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.
“TROMA’S WAR” (Blu-ray Review)Movies/TV,News,Reviews Ken W. Hanley No Comment
As an ardent fan of Troma and their history of releases, there’s always an odd relationship this writer has with TROMA’S WAR that can only be compared to that of film critics to Michael Cimino’s HEAVEN’S GATE. On one hand, TROMA’S WAR is a massively underrated gem, featuring stronger-than-anticipated performances, an epic sense of scope and production value (relative to Troma’s means) and a vibrant sense of over-the-top fun that stands alongside the biting satire in Lloyd Kaufman’s script. On the other hand, however, TROMA’S WAR is also infamous for being the film that almost put the nail in Troma’s coffin, and knocked down the independent brand below even their humble beginnings, so there’s an inherent contempt that Troma die-hards (undeservedly so) have for the film. But now that TROMA’S WAR is on Blu-ray, fright fans now have a perfect reason to revisit the film, considering it’s been given the high definition blessing on Troma itself.
Luckily, TROMA’S WAR is the type of film that is most likely to surprise any newer Troma fans, giving a glimpse of their biggest ever production while still containing the chaotic spirit that Kaufman, Herz and Co. are known for. In fact, given the action set pieces, special FX and practical prop work on display, it’s almost insane to think that the disgusting, offensive and bizarre Troma team vision still made it to screen given the budget and Fox Distribution Deal of the time. Furthermore, TROMA’S WAR is also not one to rest on the defining factors of a Troma production either: believe it or not, but TROMA’S WAR is actually a pretty well written film, and the genuine passion for political discord in the writing feels authentic and heartfelt, even more so than Troma’s expected social commentary.
For those unfamiliar with TROMA’S WAR, the film follows a group of Tromaville citizens whose plane crashes onto a deserted island, only to find it inhabited by a militant terrorist operation. Soon, these mild-mannered and ethically wayward people find themselves creating a makeshift resistance as they discover the terrible source of the operation. Of course, random shoot-outs, body mutilation, training montages and AIDS-infected sex warriors are all apart of the action, leading to an explosive, bloody finale the only way Troma knows how.
In terms of its new Blu-ray transfer, TROMA’S WAR looks and sounds better than ever before, even though occasional compression issues and available assets make the high definition version far from perfect. In fact, when the video transfer is at its best, the film looks incredibly crisp and colorful, although high def aficianados likely won’t get past the technical issues (an occasional byproduct of an independently produced disc). Meanwhile, the audio transfer is solid as well, featuring a balanced Dolby Digital 2.0 track that really pops out during the film’s many gunfights. And newer TROMA fans will also appreciate the widescreen look of the film, as the film preserves the original format that has not seen release since the film’s theatrical exhibition.
However, collectors will find this release of TROMA’S WAR to contain some excellent extras as well, and for good reason: Lloyd Kaufman is genuinely proud of TROMA’S WAR and the political statements associated with the film, as punctuated by his appearance in the disc’s introduction. In fact, that candid streak ends up being a theme throughout most of the features on display, whether it be in Kaufman’s informative commentary/rant track to the “Veteran’s Day” cast reunion featurette to the newly produced “Post-War Memories” retrospective with Kaufman and Michael Herz. And Troma also offers the standard features as well including an interactive menu and the sole TROMA’S WAR trailer.
Despite some video transfer issues keeping this release from being a home run, TROMA’S WAR should be an easy sell to Troma-friendly Blu-ray collectors. With the stigma surrounding the film all but schlock film history, fright fans can sit back and enjoy TROMA’S WAR for the silly, occasionally splattery satire that it is. There are enough extras on the disc filled with refreshing honesty about the film to please those who do pick it up, and though it’s not a studio essential in the way THE TOXIC AVENGER or RETURN TO NUKE ‘EM HIGH VOLUME 1 are, Troma die-hards won’t be disappointed if they serve a tour in TROMA’S WAR on Blu-ray.