Monday, May 9, 2011

Troma's War (1988)

It's kind of crazy that I've had this blog for a few months and this is my first Troma review. I guess Troma's War is at the higher end of Troma movie scale, being one of their biggest budget productions (thanks to the previous success of Toxie) - and honestly, it's a really fucking weird movie. Apparently Kaufman intended Troma's War to be a biting satire on the Reagan administration, a fact that becomes hilarious once you actually see the movie, but at least there's a fair amount of fun to be had with Troma's War.

TW finds a group of Tromaville citizens stranded in a hostile territory after a plane crash, fighting an international terrorist group bent on bringing down the capitalist elite. Right from the beginning TW feels exactly like a Troma movie - there's terrible, over the top acting, bizarre dialog and of course tits all over the place. If you're thinking this might diminish the satirical aspect of the movie somewhat, you're right, but it's hardly like anyone is gonna be watching this to have their world view rocked. Like a lot of Troma, this film is pretty crazy, and even though it basically kinda sucks in every way it's definitely entertaining. I don't know about anyone else but I feel a weird sense of comfort when that Troma Team Release logo appears at the start of the movie - maybe it's pure nostalgia, or maybe it's because I can be assured that I know exactly what I'm getting myself into.

TW is totally inept in so many ways - from the obvious rubber snake attacks to the hilariously out of place "punching" sound effects, it still feels a Troma Team quickie despite it's bigger budget. But to pick on these problems would be missing the point, obviously. In terms of bad taste, violence and general nuttiness it delivers big style. Being a parody of Rambo style flicks, it obviously needed to amp up the violence, and there's plenty of bloodshed... Though to be honest, there's a few too many protracted gun battle scenes filled with extras jumping around pretending to get shot for my liking. The recycled gag where the heroes wander into a hail of bullets without getting a scratch gets a bit old after a while too, but hey - there's still some top bad-taste gore moments to break it up, such as when a priest has his tongue ripped out or a soldier guts himself with his own knife.

On the subject of bad taste, there's an AIDS-related story-line in this movie that even amazed me with it's obnoxiousness - it was apparently removed altogether from the theatrical release amidst Kaufman's endless battle with the MPAA to secure an R rating. A scene where one of the terrorists rapes a Tromaville girl in order to give her AIDS might tip the scales a bit too much for some I suppose, and it's probably even more disconcerting that the whole thing is approached with the same gung-ho silliness as the rest of the film. But then, this is all to be expected, so it's probably best to just go with it.

Even though TW is mostly great fun, it suffers from a few major flaws, the main one being that it's just too fricking long. Granted, I was viewing the Director's Cut, but stretching a movie like this to 105 minutes is really pushing it. It's not like there was the material to fill the running time either, and the final 40 minutes or so is padded to breaking point with boring montages and yet more battle scenes that look identical to ones that happened 30 minutes earlier in the film. There are also bizarre little forays into character development that just detract from the mayhem rather than fleshing things out, and the whole thing would have benefitted greatly from being cut down to 80/85 minutes.

So yeah, in conclusion I could sum TW up in the same way I would almost any Troma film - you know what you're getting with Troma, it just depends on whether that's your scene or not. Though I would consider TW to be far from their worst, it's a long way behind their absolute best as well - so take from that what you will.

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