This Thursday in Portland, Oregon!
Bizarro Central Presents an evening of Bizarro Fiction, Comedy, Music, and Circus Acts in Celebration of H.P. Lovecraft at Portland’s only H.P. Lovecraft themed bar!
This is a very special event celebrating the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival – a Portland institution and horror tradition. Come get drunk beneath the elder sign with us!
AND THAT’S NOT ALL – this is also the book release party for SHATNERQUEST by Jeff Burk. The sequel to Eraserhead Press’ 2009 cult hit SHATNERQUAKE.
Sideshow performer extraordinaire performing death defying feats and nauseating stunts!
The author of CTHULHU COMES TO THE VAMPIRE KINGDOM will summon the deep one himself.
Dark noise and electronic music from one of Portland’s premiere nightmare sound designers.
ROSS E. LOCKHART
The author of CHICK BASSIST and editor of BOOK OF CTHULHU VOL 1 & 2 with some hard-knock punk rock life lessons.
HOSTED BY JEFF BURK
The author of SHATNERQUEST with a guide of what to do in case of a giant William Shatner Attack
You don’t want to miss this weirdo literary musical sideshow!
Bizarro Central Presents is a continuing series of Portland events curated by Jeff Burk featuring bizarro authors and friends of bizarro.
After the apocalypse, three Star Trek fans and their morbidly obese cat embark on a quest to save their beloved idol, the one and only William Shatner, from the hostile world America has become.
But their journey will not be easy, for the wasteland is filled with cannibal cults, Klingon biker gangs, Zombie Borg, and all manner of mutant creatures. And once they arrive at their destination, they discover that William Shatner has been transformed into Shatzilla – a giant 100-story radioactive monster hell-bent on destroying all of Los Angeles.
Now instead of saving Shatner from this new apocalyptic world, these three fans must save the world from this new apocalyptic Shatner. If only there was another giant monster who could take him down…
From the author who brought you the cult hit Shatnerquake, comes another Shat-tastic sci-fi comedy that proves once and for all that there actually is something even bigger than William Shatner’s ego. And it is… William Shatner!
BIZARRO CENTRAL PRESENTS:
AN EVENING WITH EFFWORD, CAMERON PIERCE, KIRSTEN ALENE, AND ANDY ADAMS
Come out for a fucking awesome night of music and performances.
Dark noise/goth/electronic one man band
The author of ASS GOBLINS OF AUSCHWITZ, DIE YOU DOUGHNUT BASTARDS, and many other books.
The author of LOVE IN THE TIME OF DINOSAURS and UNICORN BATTLE SQUAD
The author of JANITOR OF PLANET ANILINGUS and the upcoming DUBSTEP VAMPIRE.
Hosted and curated by
The author of SHATNERQUAKE, CRIPPLE WOLF, and SUPER GIANT MONSTER TIME
At the LOVECRAFT BAR
421 SE Grand
Portland, OR 97214
Bizarro Central Presents is an ongoing series of events featuring performances by bizarro authors as well as friends of bizarro.
I first became aware of Lee Hardcastle’s films from the short, T IS FOR TOILET. It is one of 26 short horror films that will be included in the upcoming movie THE ABCS OF DEATH. While 25 directors were sought out for the movie, the producers opened up the spot for the letter “T” for anyone to submit. Hardcastle did and his short will be included in the final film.
Curious over who this newcomer was, I looked up his short after I discovered it was on Youtube.
Holy. God. Damn. Motherfucking. Shit.
Take four minutes and watch this. No, seriously. Do it:
After seeing that, I quickly became addicted to Hardcastle’s films. His constant inventiveness with violence and the palpable sense of glee in downright infectious.
Not to mention that I’m a sucker for adult stop motion animation. I love the strange otherworldliness the technology gives across – yet while still retaining a sense of being physically real, something CGI sorely lacks.
I reached out to Hardcastle and had a short conversation with him about his influences and creative process.
Jeff Burk: Your short T IS FOR TOILET will be featured in the upcoming feature film, THE ABCS OF DEATH. How did that come about?
Lee Hardcastle: The ABCs of Death held a competition open to the public, where people could submit their own videos to represent the letter T in the film. And my entry Toilet won the competition, it was a dream come true and possibly my greatest achievement ever.
JB: How did you start working in stop motion animation?
LH: It was a bit of an accident, I did it as a hobby because I liked to make films but never thought it was possible to make a living from it until I started to build a bit of a following online! It all started with YouTube and the internet. Without it, I wouldn’t stand a chance in the film festival circuits.
