LISTEN TO EPISODE 64: LLOYD KAUFMAN – THE REAL TOXIC AVENGER:
On this special and political episode of What Are You Afraid Of? Horror & Paranormal Show, we interview the legend of indie horror film for the last 44 years, Lloyd Kaufman, creator of the Toxic Avenger. Many of us remember watching the Toxic Avenger, dear old Citizen Toxie, on late night movies like a guilty secret. Lloyd has been fighting mainstream film and corporate America his entire career, and he is angry. He’s witnessing the death of freedom of speech in America, and he’s urging us to fight with him. Horror authors T. Fox Dunham and Phil Thomas sit down with Lloyd and listen to him talk about his history in film making, his association with great directors and how he’s influenced such films at Guardians of The Galaxy and Deadpool. He’s mayor of the little people of Tromaville. He founded Troma Entertainment and continues to fight for the funding to make his movies with his vision–his way and on his terms.
LLOYD KAUFMAN – MAYOR OF THE LITTLE PEOPLE OF TROMAVILLE
“Lloyd’s body of work has now proven to be a seminal influence on film today. Just look at any film created by the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Takashi Miike, Peter Jackson, Eli Roth, Gasper Moe and James Gunn, to name a few, and you are likely watching a film influenced Class of Nuke ‘Em High, Tromeo & Juliet, or Citizen Toxie.”
In the late 1960’s, Kaufman was enrolled at Yale University (where he would later present his Make Your Own Damn Movie Master Classes), diligently working on a respectable degree in Chinese Studies. However, Kaufman was destined for other things. As he explains in his hit book “All I Need To Know About Filmmaking I Learned From The Toxic Avenger” (published by Penguin Putnam, and first of his seven books), “At Yale I was placed in a dormitory room with two film fanatics, and I knew everything had irrevocably changed.” In fact, Kaufman was infected with a love of movies from which he never recovered.
In 1971, Kaufman met his future partner Michael Herz at Yale. The Troma Universe was born in 1974 with a series of highly original, raunchy comedies such as “Squeeze Play!,” “Stuck On You!,” “Waitress!,” and other titles ending with an exclamation point. These movies, independent precursors to such later smash hits as National Lampoon’s “Animal House” and “Porky’s,” did well financially, although Kaufman continued to work on such outside productions as “Rocky” and “Saturday Night Fever.” Kaufman’s relationship with mainstream Hollywood would not last long. “There were problems,” Kaufman said, “as I always wanted to do things my own way and my employers insisted I do things the correct way.” He continued to build up a list of impressive credits as well as some overpowering debts.
Kaufman proved his former employers wrong with his 1984 breakthrough movie, “The Toxic Avenger.” This tale of a health club mop boy named Melvin who is transformed into a hideously deformed creature of superhuman size and strength struck a chord with audiences and critics alike, demonstrating that there were a large number of people who were interested in seeing things done Kaufman’s way. “The Toxic Avenger” led to an animated television series, “Toxic Crusaders,” action figures, different Marvel comic book titles,hot sauce, etc.There were three sequels. The most recent film in the series is “Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger Part IV.” Currently, “The Toxic Avenger” is being developed by Oscar winner Akiva Goldsman and team as a big budget Hollywood remake. “Toxic Avenger The Musical” is playing in London’s West End, with music by Bon Jovi’s David Bryan.
The success of The Toxic Avenger was followed by a string of commercial and artistic triumphs in a similar vein, blending fantasy, heavy action, comedy, and eroticism in a style that can only be described as “Tromatic”. These films, including the “Class of Nuke ‘Em High” trilogy, “Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD,” and “Troma’s War,” were often ignored or scorned by the intelligentsia of the time but spoke to an entire generation of young people who rejected the pandering, commercial films of the mid-to-late 80’s. Some of these Troma fans went on to become filmmakers themselves, including Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, Mike Judge, Peter Jackson, and Trey Parker. Thanks to these admirers, Kaufman has been asked to make cameo appearances in films like James Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Sharknado 4,” Trey Parker’s “Orgazmo,” Eli Roth’s “Cabin Fever,” and about 200 other indie movies. His “Return to Nuke’em High Vol 1“and “Tromeo and Juliet” were showcased by The Museum of Modern Art in New York last year.
POULTRYGEIST! TROMA MUSIC
On this episode, we play a couple of the unique songs his movies are known for including two songs from his musical, Poultrygeist and the theme song from the Toxic Avenger.
We also play another part to Daniel Braum’s story, A MAN’S GUIDE TO COSTUMES AND THE MOST COMMON WAYS TO GET ARRESTED from his short story collection, The Wish Mechanics. And Phil Thomas reads from his upcoming novel through Caliburn Press, The Poe Predicament.
(A Horror Medical Thriller Novel from Blood Bound Books.)
By T. Fox Dunham
(Host of What Are You Afraid of Horror & Paranormal Podcast)
FANGORIA gives MERCY 3.5 out 4 Skulls – “Dunham has channeled his many brushes with the other side into the exquisitely rendered, lyrical supernatural hospital thriller MERCY.“ READ FULL REVIEW HERE.
“Part medical horror, part supernatural suspense, MERCY is a hard-hitting fever dream of a novel. I enjoyed the hell out of it!” ~ Tim Waggoner, author of The Way of All Flesh and Eat The Night
“Pain and poetry flow in equal measure through these pages. Dunham’s prose strikes deep and hits all the right notes. MERCY is unforgettably vivid.” ~ David Dunwoody, author of Hell Walks and The 3 Egos
William Saint is dying of cancer. On most days death seems like a humane alternative to the treatment. Stricken with fever, William is rushed to Mercy—notorious as a place to send the sickest of the poor and uninsured to be forgotten—and finds the hospital in even worse condition than his previous visit. The grounds are unkempt, the foundation is cracking, and like the wild mushrooms sprouting from fissures of decay around it, something is growing inside the hospital. Something dark. It’s feeding on the sickness and sustaining itself on the staff, changing them. And now it wants Willie.
This was my death.
Life is an addiction.
Love is the only force that is real. Read . . . and understand what I saw. I put it in metaphor. You do not understand what you do not understand.