After emailing Eric about writing for Cinedelphia I had no idea that my first assignment would be one that would both test my love for bad cinema and push it to its limits. Knowing I was a huge Troma fan, Eric just happened to have three Troma films that needed reviewing, and it was up to yours truly to watch all three and report back my findings.
First up was Jessicka Rabid, the 2010 Troma release directed by Matthew Reel and starring Elske McCain and Trent Haaga (Troma regular and writer of Deadgirl). The mentally disabled girl of the title is treated like a dog by her “family”, who spend much of their time either exploiting or raping her until Jessicka can’t take anymore and exacts her much deserved revenge. Think of it as Unleashed with a lot of rape instead of kung fu.
The film is presented in 1:78:1 anamorphic widescreen and was obviously shot on consumer-grade video cameras. It seemed poorly lit and later filtered to try to look like film, which is not a bad thing and is generally the norm in this day and age, but there are so many filters on the image at times that it turned into a muddy, digital-artifacted mess. Even up-scaled on a decent projector the film was hard to watch.
The extras on the disc, as with most Troma releases, are plentiful and consist of some behind the scenes footage including a gag reel, a regular slide show, and a “sexy” one of star Elske McCain. The standout on the disc extras-wise is the interview with Trent Haaga about life in Hollywood after graduating from Troma and going on to write Dead Girl. It’s amazing how many folks got their start with Troma and I am always fascinated to hear them share their experiences.
Next up was Klown Kamp Massacre, which definitely looked like a bit more money and time was spent on the production values compared to Jessicka. The film was written and directed by Philip Gunn and David Valdez and is essentially a Friday the 13th slasher homage with a camp for clowns in place of Camp Crystal Lake. The film’s constant clown humor and situations wear thin about a quarter of the way through, after that it becomes more of an endurance test than anything else.
Klown Kamp Massacre looked like it was shot on HD and was presented in 1:78:1 anamorphic widescreen on the disc. The film honestly looked great with some of the best picture quality I’ve seen on a Troma release to date. The colors were vibrant and video quality was on par with most bigger budgeted releases. My only nitpick quality-wise is that the film was only presented in Dolby Stereo.
The extras on the disc included the standard Troma disc fillers, a short film by the directors of Klown Kamp (shot of VHS which further showed their unhealthy obsession with bad clown humor), and web shorts that seemed to be comprised of some of the same content as the behind the scenes piece. There was also an audio commentary by the filmmakers, which I found interesting as they were very candid when discussing the process of raising the money and making the film in a way you rarely hear on commentaries these days.
The last release was the two-disc Astron-6 Collection. Astron-6 is the Canadian production company behind the recent genre releases Manborg and Father’s Day, which just won Best Film at Toronto After Dark 2011. From the opening Vestron Video logo homage you really know what you’re in for with this compilation of some great short spoofs on various genres, from ‘80s comedies to Fulci zombies.
The videos in this two-disc set vary in both quality and aspect ratio, as it’s a compilation of 18 various shorts and web series made by the collective over the years. While some shorts look very polished, some you can tell were done while they where just beginning to learn the ropes. Like the video, the audio quality varies and changes from short to short.
The extras on this set are broken up by short with each segment having its own selection of commentaries, behind the scenes photo galleries, and various other bonuses followed by even more shared extras on the second disc. The commentaries are a lot of fun and you can really tell that they have almost as much fun behind the camera as viewers do watching their creations. Curiously absent is the standard Troma bonus filler.
If I had to recommend one DVD of the bunch then this would have to be it. It’s genre cinema made by people who both love and understand it, if you’re a fan then you’ll probably find something on this set to your liking. I really wasn’t aware of Astron-6 before checking this out, but I am definitely a fan now.