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DVD Stalk Blog - Stalking You Daily!

The Secrets to Troma Special Effects

Greetings from Tromaville!

I'm out in the country right now reliving the beauty of the Troma classic When Nature Calls, and it is gorgeous here. Blue skies, fresh air, damnit, I almost stepped in some cow shit. I better watch my step. Ooh, look at those mushrooms. They look delicious. I think I'll have one. Wow, look at that sky change all those colors.

Anyway, back to my main point. To quote New York Post film critic Lou Lumenick, "His (Lloyd Kaufman) string of low-budget, lowbrow horror comedies stretching back to the '80s has been cited as influence by Peter Jackson, the Farrelly Brothers, Quentin Tarantino, Takashi Miike, and Guillermo Del Toro, just to cite a few prominent examples." Directors all over the world love Troma, especially for its incredibly unique special effects. People think that the amazing special effects in films like Class of Nuke Em High and Tromeo and Juliet cost no money. Not true. The special effects cost a lot of money. In fact, the special effects in Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead cost $30 million!

Hey, that willow tree, it's changing colors. Ooh, it's moving. It's walking around. It's changing forms. Holy shit, it's not a willow tree, it's Alfred Hitchcock! What are you doing here in my column?!

Lloyd Kaufman, you are a bald-faced liar. I've come back from the dead to tell the readers the truth about your special effects. You might think it unusual that Lloyd Kaufman, the cheapest man in the world, would spend such a large percentage of the $500,000 budget on the 35mm film Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead on special effects. Why not spend that money on food or working equipment? The fact is, in a film without any big stars, the special effects are what people want to see. Now, it's obvious that Troma can't compete with CGI effects sequences costing millions of dollars, so they tend to lean toward the humorous, slapstick, and original. When they put the infamous head crush in The Toxic Avenger, it was revolutionary! Now, every film and television show you see, from South Park to High School Musical XVII to The Today Show has a head crushing scene in it. Go figure... I guarantee that 20 years from now, more people will remember the toilet cam/explosive diarrhea scene in Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead than the best special effects in Indiana Jones 4: Skull Humper.

A Guide to Making Your Own Special Effects

  1. Fake Blood - Not so much a special effect, really, as a staple of any good Tromatic kitchen. The key ingredients to any fake blood recipe are Karo syrup and red food coloring.[1] From there, you can add any number of ingredients depending on what you need to use the blood for. For instance, if you're going to be spraying the blood through a tube or fire extinguisher, Karo syrup will gum up the works pretty quickly. You'll need to thin the blood out with water so it's not too goopy and sprays well. If nobody's going to put the shit in his mouth, a finishing agent used in photo processing called Photoflow is also a good thinning agent. You can also put a few drops of soap in there to make the crap wash out of clothes and walls a little easier. For an excellent example of fake blood, check out Citizen Toxie.
  1. The Meltdown - Mix one Dixie cup full of water with 1/2 tablespoon of green food coloring to achieve a dark green hue. Do not use red food coloring because you will never get an R rating with people exploding foaming blood out of their mouths. Place 1-3 tablespoons of Bromo Seltzer in your mouth without swallowing it. Place the green water mixture in your mouth, again without swallowing. Let it foam up inside your mouth. Wait until it's a huge, erupting volcano in your mouth and let the fun begin.
  1. Crushed Head - Hollow out a cantaloupe. Fill with hamburger, cranberry sauce, and fake blood. Top with a wig and crush till you can't crush no more. Don't use watermelons. Watermelons are much too thick to crush properly, while cantaloupes will fall apart nicely and ooze gore in every direction. We shot some additional scenes for a project titled Tales from the Crapper and a production assistant mistakenly picked up watermelons instead of cantaloupes. The effect was more than disappointing. Little known fact: the crushed head in Tales from the Crapper is Trey Parker.

  1. Torn Limb - No doubt your project will call for several arms and legs to be ripped from bodies. This is easy enough. Just cut the sleeve off a long-sleeved shirt and attach the sleeve to a fake arm. You can make the fake arm for about $4.95 by using foam and a rubber hand or you can go down to the VA Hospital and steal a prosthetic limb from some senile old war hero. Have your actor tuck his real arm behind his back, then put on the sleeveless garment. Run tubes from a garden sprayer or fire extinguisher full of blood up under the garment to the stump on his shoulder. Attach the fake arm to the actor's shoulder, slopping on a bunch of Ultraslime (a gooey mass easily available through any special effects supply house) and fake blood. If Ultraslime is not around, use string or spaghetti and chunks of toilet paper to achieve that realistic viscera that makes the effect so powerful. When the arm is ripped off, pump blood through the tubes and have your actor scream until his voice breaks. It's exactly the same process if you want to rip off a leg. If you're really lazy, you can even use the fake arm for a leg and cover the hand up with a shoe.
  1. Severed Penis - Once employed exclusively by gay snuff porn films, the severed penis effect has grown in popularity in recent years. All you need to do is paint a banana flesh colored, run a tube of blood through one end, and you've got yourself an instant penis to hack off. You just need to show a few seconds of the close-up of the banana. For the rest of the gag, just have your actor scream like a banshee while you pump gallons of blood out of his fly. Cinema magic.
  1. Chicken In the Ass - Naturally, your movie will have at least one scene where someone is killed by being stabbed up the ass by a chicken. Most films do these days. To achieve the effect, simply cut a rubber chicken in half. Attach the rear to the actor's ass and stick the head out of the actor's fly. Run tubes through both ends so that blood comes squirting out of the chickens mouth and anus. Ted Raimi was killed in this manner in Tales from the Crapper, spawning legions of copycat effects. Accept no substitutes, however. Only Troma's Chicken-In-the-Ass is approved by both the ASPCA and the ACLU.

--

Next up, find out what happens when you put me, Lloyd Kaufman, and Oliver Stone in the same room (hint: bring a fire extinguisher).



[1]For added realism, add a couple drops of blue food coloring for every mega-squeeze of red.


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