JB: Are there any stop motion animators that you would site as an influence?
LH: Adam Buxton and Joe Cornish were my biggest inspiration with their “toy movies” on the Adam and Joe show, they didn’t demonstrate amazing stop motion a lot but it was charming and fun and made me want to have a go at it too.
JB: Your work shows an overwhelming love of horror movies with references to many classic films (THE EVIL DEAD, THE THING, DEAD ALIVE, etc…). Where did your love of horror come from?
LH: I dunno, I’m not really into horror films these days now – it’s horrible. I remember that feeling growing up, how excited I was about horror films and how I felt when I watched them, it was beautiful fine art to me. And now, I’m nostalgic and sad that I never feel like that anymore. I can’t say where it came from but I reference them out of my own bitter nostalgic reasons.
JB: Extreme violence and gross-out are becoming calling cards of your work. What were your biggest inspirations in regards to how you present your gore?
LH: I don’t know, I remember when I first watched The Thing and there were those two sequences back to back, first the guy whose chest opens up and then the blood test scene? It’s just there, all gory and crazy and it was a serious. That was love, I like to shock people and watch their reaction. It’s all about an audience reaction, it cracks me up. If I can disturb someone or make them jump, to me that’s like making a woman orgasm.
JB: Which film would you consider your greatest accomplishments?
LH: T is for Toilet, I am really happy with. It really came together, as it was for a competition I came up with an idea that would express everything I can do, my writing, my acting, my animating, my directing, my camering, my breathing, everything!! I wanted it to be the greatest representation of what I can achieve, and I achieved it against all odds too. I couldn’t even afford the 100 quid it cost to make! I had friends wire money to me via pay pal.
JB: What is the most demanding aspect of working in stop motion animation that others may not realize?
LH: It takes a lot of planning, you have to know exactly what you are shooting and in what sequence. Planning is everything, you gotta visualize for whole video frame for frame before you can pick up the camera.
JB: All of your videos are available to view via YouTube for free. As a new and independent artist, what made you choose that route of distribution? Any plans for hardcopies (i.e. DVDs) in the future?
LH: Actually, i think dvds/hardcopies are dead. The future is online.
JB: You’ve done a few music videos for a variety of groups and styles. How did that come about? Are there any special demands with music videos?
LH: Nah;, I get asked if I’ll make a music video every now and again, and I love the art of music videos. That is something I love.
JB: Several of your films are in 3-D (if you have the glasses) on YouTube. That’s not something I come across too often. What attracted you to making 3-D films?
LH: I think video is such a fun gimmick, I’ve always been obsessed with 3D and I love it when I show someone my work in 3D, they’re usually really amazed.
JB: What can we look forward to in the future from you?
LH: I don’t know, I’m a floater in a calm river this very moment, I haven’t a clue where it’s taking me or how rough/calm the ride is going to get. My goals are to employ people to work for me and get a lee hardcastle studio going so i can get bigger/longer videos out the door quicker.
JB: What is your advice to the aspiring filmmaker?
LH: Have goals, make them realistic. Don’t run out of batteries, keep going like the Duracell bunny.
JB: Thanks for your time!
You can go to Lee Hardcastle’s official website to watch all of his films for free. I highly recommend that you do.
I leave you with this, AN ALIEN CLAYMATION, his latest film:
2012 is coming to a close and it’s time, once again, for my annual Top Ten Movies of the Year!
If you want to catch up on past lists, here they are:
With that out of the way, let’s get on to 2012. Coming up with just ten best movies of the year was extremely difficult. This was one of my favorite years for movies in recent memory. I could have easily have done a top fifteen but I wanted to keep with tradition and limit it to just ten.
Starting off, here are the movies that I enjoyed but just not enough to make it into the top ten. Seriously, this year’s list was a hard one to narrow down and these movies are still totally worth your time:
Honorable Mentions: Excision, The Woman in Black, Argo, The Bay, Sinister, Chronicle, Grave Encounters 2
But with all my praise, 2012 wasn’t totally without its failures. Here were my least favorite movies of the year:
Biggest Disappointments: The Divide, Paranormal Activity 4, The Expendables 2, ATM
Alright, let’s move on to the ten best movies of 2012!
10: THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS
Rza and Eli Roth made a gore kung-fu flick! In the tradition of the best grindhouse movies, it’s bloody, filled with nudity, and has a kick-ass soundtrack. The plot barely makes sense. There’s a guy whose body is made of metal and there’s another guy who has iron fists and then there’s some seven clan rivalry…really it’s Rza and Eli Roth, you should already have a good idea what you’re in for.
