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Terror Firmer (1999)

20 October 2004 by Gnoll No Comment


1999, dir. Lloyd Kaufman
114 min. Not Rated.
Starring: Will Keenan, Lloyd Kaufman, Alyce LaTourelle.

Review by Gnoll

Troma studios made their mark by creating a universe of films that feature some of the sickest, most gratuitous stuff you’ll ever see on celluloid. So when it came time to celebrate their 25th anniversary, what better way to do so than to create a giant tribute to all of their previous works, while topping all of them in the process?

That’s just what TERROR FIRMER intends to do, and it pulls it off perfectly. Based on Lloyd Kaufman’s book All I Need to Know About Filmmaking I Learned From the Toxic Avenger, this film turns up the volume to 11 and makes stuff like THE TOXIC AVENGER and CLASS OF NUKE ‘EM HIGH look tame in comparison. For this one, Lloyd brought together many of his trusted Troma stars, including Will Keenan, Debbie Rochon, and Joe Fleishaker; as well as previous celebrity guests such as Lemmy and Ron Jeremy.

The story in TERROR FIRMER involves the filming of the latest Troma movie while a sadistic killer is exterminating its cast and crew. Lloyd Kaufman himself plays the film’s blind director (beating Woody Allen to the punch with this idea by a few years,) Larry Benjamin. Larry’s set is a huge mess full of deviant sex and violence, but he’s oblivious to it all because of his handicap. A love triangle is also developing between the boom operator, effects guy, and a production assistant. The boom operator seems to be the one to win the heart of the production assitant, and everything seems to be coming up roses.

But the killer’s on the loose, slaying victims left and right. She makes quick work of The Toddster, who recently walked off the set, and Jacob, the film’s financer. Meanwhile, Casey the boom operator and Jennifer the PA’s love affair seems to be warming up nicely, with him revealing his love of pickling and Steven Spielberg movies. But eventually, Casey’s offbeat eccentricity frightens Jennifer off, and she falls for Jerry the effects guy.

As a complete film, this is one of Troma’s finest. Sure, it delivers the requisite trademark sex and violence, but it’s actually got a fairly compelling murder mystery thing going on, with a reveal that actually makes sense and works. There’s actually a lot of chemistry between the stars in the romantic portion of the film, and the whole thing entertains from start to finish.

But you know what? It doesn’t even matter that it’s a complete film, because it’s got the gross-out stuff in spades. Everything from fart jokes to exploding heads to feces pudding to naked fat dudes to body parts in jars is featured here. Lloyd Kaufman has made a veritabe Troma masterpiece, truly the crown jewel in the studio’s collection. In fact, if you’ve never seen a Troma movie, don’t watch this one first, because you’re liable to be disappointed in the rest.

Of course, since this is basically a movie about Troma anyway, there are plenty of nods to their previous works. Not only does this film take place in the magical land of Tromaville, but the movie-within-a-movie features Troma staples Toxie and Kabukiman in prominent roles. You’ll also see references to other Troma productions, including BLOODSUCKING FREAKS. Yet another reason to watch this film after you’ve watched the rest of the Troma library.

Kaufman’s independent spirit shines through in the story’s core as well. Basically, the moral of this story is this: people who like commercial films are the enemy of mankind! I won’t reveal any more, because I don’t want to spoil too much, but Kaufman really delivers it hard.

Oh, and make sure you stick around for a hilarious special cameo from South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

This is probably the finest film Troma has ever produced, but it’s probably not the best way to indoctrinate a new fan into the world of Lloyd Kaufman. Make sure you’ve already seen most of the other Troma staples before you soak in a viewing of TERROR FIRMER, but once you’re there, buckle up and enjoy the ride.

Rating: Five out of five Toxies.

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