You don't want to know about Judge Patrick Bromley's years in Tromaville.
Horror's favorite scream queen gets her own DVD!
I'm a big fan of B-movie actress Debbie Rochon. I first became aware of her through her work with Troma, the studio whose films she has appeared in for over a decade (including unforgettable classics like Tromeo and Juliet and Terror Firmer), then even followed her into smaller, lesser known indies like Mulva 2: Kill Teen Ape!. She's got the total package for a genre star: she's tough but beautiful, smart and sexy, has great comic timing and, in her earlier days, an enthusiastic willingness to perform without a shirt. It's this combination that has earned her such a following among horror fans; though her name carries no meaning in most circles, there's a small but loyal following of movie geeks for whom she might as well be Angelina Jolie.
Being a fan of Ms. Rochon, I was delighted at the prospect of reviewing Debbie Rochon Confidential: My Years in Tromaville Exposed. You can imagine my disappointment when, while the title would suggest some sort of interview-heavy documentary or expose reflecting on the actress' career, there's really nothing like that on this disc. Instead, it's basically just a compilation of promotional videos and segments she shot for Troma's Edge TV thrown together, followed by a pair of (nude) scenes from two Troma movies (Tromeo and Juliet and Terror Firmer) and a short film in which she appeared. There are no interviews stringing all the segments together, and no overall shape to the feature—it just moves from clip to clip without being given any context. It plays like a homemade mix tape of Debbie Rochon moments made by some crazed fan (and, yes, there is a crazed fan profiled in the feature). The whole thing is a bummer.
Even with Rochon featured wall-to-wall on the disc, there's nothing about My Years in Tromaville that shows off her talents. In many of the segments, she's just one of a few "Tromettes" standing in the background and posing while Troma head Lloyd Kaufman tries to sell us on something by talking very quickly and energetically. I really like Lloyd Kaufman, but he's not what drew me to the disc. I wanted to see Debbie Rochon—not just standing around as if to prove that, yes, she has worked for Troma in a number of capacities for a number of years, but actually getting to flex her acting muscles. She's very funny, and very knowledgeable about horror (she's the co-host of the weekly Fangoria Radio show on Sirius XM), but very little of that comes across on this disc. The closest to a "revealing" look at the actresses' life is some brief, almost wordless home video footage of an appearance: cab ride, flight, meet and greet, hotel. It's the only time we get any sense of the grind of being a working actress in super-independent, low budget movies—even one as well known as Rochon. The rest, I'm afraid, is total fluff.
The video quality of Debbie Rochon Confidential is all over the place, given that it's compiled from a number of different sources—though, this being Troma, none of them look particularly great. The feature is presented in 1.33:1 full frame, and the majority of it appears to have been shot on consumer-grade VHS tape. The few segments shot on film (pretty much just the clips from Tromeo and Juliet and Terror Firmer) look marginally better, but the quality is pretty sub-par overall. No one familiar with Rochon's work at Troma—or even Troma in general—should be surprised.
The only bonus feature included is an episode of Fangoria Trailer Park, featuring a collection of offbeat B-movie trailers introduced by Rochon.
I would have loved to see the movie promised by the title Debbie Rochon Confidential: My Years in Tromaville Exposed. I'm sure Rochon has enough funny stories and inside information about shooting ultra-low budget horror that she could fill two hours of screen time. Sadly, that's not this movie. Maybe it's the kind of thing that would be better suited to a book. Debbie Rochon, start writing your memoirs.
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