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The 20 Best Troma Movies Ever Made

16 August 2016 | Features, Film Lists | by James Leon

best troma movies

Founded by Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Hers in 1974, Troma Entertainment is an American production and distribution company known for low budget films also known as Z-movies, a much lower grade of the B-movie genre. Their content has an abundance of exploitation themes, such as nudity, violence, gore, anarchistic humor and social commentary. Their slogan is “Movies of the Future” through the use of automatistic and surrealistic themes with “shock-ploitation” tactics.

In addition to Making Their Own Damn Movies*, they have distributed many low budget films from before the company had existed, such as “Astro-Zombies, “I Spit On Your Corpse” and “Angels’ Wild Women”. Also, launching the early films of Billy Bob Thornton (“Chopper Chicks in Zombietown”), Vanna White (“Graduation Day”), J.J. Abrams (“Nightbeast”), Marisa Tormei (“Toxic Avenger”), Vincent D’Onofrio (“The First Turn-On!”) and many more.

The following list contains 20 of their better and most popular releases, in chronological order. Troma has made several features available in their entirety on Youtube, Shudder and other online streaming channels. Many are still available on VHS, DVD and Blu-ray. While their twisted tales, perverse humor and gratuitous gore many not appeal to the more conservative audiences, Troma maintains a devoted following of equally deranged fanatics.

* A play on the Troma book also by Kaufman, Make Your Own Damn Movie, published in 2003.

 

1. The Battle of Love’s Return (1971) (Watch on Youtube)

The Battle of Love’s Return (1971)

Abacrombie (Lloyd Kaufman) is inept delivery boy who lives in a dingy basement and works for Mr. Crumb (Stanley Kaufman). When he fails to deliver a package, he is consequently fired. He the embarks on a journey of self-discovery and hopes to gain the affection of a beautiful coffee shop waitress, his Dream Girl (Lynn Lowery in her screen debut).

During his quest, Abacrombie encounters harassment from a street poet, an elderly lady, a preacher, a bratty little girl, a psychiatrist, and hippies. Upon being rejected by everybody, he joins the army.

After the release of his student film “The Girl Who Returned” in 1969, two years later Lloyd Kaufman wrote, directed and co-produced “The Battle of Love’s Return”. Unlike features later released by Troma, this contains no profanity, nudity or violence.

Various characters are introduced in black and white sequences in a quasi-documentary style. Oliver Stone has an acting cameo and also worked as an assistant director. The feature was well received while Lloyd’s acting was compared to Mel Brooks and Woody Allen.

 

2. Mad Dog Morgan (1976) (Watch on Youtube)

Mad Dog Morgan (1976)

1850s in Australia, a former patriot from Ireland, Daniel Morgan (Dennis Hopper) has intentions of striking it rich during the Gold Rush. After witnessing a massacre of Chinese people in the goldfields, he turns to a life of crime and upon being apprehended, he is sentenced to twelve years of hard labor. In prison, Morgan is systematically abused and raped, then after serving six years, he is released on good behavior.

Once back on the outside, he becomes a bushranger and befriends an aboriginal named Billy (David Gulpilil). Inevitably, the two become local heroes, but the wealthy and politically powerful want them captured or killed.

Based on a true story and the book Morgan by Margaret Carnegie, “Mad Dog Morgan” was written and directed by Philippe Mora. Shot in Australia in many of the same locations where Daniel Morgan was active, including the cave he hid in. Considered by many to be one Hopper’s best dramatic roles, but had disappointing box office totals.

While Troma’s VHS and DVD editions were initially heavily edited, they released an uncut double DVD set in 2009.

 

3. Blood Sucking Freaks (1976)

Blood Sucking Freaks (1976)

In an underground New York theatre, Master Sardu (Seamus O’Brien) and his dwarf assistant, Ralphus (Louis De Jesus) preside over ceremonies of the macabre that feature torture and mutilation. Many perceive the performances as fraudulent, including a prominent critic.

Behind the scenes, Sardu and Ralphus carry on with the torturing of women for their own amusement and sell many into sexual slavery. Eventually, the theatre master kidnaps a ballerina, Natasha (Viju Krem), with the hopes that it will give his production some artistic legitimacy.

Written and directed by Joel M. Reed, it was shot under the title “Sardu: Master of the Screaming Virgins” and then retitled “The Incredible Torture Show”. When Troma acquired distribution rights, they renamed it “Blood Sucking Freaks”. Although receiving many negative reviews in addition to controversy for graphic and sexualized violence towards women, the film has developed a cult following for its tongue-in-cheek campy humor.

