Let's make some art!
You've got to hand it to the folks over at Troma: they know how to make bad art. Not just bad art, but smelly, disgusting, feces encrusted art that makes you feel like a dirty little puppy after you've watched it. Lloyd Kaufman has been spewing forth B-level horror junk/sex comedies for the past few decades and it's all been leading up to this: Troma's most disgusting film yet, Terror Firmer. Based loosely (heavy emphasis on loosely) on Kaufman's best selling book "All I Need to Know About Filmmaking I Learned from The Toxic Avenger," Terror Firmer comes to DVD in a new two-disc box set care of the nasty folks over at Troma, Inc. Let the mayhem begin!
Facts of the Case
Come one, come all! See the madness that is a Troma movie set! During the production of one of director Larry Benjamin's (director Lloyd Kaufman) newest stinkers—which looks suspiciously like a Toxic Avenger movie—something has gone horribly awry. No, it's not the fact that people are humping in the bathrooms, or that folks are walking around in cow suits. It seems that someone or something is killing off various cast and crew members person by person. One is torn to shreds, while another is eaten alive by an escalator. Who could be behind all this madness? It seems to be a mysterious woman in a dress…or is that really a woman? As the plot thickens, two young lovers, Casey (Will Keenen) and Jennifer (Alyce LaTourelle), find themselves in throes of passion…and pleasing each other with giant wet pickles. Sound bizarre enough for you yet? No? Then just wait until you see the dizzying climax (I mean that figuratively and literally) when the world finds out just what Terror Firmer means!
I always feel that critiquing a Troma film is the equivalent of trying to explain to a deaf person what a Beethoven composition sounds like. You can yammer on and on and on and still not fully explain what the appeal is. Except that while Beethoven is universally known as a genius, Lloyd Kaufman is known as…well, a guy who likes to throw a lot of tits, ass, and gore into his movies. Does this make him any less of an artist that Ludwig? I'd argue that the answer is no: I think Beethoven's music would have been eons better had he included a music video of girls in leather cod pieces dancing around a mutant midget.
Which brings us to Kaufman's latest, greatest masterpiece: Terror Firmer. Here is a movie that is so gleeful in its depiction of decapitations, naked starlets, and exploding bodies that it practically begs to be handled only by men decked in protective biohazard suits. This is a dirty, slimy, balls-to-the-wall flick that features one of the most disturbing images in recent memory: a fat naked man running down Times Square with only bandages around his noggin for dressing. Oh, and there's also a few other scenes involving stretching a penis across a room, a deformed Ron Jeremy in a cage, the Toxic Avenger humping a porn star, a disturbingly realistic exploding body, a car landing on a man's head, and other images that will most likely haunt you for the rest of your days.
As a film reviewer, I'm supposed to critique the story and acting but how can you do that when it's all so intentionally bad? Everyone overacts, including Kaufman in a role he was born to play (duh…a film director). Kaufman can mug with the rest of them—his eyes were bugging out so much that I thought someone was sticking him in the back of the head with two hot pokers. Then again, his character is supposed to be blind; leeway is granted. Many familiar Troma faces pop up, including porn star Ron Jeremy as an abusive father, B-movie actress Debbie Rochon and her impressively geometric breasts, the rotund Joe Fleishaker (Toxie's sidekick Lardass in Citizen Toxie: Toxic Avenger 4), and numerous other weirdoes from the Troma universe (including Kaufman's daughter).
As for the story, it's based on Kaufman's book "All I Need to Know About Filmmaking I Learned from The Toxic Avenger," which I've read and so I can safely comment that it has nohting to do with the book. The only similarity between the book and movie is that they're both about making movies. Not that it matters—the plot for Terror Firmer exists only so Kaufman can hang loped off testicles and mammoth garbanzos off it.
Check it out.
Terror Firmer is presented in 1.33:1 full frame, which I suspect was the film's original aspect ratio. Hey, it's a Troma film, so don't go in expecting much. The transfer appears to be in only so-so shape with colors and black levels mostly solid, save for a few instances of fuzziness around the edges. A small amount of grain shows up from time to time though it seems to almost fit with the cheesiness of the movie. Overall, this isn't a great transfer—then again, expecting a miracle is like anticipating your flatulence to smell like rose petals. You've been properly warned.
The soundtrack is presented in what appears to be Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono in English. No great shakes here. Basically the mix is mostly free of distortion and hiss with only a small amount popping up from time to time. Hey, it's a Troma movie—be glad you can understand what everyone is saying and you'll get along just fine. No alternate subtitles or soundtracks are available on this disc.
Oh Lord, another Troma disc. If nothing else, Troma truly puts other DVD studios to shame with all the sheer crap they put on their discs. Here's a brief rundown of all the junk you'll receive with your purchase:
On disc one there are no less than three commentary tracks, one with director Lloyd Kaufman, a second with editor Gabriel Friedman and Sean McGrath, and a third with actors Will Keenan, Debbie Rochon, and Trent Haaga. As usual, these Troma folks have a lot to say about their films, especially Kaufman, whose always-entertaining yarns are non-stop throughout the entire length of the film. Also included on disc one is some gooey alternate footage, a comic book script-to-scene comparison (which is also a shill for purchasing the comic), a dozen or so deleted scenes that can be inserted into the feature film, audition footage for the film, goofy outtakes of the cast and crew flubbing their lines, and a theatrical and teaser trailer for the film.
Heading into disc two, we have a plethora of extras, starting with a nearly hour and a half long documentary on the making of Terror Firmer. This is certainly one of the most entertaining making-of features I've ever seen. Covering the gambit of egotistic stars to having a man run naked through Times Square, and everything in between, fans of this movie (or any Troma movie, for that matter) will delight in this very comprehensive look at how low budget movies get made. Also included on disc two are interviews with cast members Alyce Latorelle and Kaufman's own daughter, Charlotte, who must have huge therapy bills by now, three music videos ("Seeing Red" by Entombed, "Freak of the Week" by DJ Polo featuring Ron Jeremy, and "Way What You Mean" by the Lunachicks), a desktop game, a few "coming distractions" (trailers for other Troma movies), the Radiation March (don't ask), and a few promotions for Kaufman's book and the soundtrack to the film.
It's gross. It's disgusting. It's Troma. They may not be pretty, but at least they keep an ever-vigilant torch for independent films alive. If you liked Terror Firmer, I can guarantee that you'll enjoy this two-disc special edition. Ah, I love the smell of dismembered midgets and decapitated heads in the morning…
Insanity is this film's best defense.
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Scales of Justice
• Three Commentary Tracks
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