The following transcript was originally intended as an episode for our sideshow Interview With The Horrorphile. But technology being the unpredictable beast that it is, rendered the audio unusable. While most podcasters would have scrapped the entire thing, I felt this interview had way too much heart to simply put to the side, so I transcribed it for you to enjoy.
Lloyd Kaufman has always been a giant influence on me and my creative life. For the longest time he has always been a silent consult, his books a wise tomb of knowledge. While Joe Bob Briggs turned me on to drive-in movies and other horror flicks, Lloyd turned me on to the independent spirit. For decades Troma has been the outsider, champion for the little guy, a leader in true independence, and the voice to those that are silenced by the corporate elite. Its fitting that Lloyd’s earliest work was on ROCKY (1975). Troma is the peoples champion, and Lloyd is its Rocky Balboa, always fighting the good fight and never wavering.
With our podcast I’ve been afforded the great honor of interviewing those that I look up to, but Lloyd Kaufman’s interview will go on to be the highlight of my life.
Lloyd: Hello, Tulsa.
Leigh: Hey, how’s it going, Lloyd?
Lloyd: Okay. How are you?
Leigh: Oh, pretty good. How you doing in a quarantine?
Lloyd: Great. Great. So What would you like to talk about Night Of The Horrorphile?
Leigh: Well we are doing our Troma Month for April so I thought this would be a great time to talk to you.
Lloyd: Nice. anytime Leigh, nice to talk to you.
Leigh: Nice to talk to you too sir. I’ve been a huge fan going on most my life.
Lloyd: Well, maybe when the Troma movie we are living ends, maybe you could go to your local theater and suggest they book some of our new movies. We haven’t had a movie out there other than in Oklahoma City. Last year we had one weekend somewhere, but not in Tulsa.
Leigh: We have our Circle Cinema down here. I need to talk to them, see if I can get them to set up a whole thing.
Lloyd: Yeah talk to them, if we do a show, you curate the Q&A and all that stuff.
Leigh: Hell, yeah. So I guess I’ll start by asking, your interest in film making. Did that begin in childhood or was that later on?
Lloyd: No. No, my interest began at Yale University, where I happened to be roomed with a movie nut who ran the Yale film society and I started drifting into the movies they were showing. And I suddenly realized, wow, this is something that’s not in the out. You know, I was going to be a social worker or a teacher, it was the sixties I was all about piece and love. I was going to teach people how to finger paint. People who had hooks for hands. Teach them how to paint happy faces on beads and string the beads together. But I got hooked on movies through my roommate at Yale, freshman year, and couldn’t stop so that was it.
Leigh: If I’m not mistaken, your first film was like a fifteen minute short of a pig being slaughtered. Is that correct?
Lloyd: Yes, I spent a year in Chad. Thank you for remembering that. Obviously there was no factory farming so it was all clean and natural butchering. Where we lived we had to take some animals from the bush, we had to take some farm animals and that’s how we ate. The people who worked for us took the pig, which was a very nice pig, very affectionate. I filmed it and enjoyed the fact that my mothers friends were shocked!
And I guess that led me to enjoy it, pissing people off. But I now am an animal rights person. There’s no way I would take advantage of it that way, I don’t eat meat. I eat human flesh, but not the flesh of any living creature other than humans. In fact, I shot a PSA for PETA2.com because they said it would help save more animals, PETA 2 is aimed at young people.
And so I paid for it and we did it really cool, You can see it on PETA2.com. If you type in my name and Troma and I think its probably on Troma Now also, our streaming service. So I did a short piece, It was a satire about factory farming and basically the horrible things they do to animals. We built a set with cages and we had people in small cages piled on top of each other.
Feeding on each other, having their children ripped from their arms, hanging upside down being slaughtered, and tasering them. The whole thing, it’s horrifying, but it’s also rather amusing. Sunny Acre’s Farm is the name of that little short film. Now if you type that in there actually is a Sunny Acres Farm somewhere. I didn’t know that and occasionally that one pops up.
Leigh: And that’s something you’re really good at, putting those social/political messages into things. Delivering them in a way where it’s, I don’t want to say It’s easy to digest, but it is your thing.
Lloyd: That’s the idea, that you want to change the world a little bit and entertain people. You know we’ve done it going on 50 years, the problem is we’ve done it totally independently. Here we are, the last independent studio after 47 years of Troma. This is my 50th year of making feature length movies and it’s very lonely because the conglomerates. The big guys pretty much control pathways to the viewers. So, you know, we’ve set up our own streaming service Troma Now and we’ve always done everything totally outside the system.
