If you’ve read my other reviews of Troma’s movies, you know how crazy things can get in these films. You should be used to how over-the-top these films are by now. If this is your first foray into the world of trash cinema, you need to take Terror Firmer with a grain of salt the size of a London bus. There are quite a few scenes that would have the uninitiated either grossed out, insulted and offended, or possibly left in an irreversible catatonic state.
Terror Firmer is loosely based on Lloyd Kaufman’s book ‘All I Need To Know About Filmmaking I Learned From The Toxic Avenger.’ It follows the mishaps of a film crew trying to make a new Toxic Avenger movie when someone starts murdering the cast and crew. Although the murders never happened in reality, other scenes were taken from the book which were taken from supposed real life occurrences. The fictional director, a blind man named Larry Benjamin is played by real life director, Lloyd Kaufman. Poor Larry is doing everything he can to keep his sanity intact while trying to make this movie. Boom mike operator Casey, and makeup artist Jerry both vie for the affections of Jennifer who doesn’t really want either of them. When people on the set start dying, everyone begins to panic, but not enough to stop filming the movie. And when producer Jacob Gelman gets stuffed down into the guts of an escalator, things start going haywire. We also get to see flashbacks from Casey’s childhood and we meet his father played by Ron Jeremy, who was really trying to break into serious acting back in the late nineties.
But there is another person who made a cameo in this film. He’s made a few cameos in Troma movies over the years, and in this one, he has a quick scene as a news reporter. Since this the first time I’ve mentioned his appearances in Troma movies, I’m having a bit of fun with the build up. This cameo was made by someone I consider to be one of the most important figures in all of modern music. Until his sudden death in 2015, he was one of the longest touring musicians around. He spent over forty years on stage. He was cool, he was kind, he was considered a God, he was one of the most badass bass players around and was the founder of the legendary band Motorhead. I am speaking of none other than Mr. Lemmy Kilmister.
(Want to trigger me into an apoplectic fit? Tell me you don’t know who he is.)
The gore, nudity, and violence have been cranked up to eleven in this one. Lloyd Kaufman and the Troma team pushed the envelope so far with this movie that in order to gain widespread release, they had to put out a heavily edited R-rated version. And here’s where they added an extra level of inspired lunacy: The Director’s Cut runs approximately 114 minutes, the R-rated cut runs only around 98 minutes, but what they did to the expurgated scenes is absolutely hilarious. Instead of simply making cuts to the film, certain scenes were replaced with Lloyd Kaufman against a black backdrop explaining what was going on in said scene. However, do not think that he simply stands there and tells you about it. He demonstrates the action using props and low brow humor. In the scenes they didn’t cut out, they placed CENSORED bars over the nastier bits, sliding them around here and there trying to give you a glimpse of what it was covering up. Certain scenes had certain words of dialogue overdubbed with voices that were obviously never going to match the person speaking them. And there was one scene where a particular body part had a picture of a cat superimposed over it. Although these days, everyone wants to see the Director’s cut of their favorite movies, don’t pass up the R-rated version of Terror Firmer either. And at the end of it all, just before the credits roll, we are treated to one more cameo, a short scene featuring the creators of South Park: Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
Once again, I can embed a YouTube copy of Terror Firmer courtesy of TromaMovies, but they have only released the R-rated version online. You can’t watch the unrated version like this. But I will embed a second video that has behind-the-scenes making of the escalator death scene which is not for the squeamish.
Get the popcorn made and kill the lights, it’s lampshade time. Here’s Terror Firmer…