Terror Firmer (1998) (NTSC)

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Released 14-Nov-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary
Featurette-Fun With Scissors, Audition
Alternative Version-Footage
Featurette-Escalator Scene (Comic-Film Comparison)
Outtakes-Terror F' Up(Bloopers)
Teaser Trailer
Easter Egg
Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-Making Of
Game
Music Video
Featurette-Lloyd Kaufmans Book Intro, Into To TraumaDance Film
Interviews-Cast-Gyno Talk With Alyce LaTourella, Chat With Charlotte Kaufman
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1998
Running Time 114:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Lloyd Kaufman
Studio
Distributor
Troma Studios
Stomp Visual
Starring Will Keenan
Alyce LaTourelle
Lloyd Kaufman
Trent Haaga
Sheri Wenden
Debbie Rochon
Yaniv Sharon
Charlotte Kaufman
Gary Hrbek
Joe Fleishaker
Ron Jeremy
Greg 'G-Spot' Siebel
Mario Díaz
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI $24.95 Music Sean McGrath


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

   Terror Firmer is the story of a low budget film crew, led by their blind film director, Larry Benjamin (Lloyd Kaufman, the co-founder of Troma Inc.), who is trying to create a work of art. In addition to the typical trials and travails of a Troma set, the crew is preyed upon by a sexually conflicted, bomb-toting serial killer. Production assistant Jennifer (Alyce LaTourelle) struggles to do her job while deciding between the two men in her life, straightlaced Casey (Will Keenan) and rebellious Jerry (Trent Haaga). The love triangle intensifies as the dead bodies mount; the crew bands together (both physically and sexually) against the mortal threat in their midst.

   This is the basic premise of the film, considered to be the absolute be-all-and-end-all of Troma movies - Terror Firmer has it all. Bloody eviscerations, hardcore sex, beatings with limbs, urination and excrement, gory dismemberment, rape, abortion, explosions, you name it - it's all here. Unfortunately, Lloyd has outdone himself here - the over reliance on crude humour and referential gags does not overcome the fact there's so little story to fall back on, and next to no characterisation whatsoever.

   The sheer number of characters in the film keeps us at a distance from all of them, and too often the film falls around on itself when you have no idea who's doing something and for what reason. The general chaos on a filmset is interestingly shot, but the jokes often flail and there's nothing to hold onto in the film, no centre to relate to. It is, in essence, what people have been accusing Troma of being for years - nothing but exploitative, gratuitous gross-out.

   This may have been what was intended, but it doesn't work as well as it could because of the moments in which the film does retreat into "story," which can drag as we're kept away from the disgusting-but-exciting gross-out. If it was nothing but the gross-out, it would work, or if it had a simpler, more comprehensible plot, with at least one character we can truly sympathise with, it would work, but it doesn't. Troma fans may have fun pointing out all the cameos and icons, but the over referential nature of a lot of the gags will cause everyone else much confusion, and feels uninspired. Much more difficult to defend than your average Troma fare, Terror Firmer really is not a good movie, but can be a hell of a good time with some mates and booze, so I guess that's something. Plus, there's a lengthy scene of a fat naked man running around a crowded New York! (The very thing that was missing from super-budget garbage Transformers!)

   This is also the extended director's cut of the film, with additional new disgusting footage, as well as plenty of horrible deleted scenes. Fans rejoice!

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Transfer Quality

Video

   The video is presented in 1.33:1 aspect ratio.

   I'm disappointed that we don't get Terror Firmer in its original widescreen, but the transfer here is not too bad. Typically Troma releases are plagued with aliasing and interlacing, but this is much sharper than the norm, with few film artefacts. The colours are bright and detailed, and the dark scenes of the film are quite visible.

   As expected from the low budget transfer, there is a fair amount of grain in the picture, but this is honestly better than we usually see from Troma, which makes me even more disappointed that we don't get the proper widescreen.

   There are no subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

   The audio is presented in English Dolby Digital 2.0.

   This is a very no-frills stereo soundtrack that does keeps everything audible and at good levels and nothing more. The dialogue and sound effects are all great, with excellent sync and no problems with dropouts, and the music is mixed well.