But the laws and the FCC rules keep changing to favor the Amazons and the Googles and the Paramount and Sony, the club of the majors. More and more artists are pushed into the weeds of the underground. And as a result, it’s worth noting that the Internet is really our most important way to communicate with our fans.
Leigh: It’s been a valuable tool for most people who we’re trying to get stuff pushed out there that gets locked out by most of the big industry.
Lloyd: And the biggest threat is Ajit Pai, the head of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit said he’s getting rid of net neutrality. That means that the the Internet services like Com-cast can slow down your content and speed up their own content. So Com-cast owns, you know, a huge amount of broadband and a huge Internet cable and the Internet empire.
And they now know they’re allowed to slow down Troma. You know, screw it. What do they call it? Slowing down. There’s a word for it, I can’t remember now. But they screw around with their competition. But the problem is, they don’t screw around with their club, with the club of elites. They screw around with the little guys like you and me.
Lloyd: They keep lowering the monetary sharing. And they’re censoring, same with Amazon. They’re telling makers and artists to change the art, to censor their art. What if Picasso was told, you really need a more realistic face. We can’t put this in a museum. Or the guy who hung the urinal up in the French American Exposition, 1917, whose name escapes me but he was a Surrealist, everybody got upset about that and it’s now worth about 400,000 bucks.
Anyway, it’s tough times and Troma is really an endangered species. And really when you think about it, there’s a bail out where you’ve got all the lobbyists swarming around the bailout money during this corona crisis. So Most of it’s going to the rich, guys.
Leigh: That’s so wrong.
Lloyd: Yea, and I just read that one of those big companies, the CEO this year will get 67 million dollars. That’s obscene, nobody should get that much, no one should be allowed to make that much money. I guarantee hes not gonna lose anything if the company goes to get bailed out. Mr. CEO of Delta or American Airlines, or the head of AMC, they often make millions of dollars a year, they got their handout. They got lobbyists, and then big actors, the kiss ass mainstream actors, many of them are griping about how we’re gonna lose the cinemas, lose part of the American tradition. Well, fuck em you know, tough shit, right? You shouldn’t have squeezed out all the independents.
Leigh: Hell yea. Fuck ’em
Lloyd: These movies in the fullness of time will disappear. You’re economically blacklisting the artists and all the visionaries who are going to change the world. They’ve been shoved down deeper and deeper into the weeds of the underground, and nobody knows about it. But we all know that so and so-just made a new movie for Sony Classics, an independent movie for Sony Classics and Fox Searchlight.
Leigh: Question is, can you even call it an indie at that point?
Lloyd: Well They’ve stolen the word independent. Their vassals of Disney and all the bullshit . So, yes, you’re getting some some kind of content that’s slightly different, but it’s all been strained by the mainstream. Anything that’s been really controversial gets strained out. So we live in a George Orwell kind world of 1984. Its all Predigested, like baby food. You can live on baby food, even politically correct baby food. You can live on it, but it’s really boring.
Leigh: It really is, and it never seems to last.
Lloyd: Movies like Shakespeare’s Shit Storm have a political and sociological content, they last, They don’t go away. That’s the difference, we make art and Paramount for the most part makes garbage. Their stock is in the shit hole, its constantly going down because the public doesn’t want to see it.
Leigh: Exactly. And that’s what I’ve always loved about Troma, you guys have always been on the outside of things. It’s one of the biggest reasons you are my favorites. I gotta thank you for all the work you’ve done honestly, its had a big influence on my life.
Lloyd: Oh, you’re welcome.
Leigh: How did all this (Troma) come together?
Lloyd: Well, it has a lot to do with I hated going to Yale, but it changed my life. Not because my freshman year roommate was a movie expert, but the Yale Film Society at the time, was very much into the auteur theory of film making.
The French came up with this after World War Two, François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godardt that whole bunch of guys coming out. Auteur, the author, they believe that the author of the film is the director, that the director must have total control. It is his or her, or their, or whatever you wanna call it, personality and soul that should be stamped onto a film consistently with each film.
So, for example, you know a John Ford movie, you probably don’t even have to look at the credits you know it when you see it. You probably know a Tarantino movie when you see it without knowing who directed it. Those are autuers, my movies are auteurs, you can’t miss it. Troma, the movies that Michael and I have directed and produce together, are all auteur films that are totally controlled by us with nobody telling us what to do.
