The Direct to Video Connoisseur
I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Tromeo and Juliet (1996)
I had been meaning to watch this movie for a long time. I'm a huge Shakespeare fan, and a huge Troma fan, so this seemed like a perfect pairing. I remember seeing trailers for it on other Troma flicks I watched, with Motorhead's "Sacrifice" playing in the background, and thinking it looked pretty sweet, but for some reason or another I just never got around to it. Now Netflix, as they often do, are putting my feet to the fire and dumping this one from Watch Instantly, so I made it happen before they did.
Tromeo and Juliet is a brutal-punk Troma take on the Bard's classic tale of love found and love lost under tragic circumstances. In this one, our hero, Tromeo, is the son of Monty Que, who was at one time in a partnership with the depraved Cappy Capulet, the two making high quality porno flicks. But Cappy betrayed Monty, and the two families have been feuding ever since. Now Cappy, who abuses his daughter Juliet and expects her to marry a billionaire meat packing company owner, is not too stoked to discover that she's in love with our hero. As things come to a head between the two families, can their love survive?
This, maybe more than any Troma film I've seen, pushes that envelope into bad taste as often as possible. At no point do they let you off easy. It's as if Lloyd Kaufman has a bone to pick with, maybe not Shakespeare, but this idea that some forms of art and culture are placed above others, so from his standpoint he wants to say "I'll show you what low-quality entertainment is!" I think, because it's Lloyd Kaufman and it's Troma, it works, but I'm not so sure anyone else could pull this off, and I wouldn't want to see them try. And it's not just the blood and guts factor, there are jokes about priest molestation and parental abuse that will probably test your sensibilities more than seeing someone's fingers chopped off of eye gouged out. This isn't simply a Shakespeare/Troma mash-up, this is Lloyd Kaufman sinking his teeth into Shakespeare, biting off a chunk, and spitting it out. And I dug it.
This is, as far as I can remember, the second Romeo and Juliet based movie we've seen here, the other being Ring of Fire with Don "The Dragon" Wilson, which, as you may remember, wasn't as good as this. I love seeing Shakespeare adapted in modern art, especially in something like Tromeo and Juliet that really plays with the elements, twisting this or that, while keeping this or that intact. Do I put this up there with Ran or Throne of Blood as far as Shakespeare adaptations go? Personally yes, though obviously on an objective level it's hard to put Lloyd Kaufman and Kurosawa in the same sentence with a straight face.
Right away, when you think music in Tromeo and Juliet, you think Lemmy (who was also the film's narrator) and Motorhead with "Sacrifice", which was pretty awesome. But this soundtrack also features songs by Sublime, Supernova, and my personal favorite, The Wesley Willis Fiasco. My buddy's sister saw Wesley Willis at our local small club, The Elvis Room, which was open in the 90s. She said he ordered a pizza from Dominoes while he played. Unfortunately, Willis is no longer with us, so here's to you Wesley Willis, rock over London, rock on Chicago, Pontiac, we are building excitement.
I don't know why, but people in animal suits are hilarious to me. In the famous masquerade ball scene, Tromeo went dressed like a cow, and had a dance with Juliet. I was in tears I was laughing so hard. If I ever date a girl that has a fetish for people in these suits, it could be a problem, especially the head portion. It's that blank stare with a goofy grin I think that gets me the most. About six or seven years ago the AHL all-star game was in Portland, ME, so my buddies and I went, and as you can imagine, that was mascot city, every team was represented. Anyway, this one T-Bone for the San Antonio team had an angry look on its face, and when my buddy was going up the stairs past him, he pantomimed like he was kicking my buddy in the ass, which was even funnier with the angry look on his face. Thinking about it now as I write it I'm laughing.
Finally, to kill the silliness a bit, I figured I'd go all cultural anthropologist on you, because this movie deals with incest taboos, specifically brother-sister relations. Other than the Hawaiian royal family, there has never been a culture in human history that didn't have an incest taboo forbidding brothers and sisters from hooking up. You'd think that was a biological imperative-- we erroneously think all incest taboos have a biological imperative behind them-- but that's not the case. If it had a biological basis, long lost siblings would still have the same aversion to one-another that ones that grew up together did-- and adopted siblings that grew up together wouldn't still have that aversion. It's a familiarity thing, and Shakespeare understood our attraction to the unfamiliar and demonstrated it to us perfectly in Romeo and Juliet; whereas Kaufman didn't quite get it-- he still has the basic erroneous idea of what incest taboos are based on biology--, but I liked that he included the incest taboo as another way that children of the 90s were finding to rebel, making fun of our attempts to find more and more forms of taboo.
By the time most of you read this review, this movie will no longer be available on Watch Instantly, so you'll have to track it down on DVD, which isn't that hard. Also, you can get it on Blu-Ray, though I have no idea what the Blu-Ray entails. Either way, this is worth checking out, it's a gory, gross, over-the-top good time. Shakespeare would've been proud-- or maybe not.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0114733/