Interview: Lloyd Kaufman of Troma Entertainment

Lloyd Kaufaman was in London for MCM Comic Con and took some time to discuss what's going on in the world of Troma.

I know you have just come back from the Cannes festival, where you premiered Return To Nuke ‘Em High Vol. 2 (2017). Can you tell me what your experience was like in Cannes this year?

It’s getting more and more difficult at the Cannes film festival for independent movie artists to do publicity, unless they have the hundred thousand dollar posters or the money for the big party that worships the shrine of money and jewellery and fashion. Cannes is more about the jewellery and fashion than it is about movies. It’s clear the Cannes film festival does not want any independent movie there that is not part of the elite, that’s not part of the club, that is not part of the very refined fascist mentality. I think they show good movies, but if those good movies are not in with the club, forget it. Troma is famous. I have been going to Cannes since 1971, I slept on the beach and the police loved it, the fans loved it and now they won’t let us do any kind of street theatre. Troma’s famous for parades. We have Troma signs, the police say those are political so that’s against the law. But Disney can carry Disney signs, Disney can have Pirates of the Caribbean with guns. The French movie, with a big mask, a guy in a mask making lots of noise, that’s ok but Troma’s not allowed to make noise or be festive. Over the years, they have policed Troma out. They policed independent movies out of that festival. There are independent movies, but unless they are made with vassals of the elite or the majors or the Cannes film festival elite, forget about it, don’t even go there. And the truth is everybody including the taxi drivers say that there are few and fewer people going to Cannes. So, it’s basically become like the academy awards where everybody is giving themselves a high five. It has nothing to do with what’s the best art or what’s the best festival. When Cannes begun in 1939 their slogan was something about the festival for independent film and thought and commerce and now their slogan should be the festival for the elites and that’s it. Wear a black dinner jacket. You’re not even allowed to wear a tuxedo to the screenings that’s slightly not black. I have been wearing a wonderful paisley dinner jacket for 40 years, which was owned by my father originally and I never had any problem. Now they take you out of the line at the screenings if you don’t look like a robot, you all have to wear the same thing. It’s really disgusting and I have no interest in ever going on that red carpet ever again in my life. In fact, I don’t think I would ever go back to Cannes, I think that’s it for uncle Lloyd. The cops were constantly roughing us up, the cops arrested our volunteers twice. They threw them up against the wall, they put their hands behind their back like on LA Law for no reason, just because they were festive. And they won’t even allow the Troma t-shirt. They stopped Biani from Iceland, who was a volunteer, from walking on the corset in front of the big theatre. They stopped him because he had a Troma t-shirt, he had no signs, no make-up, no mask, just his t-shirt. And the cops said, “No no, no Troma, no, no no, no Troma”. But it’s not just Troma, it’s independent art and commerce that is under assault and it’s a pity. We had 3 screenings at Cannes and the critics, journalists and fans who showed up loved it. We had to have the third because all the screenings were packed. We couldn’t fit everybody in.

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Your screenings always seem to sell out at Cannes according to your previous history.

Well, it’s not selling out, it’s for professionals, if you’ve got a badge go in. But the citizens of Cannes love Troma and the journalists and the media that are not tied up with the mainstream, they love Troma. But you know, unfortunately, Disney, Pathe, and those big companies and the committee, there is a club called the Cannes Jury or whatever it is. They don’t want the truly independent films, they want films that are made within the structure of the mainstream. They don’t want films that are going to change the world, they want films that will cause no trouble and they want to keep the status quo. Their ass is in a tub of butter, all the overpaid bureaucrats at both the Cannes Film Festival, as well as the mainstream media. They have their ass in a tub of butter, they’re making lots of money and they’re keeping all the independent artists out of the business.


You’re at MCM Comic Con today, not just to speak about Return To Nuke ‘Em High, but also Motorhead Through the Ages (2017). Can you tell us about your involvement within that game?

