Tromeo and Juliet is a 1996 independent transgressive comedy film adaptation of William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet from Troma Entertainment. The film was directed by Lloyd Kaufman from a screenplay by Kaufman and James Gunn, who also served as associate director.
The film is more or less a faithful adaptation of the play except with the addition of extreme amounts of Troma-esque sexuality and violence, as well as a revised ending. The title of the film is a portmanteau of "Troma" and "Romeo & Juliet".
At the center of these families are Tromeo Que and Juliet Capulet. Tromeo lives in squalor with his alcoholic father Monty and works at a tattoo parlor with his cousin Benny and friend Murray. Juliet is sequestered in her family’s mansion, watched over by her abusive father Cappy, passive mother Ingrid, and overprotective cousin Tyrone, all the while being sexually satisfied by family servant Ness (Debbie Rochon).
Both Tromeo and Juliet are trapped in cases of unrequited love: Tromeo lusts for the big-bosomed, promiscuous Rosie; Juliet is engaged to wealthy meat tycoon London Arbuckle as prelude to an arranged marriage.
In the meantime, a bloody brawl between Murray and Sammy Capulet catches the attention of Detective Ernie Scalus, who gathers the heads of the two families together and declares that they will be held personally accountable for any further breaches of peace. Almost immediately afterwards, Monty and Cappy start threatening each other with weapons. Sammy gets caught in the window of Monty’s speeding car, where he is thrown head-first into a fire hydrant and (very slowly) dies.
On the insistence of Murray and Benny, Tromeo attends the Capulets' masquerade ball in the hopes of meeting Rosie, only to find another man performing cunnilingus on her. Tromeo staggers around the party in disillusion until he locks eyes with those of Juliet. The two instantly fall for each other and share a dance until an angry Tyrone chases him out of the house.
Tromeo and Juliet continue to be enamored by one another from afar. Cappy, disgusted at his daughter’s active libido, forcefully imprisons her in a plastic cage as punishment. Tromeo sneaks into the house of Capulet and the two meet once again. After proclaiming their love for each other both verbally and physically, they agree to be married. Juliet breaks her engagement with Arbuckle and, with the help of Father Lawrence, the two are married in secrecy the next day.
Tyrone, upon discovering Juliet‘s secret affair, gathers his gang together and challenges Tromeo to a duel. Now a kinsman to the Capulets, Tromeo refuses to fight, suggesting to both sides to bring the lifelong feud to an end. Murray accepts the duel on Tromeo’s behalf and, in the ensuing brawl, is mortally wounded by Tyrone‘s club. Tromeo, enraged by his friend’s death, pursues Tyrone and slay him (through a series of car crashes which dismembers him) and goes into hiding from the police.
Learning that she is involved with Tromeo, Cappy savagely beats Juliet and forces her to reconcile with Arbuckle. Arbuckle accepts her re-proposal and the marriage is set. Juliet visits Father Lawrence, who reunites her with Tromeo and enlists the help of Fu Chang, the apothecary, who sells Juliet a special potion which will aide her predicament.
On the day of her wedding, Juliet swallows the apothecary’s potion, transforming her into a hideous cow monster, complete with a three-foot penis. The mere sight of her causes Arbuckle to leap out of Juliet’s window in fright, committing suicide. Enraged over the loss of his would-be son-in-law and meat inheritance, Cappy attempts to rape and murder Juliet, but Tromeo arrives just in time, knocking Cappy unconscious and bringing Juliet’s appearance back to normal by a single kiss. Cappy awakens, taking both lovers captive by crossbow-point. While he is distracted, Juliet performs one last act of defiance against her father and electrocutes him.
As Tromeo and Juliet leave the house of Capulet, they are confronted by Ingrid and Monty, who reveal to them the real reason behind the Capulet/Que feud: Long ago, Cappy and Monty were the owners of the successful Silky Films production company. Ingrid, married to Monty at time, struck up an affair with Cappy, eventually birthing a son which Monty raised as his own. Faced with a divorce from Ingrid and the threat of having his son taken away from him, Monty was forced to sign over all the rights of Silky Films to the Capulets in exchange for his son. After the initial shock at the revelation that they are siblings, Tromeo and Juliet are determined not to let their whole ordeal be for naught; they passionately embrace and drive off into the sunset.
The film picks up six years later in Tromaville, New Jersey, where Tromeo and Juliet, now married, have become suburban yuppies with a house and (deformed) children of their own.