The film society at Yale had a pile of these magazines from the Cinema De France that were in French. I happened to Le bourgeois, so I speak French. Well I would read these magazines and the articles were written by people like Godard, and I think Chabrol wrote some of them. They were slowly evolving the making of all these theories of auteur filmmaking, and I bought into it being a narcissist.
It was a stupid thing to buy into it, because it requires you to have total control over every detail of the movie, which, of course, is basically impossible. But Its to the extent that Troma is very much stamped with my personality or Michael’s personality or the two of us as Siamese twins. We very much are auteur filmmakers. We just finished Shakespeare’s shit storm, there’s nothing more autuer than that.
Leigh: No one does Shakespeare like Troma.
Lloyd: Yes, Its the ultimate auteur film. It’s based on The Tempest, my favorite Shakespearean play. It deals with political and sociological themes that have been boiling in my brain for two or three years. It’s very personal, yet It’s extremely entertaining and very controversial, as they all are.
Leigh: It seems like with every new release people favor the previous Troma movie, they are so ahead of their time people don’t latch on as quickly. Is that something you expect for Shit Storm?
Lloyd: Well when it comes out here’s what will happen Leigh, The movie will come out after….well we’re living in a Troma movie right now. I don’t think we could have written this stuff.
But in any event, when this is all over and we open hashtag Shakespeare Shitstorm in the few theaters that are left, people will say, “oh, you know, it’s an okay Troma movie, but Return to Nuke Em High, that was better.” When we made Return To Nuke em High, everyone said “Oh, yeah, that was ok but Terror Firmer, that was a real good Troma movie.” When Terror Firmer came out 20 years ago, nobody really went to see it. But we just released the 20th anniversary Blu-ray of Terror Firmer and we can’t keep them in stock. They’re selling out constantly, Terror Firmer and Tromas War, both of which were dismissed as “not as good as the previous ones.” With Tromeo & Juliet we got the same thing. So it’s a very difficult theory. Our slogan Leigh, for many years until about five years ago was Movies of the Future.
That was the slogan for Troma. Now we’ve changed it to disrupting Media for 47 years, but up until recently it was movies of the future, and indeed they are. They are going to be around a lot longer than a lot of mainstream movies, which have two hundred million dollars of advertising. We had no advertising. And yet people are still going to movie theaters to see the Toxic Avenger made 35 years ago for nothing with no advertising. So, you know, Troma has left and continues to leave an enormous footprint on pop culture in America and the world actually.
Leigh: Mainstream seems to ignore that.
Lloyd: Right, and all the great people that have come out of Troma, all the artists discovered. What more can we do? But we’re still getting ignored. I’ve lived in New York for my whole life. We’ve made hundreds of movies here and distributed hundreds of movies here in New York. Our movies have been premiered at the Museum of Modern Art and the Moving Image. I don’t think there is anything like us. But The New York Times, not a peep when we turned 30 and not a peep when we turned 40.
The only time they’ve written about us in 30 years, or any of the New York media has even said a word about us, was when MUBI and UPI bought a few of our movies for their free streaming service. They did a special tribute to Troma and The New York Times listed it. That’s because MUBI is owned, I think, by one of the major conglomerates.
Leigh: That’s the weird thing about it, you guys have been around for so long and each year to me (the movies), they just get better and better. But all you guys have with advertising, is just word of mouth from the fans. That’s it, and its amazing to me you’ve done and continue to do what the conglomerates pay millions for.
Lloyd: You can’t buy word of mouth, you just can’t buy that stuff Leigh. That is the biggest
weapon we have, is our fans. We are fan fueled, our fans have even given us money on Kick starter for Return to Return to Nuke em High aka Volume 2. That was because during post-production we had ran out of money and we had a period where we would have to wait six months for revenue to come, but the fans filled the gap. It was about $80,000. They shoot our movies and they act in our movies.
They, like you, work to book our movies in the theaters. We’re a company that has, I think eight to 10 employees depending on the time. We look huge because the fans are like thousands of employees all over the world either promoting us or trying to get us into the movie theaters or doing something help us out. They write the scripts, Shitstorm was written by a Troma fan. I mean, obviously, it was Shakespeare to some extent, but it was written with a Troma fan and all the producers, are fans. Everybody involved in the movie from-we don’t say extra, we say actor person-but from the actor persons with small appearances to the choreographer, the site supervisor to the CGI, we have some amazing CGI artists doing it for free.
