| Lloyd Kaufman will be touring
with Troma films throughout the month of April and if
youve been very good, maybe hell be coming to a
theater near you. SXSW 2002 featured a retrospective of nearly
30 years of Troma-mania, showing The Toxic Avenger, Class
Of Nuke Em High, Tromeo And Juliet, and 1999s
Citizen Toxie. Staffer Clint Davis spent a very busy
post-panel half-hour with Troma Entertainment founder, director
CD: I guess the first question would be, how is life
for Lloyd Kaufman?
LK: Well, life in Tromaville
has been interesting and extremely emotional. Very intense.
Were always running on three flat tires. Troma has never
been more successful from the point of view of fame, but it
is harder and harder to get our movies to our fans, due to
the fact that the media industry has become such a cartel
of five or six devil-worshipping international conglomerates.
But having said that, the fact that I who clearly am not 22
years old anymore, the fact that I have been able to direct
30-some-odd movies, and that Troma now owns 950 negatives,
cant be that, you know. Thats pretty cool. And
that a movie like Citizen Toxie gets made, a movie
that has abortion. A movie that has school shootings been
satirized, satire of the Columbine shootings. A movie that
satirizes the dragging of a Afro-American behind a pickup
truck on a chain. The fact that that movie got made, that
makes me very happy. Its a miracle that a film, in a
day, in an age of homogenization, in an age of What Women
Want, of $60 million boring pablum baby food movies, the
fact that Troma is still able to make the kind of movies that
we want to make, thats a miracle.
CD: You mention Citizen Toxie. A lot of people
have said that Terror Firmer, your last movie, was
the definitive Troma masterpiece. How do you personally feel
that Citizen Toxie holds up to that?
LK: Well certainly Terror Firmer, which was
based Terror Firmer was inspired by my book,
All I Need To Know About Filmmaking I Learned From The
Toxic Avenger Terror Firmer was probably
my most personal film. But I think Citizen Toxie is
a better film
LK: I think the script is, well you will judge.
But the script is a lot better I believe. And by the way,
do you need photos or slides?
CD: We got tons in our press kit actually. Thank you.
LK: Its all the movies that we make we feel
very fervent about and we love them. And obviously Citizen
Toxie is two years of my life, or three years of my life,
and right now, I think its the best film that Troma
has made thus far.
CD: Well all right. Thats great.
LK: In fact I get upset because people keep calling
in Toxic Avenger Part Four, and really Id rather
it be called Citizen Toxie because when you hear about
sequels very often you feel "well its not going
to be as good as the original." Citizen Toxie
is really, I think, better than the first Toxic Avenger,and
it takes more chances. It has more social issues. It definitely
has more sex and violence. And I think its more of a
personal statement about American society.
CD: Would you say that this is the film that really
represents you as a filmmaker? Would you want this to be the
one that, if someone said "Id like to see a Lloyd
Kaufman film," do you think this would be the one that
you would pick?
LK: Well I think if someone wants to see a Lloyd Kaufman
movie I would take the most recent film that Ive made.
I would always do that.
LK: Well, just if someone is interested in seeing
where I am now, in my so-called artistic career. I hate to
use that word, but I think Citizen Toxie probably reflects,
I mean my movies are, the quote in, like Claude Chabrol
and the American Cinematheque and the American Film Institute,
they refer to me as one of the very few genuine American auteur
CD: Id certainly say that was true.
LK: And if that is true, the most recent work would
reflect my current emotional state or current state of my
soul, whatever. So I think Citizen Toxieall my
movies are very personal. Tromeo and Juliet is extremely
personal. I mean they all are as a body of work, they all
give you a pretty good eye into my soul. My wife now says
that Toxie is actually me, that she sees the Toxic Avenger...
you know Toxie gets older in each movie and she feels that
thats basically my autobiography, is the Toxic Avenger
story. And I think shes correct.
CD: You have very strong feelings against what you
call the devil-worshipping multinational conglomerates. Do
you feel that theres any benefit to making a movie within
the studio system or do you feel that your way is the way?
LK: I have nothing against making movies within the
mainstream. In fact, there are people like Trey Parker
whose Cannibal: The Musical was distributed as a Troma
movie. Cannibal: The Musical is a wonderful movie.
