Tromeo & Juliet (1996)
By: Devon B. on September 19, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Troma (USA). All Regions, NTSC. 4:3. English DD 2.0. 110 minutes
The Movie
Director: Lloyd Kaufman
Starring: Jane Jensen,
Will Keenan, Valentine Miele, Maximillian Shaun, Sean Gunn, Debbie Rochon
Screenplay: Jason Green, James Gunn, Lloyd Kaufman
Music: Willie Wisely
Tagline: Body Piercing, Kinky Sex, Dismemberment. The Things That Made Shakespeare Great.
Country: USA
Tromeo & Juliet starts with an intro by Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, and "Michael Herz" (again being played by Troma staple Joe Fleishaker). The intro mocks the fact the two leads, Will Keenan and Jane Jensen, both declined to be part of the 10th anniversary DVD. The reasons given herein for another conspicuous absence are actually the reasons Keenan and Jensen weren't involved.

Tromeo & Juliet's story is the expected star-crossed lovers bit, this time with a penis monster. The Ques and the Capulets are feuding families, but Tromeo Que and Juliet Capulet have never met. When Tromeo sneaks in to a Capulet party, he sees Juliet for the first time, and instantly falls in love with her. Juliet falls for Tromeo as well, but then they find out whom the other is, and that's where the star-crossed bit comes in, but it's still a while to the penis monster.

Tromeo & Juliet was released the same year as Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet. I can't really say which is the better updating, because I've never seen the Luhrmann film. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the Troma movie is superior, simply because any film that doesn't have Leonadro DiCaprio has got to be better than one that does.

Tromeo & Juliet marked a turning point for Troma, where, despite shrinking budgets, their films began being taken somewhat seriously. This is probably due to the fact this script, from Slither writer/director James Gunn and a certain Toxic Avenger creator, shows enough cleverness that even those not into the Troma style could still see some merit. While there is a weird mix of genuinely funny lines with terrible jokes and fart noises, any fan of Troma knows that's been going on for years in their films, but the intelligence factor is upped here. Perhaps the fact it takes nearly five minutes before the first bit of nudity won some previous naysayers over as well, despite the fact it would've disappointed long time Troma fans.

That being said, Tromeo still needs tightening. There're significant gaps in the film, a telltale sign that director Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, shot too much footage. This is particularly evident when Tromeo and Juliet's plan to undo her prior engagement is completed, but they're STILL dealing with trying to prevent her wedding for the rest of the movie, so something major must've been cut. It also doesn't help that there are some fairly obvious things happening plot wise, and most viewers will know exactly what the "shocking" final twist will be WELL before the film gets there.

However, this is a fun Troma film heartily recommended to any of the studio's fans. The performances all suit the film, and there are some real thespians on hand. The gore is tacky as fuck, though one scene still induces a wince regardless, with gratuitous nudity and good ol' fashioned bad taste also contributing to the film's charm. Troma would go completely balls to the wall a few years later with Terror Firmer, which makes Tromeo & Juliet seem downright tame in comparison, but this is still an important film in the Troma catalogue. Plus it launched the career of Gunn, one of the few people who used Troma as a stepping stone, but didn't forget about the initial helping hand Troma gave them.
Tromeo & Juliet is presented at 1.33:1. The film has grain, specks, and dirt, and the image is a bit soft. Yep, looks like a Troma film!
First a warning that the main menu absolutely blasts Motörhead's "Sacrifice." The two-channel mix for the actual movie is adequate. The dialogue is clear, but some sounds are slightly muffled. There're also some "s" hisses, but the track isn't too bad for a low budget film. The volume can change a lot between things, like say, the main menu and the feature film, or from one deleted scene to another.
Extra Features
I haven't seen the first DVD release, or the laserdisc for that matter, of Tromeo & Juliet, but it looks like it had mostly different features. Whether that's a pro or a con is up to you.

The first disc has deleted scenes, each with intros by Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger. Yes, we can finally see Ron Jeremy as a background actor for a few seconds. I guess the part is slightly bigger than his one in Killing Zoe, at least. There's also a "stunt gone wrong" segment, which is a precursor to some of the stunt man mishaps found in the feature length Troma behind the scenes docos, and a quick outtake. A video excerpt of Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, and James Gunn commenting on the deleted scenes is also included.

