Free Movies, Troma-Style
For almost 40 years, Troma has given the world hundreds of the cheesiest, sleaziest low-budget genre movies, including the Toxic Avenger series, Class of Nuke ‘Em High, Redneck Zombies, Surf Nazis Must Die! and the original Mother’s Day. Boobs, blood, slime and psychotronic madness are the cornerstones of the independent New York City production/distribution house.
If this sounds like your kind of a low-brow good time, you’re in luck, because Troma has posted over 250 of its films online for free. Some of them are the public domain staples we’re used to seeing in every multi-movie bargain pack, such as White Zombie and The Devil Bat, but most of them were made and/or exclusively distributed by the company. The only question is, how do you decide between Frog Monster From Hell and Horror of the Humungous Hungry Hungan? Do you curl up in front of the fire with Stuff Stephanie in the Incinerator or A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell? Will it be Baconhead or Meat Weed Madness?
Understandably these are tough choices, but perhaps I can help by choosing my top five free Troma movies with which to delight and damage your psyche.
Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2006)
This one’s a great litmus test to see if you jive with the world of Troma productions. Here, the company goes for broke with a story about a fast food worker named Arby – ha!) who’s trying to win back his girl and gets a job at a chicken joint built on an Indian graveyard. Zombie chickens, mutants, gore, politically incorrect jokes, topless lesbians, and hilarious musical numbers (some featuring Troma president Lloyd Kaufman in a skirt) make for deliriously good time as long as you snort a package of Pop Rocks and hit yourself over the head with a mallet before watching.
Cannibal! The Musical! (1993)
Before they shot to fame for creating South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone made Cannibal! The Musical!, which is (very) loosely based on the story of 19th century miner Alferd Packer. Played by Parker, Packer, via a series of flashbacks, recounts the sordid events that resulted in him facing the gallows. Seems he was part of a mining party travelling from Utah to Colorado, which got lost and, following a series of mishaps including a lost horse and a run-in with some trappers, resorted to cannibalism to survive. The often morbid musical numbers are forerunners to the jaunty lunacy of the ones in South Park, and will have you laughin' out loud.
Nightbeast (1982) and Blood, Boobs & Beast (2007)
These may be two different movies but you need to see one to really understand the other. Nightbeast, which is for the so-bad-it’s-awesome set, features the tagline, “If you have the guts – he wants them!!!” and a titular monster that crash lands near a small town and goes on a killing streak. The thing looks like a cross-between Admiral Ackbar and one of the Gremlins and only attacks during the day… Blood, Boobs & Beasts is a documentary about the unassuming Don Dohler, who made Nightbeast and eight other features. It’s a compelling look at an unassuming man who made crazy cult flicks and was also very influential in the worlds of underground comics and genre magazines. Centered around his last feature, Dead Hunt, it was released after Dohler died at age 60, in 2006.
The Children (1980)
This underrated environmental horror movie presented a new spin on the zombie movie, way back in 1980. Some sloppy workers accidentally release a toxic cloud that poisons a group of school children, who then become yellow-skinned ghouls with the power to essentially microwave anyone they touch. And touch they do, forcing the locals to fight back. It’s a ragged but creepy little movie that’s effectively disturbing in its depiction of violence towards children, and did a good job in ruining the most innocent thing on Earth: a child’s hug. Good work, Troma!
The Hanging Woman (1973)
One of the less likely Troma acquisitions, The Hanging Woman (a.k.a. Orgy of the Dead) features the late, great Paul Naschy, a.k.a. “The Lon Chaney of Spain,” in a supporting role as a mad gravedigger, and on that strength alone it makes this list. Set in a 19th-century Scottish village, it’s got plenty of atmosphere to tell its tale of evil omens (which appear after a stranger visits to claim an inheritance), devil worshippers, necrophilia and zombies. It’s tons of ‘70s fun and a great chance to see Naschy in action under heavy makeup, while diabolically contorting his body. It's the definition of retro-Euro horror.
And thanks, Troma, for all these toxic tidbits.