9: THE RAID: REDEMPTION
As one of the movie posters says, “One minute of romance, one hundred minutes of non-stop carnage.” The movie follows twenty cops launching a raid on a thirty story building filled with gang members and drug addicts. After they get found out, everyone in the building tries to kill the cops before they can arrest a drug lord on the top level. It’s ridiculously over the top in it’s brutality and violence and never gets bogged down by things like plot or characters. Just how action movies should be.
8: INDIE GAME: THE MOVIE
The best art documentary of the year. The movie follows three independent game developers and their trials and joys over trying to create a video game. These are not people doing this as a hobby, they are artists that have invested everything they have into their creative goals. It’s unflinching and brutal in its honesty over how hard it is to make your dreams come true.
Part slasher, part teen drama, part meta-pop culture comedy, and completely insane, DETENTION never found its proper audience. If you’re looking for a straight forward genre flick, you’re going to be very disappointed. But if you’re looking for a experimental mash-up that features a time traveling alien bear (you’re on Bizarro Central so I assume you are), this is the movie for you.
I love found footage movies, or I should say I love the concept of found footage. Sadly, most filmmakers use the style to tell lazy stories and save money. V/H/S is not like that at all. Five filmmakers turn in found footage shorts that are all totally different and effective. It’s worth watching just for the haunted apartment story told completely through Skype conversations.
All the directors use the found footage to their maximum advantage and create stories that are shocking, claustrophobic, and vicious. Easily the scariest movie of the year.
5: THE CABIN IN THE WOODS
The horror movie that everyone was talking about this year, and rightfully so. Josh Whedon took every horror cliché out there and turned them upside. The end result was wickedly original and fun to watch. I can’t really talk about the movie outside of saying that it’s one of the most original horror films in decades. If you’ve seen it, you know why. If you haven’t seen it, what’s wrong with you?
4: THE AVENGERS/THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
If only my eight-year-old self knew that this summer I’d be seeing big budget battles between Batman and Bane and The Avengers and Loki…
While both superhero movies, both of these films take dramatic different approaches to the concept. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is philosophical and dark, while THE AVENGERS is all bright colors and huge set-pieces. The reason I grouped them together on this list was because I liked them for the same reasons—they are both comic book movies that took their source material seriously. If you enjoyed either one of these movies, you should check out the comics they are based on.
You all already know what these movies are about so you don’t need a trailer—check out this instead:
3: IT’S SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY
Don Hertzfeldt is best known for his surreal and violent short animated films like BILLY’S BALLOON, LILY AND JIM, and the cult favorite REJECTED. With his past few films his ditched the madcap humor and has opted instead for deeply personal pieces about lose and depression.
IT’S SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY is the third film in his trilogy that started with EVERYTHING WILL BE OK and I AM SO PROUD OF YOU (note: it is necessary to watch all three films in order). The three films form the story of a young man coming to terms with an early onset mental illness that has affected many previous generations of his family. It’s soul crushing and stunningly beautiful.
2: FATHER’S DAY
Troma Studios is responsible for many of my all-time favorite movies. While you can normally expect Lloyd Kaufman to deliver a killer movie, the films that Troma distributes normally either pure genius or utter dog-shit. And they’ve put out a lot more shit than anything else.
Enter FATHER’S DAY, the first feature from the filmmaking collective, ASTRON-6. A hilarious gore-comedy about a supernatural serial killer who rapes and kills fathers. The movie is inventive and constantly pulling the rug out from beneath the viewer.
The brain-blasting third act makes this movie so completely brilliant and it has my favorite ending of any movie this year. I wish I could rant about how awesome this is but it would spoil too much. Just go watch it yourself.
1: GOD BLESS AMERICA
While it had its festival premier at the very end of 2011, it didn’t get any kind of distribution until 2012, so fuck it. I’m counting it (just like last year’s number one, TROLL HUNTER).
After finding out that he has inoperable brain cancer, Frank, and his teenage side-kick, goes on a cross-country killing spree to make America a better place.
GOD BLESS AMERICA is a gloriously nihilistic revenge fantasy on modern culture. It is for every person who hates religious fundamentalists, vapid entertainers, and the political right and the left. It’s dark, violent, funny, and fiercely smart.
No film better captures the current cultural divide in America. It’s a more modern FALLING DOWN but without any moral ambiguity. The film never questions the main characters’ actions. It gloriously embraces their psychotic tendencies while making an argument that America would be a better place if some people were dead.
