Friday, March 22, 2013

#949. Troma's War (1988)

Directed By: Michael Herz, Lloyd Kaufman

Starring: Carolyn Beauchamp, Sean Bowen, Rick Washburn

Tag line: "NOT a true story but who cares!"

Trivia: The leader of the AIDS brigade is named Senor Sida. "Sida" is the Spanish word for AIDS

Founded by Michael Herz and Lloyd Kaufman in 1974, Troma Entertainment is a New-York based production and distribution company that, for over 30 years, has turned out B-grade films featuring gobs of nudity and a whole lot of over-the-top violence and gore. Back in the day, a local Philadelphia cable channel would broadcast their movies late at night, and I got to see some of the studio’s more popular pictures, like The Class of Nuke ‘em High, The Toxic Avenger, and Surf Nazis Must Die, which, in spite of their overall cheesiness (or maybe because of it), I enjoyed. I had never seen Troma’s War before, but from the title alone, I kinda knew what to expect. Sure enough, Troma’s War didn’t let me down.

A plane carrying a number of ordinary citizens from the fictional town of Tromaville crash-lands on a remote island that’s home to a renegade terrorist cell, which is planning to infiltrate the United States. Mistaking them for a rival gang of mercenaries, the terrorists attack the passengers, killing some and taking an unfortunate few as prisoner. In an effort to defend themselves, the remaining passengers steal some weapons and band together, forming their own commando squad. Led by Taylor (Sean Bowen), the survivors put up one hell of a fight. But will it be enough to defeat an entire terrorist army?

One of the things I really liked about Troma’s War was its characters. Among those who survived the plane crash are Parker (Rick Washburn), a gung-ho former marine; a British secret agent named Marshall (Steven Crossley);a punk rock band; a priest (Dan Snow) who gets his tongue yanked out, and an assortment of others. The terrorists themselves are more bizarre. The head mercenary is Jennings (Rick Collins), a guy whose nose looks exactly like a pig’s snout (he actually snorts from time to time), and the power-hungry bastards funding the entire operation are a pair of Siamese twins (Burt Wright and Michael Locascio) joined at the face! Even by Troma’s standards, these are some strange people.

And when it comes to the “shocking” content Troma is known for, Troma’s War doesn’t disappoint. During one particular gunfight, Parker manages to gun down about a dozen or so guys with his trusty assault rifle, and later on, we see him wearing a necklace made out of human ears, souvenirs from the bodies of those he killed. There are even a few stomach-churning scenes that have nothing to do with the war, like when punk rocker Sean (Alex Cserhart) and his girlfriend, Susan (Susan Bachli), go into the woods to make out, and are pelted by maggots dropping from a corpse in the tree above.

There’s no denying this movie is gross, offensive, and outrageous, but then, so are most Troma films. And as far as I’m concerned, Troma’s War is one of the studio’s best offerings.

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