Tuesday, June 28, 2016

TROMA TUESDAY: TROMA'S WAR (1988) directed by Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz

Welcome to the first installment of Troma Tuesday, a new blog feature chronicling some of the highs and lows of the 40+ year old independent studio and their long list of productions and releases. First up, contributor Evan Romero takes a look at Troma's ambitious "epic" TROMA'S WAR.

TROMA'S WAR is Troma's most expensive movie to date with a budget of three million bucks. It's also the one that put the company in dire financial straits as the heavily-cut release (trimmed from 104 minutes to 87 to meet MPAA demands) was poorly received and wound up a box-office flop. But now, thanks to Blu-ray and DVD, the director's cut can be viewed by everyone.

But can it be enjoyed?

A plane crashes on an island, stranding the survivors. With no way of getting back to the mainland, the group, led by Taylor (Sean Bowen), must figure out how they're going to survive. But they have bigger problems: a group of terrorists have taken up residence on the island with diabolical plans to take over America be it via drugs or an AIDS epidemic started by "SeƱor Sida" (Paolo Frassanito)! With freedom at stake, the group must gear up and go kick some terrorist ass. Will they succeed in stopping the terrorist's plans? Or will freedom as we know it be a thing of the past?

When Troma shoots they either score big, or miss by a mile. In the case of TROMA'S WAR, the Troma team empty an AK-47 at point-blank range and fail to hit a single bullseye. An action flick made by Troma!? How can that fail to entertain?

Simple – by lacking all the ingredients that make a Troma movie, a Troma movie.

Over the top sex and violence? You won't find it here. Most of the violence comes from gunshot wounds that aren't much more violent than your average action flick. One would expect to find people LITERALLY machine gunned in half, people LITERALLY blown apart by shotguns, body parts galore flying about as terrorists meet death via rockets and grenades, and so on. Sure, it DOES have moments when a bit more of the red stuff is shown, such as when Siamese twins joined at the head are separated via machete, but the makeup effects are so laughably bad that it hardly matters. A makeup low-light comes when what appears to be cherry pie filling is used to simulate, I'm guessing, brain matter – and it is oh-so-obvious. A notch above that is a scene in which a guy commits seppuku: the guy's guts don't even spill out. Come on Troma, you're better than this.

How about humor? There are plenty of OPPORTUNITIES for it, but those opportunities are passed by in exchange for more shoot-outs. You can tell they were trying to be funny, but the comedy is just plain desperate. The highlight of the humor is a scene when a terrorist hiding amongst the trees farts, thus giving away his position and is promptly blown away. Come on now: my kid brother can think of better jokes than that.

But surely Troma wouldn't let us down in tastelessness! Unfortunately, tastelessness seems to have found some dignity: aside from the minor AIDS subplot, there's very little in TROMA'S WAR to anger the PC elite – I mean, unless a gag about a blind girl missing her targets counts. But when a baby makes it through a Troma movie COMPLETELY UNSCATHED, that Troma movie has failed.

Let's move on to the most important thing: entertainment. Is TROMA'S WAR, despite the lack of essential Tromatic ingredients, entertaining? Sadly, no. Everything is just dull and brings nothing new to the table, not to mention that shootouts are overlong and unexciting. I found myself yawning, checking the remaining runtime and being distracted by my front lawn all too often. The only reason I kept watching – aside from having to write this review – is because I wanted to see if one particular character, Marshall (Steve Crossley), the only character I found interesting, would make it through to the end. I won't tell you whether he did or not.

TROMA'S WAR is an utterly Troma-tose production. Lacking all the essential ingredients, WAR is comparable to O'Douls: only for those who can't handle, or don't want, the real stuff.

The Blu-ray release features audio commentary, an introduction by Lloyd Kaufman, an interview with Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Hertz, and more. – Evan Romero

Evan Romero spends much of his time reading morally-questionable books and watching movies no sane person would touch. He is the vocalist/bassist for the punk band Porno Holocaust (you can find them on Facebook and listen to some demos if you’re inclined). You can read more of his reviews at ReelAtrocities.com or at PopHorror.com.

TROMA'S WAR is available from Amazon.

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