We’ve had Hollywood, big time guys, one guy is huge and he did a terrific piece of CGI all without asking for pay. The movie was scored in Portugal by a very famous Portuguese composer for nothing, basically because he’s a Troma fan. So that’s what makes us look a lot bigger than we are. But we’re a very small company and we’re running on fumes. Well we aren’t running on fumes, we’re running on the memory of fumes.
So anybody listening to Night Of The Horrorphile, please subscribe to Troma now. It’s the future, but now.
Leigh: That’s watch.troma.com.
Lloyd: Yes, thousands of movies, documentaries, cartoons and even comic books are on Troma Now. We just put a movie up today, Punk Rock Holocaust, A very good movie shot on the Warped Tour, that just dropped on Troma Now. There’s no censorship, It’s a lot of exclusive premiers a lot of Troma classics, and a lot of new releases as well as outside movies we distribute.
It supports the independent artist during this time. I don’t think Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks and Quentin Tarantino need money, but our artists need money for sure. Independent art is really having a tough time now. So please subscribe to Troma Now, because It is the future.
Leigh: The streaming service, It’s just like your movies, ahead of its time. I really appreciate that you include the directors commentaries on there, which is a new thing for streaming. No one else is doing that.
Lloyd: That’s a good point, we haven’t really advertised that, that’s a very good point. You’re right, we have the documentaries and behind the scenes, of our own movies. Poultry In Motion, the documentary about the making of Poultrygeist, which is a pseudo musical about fast food and zombie chickens.
Again, we don’t have any money, we don’t have an app. You can see it only on your laptop, I think. We can’t afford app, we have a fan in Texas who thinks hes made an app, but there’s some other stuff that has to be done. So when we do have an app, it’s going to be because of the fans. Not because we could afford to pay 30,000 bucks for an app.
Leigh: Which is again, another egregious thing that’s been just shutting down little people like us, they’ve made it almost impossible to afford to be on the same level as the big guys.
Lloyd: Exactly. Yes, exactly. We got hooked on this one service, we set up Troma Now on VHX. We paid them, than they got acquired by Vimeo. We used to be on the Roku and Microsoft XBOX, than Vimeo comes along and buys VHX and tells us thirty thousand bucks and we’ll make an app and then you can get back on those platforms. Now we’re stuck, It’s like getting hooked on opioids It deals with pain, than next thing you know you’re hooked. So we’re stuck with them and now we have to get app made, hopefully our fan is going to make it. He seems to be about 85 percent of the way.
Our fans are the main secret ingredient, the secret weapon Troma has. Like you said, the Internet is the only way we can communicate, not the only way, but a major way to communicate. The mainstream is doing its best and the elites are doing their best to destroy democracy. The Internet is, as you know, the last democratic medium and its becoming less and less democratic.
Leigh: It is definitely getting encroached sadly. Keeping folks like Troma more and more out of the light and these future artists silent. Speaking of which, Troma is like a master class if you want to learn how a movie is made.
Lloyd: Good point. You’re absolutely right. You know, one way you can look at it is, “oh look, that poor young boy is working on a Troma movie 18 hours a day and he’s only getting twenty dollars a week to $50 a week, nothing.” We pay something. But whats film school cost?
Leigh: An insane amount.
Lloyd: Right, there’s nobody that’s worked on a Troma movie, completed It, than regretted it. Every hundred percent say this is better than film school. How much does schools like NYU cost, 80,000 dollars? USC is the same. So I think working on a Troma movie and, you know, not getting a lot of paychecks for a few months, but learning much more than you would in film school, I think it’s a fair trade.
We could charge like the New York Film Academy. What the hell is that? That’s bullshit. They charge people, it isn’t even a registered university. They’re great, I’m not criticizing them, They’re terrific. We could charge people to work on a movie. Only a few thousand dollars you can work on #Shakespeare Shit Storm. But we don’t do that, that’s a way we could raise money.
But what you end up with then is a lot of rich kids, NYU is the same thing a lot of bourgeois laziness. There’s some great people there, obviously, Scorsese, Oliver Stone, who started with me, of course. People like that come out of film school, but also a lot of lazy people there for the wrong reasons. So, you know, I did a couple of lectures at USC and they sleep, most all the kids. The only ones to ask questions were foreign kids, they all want to make Star Wars. A lot get brainwashed into thinking, you’re not worth anything unless you got a job with Disney.
Leigh: Now that’s a crime.
Lloyd: You know, you’re a good listener because I talk too much and I’m very boring and everything. But Thank you. You’re an excellent listener.
