Directed by Lloyd Kaufman
Written by Patrick Cassidy, Douglas Buck & Lloyd Kaufman
Produced by Lloyd Kaufman & Michael Herz
Cast: Will Keenan, Alyce LaTourelle, Trent Haaga & Debbie Rochon
1999/114 mins/Color/Dolby Digital Mono
1:33.1/English/US/NTSC Region 0
Review from the Troma DVD
Web site: www.troma.com
I initially viewed TERROR FIRMER during its Canadian premiere in Toronto, some years ago. It was cool to say the least. Lloyd Kaufman was there to introduce the film with Toxie and many of the Troma entourage, and afterward he held a question and answer session (where the budget of the film was mentioned to be $300,000). I loved the film then, and upon viewing the DVD I love it more, especially with the extras being packed to the DVD-brim! Let's get to it.
This time Troma is making another low budget entry into the TOXIC AVENGER saga, directed by blind man Larry Benjamin (played by Mr. Kaufman himself). In the past, Troma movies have been (and as a matter of fact, still are) regarded as terrible cinema -- some critics even going as far as saying a blind director could produce better -- making Larry Benjamin the perfect character for the role. During filming, strange happenings begin to occur and one by one the cast and crew turn up dead. It seems that a rampaging female is Hell-bent on the destruction of the film by attempting to force Larry to cancel production. All Larry Benjamin wants to do is "make some art" and complete the production safely, with no further injuries.
In the middle of things, a relationship materializes between Jennifer (Alyce LaTourelle) a production assistant and Casey (Will Keenan, TROMEO & JULIET) the boom operator (the boom occasionally looking more like a dead cat then an actual boom). Whether she's filling in for a sex scene with Toxie or masturbating with a dill pickle, her heart still belongs to Casey. In the meantime more and more casualties turn up as the production prolongs. Will the director decide to call it quits, or will Larry Benjamin blindly (no pun intended) continue on with the fun?
TERROR FIRMER is packed with enough sleaze, perversion and gore to satisfy the Marquis himself. Not to mention nudity. Troma has definitely out-Tromaed themselves in these departments. This film has it all and is sure to deliver to fans, showcasing -- broken-bong-brain-bashing, feces ingesting, projectile regurgitation, electrocution, exploding bodies, hermaphrodites, dismemberment, Ron Jeremy, Lemmy, nudity, nudity, and more nudity, not to mention fat man (Yaniv Sharon) running unclothed amongst New York's busy streets, and other wondrous intellect builders. One particularly pleasurable gore scene is when asshole PA (that's his credit title) gets his legs crushed and dismembered by two moving trucks, and while squirming on the ground Jennifer tries to put his severed legs back into their mangled place.
TERROR FIRMER was definitely made for Troma fans and Troma fans alone. A lot of people don't get Troma -- many won't bother to get Troma this time around either. Troma shows once more what happens when fans come together to create a film for the sake of independent cinema, and not primarily for money - like the major conglomerates, Lloyd so abhors.
Troma Presents the TERROR FIRMER 2 Disc Special Edition Box Set full-frame with its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 (the way Lloyd Kaufman intended). The image is clear and fairly sharp for a low budget picture of this sort, having minor grain throughout, with only one noticeable distracting blemish. Towards the middle of the film, a horizontal line appears for a few short seconds at the top of the frame. Many people won't even notice this. Although many Troma discs have been known to exhibit artifacts during bonus segments, it seems that Troma has cleaned up their act and therefore no artifacts can be found on this disc. Being a Troma movie, and not heavily relying on polished surround sound, all audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono. The sound throughout the film is crisp and clear giving the dialog, soundtrack and sound FX their full-intended effect. My only complaint about the audio would have to be during the actor's commentary. About halfway through, the commentary becomes harder to hear, and the actual film audio increases. Other than this, the sound turned out great.
Troma has without a doubt outdone every (Horror) DVD released to date as far as the supplemental section is concerned (at the Canadian premiere Lloyd even went as far as saying to email him if anyone finds a disc with more extras). There is an utterly outstanding cornucopia of supplements contained in this two-disc set. So many extras are enclosed in fact that they are almost too numerous to announce, but here goes.
We start with three separate feature-length commentaries to choose from - the first by director Lloyd Kaufman, second by the editors Gabe Friedman and Sean McGrath, and lastly with the actors, Will Keenan, Debbie Rochon, and Trent Haaga. My first choice of viewing was Mr. Kaufman's commentary. Lloyd constantly spews out interesting and most of the time hilarious tidbits of information (being both serious and sarcastic), talking about various situations that occurred during filming. He pointed out a variety of extras that greatly helped out in production, one being a female fan from Italy that flew to NY with the Mad Cow Boy costume specifically for the film as well as hooking Lloyd up with a Ruggero Deodato interview, and one with Dario Argento that can be found on some other Troma discs. Another notable piece of info that Lloyd pointed out, that I didn't quite catch during first viewing was a tribute to Brian DePalma's CARRIE. Although Lloyd's commentary was both informative and comical, the Actor's commentary was more enjoyable. The actors all seemed to enjoy the film so much, as they reminisced about it. One scene in particular, they mentioned that the actor who played Toxie (Roy David) was forever drunk on the set, and in this very sex scene they had to keep waking him up due to him passing out. They also pointed out that six months after production Roy called Troma from a mental institution wanting them to vouch for his sanity and to send a copy of TERROR FIRMER as proof he was THE TOXIC AVENGER. Pretty crazy. Finally, the editor's commentary is more or less extra disc filler (although with a disc like this, there aren't many crevices left to fill). Lloyd and the actor's already mentioned much of what these guys talked about in the previous entries. This commentary would probably be best left for a future nothing else better to do kind of day.
