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2004, dir. Lloyd Kaufman et al.
105 min. Not Rated.
Starring: Julie Strain and a lot of dead bodies.

Review by Noel Wood

After thirty years of Independent filmmaking, Troma has seen its ups and downs. They've made some bona fide cult classics, and they've also produced a few stinkers. More recently, Troma has really been pushing the envelope in the gross-out department, which is quite a feat when you're the studio responsible for such fare as CLASS OF NUKE 'EM HIGH and THE TOXIC AVENGER. But somehow, they continue to top themselves, and never has that been more apparent than in TALES FROM THE CRAPPER.

TALES FROM THE CRAPPER is so over-the-top that it has to be broken into two different movies, along with a large chunk of the film being comprised of segments starring Troma prez Lloyd Kaufman as the "Crapkeeper". In actuality, the two mini-films were pieced together later by Lloyd and the gang after some legal disputes. Both star statuesque b-movie queen Julie Strain, and both are -- well, both are Troma to the core.

After a brief introduction by the Crapkeeper, which is basically just Lloyd wrapped in a garbage bag, we get the first of our stories, The Case of the Melon Heavy Alien Man Eater. In this story, things are going awry at the local strip joint. Patrons are being splattered left and right, and Strain's cop character wants in on the case. She's a bit of a loose cannon, though, so the chief of police puts her on meaningless jobs to keep her busy. When her boyfriend is disposed of, Strain chooses to go undercover as a stripper herself, and meets the killer: an alien menace with an insect head and huge breasts. Vulgarity ensues.

We go back to the Crapkeeper, who is now hell-bent on teaching us how to make a Troma movie. For his lesson, he enlists two lesbian art students and a pre-op transexual to act out some perversions while Lloyd looks on and cheers. This goes on for far too long, and only serves to stretch the film's length even longer than it need be. Vulgarity continues.

The second of our mini-movies is up next, entitled Tuition of the Terror Twat. In this tale, a poor college student named Johnny finds out he has no money for tuition, so he gets bombed one night and in his loneliness hires a stripper (again, Julie Strain) to pay him a visit. His buddies get the idea of throwing a party with Strain and her stripper friends, and sell a whole bunch of tickets to raise money for Johnny's college fund. The problem is that the strippers aren't just ladies searching for a buck; they're vampires who intend to make a smorgasbord out of the party's patrons. Vulgarity reaches its crescendo.

As far as the stories go, they rank among the weakest of Troma's original productions. Neither one of the mini-movies makes much sense, and they spend too much time trying to cram as much gore and boobs in our face as possible to actually wind up being entertaining. The crapkeeper moments are also pretty much a waste of time, and certainly show Lloyd Kaufman at one of his lowest moments creatively. On top of all that, the entire film is shot on digital video, but it looks like it was done on a home video camera and edited on two VCRs. If you're not following me, what I'm trying to say is that this ain't Troma's best work.

But while it's pretty bad, especially when compared to the more inspired recent Troma stuff like TROMEO AND JULIET and TERROR FIRMER, it does have a few clever spots tossed in. I guess, knowing that this piece was really just a bastion of smut to begin with, the film contains a feature called "boner-vision", which consists of sequences of bouncing babes in a tiny corner of the screen during the tame exposition scenes. It's amusing and stands out with other trademark Troma gimmicks. Julie Strain also does pretty well with what she has, and really stands out as a cool hero - villian - asskicker - sex symbol - diva - ditz - or whatever else you want her to be. Probably the most amusing gimmick used in the film is the use of a faux commentary track during certain scenes of the second featurette, including commentary by a fake Oliver Stone (Lloyd Kaufman's childhood friend.)

A few cameos stand out as well, including a turn by Ron Jeremy as himself and Trey Parker as a party patron who keeps telling the same ridiculous story over and over to a group of admiring female onlookers. Strain's hubby, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles creator Kevin Eastman, shows up in familiar territory here, and MCFTR favorite Debbie Rochon appears briefly as herself in one of the Crapkeeper segments. There's even a cameo by Ted Raimi.

But if you're not a hardcore Troma fan, then I'd skip this one. It has some bones to throw to you if you are a fan, but it's not on the level of what the studio is capable of. I'm hoping that this is not a sign of things to come, because the studio put out some real gems in the last few years, but chances are that it's an anomaly. Unless you've seen everything else, skip this one and go for one of the earlier Troma titles.

Rating: Two out of five Toxies.


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