“Body piercing. Kinky sex. Dismemberment. The things that made Shakespeare great.” –Tagline for Tromeo and Juliet
DIRECTED BY: Lloyd Kaufman
PLOT: Alcoholic Monty Que and unscrupulous Cappy Capulet have a long running feud dating back to their days as partners in a low-budget sleaze movie studio, and they have passed on their personal vendettas to the next generation. Monty’s son, Tromeo, falls in love with Cappy’s daughter, Juliet. The two young lovers must overcome the bloody gangland antics of their friends and family, Juliet’s upcoming arranged marriage to a self-mutilating meat-packing heir, and Cappy’s tendency to beat Juliet and lock her in a plexiglass box, among other crossed stars.
- Original drafts of the script had the parts played by costumed characters from other Troma studio releases: The Toxic Avenger, Sgt. Kabukiman, and so on.
- Much of Shakespeare’s original dialogue was included in the rough cut, but most was removed after negative audience reaction.
- Rock n’ roll cult figure Lemmy (of the band Motörhead) played the role of the narrator for free, and also donated the song “Sacrifice” to the soundtrack. Several less famous bands also donated songs for free or for a nominal price.
- Shakespearean actor William Beckwith played the role of Cappy Capulet under the pseudonym “Maximillian Shaun” because he was a member of the Screen Actor’s Guild and Tromeo and Juliet was a non-union film.
INDELIBLE IMAGE: Many of the more memorable images in Tromeo and Juliet are too obscene to be depicted in stills. The best sequence is when Juliet’s belly unexpectedly and rapidly distends and splits open to give birth to… a surprise.
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Redoing a classic Shakespearean tragedy as a low-budget, offensive farce is a promisingly weird, if obviously gimmicky, premise. Lloyd Kaufman and his Troma team were inspired by the concept, however, and put more creativity into the project than they did in their usual formula schlock fare. The typical Troma anarchy and bad taste reign again here, but the producers add a healthy dollop of bargain-basement surrealism (Juliet’s disturbing sex dreams) and some on-the-cheap arthouse effects (the lovemaking scene in a plexiglass box against a starry backdrop). The result is a movie that’s completely unpredictable, despite a plot known to every high schooler. Tromeo is revolting one moment, and oddly sweet and beautiful the next, an incongruity that only adds to the weird atmosphere.
Short promotional clip for Tromeo & Juliet
COMMENTS: Troma is a low-budget film producer/distributor formed in 1974 to promote Continue reading 12. TROMEO AND JULIET (1996)