I was first introduced to Troma in the early 90s by the USA Channel. As I was flipping through the channels on a dreary winter day, I ran across the film The Toxic Avenger 3. It left me floored. The film begins with a gory fight that I had never seen anything like before on television. Most of the gore was left in this cut, and I watched as Toxie pulled a man’s intestines out (and jumped roped with them), erased a man’s face with VHS eraser, and then stuck another man’s hand in a VCR (only to turn on the television and see a bird’s eye view of the hand approaching the gears inside). It was offensive. It looked cheap. The plot was silly.
I loved every single moment of it.
I’ve since grown up on Troma. The little studio in New Jersey has now been making films for 40 years. Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz met at Yale, and found each other later in life when Herz was impressed by Kaufman’s work. They started Troma, and the rest is history. After a few B-films, they hit it big with The Toxic Avenger. Troma was part of the Hollywood elite after the follow up Class of Nuke’em High. However, the studio has never matched the success of either of those films and has struggled since. It rebranded itself as “smaller and independent”, and has championed for filmmakers ever since. Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn got his start at Troma, and the studio’s catalogue contains films from Matt Stone and Trey Parker (South Park), Carmen Electra, Billy Bob Thornton, and many others before they became famous.
One of the knocks against the studio is that it has not transitioned well to change. It’s 2014, and many of their films still look and feel like they are straight out of the 1980s. It’s hipsterly awesome in one way, but then again…
Well, leave it to old Lloyd that message to the masses on Halloween this year. A Halloween Carol is set to premier on the studio’s YouTube Channel. It’s a 10 minute video of Lloyd doing what Lloyd does best: bad jokes, gore, and a moral message. Most importantly, the man sounds like my grandpa spouting off the importance of social media. As with most Troma pieces, you don’t know whether you are part of the joke or Lloyd’s laughing at you. But it’s basically a giant commercial for how Troma needs to take social media by storm.
That’s quite ironic as it boasts the following stats:
YouTube subscribers: 83,592
Facebook Likes: 91,518
Twitter Followers: 25.3K
Lloyd still makes his rounds on the convention circuit. Troma was smart enough to release much of its older catalogue onto its YouTube channel years ago. In fact, one of my favorite appearances of his was on The Angry Video Game Nerd show in 2013. Troma…is already using social media to stay relevant!
As I watched the film, I actually ended up researching the studio. That’s when I found out where Herz and Kaufman met, why we never hear or see Herz, how the company has stayed relevant, and ended up looking up and like all their pages (that I didn’t already follow or like). I’m actually quite excited for the films on YouTube.
Well played, Lloyd. Well played.