Terror Firmer (1999)
By: Devon B. on June 29, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Stomp Visual (Australia). All Regions, NTSC. 4:3. English DD 2.0. 114 minutes
The Movie
Director: Lloyd Kaufman
Starring: Will Keenan, Alyce Latourelle, Trent Haaga, Debbie Rochon, Sheri Wenden, Ron Jeremy, Joe Fleishaker, LEMMY, Trey Parker, Matt Stone
Screenplay: Patrick Cassidy, Douglas Buck, Lloyd Kaufman
Country: USA
You can say Troma make stupid movies. You can say Troma's president needs to realise we all know he created the Toxic Avenger by now. You can say that you doubt the existence of Michael Herz. But one thing you can't say is that Troma doesn't put out some awesome DVDs. Well, you can say that, but you'd be an idiot.

As usual, the film is introduced by Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, where he explains that Terror Firmer is based on his book All I Need To Know About Filmmaking I Learned From The Toxic Avenger. He also says that this might be the best DVD in history, and at the time, that may have been true. It has been surpassed by another Troma disc at this point, Citizen Toxie.

Within one minute of the actual movie starting, we see a woman rip the foetus out of another woman. You know it's a good movie if there's an abortion by hand straight away. The film's 'story' concerns an independent movie crew making the next instalment of The Toxic Avenger (a character created by Lloyd Kaufman, by the way). While the usual low budget pressures and highjinks occur, what's really putting a damper on their production days is someone killing off people connected with the film.

While Terror Firmer is overlong and could've been tighter, there is so much obscenity crammed into this one, it's guaranteed to please Troma fans. Gore, male and female nudity, sex, and drugs, what more could you want from a Troma movie? Oh, cleverness? That's the real plus for Terror Firmer, as Troma satirises itself in some great ways here. Troma really upped the quality of scripts they were helming in the 90s, and this film benefits from that immensely. It is still ridiculous and tasteless, and features many stupid jokes and fart noises, but it's far better than Troma's War or Toxic Avenger III: The Last Temptation of Toxie.

Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, stars in Terror Firmer as Larry Benjamin, a blind movie director prone to break downs and fits of rage. Obviously, this was a bit of a stretch for him to play. I've got to say, though, it is this willingness to send himself up, and let others literally rip him apart, that I most admire about Lloyd Kaufman; that and the fact that he is president of Troma and creator of The Toxic Avenger.

For a Troma movie, a lot of the performances aren't bad, though there are many over the top scenery chewing thespians. Trent Haaga (one of the few clever people to be found in Apocalypse Soon) makes his film debut as FX guru Jerry, and there are heaps of Troma stars and celebrity cameos as well. Any movie that has Ron Jeremy, Matt Stone, Trey Parker, LEMMY, and Joe Fleishaker has got to be…Troma.

The film comes with the option of watching it with the deleted scenes back in. The deleted scenes can cause a delay when they pop in, and the audio quality changes, and the film becomes letterboxed suddenly. So, they're very noticeable, and they do make an overlong movie even longer. However, it's a nice thought.
Terror Firmer is presented full frame, which is the way it should be. There is the occasional spot, and some grain, but the image remains clear most of the time. It has the flaws you would expect of an independent film, but the movie is well presented here.
The audio is two channel stereo. The dialogue is clear, and the audio is well mixed. There is some background noise, but it never got to the point that I found it distracting. There's also a pretty cool soundtrack, featuring one of the best bands in the world, The Vandals. The volume can jump in the commentary tracks.
Extra Features
I started the extras with the deleted scenes. These come presented letterboxed and with optional commentary by the editors. Some of the scenes are funny, some are not. Whatever your thoughts on them, there are HEAPS of them, so a 'play all' option would've been nice. In a somewhat similar extra, there is also some alternate footage. This is presented full frame, and features an alternate ending to the film. Again, a 'play all' would've been good. For a bit of variety, there're also comic comparisons for Fleishaker's escalator scene, auditions, outtakes, and the film's teaser and full trailers.

The disc also has THREE commentaries. The first is from Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger. The track is fast paced, informative, amusing, and very tongue in cheek. Entertaining as ever, this track is up to the very high standard to be expected of Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger. The second commentary features editors Gabe Friedman and Sean McGrath, and they provide lots of information about the film. They remain interesting and entertaining, and give added insight into the making of the film. The third track features cast members Haaga, Debbie Rochon, and Will Keenan. This track is also fast paced and funny, with all three contributing worthwhile information. Haaga and Keenan were also heavily involved with Troma at the time, so they are able to pass on a lot of details.

There are also a few Easter eggs. Select the art makers option on the main menu, and wait till after the credits roll for a re-creation of Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, making a call to Fleishaker making sure he understands the full extent of his role. In the audio set up option, select 'no sound' for a special insult. This also gives you a link to a website, but the link is inactive. From the Goodies Menu, press left on anything to highlight 'Terror Firmer.' Press enter to see hermaphroditic close ups. On the main menu, press 666 to see a special clean version of the film (no, really, do this, it's funny).

That would be a pretty good DVD, but lo, there is another disc!

The second disc originally featured trailers for other Troma movies, but these are still evidently banned by the OFLC, so the coming distractions section is just like a slideshow of DVD covers. There's also the Radiation March short, which I've decided is actually a trailer, and should be RC, so someone notify the OFLC! Please! We also get video clips from the Luna Chicks, Entombed (directed by Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger), and DJ Polo with Ron Jeremy. The latter, entitled 'Freak of the Week' features a lot of silicone nudity and the worst rappin' Ron since Reagan. There're ads for the Terror Firmer soundtrack, the book that inspired the film, and Tromadance Film Festival. Also included are two short interviews. The first is with Terror Firmer's female lead, Alyce LaTourelle, who was a bit taken back by the finished film. The second is co-star Charlotte Kaufman, daughter of Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger. It may seem like a bad idea to interview children, but Charlotte has taken a few cues from Daddy and is pretty funny here. A DVD-Rom game is included, which is a sample of, I guess, a full game. The preview has five levels, based on the murders from the film. None of the levels are that hard, but I did enjoy the Rootbeer Tapper and Frogger imitation levels. After beating the game, you're given another dead link. And that's just about it for…oh, wait, there's also a 100 minute making of called Farts of Darkness. This is not as tight or funny as Apocalypse Soon from Citizen Toxie, but is still damn, damn, good. Hugely entertaining, this feature allows us to see idiocy running wild on the Troma set; stuntmen issues; FX failing; and, of course, Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, absolutely fucking losing it. Repeatedly.

The second disc also has an Easter egg. Press 666 on the main menu to see Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, harassing a street performer and Bruce Willis' security.

My DVD also came with a Stomp booklet, which featured a brief interview with Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger.
The Verdict
Terror Firmer isn't Troma's best movie, but it is one of their most perverse. That alone would be recommendation enough for Troma fans, but this DVD set is so friggin' cool, I recommend it to everyone.
Movie Score
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