   That soundtrack is an excellent mix of different rock music with some classical motifs, all tied together by the song "Amazing Grace", which is the unofficial theme of the movie. Various mixes of this appear across the film - my favourite is sung by the twisted, disfigured Ron Jeremy monster. Superb.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Animated Menus with Sound

   The menus for this film are pretty darn sweet, combining promotional art with burning film that moves with frenzy and plays lovely music from the film. Very fitting and artistic!

Audio Commentary with director Lloyd Kaufman

   Now, I'm a huge fan of Lloyd Kaufman and usually his commentaries are the great, even for the lesser Troma films, but unfortunately the commentary track for Terror Firmer just isn't as captivating, passionate or entertaining as his usual fare. As this is a very cameo intensive film, there's a lot of pointing and naming, and not a lot of really interesting information. The anecdotes are sadly lacking, there's not a lot of tidbits for upcoming filmmakers, and even Lloyd's jokes tend to be more misfires than hits. It's disappointing, though Lloyd does honestly bring a lot to the table about scenes that didn't work as he'd intended, and about some of the necessary changes that were made after focus groups, and becomes more interesting during the final third of the film. (Any Troma fan will get tingles from Lloyd discussing the overuse of the infamous car-flipping-explosion, as well as revealing something even Troma thought was too much.)

Audio Commentary with editors Gabe Friedman and Sean McGrath

   The film's editors get their own yak-track here and while it's not overly informative, it's not terrible to listen to. Both of the editors are entertaining enough to keep the ball rolling, pointing out a lot of the mistakes and tidbits, as well as describing a lot of the problems trying to edit the film, and they have some amusing stories about Lloyd and other cast and crew. Some information is regurgitated from Lloyd's track, but sometimes this offers a different perspective on the proceedings.

Audio Commentary with actors Will Keenan, Debbie Rochon and Trent Haaga

   The third and final commentary track features some of the stars of the film discussing parts of the film as they watch, and unfortunately, it's the least of the three tracks. They're having a lot of fun watching the film and pointing out various bits and pieces, but most of the information is regurgitated from other other commentaries, while the rest of the commentary is just uninteresting chatter and laughing. The one part I did enjoy was the story of how Lemmy from Motorhead was brought back into the fold after he left the set.

Fun With Scissors (16:14)

   Over a dozen deleted scenes are presented here (which can also be reinserted into the film) in the original widescreen, with or without Editor Commentary. Most of the omissions were removed for time and feature a little more character development and hit-or-miss gags, and the movie is neither better nor worse for their removal. (With one lovely exception, involving the killer threatening Lloyd's daughter while he sits, blindly oblivious - this should NOT have been removed!) The editors constantly talk about how "this was removed because we, at Troma, hate character development," which gets old pretty quickly. The 1.85:1 footage is not 16x9 enhanced.

Alternate Footage (13:40)

   A collection of alternative scenes and alternative footage, including some 1.85:1 shots and some shots on digital handycam in 1.33:1, none of it all that interesting. The "alternative ending" is not even worth mentioning.

Escalator Scene (Comic Film Comparison) (2:33)

   The final film footage for the escalator murder is shown alongside the comic like an animatic. In 1.33:1.

Terror Firmer Audition (6:17)

   Footage from the auditions for Terror Firmer show off some of the talents of those starring. There's nothing special here, however. In 1.33:1.

Terror F***'k Up (6:13)

   This seriously unfunny blooper reel seems more tragic than funny, in which failed lines lead to agitation and a general feeling of unrest. There's really nothing entertaining here. In 1.33:1.

Original Theatrical Trailer (2:12)

   Much more fun than the actual film, this fast montage of clips from the film show it off to be the ultimate Troma film, with an abundance of nudity, violence and comedic silly that is staple for the studio. It's all scored to a rock version of "Amazing Grace," and is a joy to watch. I wish the film was this good! In 1.85:1, but not 16x9 enhanced.

Original Theatrical Teaser (0:52)

   A shorter version of the trailer, featuring less transgressions and different music. In 1.85:1, but not 16x9 enhanced.

