Most splatter and B-movie fans have heard of Troma. The longest-running independent film company in the world, Troma is responsible for such cult classics as ‘The Toxic Avenger,’ ‘Class of Nuke ‘Em High’ and ‘Combat Shock,’ as well as lesser known titles including ‘Dead Dudes in the House,’ ‘Dumpster Baby’ and ‘Buttcrack.’ Icelanders would be proud to know that one of our own is working with Troma as we speak—the stand-up comedian and actor Bjarni Gautur. We caught up with Bjarni after work had wrapped up on Lloyd Kaufman’s new film, the amazingly titled ‘Shakespeare’s Shitstorm,’ which is described as a “Tromatic take on Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest.’”
Tromeo & Juliet
Kaufman is the legendary face of Troma Entertainment, and co-founded the company in 1974 with producer Michael Herz. Kaufman directed many of the company’s most famous films such as the ‘Toxic Avenger’ tetralogy, as well as 1996’s ‘Tromeo & Juliet.’ As the two titles suggest, ‘Shakespeare’s Shitstorm’ is a sort of “spiritual sequel” to ‘Tromeo & Juliet.’
“I’ve been in contact with Troma since 2005,” Bjarni says. “When I was really young I sent a fan letter to Michael Herz, so they’ve always known of me. I worked as an intern for the company in 2008 and since then I’ve always been trying to take part in what they’re doing.”
The characters in Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ are shipwrecked and marooned on a magical island after a wizard conjures up a storm. In Troma’s ‘Shitstorm,’ however, another type of situation is afoot. “The film’s bad guy gives laxatives to all the whales,” Bjarni says, “so they shit out a literal shitstorm.” The film’s characters then have to escape the torrent of poop to Tromaville, the fictional hometown of Troma.
Bjarni played the ship’s captain, and travelled to Albania to shoot the boat scenes. “I get hit in the eye by a swordfish in my role as the captain,” Bjarni says. If you’re not familiar with Troma’s filmography, you might have a feeling for their sense of humor by now.
Bjarni says that despite its vulgar and wacky overtones, Shakespeare’s Shitstorm is actually about censorship. “The film came at a good time in light of everything that happened with James Gunn getting sacked from ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ for making offensive jokes in the past,” Bjarni says. Gunn got his start at Troma, and actually wrote the screenplay to “Tromeo & Juliet” with Lloyd Kaufman. “‘Shakespeare’s Shitstorm’ is basically about what happened to James Gunn, even though that wasn’t planned,” says Bjarni. “A situation where you tell a joke and get crucified for it.”
According to Bjarni, the team is now working on getting the Finnish Night Visions film festival to Iceland but the festival will be showing the film. “Night Visions has been showing a lot of Troma films lately and we want to take it to Iceland,” he says. “Bíó Paradís has expressed some interest, so we’ll see what happens. It’s a dream of mine to show some of the films I’ve worked on with Troma in Iceland—that would be lovely.”