Leigh: That’s what we do on the show, mostly listen. Everyone can hear me talk my head off on our regular show. Honestly, this has afforded me the ability to talk to some of my heroes that I grew up with, like you. I grew up on the toxic crusaders cartoon before i saw The Toxic Avenger, which you guys are showing those cartoons on Facebook every Saturday morning which is fun.
Lloyd: I’m glad you were there Saturday morning. Now we’re providing family entertainment and toxic crusader cartoons. We have other stuff from the rolling collection that we have like Doggy tales, which is a children’s movie that we made. In fact, James Gunn’s wife, she made a movie for us called Lollilove its terrific, well she and James made it together, but she directed it. She was on the Office, she plays the receptionist.
Leigh: Jenna Fischer worked on Doggy tails?
Lloyd: Yes and its a good film for little children, they love it. Also, the stoners like it because it’s kind of goofy with doggies singing and there’s other stuff. So like the toxic crusaders, you know, adults can enjoy it to.
So we do that on Saturday mornings, and of course its on Troma Now which is growing. But anything you can do to attract subscribers. Because, again, nobody knew who James Gunn was, and there’s an opportunity for some new James Gunns to get some exposure and maybe make a few bucks. So people should subscribe, the first month is free and then it’s only 4.99 a month.
So it’s nothing, and you get movies that really change the world. There’s a great collection of LGBTQ movies because we’ve been making LGBTQ movies since Sugar Cookies in 1971, which was a lesbian version of Vertigo. It’s amazing how people look down their noses at us. Take the Toxic Avenger, the only people that supported Toxie in that movie were the children, his mother and the gay guys, you know, for the most part until the end when the little people are realizing the good guy is the monster.
Leigh: It fires me up a little Lloyd that you guys don’t get the recognition you really deserve, the stuff you give back to the community, the great talent you’ve given us…
Lloyd: Me too, you know, what more can we do? James Gunn, Eli Roth, Samuel Jackson, it goes on forever. Not to mention making movies that people can’t forget, like the Toxic Avenger, SGT. Kabukiman NYPD, Nuke Em HIgh, also bringing out movies like Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s Cannibal The Musical, which we did have a part in producing.
And we definitely discovered them. But yeah, we can’t seem to get ahead. Luckily, people like you Leigh and Night Of The Horrorphile, luckily, there are many people like you out there who are interested and just open minded and love, true auteur art. Art that comes from the heart and the brain and the soul of the artist. Our movies deal with the underdog even Tromaville, New Jersey in our movies is the underdog, it lives in the shadow of big scene.
Leigh: You know, even as a podcast, we take or I take a lot of inspiration from Troma just because we try to, and I don’t know if it’s on purpose, but we keep doing the complete opposite of what mainstream pod casters are doing. That’s the thing now is mainstream podcasts, because we’re kind of competing with celebrities who get out here and spend millions on these shows and we cant compete.
Lloyd: Like Dolly Parton reading children’s bedtime stories, they can’t leave it to the young independents. That leatherface beef jerky, Rod Stewart is still hogging, upstages, you know. And now with the Covid Virus the big guys are sucking the air out of somebody whose trying to read poetry or paint, the independent. Then it gets swamped.
Leigh: Yeah, it sure does. Heading back to the toxic crusaders. How did Toxie leap from the movie into a children’s cartoon?
Lloyd: I would say that is like Covid 19. I think it’s a once in a century happening. Honestly,
I’ve never been able to understand it. I Can’t really quite explain it, but as near as I get the toy company who was making the Teenage Ninja Turtle toys and those guys grew up with Troma. I’m still very friendly with them, at some point the action figures of turtles was descending.
So the company wanted something to replace them. Al Gore had discovered the Internet or something and he took over on the environmental scene. So I think the toy company wanted environmental action figures. So somehow they focused on the Toxic Avenger. I don’t think they saw the movie, it didn’t last very long. It lasted two years, was always successful, it was always number one on children’s television.
Leigh: Was there ever an idea for a movie adaptation?
Lloyd: The problem with that was New Line was going to make a movie, and the movie, the Toxic Crusaders big budget movie would have dragged along a locomotive of 200 products, merchandise, kitchen, pajamas, Slippers, colorforms, comic books, coloring books, everything. But New Line had guaranteed to make a movie. Unfortunately, they had their fingers crossed, New Line is a division of Warner Bros, and it turns out they were using us as a stalking horse.