Easter Egg - What kind of idiot would watch a movie without sound? (1:46)

   Selecting "No Sound" from the Audio Commentary option takes you to a still of Will Keenan and a password to a secret area of the Troma website, with Will Keenan singing Amazing Grace in the background. In 1.33:1.

Farts of Darkness: The Making of Terror Firmer (99:23)

   The ultimate fly-on-the-wall making-of documentary, Farts of Darkness is a fascinating rare look behind the scenes of making a low budget B-grade Troma film, and it's actually more interesting than the film itself. From Day 1, things are going wrong, the crew is running behind schedule and Murphy's Law dictates the proceedings. It's fascinating to watch a more unleashed Lloyd Kaufman, who is always so calm and caring in the Troma promotional materials, get extremely angry and mean to people, and tensions run high throughout the entire production. The nastier look at Lloyd is offset with some interview footage in which he discusses how using amateur crews often means having to yell to get things done, which is slotted alongside some footage proving this. Throughout the shoot problems arise and problems are solved, and we get a really unique look at the entire proceedings, with very little repeated from the rest of the special features. Running parallels to the fantastic 30 Days in Hell documentary on The Devil's Rejects DVD, this is a very cool feature, and one I'd like to see more of in the future. Presented in 1.33:1.

Music Videos - Lunachicks "Say What You Mean" (2:30) DJ Polo Feat. Ron Jeremy "Freak of the Week" (3:37) Entombed "Seeing Red" (3:34)

   These two bonus music videos are very Troma-oriented and with a lot of referential images and cameos. They're nothing special, but the music isn't bad. Lots of gratuitous nudity and general stupidity in the DJ Polo video. Presented in 1.33:1.

Terror Firmer Soundtrack (2:30)

   A still advertisement for the soundtrack with samples playing in the background. Presented in 1.33:1.

All I Learnt About Filmmaking (1:20)

   An advertisement for Lloyd's book, which inspired this film, in particularly blurry, grainy 1.33:1.

Celebrate Tromadance! (3:12)

   A brief short advertising the Tromadance film festival, an independent "people's film festival" in which anyone can submit films, which gets national attention. Very interesting, and something I've never heard of before. In 1.33:1.

Gyno-talk with Alyce Latorelle (2:56)

   Lloyd interviews starlet Alyce in camera about her thoughts following viewing the film. Nothing really notable here, though I liked her brief 'analysis' of Terror Firmer. In 1.33:1.

At Home with Charlotte Kaufman (2:42)

   Lloyd interviews his talented little daughter Charlotte who briefly discusses her experiences making the film. It's fun but short, and I dig how she chews out her dad for getting so angry on set. In 1.33:1.

Coming Distractions (1:30)

   A minute and a half of DVD cover stills of various upcoming Troma releases. These don't have actual trailers, but censorship prevents these from being on the Australian Troma releases. Presented in 1.33:1.

Radiation March (0:54)

   Continuing the quest to have this bizarre special feature on every Troma disc released, the wacky "Radiation March" short is also found here. It's a strange little short of the Troma Dance Team dancing, with some kind of environmentalist message. I think. I don't really know. Presented in 1.33:1.

The Terror Firmer video Game

   Using a DVD-rom drive, running the "TerrorFirmer.exe" file on the second disc installs the short but amusing Terror Firmer Video Game Sample Edition, a series of short flash animation games that aren't challenging but are a brief but fun little diversion.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

   Aside from the trailers censored from our R4 release, the R1 and R4 versions of the DVD are identical. Buy whichever is cheapest.

Summary

   Terror Firmer is completely disgusting in every way.

   The video and audio are both average, neither special nor awful.

   There are tons of extras, some with more value than others, but fans will no doubt be satisfied by this comprehensive package that also gives a fascinating look behind the scenes of a Troma B-film.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ryan Aston (Bioshock)
Friday, September 07, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDLG LH-D6230, using Component output
DisplayBenq PE7700. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationLG
Speakers B&W LCR 600 S3 (Front & Centre); B&W DM 600 (Rears); B&W ASW500 (Sub)

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