Well, Achim Heidelauf made a video game 25 years ago, I think it was called Mayhem in Tromaville and it was terrific. He is a rabid Motorhead fan and a rabid Troma fan, and he went to Motorhead and said how would you like to be in a video game? We’ll make a video game starring the late Lemmy Kilmister. And because Lemmy and I worked on films together, I don’t know how many, maybe 8, but whatever it is he’s in all my recent films over the last 25 years, he’s in every movie I’ve directed. So Achim went to the video game company, went to Motorhead, went to Troma. I don’t think Motorhead got paid, I didn’t get paid, we all did it out of love for Lemmy and it’s a great video game. And I hope that Haemimont, which is the video game company, makes a lot of money with Victor Vran, it’s a wonderful game. Motorhead through the ages, it’s got 30 Motorhead games.  I’m in it as the bartender, Lloyd Kaufman is featured and they brought me over here to promote both Troma and the Victor Vran video game. I had a great time, it’s been chaos, but I am very grateful for Phil Rogers and all the volunteers from the UK who have helped us here at MCM Comic Con.


Now you also have something else coming out in the UK, which I am sure you will be coming over to publicise soon, which is The Toxic Avenger Musical

The Toxic Avenger Musical with music by David Bryan of Bon Jovi and Tony Award winner Joe Di Pietro who wrote the script. It was playing here for a few months a while back and got great reviews and now they are bringing it back September 28th 2017. The Toxic Avenger Musical will be in a bigger venue and it looks like it’s coming to the West End. And what’s great about it, I had nothing to do with making it good. I created The Toxic Avenger Musical and David Bryan and Joe Di Pietro have been able to mainstream Toxie for the toxic fans with tattoos, piercings and Prince Alberts on their penises. Those fans love The Toxic Avenger Musical and so do the little old ladies and booshwah like me who love Broadway musicals. It’s subversive and The Toxic Avenger Musical is delightful. It’s hilarious if you want good entertainment for an hour and a half. It’s so clever and the songs, you go out singing them. The songs are great, the tunes are great, and the lyrics are as funny as hell.


 Just one more thing regarding films. There is a big film coming out this year called Death House (2017), starring the icons of horror. Can you tell us a little bit about your role in that film?

Death House. Many directors as you know are Troma fans and many of the mainstream directors like James Gunn, Eli Roth and South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. They love Troma so they stick me in their movies just to be nice. This Death House has every horror star you can imagine, so they put me in and I have a pretty good part actually. But anyone who’s a horror fanatic will really enjoy it, because everybody from Kane HodderBill Moseley to Lynn Lowry Tiffany Shepis appear. Many of Troma’s prodigies are also in this film, so if you get a chance to see Death House, check it out. It’s really great.


Have you got any other projects coming out this year or into next year?

Yes, we’re making a movie in Portugal right now directed by Fernando Alle in Portuguese. It’s gonna be a wonderful film called Mutant Blast (2018).  Michael Herz and I are producing. Fernado made a film I discovered in Spain a few years ago called Banana Motherfucker (2011). Banana Motherfucker is a wonderful film. It’s hilarious, you can get it on Troma DVD. It’s in the Troma shop, and on Amazon. Fernando worked on Return To Nuke ‘Em High Vol.1 (2013) and Vol.2, he’s a great guy and very talented. The Portuguese government put in two hundred and fifty thousand dollars in addition to Troma’s money, so he’s got a good budget now and I think it’s going to be a wonderful Troma movie. Try to find it when it comes out. We’re shooting now and maybe next summer we can get some theatres in the states and make it happen.


One last question, if someone is new to Troma, how would you describe it to them and what films would you suggest they start with, to learn about Troma.

That’s a very good question Phil. Troma is a 44-year-old independent movie studio. It’s the oldest movie studio in the world that is independent. People like Trey Parker and Matt Stone, James Gunn who did Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) after he did Tromeo and Juliet (1996) for Troma. Eli Roth, Samuel L Jackson, Kevin Costner’s first movie, I didn’t direct it, but it’s in our library. Vincent D’Onofrio, Marisa Tomei’s first movie was The Toxic Avenger (1984). I could go on and on, but our movies are one of a kind for the most part. There are 400 free Troma movies on ‘tromamovies’ on YouTube if you would like to see the movies we’ve made or acquired and that’s all free and if you subscribe you can get the alerts, because we put up new content every week. Then, if you want to see the premiere of Troma movies of the future, the next generation, movies by Liam Regan or David Hollinshead, those are on Troma’s “Netflix” called TromaNow. The first month is free then its $5 dollars a month which is like £4. You get Return To Nuke ‘Em High Vol.1 which is coming next month and eventually Return To Nuke ‘Em High Vol.2. The only place you can see these movies in on TromaNow. They’re better than the original Troma movies, they are all made by people who have been influenced by Troma and they are wonderful. The first month is free so you can scout around and see a lot of stuff for free and if you like it you can keep subscribing.

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