LIFE LONG CARTOON AFICIONADO and TROMA FAN Alberto Giovannelli gets up close and personal sharing his earliest Tromemories. Giovannelli writes Tromemoir:
Troma has surrounded me…what feels like, my entire life. This is no joke…Troma’s surrounded me, and I didn’t know it at the time. Here’s my story…sorry if it’s ridiculously long:
When I was in Elementary school, I was a huge cartoon fan. The Real Ghostbusters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and The Toxic Crusaders. My parents went to a Parent/Teacher conference one day while I was home, and they brought me back a “Toxic Crusaders POSTER BOOK”….I thought this was the greatest thing in the universe! That same night (for the story’s sake, we’ll say same night…although it could’ve just been that same month for all I remember), I was watching USA UP ALL NIGHT, hosted by Gilbert Gotfried and Rhonda Sheer (who still looks amazing btw…check her out in Barak Epstein’s “PRISON A-GO-GO”) and they were showing a film called, “Class of Nuke ‘Em High”….this would be my first Troma film watched, absorbed, and worshipped. I didn’t know what the hell I was seeing…punks vs jocks….the punks were the bad guys, yeah, but they were sooooo cool about it! I fell in love. At this point in my life, I didn’t make the connection between “Toxic Crusaders” and “Class of Nuke ‘Em High”…or Troma for that matter.
Flash forward to a year or two later. I’m a little older…I wanna say, 8 maybe? (still in elementary school), and my mother and I are driving around and we visit my uncle at work. He worked at a Blockbuster Video (this Blockbuster bought out a video store called 10,000 videos…or something like that) that was getting rid of a ton of vhs tapes (those were black bricks that contained film in them. You could find these on eBay, thrift stores, and yard sales), and one of them was in an ex rental clear clamshall titled…”The Toxic Avenger”. On it was a sticker from the old video store that says, “PG”. I go up to my mom and say, “Mom…can I get this please? It’s only $5….Look, it’s not bad, it’s rated PG…AND, I think this is a live action version of The Toxic Crusaders cartoon I watch”….
WELL! We get home, get dinner ready (my father’s at work), and I ask my mom if we can watch the movie while we eat. She says yes. While she’s prepping the plates, I pop this black brick of gory justice into the machine. It starts off with the words: WARNING: THE TOXIC AVENGER CONTAINS SCENESE OF INTENSE VIOLENCE….. I didn’t say anything to my mom and just chuckled…thinking it was a joke. Well, the zoom in of breasts, and asses of these gyno-Americans, led me to believe that might not have been a “PG” movie per se….mom didn’t say anything, so I figured it was ok. Then, the first sex scenes, where Melvin gets threatened with a knife (I figured it was ok…it was a switchblade…mom’s Puerto Rican…dad’s Italian…no biggie), but mom was upset over this gyno-Americans melon heavies. So, what does every mom do during a sex scene? “CLOSE YOUR EYES ALBERT”…so I do… Then the movie continues, and we still watch it. Now, comes the scene with poor ‘lil Timmy…as soon as he gets hit by the car, I start laughing. HYSTERICALLY. Then Bozo brings the car in reverse….SMASHES THIS KID’S ENTIRE FUCKING SKULL! I’m in tears laughing at these because it looks so cartoony..obviously it’s fake! But I’ve never seen anything like this before! Mom freaks the hell out, takes the tape out of the player, and throws it away….or so I thought.
Flash forward some more, and I’m 13 years old. We just moved to Florida, and I’m going through the vhs box because I wanna watch something while noone’s in the house. Noone to bother me. I was about to pop in “Night of the Living Dead”, when I see a clear clamshell box…THE FUCKING TOXIC AVENGER!!! I run to the vcr, pop the movie in, hit play…IT’S PLAYING EXACTLY FROM WHERE SHE LEFT IT YEARS AGO!…I stop the movie, rewind it…anxiously awaiting the loud “CLUNK” to let me know it’s ready to be soaked into my brain. “CLUNK” goes the VCR…”JOY!” I think….I hit play, and sit on the couch.
An hour and a half later and I’m convinced, this is the Holy Grail of filmmaking. This is THE absolute greatest thing I have ever witnessed. Do they still make movies like this? I look on the back on the vhs box and see ” TROMA ENTERTAINMENT”…I so I run to my computer and just take a lucky guess at http://www.troma.com , just to see if it would work (what can I say? Honor classes I know)….there the Troma team is advertising it’s latest opus…”Terror Firmer”….I knew my parents were weird with their credit cards online…so I asked my mom if she could order this new horror movie for me, called “Terror Firmer”….it looks gory, cool, I really want it. She said ok! I give her Troma’s phone number (this was during the time where you could call in your orders to “Mother Millie” and she would hook you up).
I anxiously waited every God damn day for that UPS bastard to knock on the door. When the package arrived, everyone was at work, and I was home. I popped the dvd in (yes, a little quick sidenote…this was not only my first Troma dvd, but my first 2 disc dvd, and one of my first dvds in general [my parents got my some Jackie Chan dvds for Christmas the year before]), and when the movie was over….I was almost in tears. Tears because it was over….this masterpiece of sex, violence, and punk music was over….I immediately put the 2nd disc in to check out the “making of”…AN HOUR AND HALF?!….Who the hell does that?!…Well, Troma does….I sat there and watched and watched, and laughed, and felt bad for Lloyd. “People don’t read the script like they’re supposed to”, I thought. “This guy’s gonna die of a fuckin heart attack!”…. Then I popped the 1st disc back in a rewatched the movie, this time with all the deleted scenes put back in. Well, wouldn’t you know it…. my mother and father walk in during the “pickle fucking” scene….”ALBERT!” my mother yells. “What are you watching?!”….”oh…this is the movie you ordered for me. It came today” 😉
My father, at the time, used to get these newsletters of conventions and stuff…just cool stuff to do. And that year, he heard of Megacon, and that Lloyd was going to be there. I almost shit on myself. My IDOL was going to be in the same town as me? What do you do at these places? Do you just meet them? Or can you have them sign stuff? So, I brought my Toxic Avenger dvd, Terror Firmer dvd, “All I need to know about Filmmaking I Learned from the Toxic Avenger” book, …I’m sure there were other things I had brought…but these are the two that stick out in my mind.
I was also wearing my Toxie sterling silver ring, and my Troma “supporter” (which was a jockstrap), hat. When I walked up to Lloyd, I was terryfied. “What if this guy’s a dick?” I remember seeing him on that making of and how angry he got. That would fuckin destroy me if this guy was mean to me. So, I walked up to him, waited for everyone to leave…and asked him to sign my stuff. HE DID! He signed everything I had! He gave me an 8×10 from the upcoming “Citizen Toxie”, and he signed it…I was shaking so bad! I had purchased a few dvds from him and he signed those as well. It was the happiest day of my life! I went home that night and watched EVERYTHING Troma related I owned…and couldn’t wait for more.
I’m 24 now, almost 25. Married, and I have a son on the way. You bet your ass he’s going to watch Troma movies with his father, meet Lloyd AS SOON as he’s able to. Lloyd Kaufman and the Troma Team made me how and what I am today. I love Troma, and my Toxic Avenger tattoo was one of my first pieces….Long live Troma and TRUE Independent cinema.