Tromeo & Juliet (JJC) (1996)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Truth Or Dare with Cast
Featurette-Lemmy from Motorhead
Featurette-Everything I Know About Filmmkng I Learned from TA
Featurette-Ula & Sarka: Pain-Proof Rubber Girls
Featurette-Aroma Du Troma
Featurette-Public Service Announcement
Trailer-Rowdy Girls, Toxic Avenger, Sgt. Kabuikiman NYPD
|Year Of Production||1996|
|Running Time||107:08 (Case: 137)|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Lloyd Kaufman|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
"What light from yonder plexiglass breaks..." - Tromeo Que
There have been several great film adaptations of William Shakespeare's immortal play, from Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 traditional favourite, through to the contemporary slant applied by Baz Luhrmann in Romeo + Juliet, not to mention the marvellous Academy Award champ Shakespeare in Love. Watching Tromeo and Juliet brought to mind all of these cinema classics. Why? Because I wished I was watching one of them instead.
The mouldy, pee-stained quilt of Troma's back-catalogue does contain one or two bright patches. Although my favourite is The Toxic Avenger, other Troma gems such as Troma's War (recently released on DVD uncut) and Class of Nuke'em High kept me entertained years ago in front of an over-heated VCR back in Brisbane. Sadly, Troma's Less Is Less working methodology once again proves to be a liability rather than an asset. Tromeo and Juliet, despite having an inventive script and a generous budget by Troma standards, is a muddled mess of a film.
Tromeo and Juliet loosely follows the original blueprint, but with several Troma embellishments that bring it closer to Baz Luhrmann's vision than anything else. The usual feud between the Ques and the Capulets rages in fair Tromaville, where we set our scene. After the introduction by Lemmy (frontman of Motorhead) the story introduces the characters and establishes the friction between the two families, which stems from a pornography business arrangement that went sour. Written by Lloyd Kaufman and James Gunn (also 'acting' as Sammy Capulet), the story lacks cohesion, tension, and drama in the usual sense. This is more like a string of vignettes and set pieces that present us with various perversions of familiar themes, which is typical of The Troma Team approach.
Tromeo (Will Keenan) has a Bronx accent, hangs out at the local piercing salon, and enjoys masturbating to a CD-ROM featuring a buxom blond who croons "I love you!" over and over. Juliet (Jane Jensen) has nightmares about monster phalluses, makes love to her lesbian house cook (who sports fake S&M tattoos and piercings), and frequently wakes in bed with her drunken father leaning over her wearing only y-fronts. This pair of star-crossed losers is surrounded by a supporting cast who participate in various scenarios that include violent stand-offs at a nightclub, a Capulet shooting explosive crossbow bolts at Ques in the street, Juliet being locked in a plexiglass booth by dad, a plot twist that reveals Tromeo and Juliet as brother and sister (we even get to see their mutant offspring), improbable car chases, aggro behaviour, wild parties and general mayhem.
All of which sounds fine and dandy but, as we all know, the real bread and butter of any exploitation project is sex and/or violence. How does Tromeo and Juliet fare? Good intentions poorly executed sums it up. Honourable mentions: Juliet giving birth to popcorn and rats, Tromeo dumping a load on the toilet as he speaks to his beloved on the phone, a spiked club to the head, Tyrone Capulet being p*ssed on and then having his face pushed into the steaming puddle, an eye stabbing, five pairs of breasts, one soft-core shot of a couple having intercourse, pink plastic handcuffs, Sammy Capulet splitting his head open on a fire hydrant, Tyrone having his arm and then his head ripped off, fingers severed with a paper guillotine, et cetera. These and other mildly amusing incidents just manage to engage one's interest for the 107 minute running time. Unfortunately, the humour quotient fails to compensate. Apart from a few isolated gags, the film's lame, one-take attempts at comedy make you think they were improvised on the set.
While this DVD is the best way to see Tromeo and Juliet, I can't help thinking that the time could be better spent catching up with other Troma titles. Then again, I enjoyed the much-maligned Pearl Harbor so there you go. Best line: "How would you like me to use your guts to Jackson Pollock the street?"
Tromeo and Juliet makes its Region 4 debut on DVD in less than sparkling form, a problem shared by all of its stablemates. The lords of Troma (big Michael Herz and Lloyd Kaufman) are genuine cheapskates, the real article. This being the case, none of their DVD transfers have benefited much from the technology. Framed at 1.33:1 (open matte) and not 16x9 enhanced, Tromeo and Juliet effectively reproduces the experience of watching the VHS tape I rented four years ago.
