Tromeo & Juliet Blu-ray Review
Written by Robert Gold
Blu-ray released by Troma Entertainment
Directed by Lloyd Kaufman
Written by Lloyd Kaufman, James Gunn and William Shakespeare
1996, 107 minutes, Unrated
Released on June 21st, 2010
Jane Jensen as Juliet
Will Keenan as Tromeo
Valentine Miele as Murray Martini
Debbie Rochon as Ness
Tiffany Shepis as Pete
Lemmy as Narrator
"Silky Films" is an adult entertainment company started by Monty Que in the 1970s. He invited his friend Cappy Capulet to join him as a partner in the lucrative venture, but soon things turned ugly and Monty found himself losing both his wife and his business to his friend. Twenty years later, an ongoing feud between the Ques and the Capulets has developed into a bloody rivalry, but things take a surprising turn as Tromeo Que crosses paths with Juliet Capulet in a case of love at first sight.
The young lovers are constrained by their familial obligations, particularly in that Juliet is already engaged to London Arbuckle, an affluent meat mogul. She turns to her trusted assistant Ness for advice, but since no one can help falling in love with Juliet, she ends up with a lesbian relationship to juggle too. Greater obstacles are in store when Tromeo kills a member of the Capulet family in a fit of rage, and must avoid payback, at least until he can escape with his beloved Juliet.
The 1990s brought a wave of contemporary adaptations of the plays of William Shakespeare, including My Own Private Idaho (Henry IV with street hustlers) and Ten Things I Hate About You (a high school twist on The Taming of the Shrew). Not long after Baz Luhrmann's 1996 film Romeo + Juliet, began receiving accolades for its raw energy and cutting edge cool, Lloyd Kaufman debuted Tromeo & Juliet as an answer to what cool really is.
The Shakespeare classic was turned upside down when filtered through the Troma universe, resulting in gratuitous lesbians, ample violence, and a dark running theme of incest all set to a rock 'n' roll soundtrack that never lets up. A collaboration by Lloyd Kaufman (The Toxic Avenger) and James Gunn (Slither), the script successfully re-imagines the source material for modern film extremists. While most of the violence is played for laughs, a few moments are surprisingly serious and raw.
The acting is stronger here than in previous Troma films, especially Will Keenan as Tromeo and Jane Jenson as Juliet. Scream Queen Debbie Rochon plays Ness, Juliet's love-sick assistant with tremendous sensitivity and steals the majority of her scenes with her longing gaze. Genre fans will also want to keep an eye out for Tiffany Shepis, in her debut performance as Pete, a Capulet thug with some stellar high-kicking boots!
Director Lloyd Kaufman turned a corner with Tromeo & Juliet in his filmmaking career. Just as The Toxic Avenger steered him from the screwball comedies he was making ten years before, the films that followed grew more ambitious and carried a more personal message. Audiences may receive the "kitchen sink" approach to the material, but Kaufman is a pretty shrewd character when it comes to delivering a subtle message within a loud carnival of glitz.
Video and Audio:
Presented in 1080p utilizing the AVC codec, Tromeo & Juliet sports a high-quality reproduction of the original elements. The picture is given a full frame presentation that is opened up slightly to a 1:37.1 aspect ratio as opposed to the 1:33.1 found on the standard DVD. Although the print is still marred with dirt and damage, colors are solid, flesh tones appear natural, and black levels are rich. Fine details are surprisingly plentiful, but the clarity works against the picture in the glass cage sequences, revealing more set detail than necessary. The biggest improvement over the previous DVD is the removal of most of the compression artifacts.
The only audio option offered is Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. The track itself is fine, but there are a few instances of audio pops and scratches that should be noted. Dialogue remains clear for the most part and the non-stop punk soundtrack remains constant, but is frequently a bit tinny. While it would have been nice if the track had been opened up to a 5.1 mix or given a lossless presentation, the current option gets the job done.
In the Blu-ray Introduction, Lloyd Kaufman is joined by James Gunn and Stephen Blackehart for a goofy intro that takes a look into the future at something called "Hi-Def".
There are four commentary tracks on this disc! The first is a holdover from the original DVD release and features director Lloyd Kaufman solo. The second track pairs Kaufman with Gunn for a look back at what elements were successful and what is lacking in the production. The next track is surprisingly technical and features editors Frank Reynolds and Gabe Friedman. The final track, which was originally to have appeared on the original DVD release, features James Gunn with his brother Sean, and there are some harsh moments. The track shared between Kaufman and Gunn is the strongest (and features its own video intro!).
While the commentaries are very informative, a series of interviews provide additional information on the making of the film, featuring a wide assortment of cast and crew sharing their tales of the production, many for the first time.
Next up are 18 minutes of deleted scenes, including the fan favorite Ron Jeremy scene.
The disc also provides a series of reenactments of memorable scenes by some overly-devoted fans.
Rehearsal Footage of Jane Jensen and Debbie Rochon in a production office features some enticing moments with the added bonus of some pretty horrible audio (including a ringing telephone).
The original trailer rounds out the special features that are specifically related to this film, but there is even more, In addition to the regular Troma trailers, music videos, PSAs and video bumpers, the disc also includes Lloyd's video diaries chronicling his set visit to James Gunn's Slither and Eli Roth's Hostel.
While the majority of the supplements were available on previous video formats, it is nice to have everything assembled here on one disc.
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