Those are my ten favorite movies of 2012. Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments. But there is still just one more thing:
MOVIE COMING OUT IN 2013 THAT I’M MOST EXCITED FOR:
Giant Monsters + Giant Robots + Guillermo del Toro = Nerdgasm
4:00pm: REGISTRATION OPENS (Location: Ad House)
8:00-9:00pm: OPENING CEREMONIES (Location: Ad House)
9:00-10:00pm: THIRSTY THURSDAY LIVE (Ross E. Lockhart) — Beer enthusiast and editor extraordinaire Ross E. Lockhart will review a craft beer and suggest possible book pairings. (Location: Ad House)
9:00-10:00pm: NEW BIZARRO AUTHOR SERIES MEETING (Kevin Shamel, Kevin Donihe, Bradley Sands) — Meet and greet for the New Bizarro Author Series authors and editors. If you are one of this year’s NBAS authors, this is where you will learn what will be expected of you over the next twelve months. (Location: Ad House)
8:00-11:00am: WRITER’S WORKSHOP: HIGH CONCEPT BIZARRO (Jeff Burk)— Pitch and critique bizarro book ideas with your bizarro peers and learn what it takes to write bizarro fiction novels that sell based on their ideas alone. PRE-REGISTRATION REQUIRED. WORKSHOP FULL (Location: The Mt Hood Room)
8:00-11:00am: WRITER’S WORKSHOP: CHOREOGRAPHY OF VIOLENCE (John Skipp) — Learn how to craft nail-biting edge-of-your-seat action sequences in a workshop setting with your pal, John Skipp. PRE-REGISTRATION REQUIRED. WORKSHOP FULL (Location: The Barley Room)
11:30-12:30pm: WRITING FOR A CULT AUDIENCE (Carlton Mellick III) — A one hour lecture and Q&A. Topics will include: cult vs mainstream marketing, the pros and cons of writing fiction with cult appeal, how to build a cult audience, and how to make a living as a cult author. PRE-REGISTRATION REQUIRED. WORKSHOP FULL (Location: The Barley Room)
11:30-12:30pm: BIZARRO WRITING EXERCISES (Cameron Pierce) — Feeling creative? Participate in some quick writing activities with your fellow bizarros, including one Cameron Pierce method involving Call of Cthulhu trading cards. (Location: The Mt Hood Room)
12:30-1:30pm: BOOK MARKETING AND AUTHOR PERSONA (Brian Keene) — A one hour lecture and Q&A with bestselling horror author Brian Keene. Learn how to market your books and develop a public persona in the digital age…without being a douche. PRE-REGISTRATION REQUIRED. WORKSHOP FULL (Location: The Barley Room)
12:30-1:30pm: THE ARTISTS OF BIZARRO (Alan M. Clark, Nick Gucker, Andrew Goldfarb, Paul Groendes, Chrissy Horchheimer, Liv Rainey-Smith) — Come meet the artists of the bizarro scene and discuss their creative process. (Location: The Mt Hood Room)
1:30-2:30pm: BIZARRO BRIGADE MEETING (Kevin Shamel) — Ask not what the bizarro genre can do for you—ask what you can do for the bizarro genre. Come brainstorm ways that you, the bizarro reader and writer, can help spread the word of bizarro to the world. Bizarro Brigade members are encouraged to attend. (Location: The Barley Room)
1:30-2:00pm: READING BLOCK ONE — Justin Grimbol and David W Barbee. (Location: The Ad House)
2:00-2:30pm: READING BLOCK TWO — Brian Keene and Robert Devereaux. (Location: The Ad House)
2:30-3:00pm: READING BLOCK THREE — Michael Allen Rose and Spike Marlowe (Location: The Ad House)
3:00-5:00pm: BIZARRO WRITER’S ASSOCIATION MEETING — Annual meeting for the BWA. Due to space limitation, this year’s meeting will be limited to BWA members only. (Location: The Barley Room)
3:00-3:30pm: READING BLOCK FOUR — Christopher Reynaga and MP Johnson (Location: The Ad House)
3:30-4:00pm: READING BLOCK FIVE — Bix Skahill and Edmund Colell (Location: The Ad House)
4:00-5:00pm: WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE BIZARRO BOOK? (Simon Ore, Mike Antonio, Zoe Welch)— Here’s a panel where you can voice your opinions as bizarro readers. What elements of bizarro would you like to see more of? What would you like to see less? Your feedback will be given to bizarro editors for consideration. (Location: The Ad House)
5:00-7:00pm: DINNER BREAK
