I was recently alerted by the gods that be (Pajiba) that the most recent film from Troma is having a limited theatrical release (by the way, the Troma website is a bit much; there’s music that comes on and all that jazz; when I visited last, my computer lovingly whispered to me that it was going to crash). For the uninitiated, Troma has been making independent films for thirty some-odd years, and they’ve made their name with films like the Toxic Avenger, which on the front of the DVD I own advertises “FEATURING THE FULL “HEAD CRUSHING” SCENE.” Hopefully, that gives you an idea of what were dealing with here: gory, exploitative messes of films that bring out the buckets of bodily fluids with a relentless zeal. I use Troma movies as a litmus test for new friends; who would want to hang out with someone was wants to watch a partial “HEAD CRUSHING” SCENE, or no “HEAD CRUSHING” SCENE at all? (answer) Their latest is Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead. The movie focuses on a fast food restaurant that was built on an Indian burial ground. There are apparently beaked zombies and a corps of lesbian hippies. I believe that it’s in its third week in New York, or something like that.
In the days of far-long ago, I worked as a Troma intern. I spent a lot of time filling out invoices and orders (Troma handles all their own distribution). Troma under a different name also distributes a lot of old, old movies that are in the public domain (the different name is something like Goodtime Olde Fun Company, and the logo for Goodtime Olde Fun Company looks a lot like that of Moonpie).
The work environment was crazy. It was in a cramped two-level office in Hell’s Kitchen, and garbage from the neighboring McDonald’s was blocking the door (Lloyd Kaufman, who directs a lot of Troma’s movies refers to the McDonald’s next door in some interviews promoting Poultrygeist). They had a stereotypical old lady receptionist who was the most polite thing that I met in New York (2nd place: that old guy at that Thai restaurant in Bay Ridge that constantly purred in a low-volume mumble). Above the receptionist’s desk (think Jeanine from Ghostbusters, but older with less whine), was the famed penis monster from Tromeo and Juliet and The Toxic Avenger IV (feel free to Google image search the penis monster at your own leisure; I would venture that any and all penis monsters that you do encounter will not be safe for work).
The rest of the staff was a combination of geek and crass that I had only seen at rare opportunes in the wild. Crazed geeks, with gaunt mental complexions and jokes involving sodomy with the Gollum hand puppet that accompanied pre-orders of the deluxe boxed-set of the Twin Towers. They were all working for about $200 a week. I’m sure you’ve heard anecdotally at some point about the cost of living in New York. If you haven’t, you may very well be reading this on a gilded monitor in the middle of a ball. Your ballroom is stuffed with golden asbestos, effectively insulating you culturally and intellectually from any monetary concerns.
I did not stay at Troma long (on my last day, the webmaster mistook me for a fan taking a tour of Troma’s office, which I kind of was), but it propelled me to local celebrity status with like-minded folk back home. It also gave me ammunition for small talk in bars. To keep things snappy, I would tell people that I spent most of my time mopping up blood (I did actually mop up some fake blood: syrup-based, not latex). I had a long talk with a friend of a friend one time at bar, who was keenly interested because one of her friends posed as a Tromette, the pin-up girls that adorn the Troma website and other promotional materials. The conversation quickly turned from amiable to creepy when I revealed that I had a picture of her friend posing erotically in a coffin with bloodied gauze on my desktop.
- Mister Andy Lavender