They guaranteed and signed a deal with us, so they had us in their back pocket and they were having trouble negotiating The Turtles third movie and they thought they might lose Turtles. So they made a deal with us and we wouldn’t do it unless they guaranteed that the movie would get made and which they signed. And then, of course, they announced a year later that they were going to do the Turtles 3 movie and fuck us! We sued them four years later it drew a lot of blood.
Leigh: That’s insane, I had no idea they did you dirty like that.
Lloyd: New Lines basic modus operandi was they’d sign up the young independent producers and a negative pick up deal. We’re going to give you four million dollars when we finish the movie. So then the filmmaker is just like “whoa this is great New Line the Freddy movies.” the poor bastard, and we spoke to people doing this. So then they say, “ok Mr. New Line here’s my movie, wheres my four million.” Well, you know, we don’t want to give it to you.
But you know, we’re gonna give you five hundred thousand. And because the guy’s mortgaged his home, lost his dog, and gave up his job he’s desperate. So he doesn’t have the money to make a lawsuit, and they get away with it. So they negotiate from four million down to half a million and the poor guy loses his home. We essentially don’t take bank loans or any hardship and the independent guy who lost his home also had bank loans, based probably on the New Line deal who knows. But we had a guarantee that they would make the movie there wasn’t any kind of option.
So we had plenty of money in our treasury to have the biggest lawyers we could find. And they tried to do what they always do and try to make the independent guy go bankrupt. The independent usually can’t afford to sue, it takes four years. At least It took us four years and probably half a million bucks. And eventually at the steps of the courthouse, they sow.
Leigh: That’s such a sad thing because New Line started as an independent film company.
Lloyd: They were always shit heads, they where never nice. Both of those guys, they were never nice. I think one of them kind of liked movies, Shay. I think the other one was just crass. But in our travels people told us horrible things about New Line. And then of course, they got acquired by Turner, got acquired by Warner Brothers and than at one point the president of New Line was a billionaire. Warner Brothers bought your Time Warner bought AOL and then stock went down to $2.
It went way back up again. Went way back. People thought we where pretty tough. We have only launched two lawsuits in our entire careers, we chose pretty good simply because the people were crooks, and they had signed something that was black and white. But it took years and years and thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars. And now we have an issue today, do you know what Force majeuree means.
Leigh: No, I know its a clause in a contract but that’s as far as my knowledge goes.
Lloyd: If you sign a contract, usually there is a clause called the Force majeure, which means a major disaster, and if there is a major disaster, the contract can either be delayed, extended or closed. So we have a situation with the Toxic Avenger remake. Where the Force majeure clause has been utilized by legendary, which is a nice company, they are going to make the big budget Toxic Avenger movie. So they sent us a letter today saying they need to send me a contract because of force majeure.
And we’ve never experienced anything like that before. It’s there for the matter of floods and typhoons but it also shows that legendary wants to keep the project going so that’s pretty cool.
Leigh: That’s good news, and that was actually one of the questions I was going to ask you about the big budget remake. I was worried after New Line it wouldn’t ever take off. It also seemed like the Toxic Crusaders died.
Lloyd: When New Line fucked us, than everybody lost interest. You know, all the people that had signed most of the children’s toys and there like two hundred licensing deals, left. Once the movie disappeared they stopped pushing products and the cartoon maker went back to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, there’s more there but after New Line Toxie was almost killed. But the fans have kept it going, Keep it going. We let the fans get Toxie into theaters all over the country. Not a lot of them, but I’d say once a month there’s a theater somewhere playing the original Toxic Avenger after 35 years. I don’t think there are that many Hollywood blockbusters that are being shown that many places this many years later.
Leigh: Yeah, that is so very rare, its usually it’s a once in a lifetime thing. But yet Toxie is still making the rounds.
Lloyd: Its still going with no mainstream support, only economically blacklisted, Troma is blacklisted. It’s like Cuba in a way, so we don’t kill people. Cuba was blacklisted by the United States, there was an embargo. And yet they have better health care than we do and they have better education. They got some good, they are a dictatorship they torture and whatever. But they’ve somehow miraculously been an important world player since the 60’s, they were the whorehouse of America and They became a respected country. Whether you like the system or not, they built themselves up in spite of being economically blacklisted. So, Michael, actually, Russia’s doing not sanctions. Russia is doing great right now, even with the oil down to zero, and Leigh I don’t care for Russia either. But the point is, Troma is totally-and I don’t want to compare Troma to a genocidal, racist, sexist dictatorship like Russia or Cuba. But we are totally embargoed.
