Tromeo and Juliet

on February 28, 1997 by Dwayne E. Leslie
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   According to Troma Studios, this minimal-budget film is its most important and ambitious project to date. The Tromatized version of "Romeo and Juliet" includes all the elements that made Shakespeare great: body piercing, kinky sex, and dismemberment. But that wasn't good enough for the creatively twisted minds at Troma. By the time the filmmakers were finished, cybersex, gay and lesbian eroticism, cruelty to animals, incest, decapitations, head smashing, mutant inbreeding and car crashes had become meshed with sporadic language of the Bard. Who else but the Troma types could develop a dream sequence that combines popcorn, rats and pregnancy? To complement an alternative rock soundtrack, this concoction is narrated by Lemmy of the metal band Motorhead.
   In this telling, Juliet (Jane Jensen) is engaged to marry a sausage maker, even though she is a vegetarian. Tromeo (Will Keenan) meets her at a party, and it's love at first sight; the only problem is that they are the offspring of feuding families. That's about where the resemblance to the 1596 original ends; from there on until the eventual death scene (which has Juliet transformed into a beast), it's Troma time, thanks in part to a subplot that thoroughly contorts the main story's ending.
   Troma films have a big cult following, and they're certainly not for everyone. "The Toxic Avenger" in 1985 was Troma's breakthrough, leading to two sequels and to hero Toxie becoming the company's mascot. It took four years for "Tromeo and Juliet" writer/director/producer Lloyd Kaufman (Troma's president) and co-scripter James Gunn to finalize this script that mixes high art, offbeat comedy, and dialogue in iambic pentameter. Already selected to screen at several film fests, "Tromeo and Juliet" is great for midnight showings for its target audience, from the opening moments right through to the fun-to-watch closing credits. (Of course, that targeted audience might have trouble reading them all. Or just reading.) Starring Will Keenan, Jane Jensen and Lemmy. Directed by Lloyd Kaufman. Written by James Gunn and Lloyd Kaufman. Produced by Michael Herz and Lloyd Kaufman. A Troma Team release. Horror. Rated R. Running time: 107 min
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