by Patrick Bromley
As a lifelong Troma fan, I am the audience for #Shakespeare's Shitstorm, the latest effort from director (and Troma CEO) Lloyd Kaufman, making its premiere at Fantasia Fest. I grew up on The Toxic Avenger and Class of Nuke 'Em High. I dragged my best friend to a midnight show of Terror Firmer because it was my only chance (at that point) to see a Troma movie on the big screen. I bought all the movies on DVD almost as soon as I got my first player. Years later, I ventured out to the Chicago premiere of Return to Nuke 'Em High Vol. 1 and was so enthralled with it that I convinced the cast members to let me interview them in a Starbucks the next day. What I'm saying is that I come by my fandom honestly.
Their second feature-length adaptation of the Bard's work (the first being 1996's Tromeo & Juliet), #Shakespeare's Shitstorm adapts The Tempest as the story of a cruiseliner occupied by the employees of a pharmaceutical company (they manufacture something called SafeSpacia) that gets caught in a literal storm of whale shit and washes up in Tromaville. There, they encounter the scientist Prospero (Kaufman, who also plays his own sister in the film), who escaped to Tromaville in disgrace years earlier with his blind daughter Miranda (Kate McGarrigle) and has been plotting his revenge ever since. Now, with a hefty supply of whale laxatives and a new designer drug called "Tempest," Prospero's plan for vengeance is nearly complete...
Ambitious, offensive, disgusting, and frequently hilarious, Shakespeare's Shitstorm is everything a devotee like myself has come to both want and expect from a Troma movie. Using the template created by Shakespeare (who occasionally appears on screen, played by Frazer Brown) as a dramatic spine and then filling in the margins with their usual cast of colorful characters, dialogue, and outrageous gags, Lloyd Kaufman has made a film that celebrates 40 years of Troma by sometimes feeling like the company's greatest hits, other times branching out into commentary that's very much of the present. For fans of the company's output, Shakespeare's Shitstorm is another Tromasterpiece. Everyone else may want to steer clear.