Tales from the Crapper (2004)
By: Devon B. on June 16, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
Stomp Visual (Australia). All Regions, NTSC. 4:3. English DD 2.0. 97 minutes
The Movie
Credits
Director: Flabe Griedman, Chad Ferrin, David Paiko,Brian Spitz
Starring: Julie Strain, Lloyd Kaufman, Kevin Eastman, Jorge Garcia, James Gunn
Screenplay: Mark C. Adams, Adam Jahnke
Country: USA
A few years ago, Troma released what I still consider to be the best DVD of all time, Citizen Toxie. An entertaining film, with so many worthwhile extras it redefined 'collector's edition,' and all at a really reasonable price. So, it was with much anticipation I awaited the next DVD release of a Troma helmed film (as opposed to those they acquire the rights for). That film was Julie Strain's Tales From the Crapper.

Julie Strain's Tales From the Crapper was a real labour to bring to the small screen. The film was originally meant to be two movies for the short lived Tromaville website. Directed by India Allen, the two films turned out to be incoherent shit. Not only that, but the two films were quite expensive by Troma standards, costing somewhere around $100,000 each. Obviously, Troma is not a studio to spend money, let alone squander it. To get something back, Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, and his cohorts tried to salvage the footage in post production, and even did some reshooting. I did not know all this going in, but the mess that the film is makes more sense if you know that beforehand.

The disc begins with nudity. Literally, you press play, and you get a topless woman. Now, THAT is a good start! The nudity is part of the intro with Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger and 'Michael Herz' (re: Joe Fleishaker playing Herz). The intro pretends to explain why the following movie is shot on video. The intro has the usual cheese, but also some funny, utterly tasteless, jokes.

Tales starts with Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, dressed as The Crapkeeper. This is without question the most expensive, elaborate Troma costume to date. Just imagine all the money Troma must've spent to make it look like The Crapkeeper was just a guy with a rubbish bag on his head! James Gunn, currently winning over genre fans' hearts with his movie Slither, arrives to discuss a movie deal with The Crapkeeper, and then we cut to the first tale in this anthology.

The first story is entitled The Case of the Melon Heavy Alien Man Eater. An alien crash lands, and runs around muttering. The alien sounds an awful lot like Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, being back-masked. Anyway, the alien is looking for someplace where it can raise money to repair its ship and also kill Earthlings at the same time. Naturally, it heads to a strip club. When the alien's murder spree begins, tough cop Julie Strain starts tracking it.

Despite a few jokes 'borrowed' from The Simpsons; Teenage Mutant Ninja Creator, and real life Mr. Strain, Kevin Eastman in a bit part; and a man being killed with his own cock, there's not a lot going on here. The Case of the Melon Heavy Alien Man Eater remains a confusing, jumbled mess, perhaps having TOO MUCH added to try to clarify the confusing, jumbled footage Troma had to work with. There is a series of narrators, who I guess are explaining gaps in the 'story.' The problem is that with virtually everything being poorly ADRed, the narrators only add to the confusion. There are some ADRed jokes as well, but most of these are fart noises. A lot of the ADR 'clarification' actually makes things harder to follow, because with the sound so cluttered and poorly mixed, it's hard to tell who's talking. The most amusing bits of this segment are the ones with the least amount of post-tinkering.

However, because Troma knew the movie was shit, they included something called 'Boner Vision.' Boner Vision is a popup screen within the film that features nudity, and it appears frequently in this segment. This actually DID its job, and distracted me from how bad the movie was.

The end tally for The Case of the Melon Heavy Alien Man Eater is lesbians, cheap as fuck gore, those funny newsmen from Citizen Toxie, and more naked flesh than ever before. I will never watch this section again without commentary, though.

After that ordeal, Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, comes back to essentially do a mini version of his Make Your Own Damn Movie project. He shows the viewer how to create a memorable lesbian, trannie, Fleishaker, splatter scene.

Then it's on to the second story of this anthology, called Tuition of the Terror Twat. Subtle. This time, Strain is a vampire stripper. When a guy has trouble getting into college, his friends set up a risky business, holding a stripper party to raise tuition. Unfortunately, they use Strain and her friends, which results in orgy of violence, rather than the type of orgy they were no doubt hoping for.

Tuition of the Terror Twat is the section that benefited the most from the reshoots, and is far better than the mini-movie that preceded it. This segment starts out with more and better gore than the entire first one, and has the BEST dig at George W. Bush I've ever seen. What really helps this section is that rather than try to make it better, Troma totally deconstructs what's happening on screen. Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, plays the parent of the young man who can't get into college, and he keeps calling in to leave messages on the machine and yell about the 'plot.' When it would make no sense for the father's voice to be there, faux commentaries are inserted to completely cover up boring dialogue or to make fun of the footage. Even with narrators explaining, the movie makes no sense, but given The Crapkeeper's on screen response to critics of the film's plot, I just have this to say: Tuition of the Terror Twat is a masterpiece of logic and gentle poise.