7:00pm-3:00am: ERASERHEAD PRESS PARTY — Time again for another legendary Eraserhead Press Party! Featuring Bizarro Beer and performances by Kevin L Donihe, Carlton Mellick III, Shane McKenzie, Cameron Pierce, Kirsten Alene, and The Slow Poisoner. (Location: The Ad House)
9:00-10:00 am: BIZARRO BRUNCH—Have an excellent gourmet brunch. (Location: The Barley Room)
9:00-10:00am: NBAS BREAKFAST—This year’s new bizarro writers will have a private breakfast with last year’s new bizarro authors and discuss their experiences, give survival tips, and help brainstorm possible promotion methods to better prepare this year’s group. (Location: The Mt. Hood Room)
10:00-10:30: BIZARRO RAFFLE—After breakfast, enter a raffle to win free books, artwork, and other prizes. (Location: The Barley Room)
10:30-11:15 am: CONTROLLED ACCIDENT DEMO—Watch award-winning artist Alan M. Clark as he uses his controlled accident method in a live painting demonstration. (Location: The Ad House)
11:00am: BIZARRO BOOK NOOK OPENS — Your one stop for bizarro books (Location: Mt Hood Room)
11:30-12:15pm: VIRAL BOOK MARKETING (Jeff Burk, Rose O’Keefe, Cameron Pierce, Kevin Shamel) —Tips and tricks for marketing your book online, using blogs to your advantage, and the four emotions that make something go viral. (Location: The Barley Room)
11:30-12:15 pm: FORCED HALLUCINATION DEMO—Watch award-winning artist Alan M. Clark as he uses his Forced Hallucination method in a live painting demonstration (Location: The Ad House)
12:30-1:15pm: THE WRITING LIFE (Brian Keene, Robert Devereaux, Jeremy Robert Johnson, Mykle Hansen, Kevin Shamel) — Maintaining productivity and staying focused on your goals as a writer while facing self-doubt and the obstacles of daily life. (Location: The Barley Room)
12:30-1:15 pm: ALAN CLARK PAINTS WITH THE EXQUISITE BRUSH, JEFF BURK—Watch award-winning artist Alan M. Clark as he uses Jeff Burk’s dreadlocks in a live painting demonstration. (Location: The Ad House)
1:30-2:15pm: WHAT TO DO WITH A POO-FLAVORED DICK (John Skipp, Brian Keene, Shane McKenzie, Robert Devereaux, Jeff Burk) — Shock in bizarro and horror fiction—what has been done, what not to do, and what the hell is even shocking anymore anyway? (Location: The Barley Room)
1:30-2:15pm: READING BLOCK ONE — Alan M. Clark, Ross E. Lockhart, Bradley Sands, David Agranoff (Location: The Ad House)
2:30-3:15pm: READING BLOCK TWO — Andrew Goldfarb, Laura Lee Bahr, Eric Hendrixson (Location: The Barley Room)
3:30—4:30 pm: THE NEW BIZARRO AUTHOR SERIES READING BLOCK—Meet this year’s New Bizarro Author Series. Hear readings and performances from Shane Cartledge, Tamara Romero, G. Arthur Brown, Andrew Wayne Adams, Joe Wargo, and Gabino Iglesias. Hosted by Kevin Shamel and Kevin L. Donihe. (Location: The Barley Room)
5:00pm: BIZARRO BOOK NOOK CLOSES
5:00—5:30 pm: ASK KEVIN L. DONIHE — All the secrets of the universe are hidden within a single perfect being. And that being is known to us mere mortals as the Kevin L. Donihe. Come and he will bestow upon you his great wisdom. You may ask the Donihe anything you wish. He is never wrong. (Location: The Ballroom)
5:30 pm: GROUP PHOTO SHOOT (Location: The Ballroom)
5:30-6:30 pm: WONDERLAND BOOK AWARDS DINNER—The Fifth Annual Wonderland Book Award for Best Novel and Best Collection. Come find out the winners and enjoy a fajita buffet. (Location: The Ballroom)
7:00-10:00 pm: THE ULTIMATE BIZARRO SHOWDOWN—After the awards dinner, bizarro authors compete to see who is indeed the weirdest of the weird. Each author must give the most unique and entertaining three minute reading performance of their lives or risk being yanked off stage by the drunk and annoyed audience members. Winners will be given snazzy prizes. Hosted by Mykle Hansen. Judges: Robert Devereaux, Brian Keene, John Skipp (Location: The Ballroom)
11:00-Beyond: BIZARRO AFTER-PARTY—(Location: The Ad House)
10:00-11:30 am: BREAKFAST BUFFET—Nurse your hangover with screwdrivers and bloody marys over a gourmet breakfast buffet. (Location: The Barley Room)
