An Exclusive Interview With Troma’s Lloyd Kaufman! Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of my interview with the legendary Lloyd Kaufman.

In case you missed Part 1 of the interview just click HERE to read it
Q9: Has there ever been any ideas presented to you that were maybe too over the top that you had to turn them down or tone them down in anyway?

“I think as long as we believe that this is something that is meaningful to us. Return To Nuke ’em High is in fact about the miserable food that young people in the States have been eating over a generation that produce obese, diabetic, and polluted atmosphere and torturing farm yard animals, I mean just horrible, horrible. They feed them to get them in the schools, so Return To Nuke ’em High that’s one of the themes and of course bullying is another theme and the homophobias. The romantic couple, the original Class Of Nuke ’em High was a boy and a girl and in Return To Nuke ’em High it’s two gyno’s and it’s very meaningful to us. You couldn’t pay me enough I don’t think to make a film glorifying Hillary Clinton, although I imagine if somebody paid me a few million bucks I would probably do the real Hitler, the good Hitler movie. Instead of Surf Nazi’s Must Die I might do Surf Nazi’s Must Live. As long as we agree with the themes, as long as the themes are important to us.”

Q10: Is there one project that you’re most proud of?

“I think the current film. Michael Herz, who went on record saying… He never goes anywhere, he never appears in public, he made a rare appearance on the KickStarter video and said to our fans that Return To Nuke ’em High and Return 2: Return To Nuke ’em High, the second half of the movie, this is the best work and I think it is. I think it’s my Sistine Chapel so to speak. I think it really is, in the fullness of time, this is a masterpiece, indeed.”

Q11: Do you feel you’ve accomplished your goals with Troma?

“I think we’ve been extremely fortunate to be able to start a movie studio and have it survive for over 40 years, we’ve had a great run, It gets harder and harder. We get better known all over but less revenue. When you have a country, a dystopic country like China, and I majored in Chinese Studies, my dream was to make a movie in China. I assumed that China would evolve into something that was slightly democratic and slightly reasonable but it’s evolved into an elitist, big version of Kazakhstan, where you’ve got this elite dictatorship that are stifling freedom of speech, that are stealing all our intellectual property. Not giving any of the revenue to the poor people, it’s all going into the pockets of Generals. All the Troma movies are being sold over there. I don’t mind file sharing, I’m happy if you make a copy of Return 2: Return To Nuke ’em High and share it with your buddies, as long as you don’t sell it. We’re giving away 300 movies on YouTube, it’s all free no strings attached. We want people to see our movies but if they’re making money off them they ought to share with us.”

“And the fucking Chinese, fuck them, I hate them now, I hate China. I’ve been there seven or eight times and I’ll never go back. They’re arresting owners of bookshops in Hong Kong because they’re selling unauthorised biographies of Prime Minister XI and it’s connerie, they’re running this like it’s a private reserve, it’s disgusting. And no contract that you could sign with the Chinese, any government that ever signs anything, they’ll never live up to it. They’re ruining the fledgling, African entrepreneurial efforts by locals by bringing in these giant sweatshops and agricultural crop. You know they’re colonizing Africa, they call it soft colonialism. They’re stealing the South Seas from Japan and Taiwan and the Philippines and fuck them. I’m sorry I majored in Chinese studies, although the culture is very wonderful and the art is lovely, but I’ll never go back, fuck them.”

Q12: What Happens to Troma once you and Michael Herz are gone? What do you think happens to the company?

“Troma has a life of it’s own, certainly the Toxic Avenger. People make fan films, fan art, there’s a Toxic Avenger Musical. I just went over to London to see it, it was terrific, and they’re bringing it to the West End apparently. It was a wonderful cast, absolutely fabulous and the music was written by Bon Jovi’s keyboard guy, David Bryan, it’s great and it’s been playing all over the United States now, it played a year In New York. There’s so much Troma that it has a life of it’s own. I would imagine… The best thing that could happen would be I blow my fucking brains out and some young entrepreneurial people breathe new life and bring it in new technology and do what we should be doing with it, or not do with it, probably due to lack of funds and the lack of wanting to have interference, we don’t want people censoring us.”

