Ed. note- If you’ve ever gone into the special features on a Troma DVD or BluRay, you’ve seen “Radiation March.” Lloyd Kaufman packs it on every disc, and it’s become a sentimental favorite of mine. Is it the Tromasterpiece? Read on and judge for yourself.- P.F.
Among Troma fans, there will always be a discussion of which film is the Tromasterpiece. Some say TOXIC AVENGER, which started Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz on their path of nutzoid splatstick more than 30 years ago. Others will point to TROMEO & JULIET, as one of Lloyd’s more refined works. Or TERROR FIRMER, Kaufman’s most personal film. As of a few years ago, Lloyd himself would have told you it was POULTRYGEIST. I’ll very briefly make the case today for the inclusion in that argument of “Radiation March,” 54 seconds without any hardbodied lesbians, decapitations or hideously deformed monster heroes of superhuman size and strength.
If the question is, “What would it look like if Troma ever made their version of an avant garde artsy fartsy film?” then the answer is, “Radiation March.” Kaufman has always been one to make social commentaries through his art, and this short clip takes on pollution. Dancers sway back and forth as two little children interact in acts of friendship at the epicenter of the short. Another child crawls by with anti-pollution messages scrawled on her sleeve. The whole thing ends rather abruptly and unpleasantly, with a heavy handed line of dialogue.
This thing is weird even for Troma, mostly because it’s weird in non-Troma ways. Therein lies its strength. Lloyd directed a short stripped of all the exploitation materials that make Troma Troma, and still made something odd and thought provoking. As for the social commentary, is it a little too on the nose? Sure. But he didn’t have the dancers dress up as Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD, so I’ll forgive.
“Radiation March” may be a one-off that travels far outside the true Tromessence, or it may just be Lloyd’s Tromasterpiece. Even if it doesn’t qualify as anybody’s favorite piece of Tromart, it holds a special place in my heart.