Saturday, March 4, 2023

#2,899. Terror Firmer (1999) - Troma Triple Feature


Inspired (ever so loosely) by the Lloyd Kaufman / James Gunn book “All I Need to Know About Filmmaking I Learned from The Toxic Avenger”, 1999’s Terror Firmer is Troma’s attempt to out-do Troma, making as disgusting, as slimy, as sexy, and as hilarious a film as the studio ever produced.

Trouble is brewing on the set of Troma’s newest movie, helmed by blind director Larry Benjamin (played by Kaufman himself). First, lead actress Christine (Debbie Rochon) is sleeping with every guy she gets her hands on, right under the nose of her boyfriend, crew member DJ (Mario Diaz). Then, production assistant Jennifer (Alyce LaTourelle) finds herself juggling two guys who are smitten with her: boom-mic operator Casey (Will Keenan) and special effects artist Jerry (Trent Haaga).

On top of that, a maniacal killer in a dress is systematically - and quite messily - murdering the members of Benjamin’s crew. Can the police track down the psychopath? More importantly, will this next Troma “masterpiece” be completed on time?

Terror Firmer doesn’t waste a single moment, opening with the mysterious killer first tearing a guy’s leg off and beating him to death with it, then attacking a pregnant woman, ripping the unborn fetus from her body.

Sounds pretty intense, right? Well, would you believe these are two of the film’s subtler moments?

Throughout its 114 minutes, Terror Firmer throws everything at us: piss, shit, snot, farts, blood, dismemberments, exploding heads, masturbation, nudity and sex. Even Toxie gets laid at one point!

As for the humor, it’s mostly broad and aims very, very low (no surprise there), but I have to admit I laughed quite a bit throughout the movie. Especially funny were the Seinfeld spoof (complete with a laugh track), when Casey and Jennifer go to a café for dinner; and the “closed set” that is ordered when Jennifer and Jerry, standing in for the actors, have to do a sex scene. I also cracked up at the shameless commercial for Troma videos and DVDs, which was inserted into a random scene.

A few celebrities pop up in cameos, including Ron Jeremy as Casey’s dad; Lemmy from Motorhead as a TV interviewer; and Tiffany Shepis as a witness to one of the killings. Even Lloyd Kaufman’s real-life daughter Charlotte plays a small role (Larry Benjamin’s mute daughter). As for the violence, it’s very Troma-like, meaning it is way over the top. But that only adds to the fun.

Terror Firmer was designed to be an exaggerated account of what goes on behind-the-scenes of a Troma production. But aside from the killings, I have a feeling it isn’t as “exaggerated” as Kaufman and company would have us believe.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10

1 comment:

Lord Phantasma said...

Doc, my dude, one of my favorite things about you as a film critic is that you don't dismiss farcical dreck like Troma.

When I was younger (all the way up until I was 15-16) I was too scared to watch horror movies! I read tons of King and Koontz, but the movies scared me too damn bad.

What finally eased me into horror was stuff like Leprechaun, Full Moon Pictures, and yes, TROMA! I might not have ever dined on the meat and potatoes of the genre without Toxic Avenger, Night of the Chicken Dead, Nuke 'Em High, and Terror Firmer as appetizers.

I didn't comment on your Rabid Grannies review because I haven't seen that one yet, but I saw you rated it high so I think I'll be checking that out soon. Combat Shock sounds awesome for a whole different reason, but you sold me on that one too!

Cheers Doc, keep the reviews comin'.