More Than ‘The Toxic Avenger’: A Brief History of Troma Entertainment

Fancy a raunchy horror that doesn’t take anything seriously? Here’s a brief history of Troma Entertainment and some movies to get you started.

It looks like the infamous studio is aiming for a return to the big screen with a star-studded reboot of The Toxic Avenger. Horror and cult fans are all too familiar with the studio’s style – it’s just as recognizable as Hammer. His movies are midnight showing ones and helped launch VHS as a format. They filled the late-night hours of new cable networks like HBO and Cinemax.

Not familiar? Well, this is the explanation and starting point for you!


A brief history of Troma Entertainment

Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz founded the studio and distribution company in 1974. He is known for his low-budget, poignant Z movies filled with nudity, violence, gore, anarchist humor, and social commentary. Besides, we may not have Louis Malle’s my dinner with andre no Troma. It wasn’t just exploitation movies.

They began financing the studio by producing raunchy sex comedies and distributing low-budget movies like astro-zombies Y I spit on your corpse in the 1970s, but they didn’t really hit their stride until the mid-1980s. In 1985, Troma released its first big hit: the superhero-horror-comedy movie. The Toxic Avenger. It became his most successful film to date, spawning sequels, video games, and an animated show. Toxie became the company’s mascot and a fan favorite.

They followed The Toxic Avenger with a series of films set in Nuke ’em high. The former became the biggest-selling VHS release for the studio. With that success, Kaufman wanted to do something a little more serious. He wrote and directed troma war, a critique of the Reagan administration that flopped at the box office. It was downhill from there. Kabukiman New York Police Sergeant forced the studio to downsize considerably in order to survive. His signature style was no longer shocking theater audiences.

Troma had a bit of a resurgence in the mid-1990s. Kaufman produced a loose parody of Shakespeare’s play. Romeo and Juliet I call Tromeo and Juliet. They also released slasher staunchest terror and a fourth toxic avenger movie. The studio stumbled again after paying $250,000 for unusable footage, which was followed by a lawsuit.

via Troma

troma now

Even when under financial stress, the company distributes and finances independent films like Trey Parker’s. Cannibal: The musical. You can still find the Troma movies on VHS, DVD, and digital. You can sometimes see them in the rare midnight showing at independent theaters. And there’s a musical by David Bryan (aka Bon Jovi’s keyboardist) roaming the streets that you might be able to catch locally.

Beyond distribution, Troma helped launch some big runs. distributed Chopper Chicks in Zombietown starring billy bob thornton, The first power up! starring a young Vincent D’Onofrio, and JJ Abrams did the music for beast of the night. The studio also regularly endorsed James Gunn in his early work: he starred in Tromeo and Juliet.

via Troma

A Brief History of Troma: Movies to Watch

Watch a 98-pound weakling become a superhero. The Toxic Avenger it is a classic and really defines what the Troma style is. It’s this mess of satire, peppered horror, and raunchy comedy with just the right level of special effects. It is a jewel and a must for any fan of cult cinema.

Nuke ‘Em High class

follow up to The Toxic Avenger. It’s drenched in slime and has some amazing cheap practical effects. Plus some ’80s couture. It’s Troma doing what she does best.

staunchest terror

Lloyd Kaufman was still pushing the limits of decency in 1999. A serial killer terrorizes a horror movie production. The cast and crew must work together to survive. There’s a guy in a cow suit and a fair amount of Troma meta. You can watch the NSFW trailer here.

via Troma

The children

Something is terribly wrong with the Ravenback children. troma added The children to their mailing list after having to track down rare copies and create a new digital transfer. One of many examples of saving exploitation films that the major studios would rather forget.

screaming game

Rufus Butler Seder directs and stars in this movie about making it in Hollywood and killing people. It is shot in grainy black and white and pays homage to German expressionism. It’s a bit of a cut, but it shows just how far out of line Kaufman and Herz were when it came to funding each other’s work.


Pop culture staff writer who has been on the BoLS team since 2010. Contributor to the One of Us podcast. Fan of Marvel, Vertigo and dystopian science fiction. He enjoys bad movies, amazing stunts, and the Internet. He hates romantic comedies. (she them)

  • Leave a Comment