For some, the Troma logo is a brand of quality. Naturally, the definition of “quality” all depends on your own personal taste. I’ve seen a few movies from Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz’s legendary company that have struck very favorable chords with me, while others have just left me baffled as to what kind of drugs the filmmakers responsible for them were indulging in at the time. One thing that people commonly overlook about the films of Troma Entertainment is that their library is not comprised entirely of hokey horror comedies or gritty exploitation features. In fact, Lloyd and Michael have quite the array going on — ranging from classics from the Roan Group vaults to titles made by and starring many award winning filmmakers — though you wouldn’t know it from the selection I have chosen for this chapter of “Catching Up at the Video Store.”
· Psycho Sleepover (2008)
From the makers of Yeti: A Love Story comes this send-up/homage to the classic slasher flicks of yesteryear. Psycho Sleepover focuses on a poor lass named Debbie Dicky (Rachel Castillo), who seems to encounter psycho killers no matter where she goes. Her ex-boyfriend was one, and she was forced to kill him. Her father was one, too! When she moves to a new town, she gets invited to a slumber party by three strange girls. As her bad luck would have it, that night, forty mental patients escape the local loony bin — intent to kill. What these marauding murderers don’t know, however, is that Debbie and her friends aren’t the types to just get slaughtered. If I were a horror forecaster, I would say Psycho Sleepover is “Bloody with a 75% chance of boobs.”
Dennis who? For those of you who have never visited Hollywood for an extended period of time (and you could probably consider yourself lucky if that’s the case), Dennis Woodruff is a true independent filmmaker, who has sold homemade movies out of his bizarro customized vehicles to tourists. Troma Entertainment has assembled three of Dennis’ no-budget experimental oddities here, including Spaceman, the story of an alien who comes to Earth to find a way to save his dying planet; Obsession: Letters to David Lynch, which documents Woodruff’s attempts to get in a David Lynch film; and L.A., a drama about a down-and-out film producer battling his personal addictions. If you like cheapo shot-on-video productions, your customized ship has just sailed in.
· Jessicka Rabid (2010)
Yes, they went there. Elske McCain, an ambitious amateur actress with dreams of being a scream queen, graduates from her day job as a bosomy “Tromette” to total auteur in Jessicka Rabid, which she did almost everything on except direct (Matthew The Goat Sucker Reel handles that task). The story here focuses on a half-retarded mute girl, Jessicka (McCain), who is raped, caged, and treated like a dog in-general by her incestuous trailer trash family. Charming, no? Things start to look up (?) for Jessicka when she is attacked by a rabid dog and contracts rabies — which gives her a new lease on life: that of revenge. Best viewed by diehard Troma and lovers of crappy, shot-on-video indie horror only.
“Don’t bother — they’re here.” Fifteen years ago, the world of creepy entertainers suffered a tremendous blow to the education and development of pasty-faced jokers when a massacre occurred at Klown Kamp at the hands of a — you guessed it — demented clown. Shortly thereafter, the killer vanished without a trace. Now, the world famous Bonzo (Michael L. Miller) is all set to reopen the establishment, and a number of eager students are ready to learn the velvet ropes. Sadly for them, the Jason Voorhees of clowns has returned to wreak bloody havoc once again in this “kampy” horror comedy that has somehow earned the right to be released on DVD twice now (once in 2010, and once in 2011).
· Not Another B Movie (2010)
Funny, that’s exactly what I said! As you can probably guess by the title, Not Another B Movie is a tongue-in-cheek play on the modern exploitation movie industry and centers around a screenwriter (Byron Thames) who is stuck penning trash for filmmakers Larry “The Soup Nazi” Thomas and James Vallo. Basically, they sit around and discuss their latest project, and footage of said film is interjected liberally to keep viewers interested. David Faustino, Joe Estevez (who play a pair of cops in the movie-within-a-movie), Robert Z’Dar (Maniac Cop), Reggie Bannister (Phantasm), Troma’s own Lloyd Kaufman, and even poor Ed Asner all pop up during the course of this one.
Canadian-based company astron-6 is one of those indie filmmaker groups that manufactures short films that spoof (mostly) movies from the ‘80s. Aimed at the members of Generation X and Y, the self-titled astron-6 is a collection of petite moving pictures (with titles such as Inferno of the Dead, Kris Miss, Goreblade, and Insanophenia) from a troupe of five hipsters is a geek’s pop culture reference dream come true — and another example of why I fail to get along with others in my age group.
Happy viewing, kids.