Sharpness and detail are below par. My guess is that the transfer was taken from a master used for VHS, which came from an average print source. As a result, shadow detail is lousy, making the murky, poorly staged lighting even harder to penetrate. As a rule, the better the lighting, the better the picture quality. Even your typical shot-on-video porno film looks superior to this effort. Edge enhancement is not a problem because there are no edges to enhance.
Colours lack saturation and definition. It was difficult to spot instances of colour bleed because of the general softness of the source elements. There were no obvious examples.
Film artefacts such as white speckles were an occasional problem, as was low level noise and a reel change marking that appears about half way into the feature. The layer change at 64:20 is placed between Acts.
In short, this transfer captures the inadequacies present in the source material. Far from being an abomination, I wish Troma would at least spend some dollars on their home video packaging. But I suppose to expect that kind of idealistic nonsense is missing the point of Troma and its philosophy. Well, if they think that a scummy video presentation somehow enhances the rarefied, low budget quality and cult appeal of their productions, then I have to disagree. As a long-time sufferer of nth-generation horror film bootlegs, I found that such treatment only cripples and damages the content. Rant over.
Stubbornly, resolutely mono, this Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack is the only fitting companion to the weak video transfer.
The dialogue alone is enough to betray how bad this offering is. Actor's voices distort and become brittle even at modest volumes, more a symptom of the live sound recording equipment and source material used rather than the transfer. The dialogue itself was discernable at all times, although obviously its effectiveness is hampered by the Walkman-level sound fidelity. Having heard very few tracks that distorted this much, I found that it was every bit as distracting as lines of static on VHS tapes or horrid scratches on a print. The ADR work was quite nasty in places, as expected with a low budget production.
Several noisy punk songs pepper the soundtrack. Again they find it hard to derive much power from this monaural mix. Turned up loud, the music approximates what you would get from a dubbed BASF audio cassette.
The surrounds were mute and the subwoofer finally resigned itself to joining in when I raised the volume high enough.
|Surround Channel Use|
As usual, Troma's menus are colourful and vibrant, with various animations for Scene Selections and background music nicely done in 2.0 Dolby surround.
Comments by various cast members are cut together into a five-minute piece which should have been more like 30 minutes. As with many no budget films, the production process and film makers are more interesting than the movie and characters. All too brief.
Lemmy from Motorhead, who introduces the film, gives his opinions about Tromeo and Juliet. Not surprisingly he cares little for it, giving the camera a look that makes you think he just drank some sour milk.
A standard dumb Troma extra.
This video footage shows two young female performance artists running through a short routine involving fetish clothing and beds of nails. Quite distracting, in a good way.
A standard extra showing snippets from Troma's back catalogue. Fun the first time around.
Another standard dumb Troma DVD extra.
Yet another standard extra of Troma's resident stripper, but I still had to watch it. Such are the burdens of a DVD reviewer.
Trailers for Rowdy Girls, Toxic Avenger 3, and Sgt Kabukiman, which was originally banned in Australia. These are all framed at 1.33:1 with poor quality video in Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.
Deleted scenes that include the suicide ending (which I much preferred), a sexual sonnet (recited by a man to excite his girlfriend as they enjoy some sexual intercourse), footage of a jump stunt that went wrong, and something called brain food. The picture and sound quality matches the main feature: framed at 1.33:1 in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.
A gallery of 20 photos from the movie's production.
The usual array of clips from Troma films that illustrate aspects of exploitation in the movies.
There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 4 version of this DVD misses out on:
The Region 1 version of this DVD misses out on:
In my opinion, an audio commentary would add much needed value to Tromeo and Juliet, and therefore the Region 1 edition comes out on top in this case. Of course, this all depends on how much you like this film itself. Amateur film-makers would surely find Kaufman's remarks informative.
The run of poorly presented DVDs from the Troma stable continues. This release features one of their most ambitious movies. Many people like Tromeo and Juliet, but to a gorehound with exploitation tastes, this tedious film fails to deliver where it needed to most. The fact that Troma put more effort into the menus, extras, and packaging of their DVDs than their video and audio transfers should be enough of a warning to anyone curious about acquiring this title. Rent first.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-737, using Component output|
|Display||Loewe Ergo (81cm). This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital decoder.|
|Amplification||Arcam AV50 5 x 50W amplifier|
|Speakers||Front: ALR/Jordan Entry 5M, Centre: ALR/Jordan 4M, Rear: ALR/Jordan Entry 2M, Subwoofer: B&W ASW-1000 (active)|