One of Troma's more critically lauded films is Tromeo & Juliet (1996, 107 minutes). Director Lloyd Kaufman claims to have been inspired my George Cukor's 1930s adaptation of the Bard's classic tragedy. But despite the fact the flick's script features iambic pentameter and Troma-tized Romeo and Juliet verse -- there's little chance high school freshmen will be shown THIS version. And that's a shame.
The movie: The scene is set by Lemmy of Motorhead, who tells us of the ill will between the Ques and Capulets which occasionally spills into the streets of New York. Tromeo (Will Keenan) is a slack-jawed horn dog who has fallen for the wrong gal who can't seem to stop diddling other guys. But on a fateful night, he crashes a costume party -- as a cow -- and locks eyes on Juliet (Jane Jensen). The two dance and grope the night away despite their families long hatred for each other. But, alas, cruel fate. Juliet has been promised in marriage to a wealthy butcher who loves beef more than he could ever love her. And Cappy Capulet (Maximillian Shaun) adores money even more than his daughters happiness. In fact, he's a bit of an odd duck. Or, perhaps, sick f@#% is a better description. He storms into Juliet's bedroom at all hours, if she utters the slightest peep, and accuses her of being a dirty, dirty girl. It's not exactly a "Father Knows Best" moment. When he feels she's been especially naughty, he locks her up in a sensory deprivation chamber -- which she manages to turn into a chamber of lust when Tromeo drops by for a visit. Y'all should all know the basic plot, but count on the Troma Team to inject large volumes of puke, gore, nudity and, of course, head crushings. CineSchlockers will recognize Scream Queen Debbie Rochon as the heavily tattooed and pierced babe who likes to paw Juliet's no-no zones while purring stuff like, "Let me ease your pain."
Notables: Seven breasts. 10 corpses. One dead squirrel. Flatulence humor. Diddling inside a weird-beard plexiglass box. Lesbian tongue rassling. Paper cutter de-fingering. Self-gratification with computer porn. Gratuitous dream sequence. Loogie hocking. Fire spitting. Gratuitous urination. Puking. Three-foot wangdoodle monster.
Quotables: Horndog wants to make sweet love to his sister, "But heck, the way the world is today -- we've got gang bangers, we've got perverts, we've got anorexia -- everything's in style. If we just throw a little incest into the mix, pretty soon, the world will be one great big HUG!" An amorous beau pleads, "Tracey, let's do it. We've got five minutes before the manager gets here. I only need two." Cappy Capulet threatens the Ques, "How would you like me to use your guts to Jackson Pollock the streets?!" The young lovers can't get any respect, "You miserable f@#$ing monkeys in heat!"
Time codes: Closeup of an actual nipple piercing (6:00). Lloyd does a spit take (9:20). Ness makes her move on Juliet (15:50). Troma's amazing recycled car crash (1:12:45).
Audio/Video: Presented in fullframe as per the director's wishes, "My theory, aesthetically, is that most people see my movies on video and television, so my image is just as wide as widescreen, but I give people more on the top and bottom." However, the print is a bit hazy and the utilitarian Dolby Digital mono track seems a little low.
Extras: Informative and comedic commentary by director Lloyd Kaufman (who also does a video intro). During the track, he explains how the idea for the flick came to him and also provides some "how to" pointers for young filmmakers. Around 10 minutes of deleted footage. Approximately six minutes of cast and crew interviews about different aspects of the film's creation. Gallery of about 20 images. Interactive, departmental tour of the Troma Building with revealing movie clips and hilarious new footage (about 15 minutes in all.) Take the Troma Intelligence Test with video rewards and punishments. Brief bed-o-nails performance by the Pain Proof Rubber Girls. Commercial for Lloyd's book All I Need to Know About Filmmaking I Learned from the Toxic Avenger. Promo video called Aroma du Troma. Public service announcement with the National Dance Institute. Trailer park with reels on this film, plus Class Of Nuke 'Em High, Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D. and The Toxic Avenger. Motion-video menus with audio.
Final thought: Released about the time that scrawny Leo gal and whiney chick from "My So-Called Life" did theirs. Only this doesn't suck. Recommended.
G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.