“I was buddies with Sam Arkoff who was the founder of American International Pictures and one year in the 50’s they made over fifty movies, that’s where Roger Corman was birthed, but they made movies with all these great stars, every one of them, and he said his biggest regret was he got bought out by Filmways which was folded into Viacom and Paramount and all that stuff and he said that was his biggest regret because they just destroyed his brand and they just parceled it out and they dumped his stuff. He got a big fee but he said that was his biggest regret. I don’t think Michael and I are going to be interested in selling out unless there’s some enormous… I mean I’m much older than Sam Arkoff was when he sold out so, but I don’t see us doing that, but the company has a life of it’s own without us.”

Q13: What’s your view on today’s Horror scene?

“Well I think one good development, and we pushed it along a bit ourselves is that there are non-male Directors. The Soska Twins who are making great movies. We just helped finance a teenage non-male named Kansas Bowling who made her own damn movie, she wrote it when she was fifteen, shot it when she was seventeen. We helped, we gave her some money, we’re distributing that, had a big red carpet in L.A. So I think in that regard the Horror…”

“I wrote an essay about 8 years ago, which appears on my fansite, about Gynophobia, namely that the Horror gang, the so called Masters Of Horror who pretend that they’re the coolest and most avant-garde and just ultra, you know they high five each other every ten minutes, yet there are no females really. I went to a luncheon with about thirty of them and there was only Alison Anders, now there seems to be more non-males and I wrote this essay, you can see it on Lloyd, it’s under Lloyd’s ‘Roids (HERE), it’s an essay called Gynophobia and I talk about the fact there’s nothing more horrifying than giving birth. I was there for it three times, it was the most disgusting, horrifying, painful thing in the world. So there’s no reason why women shouldn’t be making Horror films, except that it’s a frat boy, it’s like a fraternity house. But now good news, they’re starting to do it and doing good stuff. Led in large part by, what’s her name? The Vampire movie that doesn’t talk about Vampires, she’s brilliant but she’s old now. AARRGGHH I can’t remember but it’s terrific (I’m guessing Lloyd means Kathryn Bigelow who did Near Dark). And now you’ve got a few people like Kansas Bowling and the Soska Twins, there are others that seem to be really gaining access to the Horror films, as Directors, not as script girls.”

Q14: Do you have anything exciting lined up?
“Well we’re finishing Return 2: Return To Nuke ’em High, we’re editing, the picture has been locked and editing the sound, we’re doing the sound design starting now and we hope to have it finished by our Labor Day which is early September and then we’ve gotta find movie theatres, one movie theatre that support us is the Prince Charles in London, I think only has shown our movies recently I don’t think we have any movies there. Wales, there’s a festival there that’s done retrospectives and Aberystwyth, the university there, I’ve done master classes and Oxford. So I imagine we’ll have the film touring. I don’t know If we’ll get to many cinemas, but the universities have very good projection and I’ll come over and do some master classes.”

“France is a big, they love our movies. They love Jerry Lewis, they love Troma, Sam Fuller, they look at me as an Auteur Cinematheque Francais. British Film Institute has done a few retrospectives of Troma and I think they showed Toxic Avenger not too long ago and now with Shakespeare’s 400th year a lot of venues in the UK are showing Tromeo And Juliet at Shakespeare festivals, we’ve gotten a lot of requests. If they’re not charging admission the we don’t ask for anything.”

Q15: Who are the best and worst people you’ve worked with?

“I honestly don’t think… We had to fire the guy who played the Toxic Avenger during Toxic Avenger Part 2, he was a jerk. We really haven’t forgot this, I mean look at him, make up, he’s ridiculous. He started becoming a diva and screwing up our schedule so we fired him and we had a stand in Toxie, he was terrific.”

“I think the worst experiences are the two experiences we had with the mainstream. It’s very, very difficult to penetrate the hymen of the mainstream but when the two times we penetrated the hymen of the mainstream we were the ones who got fucked and we had to sue New Line, the division of Warners, and sue a company called E1 which I think is a Canadian company who are big time, big time studio in Canada. Big time whatever, some kind of huge media there. Those are the worst, yeah those were the two worst.”

