Thursday, April 16, 2009

Where I Draw The Line: Backwoods Shoestring Troma Team Productions

You know what I can’t stomach? Troma-made films whose existence is predicated upon the appearance of a one-off Playboy playmate. That’s what one half of today’s testament to tastelessness looks at; the other half doesn't even a leg this weak to stand on. I was trying to think of some historical thing to make this important (other than Rita Jenrette’s shower scene) and couldn’t. It’s lousy, it’s cheap, and you really shouldn’t watch it.

Zombie Island Massacre
by John N. Carter

We open on Rita Jenrette covered in suds. Her husband creeps up on her wearing a big wooden mask and then they have sex. They go on a boat tour in the Caribbean and then they try to have sex. They watch a voodoo ceremony and talk about having sex while two others go off and have sex; they get killed. Their bus is sabotaged and the tour guide gets killed. Maybe it’s the zombie we saw rise during the ceremony. Maybe it’s someone else doing the killing. The real question is who gives a tinker's damn? Watching these non-actors get axed one by one should have been a lot more fun, but it’s just dull.

If I were to try come up with some way to advertise this, I might say: “From the Studio that brought you Pigs! From the production values of The Forest! From a script with even less understanding of the English language than the guys who write the dialogue for the Resident Evil games! The ultimate in lifeless drudgery!” Or something along those lines. I don’t know how even Lloyd Kaufman could have produced something so thoroughly boring. I was expecting bad acting, poor effects, and a stupid story, but there wasn’t even enough action for me to take offense at. Once it becomes clear that the ‘zombie’ isn’t the one doing the killing, which is at about minute 15, the movie has no hand to play and so just fizzles out and becomes one poorly executed killing after another. With a jive-talking middle aged protagonist spouting dialogue like “All I know’s homicidal. You read me? It’s tryin’ to kill me, aright?” or “Mus’ be some kinna Crayazy” I just don’t get how this thing ever got off the ground. Watching Zombie Island Massacre is approximately like watching ten adults walk around at night going, “Wow, can you believe how scary everything is? Man, I’m scared. This is too scary.” That’s what kills me about Troma; when they’re not churning out tasteless schlock like The Toxic Avenger or Street Trash, they’re pushing stiff, budgetless wakes like this, Garden of the Dead and Frightmare. The only unintentional joy to be found in this film is when so many people are being murdered simultaneously that our hero has to run between crime scenes with his machete and not really help anyone. It’s like an episode of 30 Rock, except people die and then the survivors still make painfully unfunny jokes with one another. When the writers forget to turn off the ‘funny’ while the bodies are piling up, consider that where I like to wash my hands of the whole affair.

Speaking of tasteless schlock. Here’s a film that separates people who like film and masochists.

Redneck Zombies
by Pericles Lewnes

Some doctors wonder about what caused the mental breakdown of a patient at an asylum. We flash back to the cause: a weed smoking marine drops a barrel of toxic waste into the backyard of some of the most atrocious southern stereotypes ever acted; these are tasteless even for Lloyd Kaufman. They steal the barrel, kill the marine (cause he’s black) and turn the waste into moonshine. Every dumb son of a bitch, woman, and child drinks it and becomes a zombie. A party of campers has to deal with them, but mostly they just get killed. 90 nauseating minutes later and you may actually be dumber than when you started watching this movie. It’s a mess and it knows it’s a mess, but contrary to popular belief, that doesn’t make it fun or easy to watch.

Here’s a good metaphor for this film and its fans: When the campers figure out that the moonshine is actually toxic waste, someone asks, “You mean them rednecks are drinkin’ that shit?” to which one of the film’s ubiquitous gay characters says “No, I don’t think anyone could be that stupid!” Think of the moonshine as anything by Troma studios and the rednecks as fans of troma, if you will. They know it kills them and you’d have to be stupid to keep drinking and yet… Redneck Zombies is filled with many Troma staples including what must be consciously bad acting, some sickening budget-gore, and enough slurs to piss everybody off. Troma’s statement of purpose is basically bad movies that you know are bad, that they know are bad. So, bad all around. The problem is when you set out to make a bad movie, you’ll make one, conscious or not. Who the hell wants to watch a bad movie that the creators didn’t care about? Written by three adults who call themselves Fester Smellman, P. Floyd Pirhana, and Zoofeet and ‘directed’ by Pericles Lewnes, Redneck Zombies is a film that aspires to Manos: The Hands of Fate-type badness. Zombie Aftermath-type badness Think of the person you like the least in the world. Would the fact that he knows how big an asshole he’s being change how badly you want to avoid them? “Sure he’s a racist, but he knows he’s a racist!” That makes it better? No. That just makes it worse. This means they have to know what makes a good film and what makes a bad film and then just forget what makes quality and embrace the worst aspects of moviemaking. I would understand if you wanted to make gory films, scary films, dark films, and films that are send-ups of existing genres (Fido, Return of the Living Dead and Shaun of the Dead for instance are all brilliant). I don’t understand the urge to want to make shit.

Anyone can make shit, that you set out to do it doesn’t make you special, it makes you an idiot with arrested development. There are enough unintentional failures for Troma team to go around vomiting at dinner parties and making fun of gay people. It turns my stomach and this is coming from someone who kind of liked The Frightened Woman, so put that in your bong and smoke it. When the smoke clears you might be able to make out the line I drew just behind your stupid behavior.


Krusty said...

i think this blog will open my eyes on new awesome movies i've never senn before
thank you thank you thank you

Scøut said...

Glad I Could Help!