Lloyd Kaufman is one of the few filmmakers who has been able to combine the dreams of Walt Disney and the low budget reality of Roger Corman. He and Michael Herz turned their exploitation cinema efforts into Troma colorful characters that even after time in b-grade R-rated features were able to be turned into animated cartoons for kids. There’s a strange sense of joy as wee ones mingle with the twisted critters from the Toxic Avenger, the mutant graduates of Nuke ‘em High and the exotic dining of Sgt. Kabukiman. Above them all is the iconic Kaufman as the mayor of Tromaville, an ethereal version of Disneyland. Now Kaufman’s delights from the ‘80s and ‘90s are getting brought into the 21st century with 1080p resolution transfers of his vault’s crown jewels. The latest batch to dazzle outside the vault are Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D., The Toxic Avenger Part III: The Last Temptation of Toxie , Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV and Class of Nuke ‘Em High 3: The Good, the Bad and the Subhumanoid. All the stars can be seen clearly through the sludge of Tromaville.
Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D. (1991 – 104 minutes) is a colorful affair that exploits Japanese tradition without worry about college students whining about “Cultural Appropriation.’ Director’s Kaufman and Herz probably did a majority of the historical research from various menus at hibachi restaurants. This film is as overboard as you’d expect from a film about a New York policeman (Rick Gianasi) who gets possessed by the spirit of a Japanese warrior. He turns into a semi-rubberized samurai warrior via a kabuki production. He uses outlandish Japanese objects to fight crime. Who knew that sushi could be substituted for a ninja throwing star? This film remains goofy and entertaining to anyone who doesn’t spend most of their night’s creating online petitions against the casting in Iron Fist.
The Toxic Avenger Part III: The Last Temptation of Toxie (1989 – 86 minutes) continues the adventures of Troma’s version of Mickey Mouse. The Toxic Avenger (Ron Fazio) faces a major identity crisis since he has mopped up all the crime in Tromaville. What’s there to do with his time? What does a superhero do when they’ve brought peace, justice and the mutated way to their town? In Toxie’s case, he needs to get a day job. His girlfriend Phoebe Legere (Mondo New York) seems excited that her man is ready to enter the working world. Toxie lands what seems like a sweet gig with great benefits. However it turns that he’s not working for a sweet mom and pop operation. He’s working for a really evil corporation. What will he do? It’s once more an over the top adventure about a toxic superhero. The concept of what does a crimefighter do when he’s fought crime into submission is explored with the depth and sincerity that can only be called Troma.
Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV (2000 – 108 minutes) starts off by telling the audience to forget the last two Toxic Avenger sequels. How can we forget such warmth, wisdom and cinematic charm? Probably with a few shots of Tequila before hitting play. The movie starts off with high drama when a group of terrorists wearing baby outfits take a special needs class hostage. It’s a nasty and disturbing stand off that makes Dog Day Afternoon. It’s up to Toxie to save the kids except he must go to an extreme to succeed. He must find divine guidance from Hank the Angry Dwarf (The Howard Stern Show). What he doesn’t anticipate is his old pal Sgt. Kabukiman is going to have a bit of an accident while watching Toxie’s girlfriend. What will Toxie think when he discovers what’s gone on while he was saving the world? This is a big budget for Troma production with amazing guest stars including Lemmy (from Motorhead), Ron Jeremy, Corey Feldman, Debbie Rochon, Eli Roth and Hugh Hefner as the President. They even get Stan Lee to narrate this tale of an un-Marvel superhero. This really is a major overdose of the Troma experience.
Class of Nuke ‘Em High 3: The Good, the Bad and the Subhumanoid (1994 – 101 minutes) brings us back once more to the school that is next to a highly suspect nuclear power plant. What helps make things a mess is a giant mutated squirrel that’s causing havoc in Tromaville. The kids don’t see Brick Bronsky gives a career highlight performance as twin brothers. One brother wants to do good in this mutated world. The other brother is evil and really wants bring chaos to the hallways of the school. Who will win? Brick really captures the opposite twin feeling. You think he’s really twins on the screen. What’s extra amazing of this film is how it feels like it was edited down from an 8 hour movie. There’s a joyful excess of scenes that get clipped together. Although perhaps some of it was clipped out of the first two Nuke ‘Em High movies. This abundance of moments clipped together flies in the face of the low to the bone indie filmmaking creed. The post-apocalyptic school action does give a glimpse of how bad the public education system can get if humanity can’t stop giant mutant squirrels.
These four films bring together so much of what makes Troma so addictive. There’s cheap thrills, cheap jokes, actors who give it all, and plenty of cameos from Lloyd Kaufman. While Sgt. Kabukiman wasn’t given a sequel, his behavior in Citizen Toxie makes him deserving of his name in the title. Kaufman and Herz really do create their own universe in Tromaville that comes off like a toxic waste dump version of a Wes Anderson film. Their characters ravage the symmetry of the frame as viewers get to ponder what outrageous act will be perpetrated next. Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D., The Toxic Avenger Part III: The Last Temptation of Toxie , Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV and Class of Nuke ‘Em High 3: The Good, the Bad and the Subhumanoid are what have happened if Walt Disney had wanted to rival Roger Corman as King of the Bs. Troma is truly its own universe of cinema.