This segment features the bulk of the cameos, including Ted Raimi, Ron Jeremy 'look-alike' Ron Hyatt, Count Smokula, and Trey Park…er…Juan Schwartz. This segment also has New Found Glory, which is too bad, because they suck.

I actually enjoyed Tuition, and wouldn't have minded if it had been released as a solo mini-movie. But, if it had been on its own, there'd be far less Boner Vision. It has all the plusses of The Case of the Melon Heavy Alien Man Eater, but is far funnier.
Video
Tales from the Crapper's mini-movies are presented full frame, with wraparounds that are letterboxed. The whole thing is shot on video, but the wraparounds are higher quality video. Both of the movies have video grain, soft images, and there are video glitches in the movies and the wraparounds. There is the occasional artefact, but they're hard to spot because of the lesser video quality. The second mini-movie is slightly clearer than the first.
Audio
The audio is available in a two channel track. Case's audio quality fluctuates, as does the volume, and it suffers from painful ADR. Distortion can occur in either mini-movie, and the overall audio is too loud. Case's audio is very slap shod, but Tuition's is better due to a proper mix. Keep an ear out for recycled Toxic Avenger sounds. The score is actually an eclectic collection, with quite a few funny, original songs.
Extra Features
The best extra, as usual for a Troma disc, is the making of. This making of is shorter than some of Troma's others, at roughly 60 minutes, and actually is based around the reshoot. Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, hosts the making of, and also appears to be filming himself for it. He explains the history of the project, and what went wrong. What's very interesting is that here we get a rare glimpse of Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, in serious business mode. It's also interesting to watch the breakdown of the reshoot, mostly the result of Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, having little control and flat out abandoning the reshoot. The behind the scenes also has bonus footage of Raimi and Schwartz, as well as getting to see Wes Craven, who stopped by the set, and Chad (Unspeakable) Ferrin. One thing I REALLY disliked was the mockery made of Craven by some on set (including Ferrin). Craven was obviously not interested in being filmed, but remained polite, and even contributed $100 to the project. While I don't personally feel it's fair to lump Craven in with Tobe Hooper and John Carpenter as directors who've lost it, I think it's shitty to insult the man after he showed support to their project. But I guess when those on hand aren't even showing respect for their own project, how can they be expected to respect anyone else's? The apathy for the film they were making obviously really upset Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, as well. But then, seems virtually everything on a Troma film set does!

The DVD also has an extra called Julie Strain's Topless Comedy Jam. This is mostly a tour of Strain's house that runs about four minutes long. She freestyles, which is terrible, but is topless for a lot of this feature. This extra isn't funny, and there're no ninjas, turtle or otherwise.

Tales' original trailer and new trailer are both included, as are deleted and extended scenes. These scenes have the two other countries the DVD sleeve boasts about production being filmed in, more gore, extended rabbit fetish footage, an Osama Bin Laden blow job, and more nudity. The Cannibal Lesbian Hoedown video clip that everyone in Tales keeps watching or listening to is here, as well as the web comics.

There are two commentaries. One features Julie Strain; Tuition director Brian Spitz; and Lizzie Strain, Julie's sister. Julie makes bad jokes, seems to think the first half is good, and doesn't know who Ted Raimi is. The track is not particularly informative, though Spitz does provide some details about things, and isn't all that entertaining either. The main commentary is much better, and features Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger; Troma editor Gabe Friedman; and a young man named Timmy they claim is the director. This track is funny and satirical. It's not the normal loving mockery you get from Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, for a movie he was involved with, but is filled with faux praise that is really picking the film apart. I was hoping for a full on breakdown of the breakdown of the film, so maybe someday Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, will record a new track to give us further insight into what went wrong.

The DVD also has some of the usual Troma extras, like ads for the website and Make Your Own Damn Movie. The trailer for Citizen Toxie has been removed for this Australian release, but oddly the trailer for Parts of the Family is still present. I thought the Troma trailer nonsense had been sorted out with the OFLC, but I guess not. Also, making its 10 zillionth appearance is…yep, you guessed it…THE RADIATION MARCH.
The Verdict
A few of the extras are lacklustre, but this is another required DVD for Troma fans. I can't imagine anyone revisiting The Case of the Melon Heavy Alien Man Eater. Other than that, Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, and company have done a commendable job of turning utter shit into entertaining shit. The extras may not be up to Citizen Toxie standard, but then, neither is the main feature. Hopefully Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, will vent some of his frustration with this project artistically in his upcoming Poultrygeist.
Movie Score
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