Troma's War 1998 Horror Movie Review
Horror movies Review
TROMA’S WAR, director’s cut (1988)
directed by Lloyd Kaufman & Michael Herz
approximately 1 hour 45 minutes
Anybody who has ever watched a Troma movie has probably wondered what kind of movies the studio would make if they had a bigger budget. The closest thing we really have is the director’s cut of Troma’s War. The movie is supposedly a statement about the way that war is marketed towards Americans, but at times it comes off as an attempt to compete with Hollywood action movies. Nevertheless it is one of the more unique titles in the Troma catalogue.
The story begins with a plane crashing on a remote island. The survivors are a group of “Tromaville” residents including Catholic priest, a Vietnam veteran, a blind woman, a rock band and a Wall Street yuppie. Unfortunately their plane happened to crash on an island that is being used as a training ground for terrorists. When the terrorists discover the survivors on their island, they immediately suspect them of trying to infiltrate their operation. The terrorists play hardball, trying to get them to reveal information by using sadistic violence.
Eventually the team of survivors decided to fight back. This leads to a full-fledged war on the island with many explosions and thousands of gunshots. The gun violence is done in a very 1980s style similar to Robocop and Rambo. In spite of the similarity to these Hollywood blockbusters, the Motion Picture Association of America refused to allow much of the violence to be shown in theaters and forced Troma to heavily edit the movie in order to get an “R” rating. Director Lloyd Kaufman has stated before that the edited version of Troma’s War contributed to many difficulties for his company.
Although the movie bears a strong similarity to other action an war movies, there are dashes of Troma here. For example a guerilla fighter perched in a tree gives away his position by farting. It also has the usual blonde T&A and after-the-fact love stories thrown in. There are in fact torture and rape scenes which in some ways foreshadow the more brutal movie of recent years (or harken back to the grindhouse style of the 1970s). However the violence is mostly “run and gun” type scenes where the enemies are expendable and the violence is impersonal.
What is most interesting about this movie is not the gratuitous violence. The plot seems to be largely derived from several conspiracy theories that have been circulated in the American political underground. For example the terrorists on the island are not part of a single group but rather a meeting of various anti-American groups including marxist, fascist and Islamic organizations. The groups have several plans to create chaos in the United States including tainting the water supply with drugs and deliberately infecting Americans with the AIDS virus. Finally, we find out at one point that while these extremists are bent on destroying the U.S. for their own reasons, their entry into the country is being facilitated by Washington insiders. The Washington group’s plan is to let the extremists run wild and scare average citizens, making them plead to build up the national security state. The actions of this right/left terror nexus are referred to by conspiracy theorists as “Ordo ab Chao” or “order out of chaos”.
Troma’s War is very much a product of its time. There are references to many events of the day, including the October 1983 truck bombings in Lebanon and the Baader-Meinhof gang (which was still operating in the 1980s). While Americans may not have to worry about guerilla fighters in our backyards, we are still accustomed to seeing military violence whether it is from a movie or the 5 o’clock news.