Don’t be put off by the words “cheap” and “tasteless” – when it comes to mass-produced B-movies this is among some of the highest accolades a budget horror can achieve – and if there’s one company that knows how to make a cheap and tasteless horror film, it’s Troma. Formed in 1974 in New York, Troma have been the masterminds behind some of the most iconic shockers of the last three decades.
Last year the company put 150 films from their back catalogue onto YouTube for all to enjoy, but be warned these movies are as crass as the company’s image might suggest. Then again if you’re fond of “so bad it’s good” comedy and have already devoured most of the web’s free horror then you might just have struck gold.
Cannibal! The Musical (1993)
Who doesn’t love a good all-singing all-dancing production about cannibalism? Cannibal! The Musical is a 1993 production directed by Trey Parker of South Park fame who also stars in the film in-person, and in a number of recognisable voice over roles.
The film is enjoying a rather unbelievable rating of 7/10 on IMDb at the time of writing, which apparently makes Cannibal! The Musical a higher rated film than Pearl Harbor, for example. Overall, this is one hilariously shoddy but clever production with a few unbelievable musical numbers to boot.
Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD (1990)
Kabuki is a style of Japanese dance drama involving some rather unique and memorable facial make-up. Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD tells the tale of Harry Griswald, a New York cop who becomes possessed by the spirit of a great Kubuki master. That means plenty of swords, makeup and murder in this battle between “the chosen one” and “the evil one”.
For a film that was released under the tagline “Fatal Sushi … Lethal Chopsticks .. And As American As Apple Pie!” you probably shouldn’t expect too much, but there is a reason that Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD enjoys a cult following and inspires reviews like this on IMDb.
Tromeo & Juliet (1996)
Giving old Shakespeare plays new life through modern interpretations has worked for directors like Baz Luhrmann, and here it proves it can work for Troma founder Lloyd Kaufman too.
This 1996 re-telling of the Shakespeare classic is designed to make the audience feel as Shakespeare initially intended, with shocking and boistrous use of language, romance and violence to tell a timeless tale. Shakespeare veterans owe it to themselves to watch this.
Rabid Grannies (1988)
Few films can embody the ethos of a production company quite like Rabid Grannies can. As if the name hadn’t given it away for you, Rabid Grannies is the tale of two old ladies who inadvertantly unleash hell when they open a mysterious gift given to them by their nephew.
This isn’t exactly Troma at its best, but it is a very silly concept that might strike a humorous note with those of you who appreciate a good unintentional comedy every now and again.
Class of Nuke ‘Em High (1986)
An essential Troma film, Class of Nuke ‘Em High is another great place to start for Troma newbies. Set in the fictional Tromaville after a local nuclear power plant has sprung a leak, Class of Nuke ‘Em High tells the tale of one high school class that is exposed to radioactive waste.
The rest is typical Troma fare as the students begin to mutate and the jokes come thick and fast. This is part high school coming of age film, part mutated student gore-fest, and part comedy film that’s bound to entertain if not impress.
Toxic Crusaders (TV & Movie)
The film that put Troma studios on the map for many was The Toxic Avenger, a 1984 Troma film directed by Michael Herz and Lloyd Kaufman, Troma’s two founders. The film really pushes the boat out with its over the top gore, sleaze and cheesy dialogue that has become so synonymous with the Troma name. Unfortunately it’s no longer available on YouTube, probably because there’s more money to be made via traditional licensing.
The success of the Toxic Avenger series of films (about a boy who falls into some toxic waste and becomes a mutant, obviously) spawned a whole separate series called Toxic Crusaders, the playlist for which is embedded below. The cartoons are typically 90s and surprisingly well animated, as you can see.
Also featured is the movie of the same name, a result of the success of the original episodical.
Proper, Indie Film
Last of all before I leave you to explore the rest of Troma’s sinful back catalogue it’s worth touching on the nature of a Troma film – the independent production. If you enjoy these films, don’t forget to visit Troma’s official website and donate, buy or simply catch up with the latest from the indie production studio.
In addition to putting their past productions online for free, Troma have been busy making Occupy Cannes, a documentary about the difficulty faced by independent film in a world of big budgets and Hollywood smiles.
Watch: Troma on YouTube
Do you enjoy Troma’s movies? Let us know what you think in the comments, below.