11:30-12:30pm: THE KEVIN L DONIHE ART TOUR — Professional art critic and walrus-tamer, Kevin L. Donihe, takes you on a tour of the works of art displayed in the hallways of Edgefield Manor and explains the meaning and history behind these profound masterpieces. (Location: Meet outside the Barley Room)
12:30-1:30pm: SPACEFISH SCREENING (Simon Ore, Gaetano Evangelista, Jim Agpalza, Cameron Pierce, Kirsten Alene) —Watch the pilot episode for the bizarro animated series Spacefish, plus a behind the scenes discussion on the process behind bringing it all together with the creators of the show. (Location: The Barley Room)
1:30-2:30pm: CRAFTING THE SHORT STORY (Cameron Pierce, John Skipp, Ross E. Lockhart, Mykle Hansen) — Advice on the craft of writing short stories versus novels.(Location: The Barley Room)
2:30-3:30pm: HOW TO CREATE A KICKASS LITERARY EVENT (Rose O’Keefe, Mykle Hansen, Jeff Burk) —Want to throw an awesome reading, book release party, or other writerly shindig? Learn the ins and outs of event coordination with bizarrocon staff members. (Location: The Barley Room)
3:30-4:30pm: CLOSING CEREMONIES (Location: The Barley Room)
Congratulations. Just think of all the awful ways you could have died.
Your daily dose of awesome:
UPDATE: Apparently some sensitive types are really offending by the video. Most websites are now taking it down. You can still check it out here.
The latest book from Carlton Mellick III is available now. It is a “mysterious island” story for the bizarro audience.
If they don’t act fast, they’ll never get out alive…
Eight desperate castaways find themselves stranded on a mysterious deserted island. They are surrounded by poisonous blue plants and an ocean made of acid. Strange creatures lurk in the toxic jungle. The ghostly sound of crying babies can be heard on the wind.
Once they realize the rescue ships aren’t coming, the eight castaways must band together in order to survive in this inhospitable environment. But survival might not be possible. The air they breathe is toxic, there is no shelter from the elements, and the only food they have to consume is the squid-shaped tumors that grow from a mentally disturbed woman’s body.
From the crazy imagination of bizarro fiction master Carlton Mellick III comes Tumor Fruit–an intense survival story full of eccentric characters, nail-biting suspense, and unpredictable twists.
Like LOST on steroids, for the bizarro generation.
Available at amazon.com
This is what Hell looks like for Charlie Rose.
Troma Studios is the oldest independent film studio in the world – celebrating almost forty years of independent art. Founded in 1974 by Llody Kaufman and Michael Herz, the studio specializes in producing and distributing trashy gore and exploitation flicks that no other studio would dare touch. The best Troma films will gross you out, make you laugh, touch your heart, and turn you on.
If you’re somehow tragically unfamiliar with Troma, take two minutes to watch the soul of Troma:
With a catalog of hundreds of films, getting into Troma can be a bit daunting. Not all Troma movies are of equal quality and the studio has a reputation of taking shit films and giving them awesome titles – I’m looking at you Surf Nazis Must Die.
Here are my personal top ten Troma films. If you’re just looking to get into Troma, this is a great starting point. If you’ve been a long-time fan, then remember the blood, boobs, and beasts with me.
10. Troma’s War – 1988, Lloyd Kaufman
A satire of the action/war movie genre featuring the passengers and crew of a hijacked airplane battling a terrorist organization known as the AIDS Brigade. Director Lloyd Kaufman claims that the film has more squibs than any other film ever made. But who knows, Troma lies all the time.
9. Bloodsucking Freaks – 1976, Joel M. Reed
The first film picked up by Troma for distribution is still one of their sleaziest. Equally influenced by hardcore BDSM and the Grand Guignol, the story follows a magician whose act involves mutilating women onstage. The twist, it’s all real! Featuring an ass dart-board, brain-sucking via straw, and a penis sandwich, this one’s for the splatter fans with a good sense of humor.
