Sunday, June 14, 2009

TromaDance Volume 1 (2001)


TromaDance (sponsored in part by Miss Hawaiian Tropic and Rue Morgue Magazine) is Lloyd Kaufman and Company's answer to independent film festivals around the world. Unlike other festivals, TromaDance is free of charge for both film-makers and film-goers. It is an annual one day event that features both feature-length and short films from the underground that shuns Hollywood ideals and elitism. Troma has released a number of DVDs comprised of these short films, only the first two of which I have seen.

Here's what we get this time around:

The Psychotic Odyssey Of Richard Chase—Bizarre documentary look at Richard Chase, a real life serial killer who drank his victims' blood. His story is played out by children's dolls, including white trash Barbies, and is interspersed with real locations and hand-made drawings. The whole thing is narrated by a digitally altered voice that gives you the creeps. Pretty bloody for a puppet show, and even more disturbing in that it doesn't seem to be playing for laughs.

Please Kill Mr. Kinski—Klaus Kinski is a famous personality that is renowned for having been difficult to work with. This is director David Schoeller's first hand account of his troubles during filming the Kinski film Crawlspace. Includes actual footage of the now-deceased Kinski. This short is droll and boring and may be of interest only to die-hard Klaus Kinski fans.

H.R. Pukenshette—A “tiny dicked” loser tries to drink himself to death after his girlfriend breaks up with him. His French guardian angel rises out of a puddle of his vomit and takes him out for a good time. Immature but ultimately amusing. I can't help imagining that this is what a team-up between Mr. Show and an early Kevin Smith would look like.

Harry Knuckles And The Treasure Of The Aztec Mummy—This short has nothing to offer except a sexy opening credits sequence. Harry Knuckles (codename: Spanish Fly) teams up with his partner (masked Spanish wrestler Santos) to retrieve a mystical chalice from a mysterious island. Along the way, they encounter robots, zombies, and the titular mummy. Mind-numbing and entirely too long for what it was attempting to accomplish.

Family Dinner Party—Completely unfunny skit by the TV Heads(?) about a manic--or is that insane--young man who invites his family over for dinner. Featuring horrible hairpieces, cross-dressing, and self mutilation.

Deadbeats—Wrestling hero Mick Foley stars as a drive-though criminal who takes a job at a collection agency at the advice of his parole officer. The rant given by the boss during training could be taken directly out of The Debt Collector's Handbook. It's amusing that we go from a scene that resembles a porno, minus the nudity and sex, to a scene in an airport bar that is downright philosophical in nature. In the end, Foley throws some wrestling moves on the wrong derelict and we're left unsure of who we're supposed to sympathize with: the asshole collectors who are just doing their jobs or the deadbeat slobs who racked up a debt they know they can't pay off. Despite the poor acting by all but Melissa McBride in the role of Janet, this remains a pretty decent accomplishment. Hell, even Mick Foley would be effective if he didn't look so much like Mick Foley.

Red's Breakfast 2: Dawn Of The Red—Cannibal serial killer Red, toting around a lunchbox full of human organs, meets his dream girl in the park. Her name is Violet Lee Lucas and she shares many of the same interests. He invites her back to his place for a “drink” and fun ensues. It may not sound like much, but this segment is one of the greatest on the disc. There's a handful of genre in-jokes spread throughout the film (Violet's last name is the same as Henry's; Red works in a slaughter house, like in Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and lives on Elm Street. Figure that one out yourself) and the whole thing is narrated by a gravel-voiced hipster. But where the hell is part 1? And why does the written introduction to Red's Breakfast mention Violet being kidnapped by a Dr. Nefarious, which isn't in the film at all. A goof, perhaps?

Zit Lover—A vile slob who lives in vomit-inducing filth sniffs glue and has claymation hallucinations. Obeying his hallucination's demands, he robs a convenience store of all their nacho cheese. The sales clerk goes Rambo on him and they proceed to have their own little Vietnam in the back yard. Sick, bizarre and…fun? Maybe.

Spag—The DVD's written intro calls this short “a foreign film about spaghetti. Or rather about the underlying social and ethical implications of spaghetti, brilliantly explored in Einstein-like montage and mise-en-scene. Some call it a masterpiece, others a travesty. You be the judge.” The verdict is in: complete and total crap.

This DVD was a hit-and-miss proposition. My major complaint is that there was no 'Play All' feature, meaning you have to select a new title from the menu each time. Fans of Troma and independent cinema in general should give this a shot. For a more all-around good time in the same vein, check out Volume 2.

Extras include trailers for 4 Troma films, a Superstars of TromaDance photo gallery, and an episode of Troma's Edge TV, detailing the events surrounding TromaDance 2001 (featuring a hilarious scene in which TromaDance goes head to head with Sundance, and a host that looks like a young Steve Buscemi), and A Look Back At TromaDance 2000, a featurette which is also featured on Volume 2.

Two Easter eggs can be found by manually advancing to hidden chapters on the DVD. Go to title 13 (of 18) using the 'Go To' button on your remote for Karen Black in a brief vampire musical, and title 18 (of 18) for a mock Worst Of TromaDance film.

BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR: Fucked up Muppets; The token midget; Tiki full of blood; Foley's shower scene; Ninja cop;

120 Minutes
United States

TromaDance Volume 1 doesn't seem to be available at Rent it at Netflix, or buy it from the Troma Store.


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