 

4. Mother’s Day (1980)

Mother’s Day (1980)

After a self-help meeting graduation, an apparently kind old lady offers a ride to a hippy couple. While driving through the woods, they plot to rob her and steal the car. When it stalls, two male assailants emerge from the trees and attack the hippies. The men, Ike (Fredrick Coffin/Holden McGuire) and Addley (Robert “Bobby’ Collins) are the sons of the old woman called Mother (Rose Ross/Beatrice Pons).

Meanwhile, college friends Abbey (Nancy Hendrickson), Jackie (Deborah Luce) and Trina (Tiana Pierce) are reuniting for a camping trip, not far from the dilapidated house belonging to Mother and her two sons. Late at night, the three women are abducted by Ike and Addley who torture them for their Mother’s amusement.

Directed by Lloyd’s brother, Charles Kaufman, with a script co-written with Warren Leight, “Mother’s Day” was banned in the UK, then finally released on DVD in 2015. Many critics despised the film, including Roger Ebert who gave it zero stars and called it disgusting.

Regardless, it is a cult classic and often over-looked. In 2010, it was remade by Darren Lynn Bousman (“Repo! The Genetic Opera) and starring Rebecca De Mornay in the lead role.

 

5. Combat Shock (1984) (Watch on Youtube)

Combat Shock (1984)

Unemployable Vietnam veteran Frankie (Ricky Gionvinazzo) is incredibly haunted and still traumatized by service during the war. Back at home in New York City, he, his pregnant wife and their six-month-old mutant son live in a squalor apartment. He argues with his wife and their neighborhood is full of junkies and thieves.

He calls his father to ask for money, but his dad is convinced that his son died in Saigon. After being jumped by thugs, Frankie kills them and gets lost a hallucinatory flashback. He considers suicide, but realizes that he must save his family.

“Combat Shock” was directed, written, edited and produced by Buddy Giovinazzo and casting his brother Ricky (who scored the music) in the lead role. It’s a gritty action-packed drama about the Vietnam War, Agent Orange affected veterans and the horrors of returning to civilian life in America.

While it received mixed reviews, Lloyd Kaufman considers it to one of Troma’s “True Masterpieces”. In 2009, the “Tromasterpiece” Collection released a two DVD uncut version with the original work-print title “American Nightmares”.

 

6. The Toxic Avenger (1984) 

revenge TheToxicAvenger-Still2

At a health club in Tromaville, New Jersey, Melvin (Mark Torgl) is janitor and the brunt of harassment from many of the members. Sadistic vehicular manslaughters, Bozo, Slug, Wanda and Julie, decide to play a prank on him and upon being chased around the health club, he dives out of a window, landing into drum of toxic waste.

Melvin is smoldered in flames and runs home to take a bath. His body begins to mutate, transforming into a disfigured monster with superhuman strength. From that moment on, the Toxic Avenger (Mitch Cohen) is born with a mission to punish criminals including the corrupt mayor and saving the lives of the innocent.

Directed by Michael Herz and Samuel Weil (aka Lloyd Kaufman), “The Toxic Avenger” became Troma’s first successful film, despite being ignored upon its release in 1984. It spawned three sequels, a stage production musical, a Marvel Comic and an animated children’s television series.

The Monster aka Toxie became Troma’s mascot and usually turns up at various film festivals. There have been discussions of doing a more family-friendly PG-13 remake, with Arnold Schwarzenegger (whom dropped out to make “Terminator Genisys”), but nothing yet has become of it.

 

 

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  • Nate Barrett

    Honorable Mention: Dinner for Schmucks. Remake wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t charming and brilliant like the French original.

    • V.C. Privitera

      I’m still trying to figure out how the flick even got greenlit (the Remake, I mean)…the whole thing is just awful!

    • Therese

      well, now had I seen this I wouldn’t have had to comment 🙂

  • Guido Von M

    I really liked uninvited, although i haven’t seen the asian one. Also, I think you forgot american version of The Experiment.

    • FAS

      Then you are clearly missing out a really creepy horror, as well as one of the most appealing Korean thrillers.

    • Rudi

      Agree, I really like The Uninvited as well. Partly because I’m a big fan of Emily Browning.