8. The Toxic Avenger – 1984, Lloyd Kaufman
The first “real” Troma film. Before this Kaufman and company had been making mostly teen sex comedies. But with this mash-up of horror, comedy, and super-hero tropes, Troma was reborn and independent filmmaking would never be the same. The Toxic Avenger, or Toxie to his fans, would spawn three sequels, a cartoon show, video games, toys, and the love of thousands.
7. Redneck Zombies – 1987, Pericles Lewnes
Shot entirely on VHS, the nonstop splatterthon is everything the title promises it to be. After a clan of hillbillies mistake chemical waste for moonshine, they turn into undead flesh eaters. Known for its ridiculous dialogue and crazy over-the-top gore, this cheesy labor of love is a pure punk rock filmmaking.
6. Terror Firmer – 1999, Lloyd Kaufman
A Troma movie about the making of a Troma movie. The story follows a serial killer who is stalking the cast and crew of a fictitious Toxic Avenger sequel. The cast is amongst Troma’s best but Lloyd Kaufman steals the show as a blind parody of himself. In the best Troma fashion, the movie is half trashy horror, half rallying cry for independent art.
5. Class of Nuke ‘Em High – 1986, Lloyd Kaufman
Welcome to Troma High, where the local honors club turned punk gang sells radioactive weed. After smoking a joint and having sex, a wholesome couple unleashes a vicious monster that stalks the halls. A pure kinetic experience that is best enjoyed with a few beers.
4. Tromeo and Juliet – 1996, Lloyd Kaufman
Written by James Gunn (Slither, Super), this tribute to Shakespeare’s classic remain fairly faithful to the original but with large dose of lesbian sex and hyper violence. It’s worth it just to see Lemmy from Motorhead reciting actual dialogue from the play. I’m sure the bard would approve.
3. Father’s Day – 2012, Astron 6
The latest release from Troma is one of the best films they’ve ever distributed. A truly twisted and funny story of three men hunting for a supernatural entity that rapes and kills fathers. And then it gets weird. The movie twists and turns and it’s impossible to predict what deviant image will assault you next. You have to see this at least for the amazing practical monster effects and one of the funniest, darkest endings in recent memory.
2. Cannibal! the Musical – 1996, Trey Parker
The first film by Matt Stone and Trey Parker who would later go on to create a little show by the name of South Park. Taking the real life story of Alfred Packer, Stone and Parker create an outrageously funny, and surprisingly historically accurate, comedy/horror/musical. Make sure to buy the DVD to experience the greatest, drunkest, commentary ever recorded.
1: Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead – 2006, Lloyd Kaufman
Troma and Lloyd Kaufman’s ultimate masterpiece is a musical, gore flick about a fast food restaurant that is built on an Indian burial ground. After the food becomes possessed by the chicken/Indian spirit, and the customers become flesh eating chicken zombies, the staff must fight to make it out of American Chicken Bunker alive. Chicken zombie monsters, talking fast food made from people, and, of course, needless nudity make this the definitive Troma experience.
Jeremy Robert Johnson already has his tickets.
At BizaroCon ’11 world renowned genre artist, Alan M. Clark, gave a painting demonstration. At the end of the event, he did a final piece using my dreadlocks. This was something we had talked about for years (Clark has taken to calling me “paint brush head”). Enjoy:
And the final product:
Penny Rimbaud was the founder, drummer, and lyricist for the seminal anarcho band Crass. Inspirational to thousands of youth the world over, Crass broke new ground in what could musically be considered punk and how a punk band could present itself.
Penny was fascinated with how major corporations presented themselves and drilled their image in people’s minds. The use of symbols, such as logos, is a defining aspect of corporate culture. With a good logo, a small image can invoke a wide variety of complex emotions in the viewer. Be it the McDonald’s “M” to inspire hunger (or the thought of breasts) or the Playboy bunny to invoke lust. Businesses have long ago mastered the art of manipulation.
Not to be outdone, Penny wanted a symbol for his projects that could hold the same power. He wasn’t looking for a band logo, but a logo for a movement. He turned to his friend and artist, Dave King, and got this:
Penny wrote about the logo in his autobiography, “The symbol represented the various forms of oppression…family, church and State. Heraldic in quality, part national flag, part cross, part swastika, the circular design broke on its edges into two serpent’s heads, suggesting that the power it represented was about to consume itself. It was an extraordinarily powerful piece of work which…became synonymous with the ancharo-punk movement that we had spawned.”
When it came time to expand out into a record label, Crass applied their branding technique to this new venture as well. Each release on Crass records had a black and white circular logo on the front. This associated every release (almost all by previously unheard of artists) with the mega-popular Crass. Their popularity was used to gain exposure for numerous other acts which may have otherwise never have gained an audience. Flux of Pink Indians, Conflict, and Bjork all got their careers started with this business model inspired by the biggest corporations in the world.