Trey Parker is a wonderful person. Trey Parker wants to be
mainstream, he wants to make a lot of money, he wants to be
famous. But hes going to be a good influence on the
mainstream because hes a decent person, hes a
true artist, hes a genius. And he knows how to manipulate
the system for himself. I cant do that. I am no good
at it. Ive tried. Its not that I havent
tried to work with the big boys, and they usually are big
white boys, but I cant do it. James Gunn, with
whom I wrote Tromeo and Juliet and who was in large
part responsible for the success of All I Need To Know
About Filmmaking I Learned From The Toxic Avenger, hes
a great guy. Hes writing Scooby Doo now. I think
Scooby Doo will be a good movie because James, if Scooby
Doo is a good movie, which is kind of a miracle, you knowits
a sixty, eighty million dollar Hollywood movieits
because of James Gunn. I think hes a good guy, hes
a decent artist, and he will have a good influence on the
mainstream. Hes not going to fuck anybody. He will not
name names the Elia Kazan did. He will not copy, plagiarize.
He will play by the rules of our Lord Jesus Christ, which
is really, if you can do that and if you become a success
in the mainstream, God bless you. Why not? Make a hundred
million bucks. I mean hey, Im all for it, I just couldnt
do it. What I object to is people selling their souls. Thats
their business but I see too many filmmakers who have sold
their souls and then have been discarded like an old glove.
They make one movie, two movies, even the ones whove
been successful, five years later theyre pounding a
beat in Brooklyn somewhere. Theyve been taken off the
force. [sees a passerby] Hey thanks! Hey, howre you
doing, Carla? This is Carla. Carla this is Clint.
conversation with Carla about Kaufmans interest in
meeting Peter Bogdanovich
LK: I did a movie, I acted in a movie called Waiting.
Therere lots of directors whore obviously introduced
by Troma. Now theyre starting to make it so they stick
me in their movie. Treys done it a couple of times.
And a number of these younger directors
CD: Mann, I believe you wrote
LK: Yeah, thats right. Troma has influenced
a lot of these directors around the world. In fact these guys
who did, big Japanese film, I cant remember the title,
but they wanted me to come to Japan in April to be in a movie
there. So thats nice.
CD: Thats great. Youve got a new book
coming out. Your first one was a fantastic book, I thought.
As you mentioned, a lot of that was due to James Gunn, but
yourself as well, and would you tell us a little bit about
the new one?
LK: The new book is called Make Your Own Damn Movie,
and it will be, Ive turned it in. Its going to
come out at Christmas through St. Martins Press. I think
you guys are probably the first, I dont think too many
people know about it.
CD: I hadnt heard about it until just the other
LK: Well they havent started publicizing. I
just turned it in. And Make Your Own Damn Movie will
be a soup-to-nuts exposition of how Troma has raised the money,
you know, all the questions that those people in the panel
are asking about filmmakinghow to do itare answered
in my book, in detail. Great detail. And also Make Your
Own Damn Movie will detail how to sell your own damn movie
too, will talk about what we do at the Cannes Film Festival.
And we will show that anybody can do what we do. If you read
Make Your Own Damn Movie, you should be motivated and
inspired to at least think about making your own independent
movie and distributing your own independent movie. And too
many of these how-to-make-your-own-movie books are made by
people who have never made a movie. Theyre by people
who are teaching, whatever, and this... You cannot write about
it. You have to actually make a movie. The stuff that goes
on on location filming, pre-production, post-production, editing.
I had prepared a lot, three tapes for that seminar. I wish
I couldve shown them because I think it wouldve
sparked some inspiration. How Troma solves problems. Lets
say you have to dub. They mentioned sound in there. Sound
is very very important. Mark is absolutely right, or
Chris Gore, he said that sound is maybe 50 percent
of your movie? Hes right. But if you have bad dialogue
and you want to dub new dialogue, you dont have to go
to a expensive dubbing studio where they charge you three
or four, how much hundreds of dollars an hour? Troma
Woman, passing: Great talk!
