troma movies? Seems to me you can whack off to hardcore porn, I don’t think the movie that the museum of Modern Art premiered in a series called the Contenders, a series the MoMA says comprises the best movies of the year made around the world. I don’t think Return to Nuke ‘Em High Vol. 1 which premiered at the Museum of Modern Art, in a series of Sophia Coppola and Woody Allen, the pedophile, and who was the other one? Scorsese, and the French guy who won the festival for that boring lesbian movie. So I don’t think you can call it smut. And I don’t think you can call volume 2 which premiered at the Museum of the Moving Image. Unless they have a whole day, that pays a tribute to smut. I don’t think they’ve been playing many Ron Jeremy movies. And Ron Jeremy’s been in 10 of our movies.Trash is a word that the French use for movies like Cronenberg and Troma and auteur movies, visionary movies that have sex and violence and may contain scenes of disturbing nature. So in the French sense, trash, I suppose we could be in the trash. As it’s used in French.If we are smut and trash and schlock, then so is Deadpool. We made our movie in 1983 and Deadpool was made last year. They even talk about it. Deadpool is the Toxic Avenger. I think anybody who says we’re schlock or smut or trash, and I can accept that if they’re French because that’s a genre in the critical canon. But you gotta put in Deadpool and you gotta put in Oliver Stone and you gotta put in Scorsese and plenty of others. I would say the Sundance Film Festival is plenty of trash.Your little third-rate bloggers want to dismiss us, they tried to make a movie, go look at every blogger that calls us schlock, and they tried to make a movie and they fell on their ass. And they would love to be where we are, they love it. They’d suck your cock to be where we are. The only problem is the industry is a cartel, it’s a club, it’s an oligopoly that economically blacklists independent artists.Suicide Squad, not only was it schlock, but it was obscenity, it sucked, and they wasted $200 million of the Earth’s resources on a piece of shit, a piece of garbage, a piece of trash, that was useless. On the other hand Margot Robbie, she did a great job in I, Tonya.What is the most disturbing thing you’ve shot?I think the most controversial thing of its day would probably be [The Toxic Avenger IV] Citizen Toxie. It dealt with abortion, and I think the most controversial thing as far as the American public goes, I think it has been for most of my life, the most controversial issue. Recently thanks to the administration and the white house, there have been some issues. People are still arguing about it. Women should have the right to power over their own bodies. There are states where poor women can’t even get abortions, they gotta move to another state.The reality of today is infinitely more shocking than anything these schlock or mainstream writers can come up with. You’ve got a Nobel prize winner running Myanmar. And soldiers are raping babies and chopping off women’s heads and defiling human beings. They’re killing and they’re mass slaughtering Muslims, right? And nobody gives a shit.We premiered Human Centipede at the TromaDance film festival because no one else would take it. And that was a good movie. Tribeca, Cannes, Sundance, they’re schlock, they have no love of cinema. No love of new territory. They’re the people who kicked Charlie Chaplin out of the country. They’re the people who supported McCarthyism. These are the people running the art world right now.What would you do with a $200 million Hollywood budget?Well, I certainly wouldn’t be making movies for $100 million or $200 million. I would make lots of $500,000 and $1 million movies, and I would have hundreds of filmmakers making them. Can you imagine, we had some producers making microbudget producers for us. You give them $500,000, they’re going to come up with a movie that makes Deadpool look like Bambi. Instead of one $200 million movie, and 90 percent of them suck, how about 200 movies? 400 movies? Think of it, 400 $500,000 movies. You would change the world for sure. You’d change the world of cinema. You’d change it technically. VR would advance by a generation. AI would advance a generation.The legacy of TromaI’m not saying a lot of what’s in the cinemas and on TV now isn’t entertaining, but you can drink Prosecco too. But if you want some good strong jalapeno peppers with a nice strong cocktail with brandy and creme de menthe, you go to a Troma movie that gets you thinking and gets your blood flowing.We love movies, we love the art of filmmaking, and we want the freedom. And in our case, the bargain with the devil is that you’re on a low budget so we have to sleep on the floor and our staff has to learn how to defecate in a paper bag on set.In the fullness of time, I guarantee you, and the people who have worked for us about 20 years have said the minute I get hit by a bus suddenly the mainstream media will, “Oh yeah, he was quite a loss, pathfinder, he was a visionary.”Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.last_img read more

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