  • Tony Harrison

    No mention of The Vanishing?…I`d also give Honorable Mentions to `The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo` and (stretching `foreign` to the limit to include UK) Get Carter

    • Mortimer

      ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ was actually in the same league as original (maybe even better). And it’s not a remake, only new movie adaptation of the book.
      On the other hand, ‘The Departed’ , although very good movie, sucks compared to ‘Internal Affairs’.

      • V.C. Privitera

        I would say “Internal Affairs” is just too hard for us “Americans” (or majority) to follow along…it’s very quick and fast and makes the viewer really have to follow the story extremely closely….
        I view “The Departed” as just a similar idea, but NOT a full-on Remake of the Original….mainly cause it’s closely related to the Whitey Bulger story, which up to that point had yet to be exploited for any cinematic purposes…..at least til “Black Mass.”
        And I fuckin’ LOVE “Black Mass.” You just need to watch the film more and give it a shot and you’ll see it’s genius…I think most people, including myself had immense expectations going into the Johnny Depp film, hoping for something that was going to be more explosive, but that’s NOT the story nor the actual events….but I think “Black Mass” is an underrated Masterpiece of Cinema within the “Gangster-Genre,” maybe over the years people will start to appreciate the film more and quit with all the Johnny Depp hate!
        Anyways, I personally think that what makes “The Departed,” great is the Characters/Performances….specifically Leonardo DiCaprio….remember he’s pretty much completely alone the whole time and paranoid as a motherfucker whether he’s pinched by the very gangsters he’s spying on, or that he’s facing death every waking moment….and I feel DiCaprio expresses these kinds of overly mixed emotions tremendously.
        Jack Nicholson is perfect for his role, cause he’s JACK fuckin’ NICHOLSON!!!
        I also remember thinking to myself, after the 1st viewing, how much I despised Matt Damon’s character…or even just his acting in the film…BUT! Then after more viewings, I realized, that’s what the story entails; Damon’s character, unlike all his other film credits, is a personification of playing the “Bad-Guy,” and now I think he’s really great in the film.
        Martin Sheen is one of my personal favorites in this film, he doesn’t have much screen-time, but for the time allotted, especially when it’s just him and DiCaprio onscreen; you can see the sincerity of his character…a sort of Father-Figure for DiCaprio’s character as DiCaprio is unraveling piece by piece.
        As much as I would love to hate on Alec Baldwin, (on a personal level) he really is a great actor and can play some shyster tough guy roles quite well and I really enjoyed his performance in this film as well.
        I remember having the same issue with “The Departed” as I did with “Black Mass,” going in with expectations already built-up as this film being a utter masterpiece that can do no wrong, but I was quite disappointed and it took many more viewings and even years for myself to truly ignore my original preconceived judgement surrounding the film….it’s one of those things, when a film of this caliber and especially ensemble cast/crew come together for something like “The Departed” in Modern Day, it’s incredibly hard to ignore all the “Hype” that fans and critics alike assert towards the film making the feature out to be one of the Greatest Film’s Ever….UGH!
        Just watch the film without any prejudice and if you still hate the thing, then well, guess that’s the beauty of artistic-taste, it’s based on Individual-Views!

        • Mortimer

          I had different experience with ‘The Departed’. Actually loved the movie back in 2006-2007. but on repeat viewings my impression pretty much dropped. Yeah, it’s surely one of better DiCaprio’s performances (great improvement after his similar but almost embarrassing turn in ‘Gangs of New York’) but he often overacts in some scenes to the point of being annoying. In the end, I didn’t care for his character at all. Nicholson plays evil parody of himself, suitable more for some black comedy. Scorsese’s direction is inconsistent. It seems that he couldn’t decide if he is making crime thriller or parody of it. Many more reasons. And yes…Vera Farmiga’s acting is annoying through the whole movie.

          • V.C. Privitera

            HAHAHA, I actually thought that “The Departed” is when Vera Farmiga officially became “Fuckable!”
            Still, I get your opinion, especially on the film as a whole….people hyped the film up too much before I viewed it the first time, hence why it took years to grow on me.

    • Yeaaah, Cam Giganet is a succes harbinger 😛

    • V.C. Privitera

      I do get a kick out of the poor performances though from the Remake for “The Vanishing”….it’s pretty lame, but yet hysterical! Guess, you gotta be stoned to get that point:)

  • danielin

    I was expecting “my sassy girl” in #1.

