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TROMEO AND JULIET

Wow! Here we have a legitimately good movie from Troma, and one directed, moreover, by Troma’s goofball honcho Lloyd Kaufman. Accidents happen!

The Package
     TROMEO AND JULIET has the distinction of being one of the first-ever Troma films to receive near-uniformly positive reviews. It also managed a fairly successful theatrical release in 1997, and according to Mr. Kaufman was the all-around finest in-house Troma production up to that time (as it probably still is).
     The basis for this film, obviously, was ROMEO AND JULIET by William Shakespeare, and TROMEO’S February 1997 release closely followed that of Baz Luhrmann’s gaudy Hollyweird take on the same material. I don’t think I need to tell you which of the two films I prefer!

The Story
     The Ques and Capulets are warring families based in New York City. The two clans were once friendly until Cap Capulet engineered a hostile takeover of Monty Que’s porn empire, and they’ve fought ever since. Each clan is composed of killers and perverts, with Monty’s son Tromeo being a dork who’s addicted to internet porn and Cap’s daughter Juliet a bisexual nymphomaniac who periodically gets it on with the Capulets’ lesbian cook Ness. Juliet is set to marry London Arbuckle, a dweeb whose millionaire father owns a meat packing company.
     Tromeo and his brothers crash Juliet’s pre-wedding party, where T&J first catch sight of one another. Tromeo turns up at Juliet’s home the following night, finding that she’s been shut in a glass cage by her pervert father. The two have sex, get married and hit the town the following day, seeing porno movies, getting tattoos and having sex in public.
     Inevitably Tromeo and Juliet’s romance leads to trouble. In an inter-family confrontation Tromeo’s cousin Murray gets his head smashed in, leading to a fight that ends with Juliet’s cousin Tyrone getting beheaded.
     In an effort to halt her marriage to London, Juliet imbibes a potion that causes her to morph into a pig-snouted demon--and grow a penis in the process (“You always said you liked THE CRYING GAME!,” she sneers). London responds by puking and committing suicide, which pisses off Cap to no end, and sets the stage for an apocalyptic gore-packed fight.

The Direction
     Some pretty high-falutin’ claims have been made about this film. From the imdb: “A modern, punk adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic (that) attempts to impact the viewer in the same way theatre-goers were affected in Shakespeare’s time.” Personally, I feel such sentiments have no merit in a Troma film, even a good one.
     In truth TROMEO AND JULIET is quintessential Troma fare, meaning those unfamiliar with the Troma aesthetic might not know what to make of TROMEO’S gleefully self-referential trashiness (note the posters for past Troma productions like STUCK ON YOU and CLASS OF NUKE ‘EM HIGH that are posted everywhere). Fart and shitting jokes are constants, as is (intentionally) gratuitous gore, puking and dialogue like “Get your goddamn tongue out of my goddamn cousin’s mouth!” and “I’m going to wipe you off the face of the Earth like a piece of shit from God’s ass!”
    
The Shakespeare-inspired story, however, ensures that the film at least has a strong narrative, something most Troma movies lack. Another quality this film has that most of its fellows don’t is humor that’s actually funny. Lloyd Kaufman and co-screenwriter James Gunn were evidently quite inspired, finding creative ways to insert body piercing, prosthetic effects, lesbianism and even a penis monster.
 

Vital Statistics

TROMEO AND JULIET
Troma

Director: Lloyd Kaufman
Producers: Lloyd Kaufman, Michael Herz
Screenplay: James Gunn, Lloyd Kaufman
Cinematography: Brendan Flynt
Editing: Frank Reynolds
Cast: Jane Jensen, Will Keenan, Valentine Miele, Steve Gibbons, Sean Gunn, Joe Fleishaker, Lemy, Debbie Rochon, Steven Blakehart
 

     

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