The film ends with the narrator’s brief poem for the lovers: "And all of our hearts free to let all things base go/As taught by Juliet and her Tromeo". A brief shot of William Shakespeare laughing uproariously is shown before the final fadeout. A title card before the credits dedicates the film to the memory of Lloyd's father Stanley Kaufman, declaring "There would be no Tromaville without him!".
|Actor||Character in Tromeo and Juliet||Character in Romeo and Juliet|
|Will Keenan||Tromeo Que||Romeo Montague|
|Jane Jensen||Juliet Capulet||Juliet Capulet|
|Maximillian Shaun||Cappy Capulet||Lord Capulet|
|Valentine Miele||Murray Martini||Mercutio|
|Earl McKoy||Monty Que||Lord Montague|
|Stephen Blackehart||Benny Que||Benvolio|
|Patrick Connor||Tyrone Capulet||Tybalt|
|Tamara Craig Thomas||Georgie Capulet|
|Wendy Adams||Ingrid Capulet||Lady Capulet|
|Steve Gibbons||London Arbuckle||Count Paris|
|Tiffany Shepis||Peter||Capulet Servant|
|Flip Brown||Father Lawrence||Friar Lawrence|
|Gene Terinoni||Detective Ernie Scalus||Prince Escalus|
|Garon Peterson||Fu Chang||The Apothecary|
|Sean Gunn||Sammy Capulet||Sampson|
|James Gunn||The "Found a Peanut" Father||N/A|
|Brian Fox||Bill Shakespeare||N/A|
The first draft of Tromeo and Juliet surfaced in 1992, written by Kaufman and Troma employees Andy Deemer and Phil Rivo, written entirely in Shakespearean verse and supposedly featuring The Toxic Avenger as a side character. The feedback from other Troma employees and Michael Herz was unanimously negative, so the idea was scrapped.
In 1995, another shot was taken at the concept, this time by newbie screenwriter James Gunn. Gunn completely rewrote the script, again in Shakespearean verse, making it darker and far more obscene; the original version had Juliet as a stripper and Tromeo as a crack dealer. Another revision, with additional material by Kaufman, was crafted into what the film eventually became: the verse was trimmed down and more comical elements were added.
Tromeo and Juliet was shot in the summer of 1995 for $350,000, one of the least expensive films in Troma history.
Tromeo and Juliet opened to generally positive reviews.Script error Among the most notable, The New York Times called the film "exhilarating", Variety Magazine described it as a "no-holds Bard" and USA Today noted the film was "not just for Troma junkies...Tromeo and Juliet is sexy, silly, sweet and surreal!". Tromeo also played in art house theatres in Los Angeles and New York for months, and reportedly played at a San Francisco theatre for over a year.
In addition, Tromeo was selected to play at the Cannes Film Festival, the Fantasporto festival, the Mar del Plata Film Festival and the Italian Fantafestival, where it won the award for Best Film of 1997.
Daniel Rosenthal describes Tromeo and Juliet as "the nadir of screen Shakespeare...[it] takes every major character and incident from Romeo and Juliet and systematically drains them of humanity in a tedious, appallingly acted feast of mutilation and softcore sex." Tony Howard summarizes it as a film "in which Juliet and the Nurse have lesbian sex, Romeo masturbates, various body parts are removed, the feud is between rival porn czars and incest rules".
After the success of Tromeo, Troma had plans to develop a spiritual sequel entitled Schlock and Schlockability (a play on Sense and Sensibility), in which Jane Austen is reincarnated as a well-endowed female who takes revenge on all of the Hollywood movie producers who have bastardized her novels. At one point, Troma announced that the film would head into production, but as of 2008, there are no plans to follow up on the film.
Tromeo and Juliet is also notable for its soundtrack, composed of alternative rock, pop punk and heavy metal music, which helped get the film some recognition on MTV. Most bands were willing to contribute their tracks for little to no money out of respect for Troma. In return for their song "Mr. Superlove", The Ass Ponys' lead singer requested only a check from the company for $9.95, for the purpose of framing it on his wall.
The CD soundtrack was released on Oglio Records on May 6, 1997 and included the following tracks:
- "Tromeo and Juliet Theme" by Willie Wisely
- "Sacrifice" by Motörhead
- "Pope on a Rope" by The Meatmen
- "Sunday" by The Icons
- "The Capulet Song (My Name Is Capulet)" by Stephen Blackehart & Valentine Miele
- "Drink That Whiskey" by The Wesley Willis Fiasco
- "Hyper Enough" by Superchunk
- "La Migra (Cruza La Frontera II)" by Brujeria
- "Gizzards, Scrapple and Tripe" by The New Duncan Imperials
- "Mr. Superlove" by Ass Ponys
- "Math" by Supernova
- "Romeo" by Sublime
- "TV Show Theme" by Willie Wisely
- "Monster Island" by Booterella w/ Jane Jensen
- "Yes, We'll Gather at the River" by Willie Wisely, Sean Gunn, Valentine Miele, Patrick Connor
- "Alleged" by Unsane
- ↑ Script error
- ↑ Rosenthal, Daniel "BFI Screen Guides: 100 Shakespeare Films" (British Film Institute, London, 2007, ISBN 978-1-84457-170-3) p.221
- ↑ Howard, Tony "Shakespeare's Cinematic Offshoots" in Shaughnessy, Robert (ed.) "The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare and Popular Culture" (Cambridge University Press, 2007, ISBN 978-0-521-60580-9), p.298