“The movie industry is controlled by a small number of devil-worshipping international media conglomerates.”

Nope, at 69, Lloyd Kaufman’s not giving an inch.

Co-founder of infamous independent movie studio Troma Entertainment (troma.com), the garrulous Kaufman is coming to Portland as part of Troma’s whirlwind roll-out of its new film, a “revisiting” of the studio’s 1986 cult horror comedy “Class Of Nuke ’Em High.” Titled “Return To Class Of Nuke ’Em High – Volume 1,” this new film, directed by Kaufman, is coming to the Nickelodeon (patriotcinemas.com) on Thursday and promises the signature Troma cocktail of over-the-top sex, violence, green goo, scatology, inappropriate jokes – and positive social messages? I’ll let Lloyd explain.

First, what’s the new film about and how is it different from the original?

Honestly, I think it’s the best film in our 40 years – it’s kind of an epic. (Part 2 will be out next year.) The biggest difference is the lesbian romance in this one. In the original, the main couple was Chrissy and Warren, and now it’s Chrissy and Lauren. That, and the Cretins (the high school gang mutated by the nearby nuclear power plant) in the original were the honor society, and now they’re the glee club, inspired by that awful TV show. Also, in the original, the mutations were caused by radioactive pot plants, and this time, the cause is a food-processing factory on the old power plant site that sells junk food to all the public schools. It’s a crap-food conspiracy between unions, corporations and the government. There are some serious themes – like in all the films I’ve made, I usually get a bug up my (expletive) about a social or political issue. This time out, the big themes are LGBT rights and anti-bullying.

Why is Troma still targeting independent theaters, and why are you still hitting the road to support your films after 40 years?


Except for indie theaters, which will play it if I come or if I direct it, the chain theaters and the media suck on the teat of 20th Century Fox or whomever. But I’ve been to Oxford, Switzerland, Finland, Belgium, Paris, London – usually because of film societies. MoMA had the film’s premier in their Contenders series – it was Spielberg, Lynch, Sofia Coppola, Woody, and Lloyd. But mostly I go because we don’t have money to advertise. We are the underground. Apart from that, I love to meet the fans – I get very good ideas from the fans. If I get to do a Q&A, it works both ways. Maybe that’s why I’m still around. I’m a movie nut – I love making them, watching them, and I like young people. They tend to be more idealistic. They get our movies – they make the world a better place. That’s better than an Oscar because you pay for an Oscar – it has little to do with the content, but “who’s Harvey Weinstein spending money on?”

Why is it important for “RTCONH-V.1” to be seen on the big screen? Surely most of the money comes from other sources these days?

Movies I make are made for the big screen. There’s tremendous detail, thousands of people in this movie, humorous things going on in the background you won’t see on the small screen. And our fans want to see a Troma movie in a communal atmosphere. Watching it alone, it’s not as contagious, a totally different experience.

How have changes in the movie industry affected Troma?

Indie movie studios – when we started, all there was were movie theaters. We thought if we could make low-budget indie movies that we could make money, the new multiplexes needed to fill up the screens. We got in early. Then we embraced video when it came around. Indie content providers are always in the forefront. We were the first to support Showtime and HBO – they needed us. But in every case, the conglomerates throw a monkey wrench into the system to slow it down. Jack Valenti and the studios said home video would destroy copyright law and everything would be flooded with porn. They’re using the same argument to (expletive) up the Internet. The MPAA’s in Washington 24-7, fighting against a free, democratic, and open Internet – using the exact same arguments they’ve always used. Trying to get together to create a toll road to favor the rich and powerful, while the rest of us will be on a dirt road. Troma has embraced it way before the studios. Indies are the visionaries, they can move faster.

KAUFMAN WILL BE at the Thursday 7 and 9 p.m. screenings of “Return To Class Of Nuke ’Em High – Volume 1” at the Nickelodeon Cinema in the Old Port for a Q&A – an experience I highly recommend.

Dennis Perkins is a Portland freelance writer.

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