We’re totally kept out of the loop of any way that the mainstream can help us they only use us to subsidize the payments to the big elites. So we had to remove ourselves from all that. I made a documentary, short documentary showing how YouTube and Amazon are fucking with independence, but not fucking with the majors. They’re censoring independent movies or dropping them and DE-monetizing.
Leigh: But I can see all the war footage and ESPN swimsuit shoots I want.
Lloyd: Yes, they’re not doing that for mainstream movies or CNN which depict the same graphic violence or sex or whatever you want to call it, content that the independents have, they kick off the independents or modify them. And I made a documentary called Independent Artists vs. The Media Cartel. And it’s only about 10 minutes, but you get the point. You can see movie, and they’re not Troma movies, we mention one or two examples. But, you know, like we had a movie three years ago, a million people saw it and we got a thousand dollars.
Now, a million people saw it this year and we got like $10, This was on google and YouTube. Five years ago, we saw it coming and that’s why started Troma Now. That’s Watch.Troma.com the first month is free. Please get your peeps to subscribe and help the artists, the real artists. Tom Hanks doesn’t need help, well he needs help with his not catching the disease, god bless him. But he doesn’t need attention or money on the internet.
Whereas these artists on Troma Now and Troma itself. If It is indeed a national treasure people need to subscribe.
Leigh: Lloyd I gotta ask, after being the king of independence for this many years are you fearful you might be the only independent auteur left?
Lloyd: Well, first of all, I have been getting lifetime achievement awards. I’m assuming mainly because Wes Craven is dead. So are the other guys, then Kevin Smith did red state and so I’m kinda the last one. All my friends, like Terry Jones died this year, Stan Lee died, in fact Shakespeare’s Shit Storm is being dedicated to Stan Lee, John G. Avildsen, who was my main mentor, he made Rocky and Cry Uncle. Sadly, my stepmother died this year. So I dedicated Shakespeare’s Shit Storm to them.
Leigh: My condolences Lloyd, we’ve been losing a lot of good people. How is Shakespeare’s Shitstorm coming along with the Corona virus outbreak and everything?
Lloyd: We’ve finished about a week before the lock down, so its all done. Just we have the
theatrical trailers and the poster. And there’s a hashtag you can go to #Shakespearesshitstorm, you can see a lot of clips and photos all by people in the film. We don’t mind if people take pictures and go behind the scenes it’s good advertising. So you can see a lot of interesting clips. So when the Troma movie we are living in stops then we’ll start turning our attention to mutant blast.
Which did open in LA. and got held over actually very, very well. And even though it didn’t even get reviewed by any LA. newspaper, but it’s a major film and got held over to a second decision in LA. about the time the outbreak came out so we had to stop. We were supposed to open Mutant Blast today in New York City.
And unfortunately, we’ve obviously had to postpone it. But Mutant Blast will be the next movie in theaters. And I don’t know how many we will get because I didn’t direct it. But if I direct the movie, Troma maybe gets 200 theaters which are scattered around the United States. And very often it’s just a weekend or even just a midnight show. Usually no more than a week if we’re fortunate.
Leigh: Was it like that back in the day when Toxie came out?
Lloyd: Well the Toxic Avenger, Class Of Nuke Em High, Kabukiman and the others in those days we get 2000 screens, but these days no more. Because all the movie theaters have become consolidated under AMC. By the way, the movie theaters, they now have their hands out. We taxpayers are supposed to now subsidize Mr. AMC, who makes millions of dollars as if its salary and is a Chinese owned company too. So now they got their hand out there along with their vassals like mainstream actors on twitter.
If you go on Twitter, you can see them going “oh no The Great American tradition, fuck em. They put out what I started, there were 30 independent movie studios at least making good and profitable movies relatively well and some of them making movies that changed the world. And you know what they are Leigh, Toxic Avenger was at the tail end of that and we got consolidated. All the rules set to protect the public against Monopoly Have been done away with, same with net neutrality because of this action by the FCC chairman.
There’s no magic anymore they’ve gotten all of it, and it’s awful. So support Troma Now while its still here. I’ve got another five minutes. But do you make movies Leigh?
Leigh: You know, I had a big interest back in the day, I owe a lot of that inspiration to you. But here in Oklahoma, it was just hard for me to get off started. So mostly I just got more interested in radio and stuff like this. It took me years to get this project off the ground because here, you know, we’re not financially secure. So it’s just been kind of hard for us, but maybe now that technology is better I think I might write again.