The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The Blu-ray transfers are amazing seeing how Troma films aren’t quite known for having a crisp look or feel. If you’ve never experienced a Troma movie, you’ll be seeing an image that rivals the original theatrical premiere. The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 and brings out the low budget nature of the films.
Commentary features co-writer/director Lloyd Kaufman discussing how this project was intended for a Japanese partnership.
Interview (6:45) with actor Rick Gianasi touches base with the actor who threw sushi as a weapon.
Kabukiman Karaoke (2:35) features people singing the “Sgt. Kabukiman” theme.
Kabukiman Cocktail Corner (12:08) has Brian Quinn (Impractical Jokers) share the treatment he once wrote in hopes of Troma making his dream come through. There are drinks.
Stupid Moments in Troma History (2:50) wants us to believe that Sgt. Kabukiman might have been part of JFK’s assassination.
Tromadance 2015 Highlights (5:20) covers the festival set up by Troma to find new talent.
Trailer (3:35) will make you realize this is not a real police exchange program.
The Toxic Avenger Part III: The Last Temptation of Toxie
Intro (3:34) features Lloyd Kaufman in Denmark.
Commentary Tracks include one with Kaufman and another with actor Joe Flieshaker.
Make Your Own Damn Horror Film (11:26) puts Kaufman in a cameo on another person’s film.
A Halloween Carol (9:54) is a Troma version of “A Christmas Carol” with Kaufman as Scrooge.
Rabid Grannies on Blu-ray (1:56) is an infomercial for the upcoming release.
Pests (1:17) is Kaufman promising to write a novel and post it on the Troma website.
Radiation March (9:56) is a short dance piece concerning the dangers of pollution.
The American Cinematheque Honors 40 Years of Troma (2:03) is a tribute to the company’s legacy.
TroMoMa (11:40) allows Lloyd Kaufman to show his movie at the Museum of Modern Art. Kaufman enjoys the attention.
Theatrical Trailer (3:00)
Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV
DVD with all features of the Blu-ray.
Intro (3:15) catches up with Lloyd Kaufman at Stan Lee’s Comikaze, where he’s joined by Gabe Friedman (“Poultrygeist” screenwriter and editor of “Citizen Toxie”) and “Transgender Toxie” to discuss this “lovingly recreated” Blu-ray.
Commentary Tracks include one by Kaufman, a second featuring producer Trent Haaga and actor Michael Budinger and a final with editors editors Friedman and Sean McGrath. Everyone has a tale to tell about their Troma time.
Apocalypse Soon (147:50) is a massive documentary about how much could go wrong on a small film about a toxic hero. It’s warts and all so you know the fights Kaufman must handle to make Troma magic.
The American Cinematheque Honors 40 Years of Troma (2:03) highlight’s the studio’s legacy.
Troma’s Tribute to Lemmy (8:14) is a fitting memorial to the bassist from Motorhead who recently passed away. He did Troma films for the art and the Tromettes.
Class of Nuke ‘Em High 3: The Good, the Bad and the Subhumanoid
Intro (4:26) has Lloyd Kaufman give a tribute to his company’s history of featuring twins on the screen.
Commentary features director Eric Louzil is more fond Troma memories.
Interview (13:44)with actress Lisa Gaye covers her career at Troma and how Ron Jeremy hit on her.
Troma presents Class of Nuke ‘Em High 3: The Good, the Bad and the Subhumanoid. Directed by: Eric Louzil. Screenplay by: Lloyd Kaufman, Stephen Gerard, Eric Louzil, Carl Morano, Jeffrey W. Sass, Matt Unger, Mark F. Roling Terry. Starring: Brick Bronsky, Lisa Star, Lisa Gaye, Kathleen Kane. Rated: Unrated. Running Time: 102 minutes. Released: October 13, 2015.
Troma presents The Toxic Avenger Part III: The Last Temptation of Toxie. Directed by: Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz. Screenplay by: Lloyd Kaufman, Gay Partington Terry. Starring: Lisa Gaye, Ron Fazio, Phoebe Legere, Jessica Dublin, Tsutomu Sekine, Michael J. Kaplan . Rated: Unrated. Running Time: 102 minutes. Released: May 12, 2015.
Troma presents Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV. Directed by: Lloyd Kaufman. Screenplay by: Trent Haaga, Lloyd Kaufman. Starring: Lemmy, Corey Feldman, Ron Jeremy and Stan Lee. Rated: Unrated. Running Time: 109 minutes. Released: September 8, 2015.
Troma presents Sgt. Kabukiman. Directed by: Michael Herz & Lloyd Kaufman. Screenplay by: Lloyd Kaufman, Andrew Osborne. Starring: Rick Gianasi, Susan Byun, Bill Weeden, Thomas Crnkovich, Larry Robinson, Noble Lee Lester. Rated: Unrated. Running Time: 105 minutes. Released: November 10, 2015.
Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.