  • Carlos Cordero Madrigal

    SOLARIS, for Chtulu’s sake!

    • Technically, it’s not really a remake but rather a different interpretation of the novel the film is based on and it should be noted that Stanislaw Lem didn’t like Soderbergh’s version nor Tarkovsky’s version.

  • I really love Brolin, especially after No country for Old Men, but Old Boy remake was just a crap…

    • Deadly_Moogly

      Can’t agree with you and honestly, I do not understand the hate for this remake.

      I know the trilogy is considered cult (especially Old Boy), but sincerely, I found the American version very solid. I mean, of course it doesn’t deserve the respect and esteem of the original, but damn, I see 5 movies each weak that are worst than Lee’s Old Boy. It is a pretty good movie with pretty good performances, action and disturbing scenes, and a Grand Finale to remember.

      I have to say I watched the original trilogy after Spike Lee’s movie… but I’m pretty sure my appreciation of the movie would have been the same!

      PS City of Angles wasn’t that bad and the original score is just amazing, even better than Gattaca

  • V.C. Privitera

    I agree with everything……EXCEPT!!!
    * Now gimme a bit of room for argument for debate’s sake! 🙂
    “City of Angels”…..
    Yes, I said it goddamn it! Believe me, it’s NOT for any nostalgic reasons and most definitely not because of the fuckin’ Sara Mlachlan’s “animal abuse” commercial song that rode the billboard charts like a tidal wave when the flick came out.
    I’m NOT comparing the film to it’s Original Wim Wender’s feature, by any means…but I am saying it is actually a pretty decent and swell picture, considering the fact it is a “remake,” it could’ve been 1,000 times worst and just as bad as say “Wicker Man,” which I don’t think anybody could argue or debate being the all-time #1 choice…
    But, “City of Angels” actually is a pretty touching tale with decent or semi-decent performances….especially from actors like Dennis Franz, which this became one of his last Film Credits to date and he does a very awesome job, considering he’s more known for playing the angry brute cop (NYPD Blue).
    I also saw this film when I when it came out and I was just 13-14 years old….and even though I was in the mix of absorbing cinema’s greats like Scorsese’s films “Mean Streets,” “Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull,” “Goodfellas,” etc….along with watching Coppola’s sensational “Godfather,” “Godfather Pt. II,” this little remake of a chick-flick seemed to resonate within my senses at the time and I still think the film holds up…..
    If you honestly put aside or ignore (which I know is incredibly impossible to ask any film-buff too do so) the original film by Wim Wenders, and give this film a chance….or say if you’ve never even seen the original, then watch this first and then watch the original, that way it’s not going to play off biased preconceived notions.
    People seem to HATE on Nicolas Cage, like he had NEVER had a decent set of Career Hits amongst his many credits (not counting his present post-IRS Money-Making choices he’s squandering within now with god knows what?)
    But back in the 90s, Cage was a Hit-Maker….he made some pretty solid films, especially starting off 1990 with one of my absolute favorite films ever:
    David Lynch’s “Wild at Heart.”
    Sure, he’s got that California-Surfer persona that can be a bit meh….and not to mention his attempt at accents (ouch!!!), I think Cage will do something soon enough and finally be able to flip-off the naysayers and haters enough to at least reach some kind of respectable limit or peak!
    Keanu Reeves did it recently with “John Wick,” so if Reeves can do it, then I’m sure Cage can himself. He did a decent job with “Joe,” but I still think his more underrated feature that should get more attention is “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans,” directed by Werner Herzog…
    and while it’s supposedly a fuckin’ REMAKE of Abel Ferrera’s infamous “Bad Lieutenant,” (that’s a whole other discussion to jabber about), I think Cage brings a gritty grinding grandiose performance to the table with what he did in “Bad Lieutenant.”
    So, I say wait til you’ve lost all your $$$$$$$$$ to the IRS and be stuck with either living in “our normal society” after living in Paradise for all those years Cage did, making hit film after hit film, then shut the fuck up and who cares what he does or makes:
    If you don’t like it….then don’t watch it!
    DUH!
    NOW LET THE THUMBS DOWN BEGIN!!!!!!!

  • Speedbird_9

    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. IMO, poorly cast and vastly overrated.

    • V.C. Privitera

      I refuse to watch the remake….too soon and seriously: NOT NEEDED!