Lloyd: Well, clearly, you have passion that will take you far if you keep at it.
Leigh: Well, thank you very much.
Lloyd: What do you do for a day job if you don’t mind me asking?
Leigh: I make filter belts for water filtration companies and air filtration stuff like that.
Lloyd: What company?
Leigh: It’s called filtration group, It’s a little company. I love working there because we make products that protect our environment.
Lloyd: There’s a company that makes water filtration. I’ve see it written within the New York Stock Exchange. It’s amazing what you get when your 74. So I may be losing it, it might be interesting to see if I can even make another movie. I’m looking for my next script, by the way. If you do write again or run across a really original screenplay, I accept those. I’ve never been into the money side of it, more just making it entertaining.
So if you’ve seen anything like that, doesn’t have to be horror, science fiction, ROM com, it can be anything, so long as it’s one of a kind and will be here for a few years later.
Leigh: Well ill definitely be in touch and ill yell if i find anything. I got to thank you so much for giving me your time its been a dream.
Lloyd: Thank you. Thank you Leigh, you know I have my archives there in Oklahoma, did you know that?
Leigh: I actually did not know that, that’s awesome.
Lloyd: The American heritage is based in the University of Oklahoma and Stan Lee’s archives are there too. He asked them to take my archives because obviously Stan was a
friend and a huge influence on me. We were friends for years.
Stan always used to chastise me for not being more mainstream. His favorite movie Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD was probably the most mainstream movie that Michael Herz and I directed.
You know, it’s not my favorite, but It’s a great movie, the movie’s terrific.
Leigh: It truly is.
Lloyd: It made me make compromises, which I shouldn’t have. And the Japanese co-produces the guys who created PAC-Man wanted it to be more mainstream. They had their parks and they wanted Kabukiman to be in amusement parks, what I wanted was Troma.
Leigh: Right, and you can feel that in the movie.
Lloyd: I shouldn’t have compromised, I compromised and they compromised. So Kabukiman was a little watered down. One of my proteges, Doug Sakmann, has been working on a Kabukiman sequel. And if that comes to pass, the world will be introduced to Kabuki ma’am. Actually, if you go to my Instagram or my Twitter, there’s quite a number of pictures of women who have dressed up as kabuki ma’am.
Well Leigh If you want to set up a time and do a second interview, maybe in a few months, I’ll be happy to do it.
Leigh: I’d love to have you back on Lloyd you’re always welcome here. Well I’ll let you go. Thank you so much Lloyd its meant the world.
Lloyd: Thank you Leigh, Well take care and stay true to yourself.
Leigh: Bye Lloyd take care.
One thing I didn’t expect from this interview was the warmth Lloyd would extend through the phone. Lloyd treated me as an equal, something I never expect from an interview with someone I consider a personal hero. Its why you’ll see many of us call Kaufman Uncle Lloyd on social media and beyond. He makes you feel like family, the Troma team does this as well. I’ve been going back and forth with managers of celebrities in the horror genre and beyond, while it hasn’t been unpleasant, it is clear that its business. But with Lloyd you get the feeling that your talking to someone who is rooting for you, a booster that just wants you to succeed. So many independent artists have turned to him and he’s helped them get their art out there, something a lot have taken for granted.
While some bloggers have attacked Lloyd and Troma in the past, with words that just aren’t true, like he doesn’t hire minorities or women. Its so important to know Troma has hired and worked with everyone from every walk of life. Lloyd is possibly the last decent, caring, and heartfelt film producer left. In a world of monsters like Harvey Weinstien, Lloyd along with Michael Herz are genuine human beings. That’s why I believe Troma has lasted so long, its the one company that has heart. Its why we’ve dedicated an entire month to the films that will last forever. While mainstream wants to forget and push Troma out of the way in lieu of films the elite deem “important”, Troma continues to create movies that change the world, we just have to start paying attention.
You can help keep real independence and Troma alive by doing a few things, I do these myself. Subscribe to Troma Now, buy your Troma DVDs and Blu-rays from Troma Direct, and tell everyone about Troma. As Lloyd said you cant buy word of mouth, and us fans are the greatest weapon Troma has.
One thing we say on the show and it applies to Troma films, you can like a movie or dislike a movie, that’s ok. But you have to respect the art and the people that dedicate part of their life to these films. Lloyd Kaufman and Troma are the peoples champion, the underdog, the ROCKY of films, and they need our support to continue being just that.
Thank you Lloyd, and thank you Troma.