The first disc also has FOUR commentary tracks, to rival the amount found on Eli Roth's Hostel. Obviously, with four tracks, info does repeat, but each track is worthwhile. I know I said Hostel had too many commentaries, but the most anyone appears on the Tromeo tracks is twice, and there's a 9-year difference between the recording sessions, so they are able to present new slants on things.

First up is a roughly seven minute featurette on the recording of the new commentary with James Gunn and Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger. The track starts with Lemmy bashing, which was what got Gunn's previous commentary left off the last DVD release. It's a humorous commentary, which isn't surprising, and it's really good to hear someone who worked on set with Lloyd Kaufman (president of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger) and still calls him a friend.

The second commentary was recorded in 1997, and features Gunn and his brother Sean, who co-starred in Tromeo & Juliet and really suffered for his art. Previously banned for shit talking, this is a good, lively track that mocks Lemmy, Billy Bob Thorton (from Troma's own Chopper Chicks in Zombietown), other cast members, and the FX.

The third commentary is with Tromeo & Juliet editor Frank Reynolds and Gabe Friedman, that cool editor guy that does commentaries and makes kick ass docos about Troma. This is also a good track, and particularly relevant to those who want to hear about how film editing has changed in the last 10 years, especially at Troma.

And, finally, we get the original 1997 commentary by Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger. This is another great tongue in cheek track, with lots of info for him to cover, like the Shakespeare connection.

On disc two, fans will finally get to see the full version of Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, visiting the set of Slither. There's also a short featurette of James Gunn and Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, going to Eli Roth's birthday party.

A Wisely video clip is included because the leader of the band scored Tromeo & Juliet. The clip features Andy Dick and some porn star, but that doesn't change the fact that the music is awful. Two kinda funny fan recreations of famous Tromeo & Juliet moments are here, as are the original laserdisc intro and outro. Speaking of intros, there are several intros or Troma's Edge clips featuring cast members Stephen Blackehart or Jane Jensen or both. Blackehart does the Redneck Zombies intro, which is still my favourite Troma intro ever. The Cannibal!: The Musicalintro is also included because it features James Gunn, as are snippets from Tales From The Crapperand Citizen Toxiethat feature him. The masturbation public service announcement is present, I assume for the clip from Tromeo, as is the hamster public service announcement, but I don't know why the later was added. Rehearsal footage of the lesbian scene is here, but there's no nudity, so it's not as good as the lesbian rehearsal egg from Citizen Toxie.

But the main extra on this disc is a series of interviews with the cast and crew. A few of them, like Willie Wisely and Lisbeth Kaufman, are actually skits, but most are interviews. You can check out the crew interviews to get a taste of the chaos on set, but it's still too bad there wasn't enough archive footage for Gabe Friedman to do another doco. Also in this section are Stephen Blackehart and Joe (Wrong Turn 2) Lynch discussing Tromeo & Juliet and its impact.

We also get a few trailers. There's one for Lollilove, which I think looks great, and has involvement from Blackehart and Gunn, and one for Rockabilly Vampire, which starred Blackehart. There're also the trailers for Make Your Own Damn Movie, and (presented with a funny menu title) the three books by Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger. The most important trailer on the disc is Poultrygeist's. This movie is going to kick ass all over everything!

Oh, and the Radiation March is here as well. God forbid Troma put out a DVD that didn't have that on it…

But if all that didn't meet your Troma needs, there're also three Easter eggs, all found on disc two.

On the main menu, press up to make the line "Wherefore art thou?" appear. Press enter to see Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, face accusations on double dipping with this DVD, and explaining the absence of Will Keenan and Jane Jensen on the DVD. One's excuse for not participating is valid, the other's is just odd.

Press right on "Debbie Rochon" in the cast interviews to see some outtakes from her interview, which is actually pretty amusing.

Press right on the music video in the bonuses menu to highlight "Ella Records." Press enter to see a tour of the Wisely home.

Not to be outdone by the Tenafly Viper stickers found in the Synapse DVD of Street Trash, Troma have included rub on tattoos like the ones the leads get in the film.
The Verdict
If Troma ever actually get on the remastering bandwagon, they'll be one of the best DVD companies around. They certainly now how to put out a special edition so crammed full of new stuff, I can't imagine people complaining seriously about double dipping. I just wish they'd match their extras content with high quality presentations of their films, but who else is going to put out a movie that has incest, splattered brains, popcorn pregnancy, and the Bard? The priest flashback alone is worth checking the movie out for, but the sheer amount of extra features makes this an essential purchase for Troma fans, even if they already had the previous release.
Movie Score
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