      • Mortimer

        Too soon as ‘The Departed’ after ‘Internal Affairs’ ?
        TGWTDT is not remake. I advise you to watch movie without prejudice and be objective.

        • V.C. Privitera

          I might be Italian, but I’m also Swedish (Dangerous Combo)….and you don’t fuck with our SHIT!

          “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…………or fuckin make an Americanized Version”

          “The Departed” gets a pass, cause as I explained the stories differ from each other in that “The Departed” incorporates the “Whitey Bulger/Winter Hill Gang” aspects of South Boston, that at the time had NOT been presented onscreen, yet.

          • Mortimer

            Ha ha. When someone mix Italy and Sweden the first thing that comes to my mind is…Anita Ekberg. And also great Swedish football players from 1950s (Green, Nordhal, Liedholm, Skoglund – all from big Italian clubs).

          • V.C. Privitera

            HAHAHAHA!!!!
            You make me laugh Mortimer….but you also seem to forget the Artist-Realm of Italian-Swedish:
            Isabella Rossellini…..shit, even Edie Falco from The Sopranos is Half Italian/Swedish.
            I will add more to this list to prove this mix of Heritage is immaculate in all it’s exquisite form!
            😉

    • Mortimer

      Wrong. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is not a remake; it’s just a US adaptation of the novel. And it’s a very well done movie. Poorly cast ? Not at all. Why people act like the Swedish adaptation is some great piece of cinema ?

      • Therese

        I think they’re both good but I feel Noomi Rapace was a much better version of Salander. Rooney Mara was sullen and anti-social but you could feel the seemingly contradictory mixture of utter hatred and disconnected disdain burning off Rapace’s portrayal.

  • V.C. Privitera

    ‘Oldboy” –
    You know, I gotta funny story about this film, I was one of the very few that actually wanted to see this film…..before you rip my tongue out, let me just say that I knew the remake would NOT be anywhere in the same ballpark as the Original….I just wanted to see what Spike Lee, of all the fuckin’ filmmakers to take the Modern-Classic on, I would’ve NEVER expected Lee to be the one to take on the project!
    Anyways, I went to the theatre to see the film, but the times were all mixed up and the flick didn’t play for another 4-5hours….
    So, I decided to go and watch Ridley Scott’s “The Counselor,”
    hahahahaha…..
    I’ve never been that uncomfortable and actually felt sorry for everyone cast member and crew involved on such a horrendous D-Movie flick!
    I mean, you want to talk about having an all-star cast, a first-time film-script by now renowned Literary Author: Cormac McCarthy, and one of the very Best of Filmmakers behind the Camera:
    What Can Go Wrong?
    EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I couldn’t believe the two older ladies in the audience walked out of the damn movie saying, “wow, that was really great….”
    It was one of the biggest buzzkill features I’ve ever had to torture myself with….if the Gov’t ever wants to torture people to get information….I say, STOP Blasting “Ministry” for hours on end (cause that’s actually a good-time), but play “The Counselor” like “A Clockwork Orange” style and you’re welcome: Goodbye Terrorism!
    HAHAHAHA!

  • Ted Wolf

    I would put a couple of my own: Birdcage and The Man With One Red Shoe

  • Jimi LaMort

    IMHO top 4 Recent Worst American Remakes of Great Foreign Movies
    1. Pulse (Jim Sonzero, 2006) the remake of KAIRO (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2001).
    2. We Are What We Are (Jim Mickle, 2013) – Somos Lo Que Hay (Jorge Michel Grau, 2010)
    3. Let Me In (Matt Reeves, 2010) – Låt Den Rätte Komma In (Tomas Alfredson, 2008)
    4. Martyrs (Kevin Goetz, Michael Goetz 2015) – Martyrs (Pascal Laugier, 2008)

    • Rudi

      IMO Let Me In is a better movie than the original. The first time I watched the Swedish one I was very impressed because I didn’t know the story yet. With every rewatch though the movie gets more boring because of the dull cinematography and camera movement.

      The remake makes up a lot in that department. I also like the romantic feel the dark, warm images bring with them.

      Even Moretz isn’t terrible for once. 😉

  • Javier Mazza

    The secret in her eyes. The argentinean movie is really amazing (won the Oscar for best foreign film) but somehow they managed to turn the american version into a kind of really bad episode of How to get away with murder

  • Therese

    The Dinner Game and the horrible Steve Carell remake Dinner for Schmucks

  • Abhishek

    Secret in their eyes

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