Next up we have 'Fun with Scissors', the deleted scenes. There are nineteen scenes in total that can be viewed with or without editor's commentary. These commentaries go great accompanying the deleted scenes (far more enjoyable than the feature-length commentary from these guys). Most of these scenes were character developments that had no integral role to the plot. Originally during filming Troma was aiming for a mystery murder suspect angle, but much of that was scrapped until later showing up here. There is an 'Alternate Scenes' section containing ten short clips of rehearsal and behind the scenes footage, as well as a terribly dragged out, boring alternate ending, which seems to be just a rehearsal that wasn't finalized.
Then there is a fairly uninteresting extra, the 'Escalator Scene (Comic-Film Comparison)'. While this sequence is on, there are shots of the comic book overlaid at the bottom of the screen. Along with this there is some TERROR FIRMER audition footage as well as a section adequately titled 'Terror Fuck' d Up', a compilation of bloopers where the cast and crew screw up while Lloyd frequently yells.
Ending disc one there is a teaser and trailer of the film, as well as many easter eggs (or "turds" as the package calls them), to hunt for. The turds are as follows - in the main menu, hit '666' (the first '6' brings about the word 'censorship', the second '6' brings about the word 'sucks!' and 'censored version', and the final lets you proceed into the 'R-rated version ', which consists of nothing but a segment of the opening and the final credits. Go to the DVD's 'TERROR FIRMER Goodies' section and select the TERROR FIRMER logo using your remote control. You will see some color bars, followed by a surprise I will not reveal. Another 'turd' can be found in the 'Audio Commentary' section, where you select 'Watch movie with no sound' and you will get to see Casey (Will Keenon), singing 'Amazing Grace', where you will receive a login and password for a surprise on the Troma website.
On to disc two we begin with the 100-minute making of TERROR FIRMER, baptized with the title 'FARTS OF DARKNESS'. This is an intensive look behind a grueling low budget eighteen-month film shoot, filled with incessant troubles and complications on set, with the outcome being a product produced by hundreds of hard working individuals fueled with the passion to create undisputed, art. This documentary has been one of, if not the best extras this writer has seen on a DVD. You see when they are repeatedly hassled by police during filming, you see Lloyd's passion for the film get the best of him, when things go wrong he looses his patience more then once, yelling, often coming across crass and uncaring. If anything, this is the extra to watch.
Onward we move to a section called 'Boner Material', consisting of the music videos 'Say What You Mean' by the Lunachicks, 'Freak of the Week' by DJ Polo featuring Ron Jeremy, the Entombed video 'Seeing Red', as well as an ad for the films soundtrack. There is also a shameless self-promo of Lloyd's book, which this film is loosely based on, titled 'All I Need to Know About Filmmaking I Learned From THE TOXIC AVENGER (which can be seen on many other Troma DVD's if you become so inclined). Continuing full speed ahead, in this section is 'Gyno talk with Alyce LaTourelle' where she expresses her distaste for the film upon first viewing, in addition to stating she wasn't prepared to watch herself in certain situations on film. There is also a chat with Lloyd's daughter Charlotte, where she discusses the film and the special treatment she received on set. A Tromadance ad for filmmakers to submit their work can then be found, as well as TERROR FIRMER, the game as a DVD-ROM supplement. The game recreates various gratuitous scenes from the movie, such as catching coke and water in the Toddster's nether regions with a funnel. The graphics are bottom of the barrel, but this little extra produces a couple minutes of fun.
Finally under 'Coming Distractions' there are trailers for CANNIBAL: THE MUSICAL, UNSPEAKABLE, PARTS OF THE FAMILY, and TOXIC AVENGER: CITIZEN TOXIE. And don't forget the usual 'Radiation March'.
If that's not enough, there is a 'turd' on this disc as well. You hit '666' once again in the main menu, and you get to see a little feature by Lloyd Kaufman about Yaniv Sharon (the rotund naked guy running through New York). That guy should be commended.
TERROR FIRMER is a fun and hilarious romp into the world of Tromaville, and this disc provides endless hours of entertainment. Even if not being a fan of Troma is holding you back from giving this disc a chance, having the extras alone and looking behind the scenes at the enthusiasm put forth in making the film, makes this two disc special edition directors cut of TERROR FIRMER, without a doubt money well spent.
This Film Features:
Review by Chris Mayo. All Right Reserved. 2003. ©