Q16: Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
“I think to thine own self be true, a phrase infact coined by William Shakespeare who, as you know, wrote that best selling book 101 Money Making Screenplay Ideas otherwise known as Hamlet, I’d say that would be a good rule. I think the crossroads the young person would come to is, if you want the big money, the Oscar and the Bafta and the cocaine and the hookers and the plastic surgery on your ass like the Casparians or whatever they’re called, then you need to go to California where the projects get green lit and figure out how to negotiate the hallways, the corridors of power. But if you just wanna be an artist like Troma, stay wherever you are, that’s the good news, you don’t need a lot of money. Toxic Avenger Part 1 was $450,000 in 1983 and that was considered a very small budget and today that’s like £2,000,000 with inflation. We’re making movies for the exact same budget or less. Which is about 20% of what we were making because our fans come and work for free, they come from all over the world and all that kinda stuff but you can make a movie for $5,000 or £3,000. Travis Campbell made a movie for us called Mr. Bricks: A Heavy Metal Murder Musical, it’s got Lemmy Kilmister’s music in it, it’s a great film, wonderful, a Heavy Metal Murder Musical, $5,000 bucks. Some guys in Canada, we gave them $25,000 bucks and they made a movie called Father’s Day, which I think had distribution in the UK. So there are young people making great movies for $25,000 to $100,000 and they’re terrific but how do you live off that? You can’t get to the public, the only way to get to the public is to work through one of the vassels like Fox Searchlight or Sony Classics or Rank something or other, they’re gonna clip your wings, they’re gonna censor you, they’re gonna want to put Ben Affleck in your movie or whatever and again, there’s nothing wrong with that.”

“Eli Roth is making great movies in the mainstream, James Gunn, The Guardians Of The Galaxy in my opinion was spectacular, it was great. Trey Parker and Matt Stone did Cannibal: The Musical for Troma, they’re movies are terrific and they’re tv show is terrific and they’re right there with the mainstream. They had the most successful Broadway show in history, they’re major Troma fans and obviously very much influenced by us, but they’re able to talk the mainstream talk and and get what they want from the mainstream and be top quality people, best people in the world. The Soska Sisters, I think they’re gonna make it big in the mainstream, on their own terms and they’re good people, they’re great people, they’re not sleazebags. 99% of the people in our business are the scum of the earth, both mainstream and non-mainstream. You go to the Cannes Film Festival, where we go every year and you come back just wanting to take ten showers, they’re so disgusting, both the big shots and the little shots. They’re all crooks, half of 1% are decent and James Gunn, Eli Roth, the people we’ve worked with, they’re all wonderful people, the ones who made it and there are decent people in the mainstream. Their greatly talented, there’s great stuff coming out of the mainstream but I can’t talk the talk and I’ve never been able to be as charming, as creepy as Abel Ferrara’s, but he’s obviously a miserable person and to me his movies stink, but they love him. those little agent boys, they’re impressed with him, they’re like a debutant, they’re like debutants to the Hells Angels. ‘Oh Abel, he’s so tough’, these little twinky boys, little ass kissers, they like that kind of stuff. Like Oliver Stone too, he’s psycho, he started with me by the way, he began with me. He was at Yale and he was writing a shitty novel and then I was making movies and he kind of hung out a lot and then he helped me make my first two movies, he’s in The Battle Of Love’s Return. Then it turned out he he’s a genius, he’s got so many Oscars he had to have his mantelpiece reinforced, he’s one of our great American filmmakers and statesman and rewriter of history and he’s a major talent. Of course he disengaged with me as soon as he got successful.

“We grew up together, from 8 years old on and he used to beat me up, we’d have sleepovers and I’d come home crying because he beat me up but they like that, the agents and the little yes men and the suits out there, they like that manly kind of, getting slapped around, cursed at. Look at Harvey Weinstein, look at the magic he can make. That’s not to say they don’t love movies, I’m sure they love movies. I know Oliver does, I know Weinstein does but I don’t know how well adjusted they are.”

Q17: Do you have any words for anyone who’s going to read this?
“Well I think from Michael Herz and Lloyd Kaufman, were very grateful to our fans around the world who are now at least three generations. We have a booth at San Diego Comic Con which we’ve had for about 30 years and we get people my age, 70, down to 12 and we’ve got Grandparents bringing Grandchildren to get my signature and I give my signature for free by the way, unlike so many of the celebrities you’ve never heard of who charge for their signatures, I don’t. Hopefully our fans appreciate that but I think the key is we thank our fans in the UK and we thank our fans everywhere and thank you Raz for having the energy and the interest in talking to a broken down, drunken, low budget filmmaker.”


On a personal note I’d like to thank Lloyd for being generous with his time and sharing his views on the world without holding back. It truly was an honour.

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