Q&A: Lloyd Kaufman talks Tromadance and “RETURN TO NUKE ‘EM HIGH, VOLUME 2”


Any cult cinema fanatic can tell you that Troma’s resident film festival, Tromadance, offers the type of midnight madness relegated to specialized sections at other fests all day long. And for NYC-based Troma lovers, the free film festival makes its Brooklyn debut on Friday, June 27th, and Saturday, June 28th, with provocative films such as Drew Bolduc’s SCIENCE TEAM, Zach Math & Jonah Bekhor’s THE FINAL MEMBER, Olivier Beguin’s CHIMERES and more. In anticipation for the 15th annual Tromadance festival, mastermind Lloyd Kaufman spoke to FANGORIA about the festival, as well as the next chapter in the RETURN TO NUKE ‘EM HIGH…

FANGORIA: You’ve just returned from Cannes, where Troma had a rocky experience in 2013. How was the festival for you this year?

LLOYD KAUFMAN: Cannes was great! Troma got a lot of attention and Quentin Tarantino ran into us. He told us he loved Troma and they were influences to him. We also sold some movies to different territories and we actually bought four movies. I think it was a pretty good festival for us. I don’t know what we bought yet, but all I know is that they’re one of a kind and in 20 years, Hollywood will be remaking those movies.

FANG: What should Troma fans expect at Tromadance this year?

KAUFMAN: Well, Screen Media, which is a big New York entertainment company, has brought their movie EVIL FEED. F, as in fuck, E-E-D. It’s one of those movies that, like THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE that had its U.S. debut at Tromadance years ago, none of the mainstream festivals dare to show it. This is a similar, great film.

It’s a movie that should be at Sundance and SXSW, but the movies they show there and in Toronto in their alleged “Midnight Madness” lineups are the kinds of movies Troma made 20 years ago. You know what I’m saying? A movie like TEETH is essentially KILLER CONDOM, which we made 20-25 years ago and Sundance finally got around to showing a couple years back. TEETH doesn’t come close to KILLER CONDOM, and it’s nowhere as original. But Sundance and those festivals think that’s “cool,” since none of them take any risks.

Toronto and Tribeca were showing ZOMBEAVERS, but where were they for POULTRYGEIST, which is about seven years old now? If they wanted to show a good animal zombie movie, they should have shown POULTRYGEIST! It’s a musical, Peter Jackson loves it, Quentin Tarantino loves it, but the festivals were frightened to show it.

FANG: Well, the change of tastes in horror audiences doesn’t change the fact that many Troma movies have stood the test of time and are considered memorable cult classics today.

KAUFMAN: Yes, and we’re 40 years old now and still going strong. Those “Midnight Madness” filmmakers know that and that’s why they’re making imitations of Troma films that don’t have political or sociological statements.

FANG: This year, Tromadance is coming to Brooklyn, despite the last few years being held in Asbury Park, NJ. Was there a specific reason for the location change or was the festival warranting a change of scenery?

KAUFMAN: Tromadance started in Park City, Colorado [Ed. Note: Utah], as a second ride after Sundance, and that’s where we stayed for almost 10 years. Then we moved to Asbury Park for 3 or 4 years, and Asbury is a great place. We’d play our movies at the Asbury Lanes, which had a terrific projection system. But the people in charge there didn’t want us, as the Mayor and the Asbury Police weren’t fond of us, so fuck ’em.

It was hard to move from New Jersey, though, because Troma has such an association with the state. I mean, Tromaville is in New Jersey. It’s where our movies are made in and are set, but Asbury Park was terribly unfriendly. We had a line of people waiting to get into the theaters where the movies were playing and the cops would hang around, shining flashlights at people and staring at them like they’re thugs. Fuck that. We didn’t get anything from the Mayor either, even though we came to the city four years ago when it was one step above cracktown. It’s getting nice now, but the first year we held Tromadance, the neighborhood was not very nice.

FANG: Do you think by bringing the festival to Brooklyn that you may attract new audiences to the world of Troma?

KAUFMAN: We’re doing it in the middle of Bushwick, and it’s kind of a grassroots place. The neighborhood is kind of like Tromaville. Troma is a New York company and I’m actually excited to be bringing Tromadance back home to Brooklyn. The venue, The Paper Box, is a terrific place and it has great production for the number of bands that are performing at Tromadance. I hope that people in the area will be attracted to that and we’ll get a turnout of fans new and old.

We also have the new film from Drew Bolduc, who did THE TAINT which he premiered at Tromadance two years ago and is another masterpiece that no other festival dares to show. His new film is called SCIENCE TEAM, which is not a Troma movie, and it’s marvelous. I think you guys will really like it.

FANG: Also, as the fans have been wondering, what’s the status of RETURN TO NUKE ‘EM HIGH VOLUME 2? Any chance we may see it at Tromadance?

KAUFMAN: We actually still have a week of filming to complete, which I had to put off because of what we were doing at Cannes and touring PART 1 through Brazil, Switzerland and Finland. So we were on hiatus, but we’re going to film the last four or five scenes in July. Hopefully, we’ll have our world premiere at Sitges.

Tromadance begins at 5:30 p.m. at The Paper Box (17 Meadow Street in Brooklyn, NY) on Friday, June 27th, and comes to a close on the night of Saturday, June 28th. Admission is free and open to the public. You can learn more about the festival and the screening lineup at Tromadance’s official site.

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About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel "THE I IN EVIL", and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
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