LK: Hey, thanks a lot. Thank you! [aside] Nice ass.
I had a scene, we went to a lot of trouble to create this
little how-to-do-your-own-dubbing thing and what we do at
Troma. But whatre you going to do? I had a scene about
location filming. I dont know why he wouldnt let
me show it. It was two minutes. We had a scene where, from
Terror Firmer,where a kids head is covered in
special effects mold so he cannot see, hear, smell, talk,
and hes totally naked. A fat kid with a small penis,
totally naked he has to run through Times Square. On the surface
that would look like an impossible feat. Times Square is the
most populous and densely trafficked place in the world, perhaps,
at least in the Americas. And we did it. I wanted to illustrate
that. I have a short piece that explains how to do that. I
had another short piece that explains how to do a certain
special effect that I think would have opened up a lot of
doors for people, but instead they wanted to go with these
long-winded [untelligible], and Im sorry about that.
CD: I hope at some point we can get to see something
LK: Well, maybe at the next panel. Maybe at the Lloyd
Kaufman panel, I can show some of this stuff. [Note: He did,
and it was fab.]
CD: Also youve got TromaDance is coming up.
I believe the deadline for submissions is in December. Do
you want to talk about that a little?
LK: The TromaDance film festival, the best of TromaDance.
Let me just pee for a second... Hey, howre you doing?
Let me pee. [to newcomers] Could you guys talk a bit about
TromaDance? [to Clint] He made Cornman, among other
things. These guys are Texas Troma proteges. And maybe you
guys could talk a little bit about Troma and you guys, and
also TromaDance and what went on there, and let me just run
and pee, okay?
CD: Knock yourself out.
Kaufman goes off to pee. The Texas Troma proteges turn out
not to have played TromaDance Film Festival, but describe
their upcoming project, Caged She-Bitch Cage at length.
LK: Theres a full-length documentary. On the
Terror Firmer DVD theres a 95-minute documentary
called Farts Of Darkness: The Making Of Terror Firmer.
And its a very unvarnished look at how a Troma moviethe
pain and suffering that goes into an independent, low-budget
CD: I have not watched that. I own the Terror Firmer
DVD but I have not watched that part of it yet.
LK: I should have recommended it. Again, that fucking
panel, I thought that was really, it was impossible to say
anything useful because one guy just kept rambling on and
on and on and on. Maybe it was useful, I dont know.
CD: I guess the last question I would ask is, what
is next for Lloyd Kaufman and Troma? Other than the book that
youve already mentioned.
LK: Well right now I will probably go back to my hotel
room. They have porno films there.
CD: I understand.
LK: And theyve got one thats called Four-Finger
something-or-other that apparently is only...
CD: I hear four is better than, say, three...
LK: Well, I dont know. Its a lesbian one
and four-fingers, apparentlyThe Four-Finger Club
its called. It looks real good. So Ill probably
go masturbate and thats whats next for Lloyd Kaufman.
CD: And cinematically speaking, what would be next?
LK: [whistles at passing femme]Tromette! Well, were
developing a new script which will deal with the fast-food
industry, be kind of an anti-globalization movie. It will
also involve the environmental phonies. The Native Americans
and in a nutshell it will be a zombie movie that harkens back
to the classic Romero, 1970s, and DArgento
kind of feel rather than this glib crap that Disneys
putting out, like Scary Movie and that stuff. So were
going to have a movie that will be in a nutshell in a fast-food
chicken restaurant built on the site of a sacred Indian burial
ground. And the Indian ghosts go into the chickens and the
chickens become zombies.
CD: Certainly breaking new ground I think.
LK: Well it will be zombie chickens, and were
going to try to use a lot of puppets, too so that we might
not have to use too many actors. And the chickens and the
zombies, we will call the movie Poultrygeist.
CD: Poultrygeist. Sounds like a classy affair.
LK: It will be. It should be a good Troma movie. Well
have a lot of, as all our movies the theme will [unintelligible]
and what you in the media would call "sex and violence."
CD: All right well Mr. Kaufman, I appreciate you sitting
down with us. Again, its an honor for us and our magazine,
and for me as well.
LK: Well thank you very much.
CD: And I appreciate it.