And some say the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.
With simple images and design Crass sent out their message to the world with the goal of essentially brain washing their audience. This, coupled with the booklets, posters, patches, and buttons that came with every release, made Crass records a one-stop-shop for the aspiring anarchist.
This may not sound too revolutionary but it is worth keeping in mind that Crass was operating in 1980. At that time, literally no one had yet thought to apply corporate tactics to presenting and spreading radical ideas. Their goal was to brainwash their audience and remake the world in their own image.
In his essay, Pop Magic, Grant Morrison says, “Corporate entities are worth studying and can teach the observant magician much about what we really mean when we use the word “magic.” They and other ghosts like them rule our world…
Think hard about why the Coca-Cola spirit is stronger than the Dr. Pepper spirit (what great complex of ideas, longing and deficiencies has the Coke logo succeeded in condensing into two words, two colors, taking Orwell’s 1984 concept of Newspeak to its logical conclusion?). Watch the habits of the world’s greatest corporate predators like FOX, MICROSOFT, or AOL TIME WARNER. Track their movements over time, observe their feeding habits and methods of predation, monitor their repeated behaviors and note how they react to change and novelty. Learn how to imitate them, steal their successful strategies and use them as your own. Form your own limited company or corporation. It’s fairly easy to do with some paperwork and a small amount of money. Create your own brand, your own logo and see how quickly you can make it spread and interact with other corporate entites
Build your own god and set it loose.”
From 1994 to 2000, Morrison set out to translate these ideas of symbols as magic into the comic book format. His result was The Invisibles – a multi-volume comic series that is widely regarded as one of the best comic stories ever created. The book is one part conspiracy thriller a’ la The Illuminatus Trilogy, one part do-it-yourself guide to brainwashing and chaos magick. Morrison described the series as a “hyper-sigil” (a sigil is a visual representation of a spell) where he was attempting to work magic on a massive scale. When asked what the goal of his hyper-sigil was, Morrison frequently told interviewers it was to spread his “mentally transmitted disease of sex, drugs, and good times.”
In 2000, Grant Morrison spoke at the Disinfo Convention about the use of Sigils and the practice of Magick in one’s everyday life.
In 2001 a new punk band formed in Canada named Fucked Up. The band started as your standard sing-along hardcore punk outfit but, after reading Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles, they decided to change their focus. They released a series of seven-inch records, each one a sigil in record form. In 2006, the band took their concept of occult punk to the extreme with their first album Hidden World.
From that point on the band went into full-on occult mode. Each of their releases became its own spell to further Fucked Up. They were no longer experimenting with the technique but were becoming focused around it. They even went as far as doing a yearly project themed after the Chinese zodiac – thus far there have been three releases of the promised twelve. They have never revealed what the purpose of their sigils are for but it appears the magic is work. They have won critical acclaim, rapid fan base, performed twice on MTV, covered in the New York Times, won the prestigious Polaris Music Prize, become regular guests on FOX News, and even claimed to have summoned a man name David Eliade in existence (he now serves as their band manager and artist).
The band openly acknowledges the use of sigils in relation to their success. In an interview with Analogue Magazine the band said, ““But man, Fucked Up is proof that sigils work.” Jo laughs, “Yeah through effort, good song-writing and black magic, you can make it!” Damien goes on, “black magic is all you can attribute this too. It’s not looks! It’s got to be some evil higher power. But it is seriously practiced by some people in the band. Y’know, maybe this band is a sigil. This band is magical!”
Symbols are power. Symbols can inspire a revolution, sell a product, and rewrite the brain. But only the right symbol and only if it is attached an impassioned subject. Some would use the power in this technique to enslave other minds while others use it to inspire. Regardless if you want to call it marketing or magic there is the same goal – remaking the world in your desired image.
“For every McDonald’s you blow up, “they” will build two. Instead of slapping a wad of Semtex between the Happy meals and the plastic tray, work your way up through the ranks, take over the board of Directors and turn the company into an international laughing stock. You will learn a great deal about magic on the way. Then move on to take out Disney, Nintendo, anyone you fancy. What if “The System” isn’t our enemy after all? What if instead it’s our playground? The natural environments into which we pop magicians are born? Our jungle, ocean, and ice floe…to bargain with and dance around and transform, as best we can, into poetry?
What if, indeed” – Grant Morrison
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