Scruffy City Cinema Spotlight: Tromeo and Juliet

As people who read this blog regularly may already know, the Aug. 24 screening of Troma Entertainment horror-camp classics The Toxic Avengers and Class of Nuke ‘Em High—with a special guest appearance in the person of Troma founder Lloyd Kaufman—has been postponed. Those films have been rescheduled for another upcoming Scruffy City Cinepub event, and organizers of the upcoming Knoxville Horror Film Festival are hopeful that Kaufman will still make it into town for his scheduled appearance at the KHFF on Oct. 24 through 26.

In the meantime, we have another, very timely Troma feature on tap for Aug. 24 at Scruffy City Hall, Kaufman’s uber-violent, sexed-up Shakespeare adaptation from 1996, Tromeo and Juliet.

What makes Tromeo so timely is that it was written by a then-unknown Troma newbie named James Gunn. Gunn, of course, recently entered Hollywood’s write-your-own-ticket stratosphere as the director of this summer’s mega-blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy.

Understand, though, that if you liked Guardians, but you’ve never seen a Troma film before, you may be in for a bit of a shock. There are no big-budget FX hijinks on display in Tromeo and Juliet; the acting is half-baked and hammy; and the violence is so over-the-top it damn near snaps back and smacks itself in the face.

The movie adapts Shakespeare’s stage classic Romeo and Juliet, but with a “revised” ending, and a host of Troma-esque embellishments. Tromeo Que is a struggling tattoo artist who shares a cheap apartment with his alcoholic dad; Juliet Capulet is the daughter of upper-crust Manhattanites, living in a mansion with her abusive father, her nutso cousin Tyrone and the family’s horny lesbian maid.

Naturally, Tromeo and Juliet eventually meet, and fall in love, despite the fact that their families are at odds. The rest of the story, though, bears only a passing resemblance to the Bard’s original tale. (Big props for: having Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead serve as an intermittent narrator, prefacing a handful of scenes with very proper readings of Shakespeare’s original text.)

Despite its camp and grindhouse origins—or maybe because of them—Tromeo and Juliet made the rounds at film festivals and arthouse theaters in the mid-‘90s. And it was, for the most part, well-reviewed. (Although one prominent critic stated that it is a film “in which Juliet has lesbian sex, Romeo masturbates, various body parts are removed, and the feud is between rival porn stars.” As if those were bad things.)

But be forewarned: How well you will like Tromeo and Juliet will predominantly hinge on your taste for sadistic violence, incest, and mutant cows.

Tromeo and Juliet will screen on Aug. 24 at 6 p.m. at Scruffy City Hall.


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