Thursday, March 16, 2006


In an almost sweet leap of faith, the public library I work for today received a “Buyer’s Guide” of Troma’s DVD library. Although I’m not involved in buying our A/V materials, or much of anything else, were I to guess I’d say we’re probably not going to be aiming much of our DVD budget in this direction.

Looking at page after page of gaudy, colorful DVD covers on the catalog’s slick paper stock is literally disheartening. I think there’s a time in everyone’s life—as there is to be a Linnea Quigley fan; or in modern parlance, a Misty Mundae buff—when Troma’s movies are something you’d occasionally honestly enjoy looking at. Past that age, though, looking upon this array of self-satisfied, doggedly over-the-top schlock is merely sad.

To make the catalog more substantial, many films are repeatedly featured. For instance, there are two separate spreads for the company’s trademark Toxic Avenger series, available both individually and in a variety of sets. Meanwhile, something called Tales From the Crapper is featured at least thrice.

The first real page of the catalog spotlights the company’s “Best Sellers,” and a wearisome roster of dispiriting kitsch it is harder to envision: the three Class of Nuke ‘Em High movies, Surf Nazis Must Die, Sgt. Kabukiman, Rabid Grandmothers, Redneck Zombies, Tales from the Crapper…when the slasher flick Mother’s Day is the section’s class act, you know you’re in trouble.

Of the Horror section, the only watchable titles are slashers and camp flicks made by other companies and marketed by Troma (and I say that as someone with no interest in slasher movies): Blood of Ghastly Horror, Monster in the Closet, Dracula vs. Frankenstein, Def by Temptation (actually not a bad movie, and possibly the best film in the catalog), The Children, Graduation Day, etc. Again, that stuff stands head and shoulders above the rest of the offerings.

Action also benefits from offering titles from the pre-Troma era, which you can probably watch without relying quite as heavily on the fast forward button: Shark (Burt Reynolds), Angels’ Wild Women, Satan’s Sadists, and the authentically hilarious The Stabilizer, the one film in the entire catalog that I can honestly advocate people buy. Still, when I’m reduced to listing a bunch of Al Adamson movies as a company’s “good stuff,” well, there’s not a lot of upside there.

[Troma had at one point bought out Roan, a sadly defunct label that put out really good DVDs of stuff like the old Monogram Lugosi and Karloff stuff. However, they seem to have sold out their stock of those titles, and either didn’t keep the re-issue rights, or never had them. Still, it’s too bad, as such fare would have upgraded the offerings significantly.]

So if you’re 16-18 years of age, and still really digging gross-out stuff, I can recommended without qualm The Toxic Avenger, and…well, OK, just The Toxic Avenger. However, if you’re older than that, just grab The Stabilizer and Dracula vs. Frankenstein and let the rest of it go.


At 1:22 PM, Blogger Keith said...

I remember getting a larf or two out of Surf Nazis, but that was in 1989 or so, which is also the last time I bothered with anything from Troma.

I feel the same way as you, Ken, about movies that set out with the specific goal of becoming "campy cult classics." They're never funny, and they're usually nowhere near as campy, weird, or ingenious as the films that get that monicker purely by accident and without any intent.

At 8:09 PM, Blogger Cullen M. M. Waters said...

Hell, I'm 30+ and I like "Toxic Avenger." Even "Class of Nuke 'Em High" 1 and 2. They're crappy, stupid movies that aim at the lowest common denominator, but I like what I like.

Everything else that Trama... Troma makes could drift off into obscurity and I'd be fine with it.


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