Film Maudit 2.0 (2022) with "Tower Rats"
This Troma mixtape is all over the map... and it's fun.
A cacophony of antagonistic antagonisms make up the bulk of Tower Rats, a mixtape “best of” catalog from Troma-inspired fans and filmmakers, as released by, of course, Troma itself. The lovable lugs of the grossest of gorefests and gut-punches, Troma’s dedicated base of indie pick & flick artists are nothing if not courageous, and self-congratulating. “Let’s make some art!” is the ongoing mantra of the studio, and indeed Troma continues to pump out visceral visages from every open orifice available, but to what ends does Tower Rats hope to “make” “art?”
All of them.
Compiled by the kindly unconventional Kevin Walter, Tower Rats doesn’t follow a typical narrative or any at all. It’s not unlike those bootleg VHS compilations of old commercials and weird tv and film moments from the past that one might find for sale through Instagram searching, only here… it’s directly and indirectly from Troma. As a special edition video from an obsessive archivist, in that style, Tower Rats is a romp. A ratty, rotten, and rollicking romp. As a film, well… it’s a self-reach-around.
Despite some very aggressive and ugly moments - from knife butt-cracking to expletives thrown around an outdoor restaurant to, yes, bodily fluid licking - there’s nothing toxic about the presentation. It’s all in good fun, and is awfully genuine in its playfulness, even and especially when things get awful. Tower Rats won’t induce sickness in those who enjoy the Jackass movies, but it may cause some flash-forwarding through the more grody segments - and maybe a rewind or pause here and there, just to prove that what’s happened did in fact happen.
Loud and proud is the stamp and stench of Troma, which for sure deserves some pats on the back. After many decades, they’re still around, doing their green sliminess to full effect. In Tower Rats though, the branding is all up and down the screen and in the tone of each clip (no scenes in the traditional sense). This is the conceit of the film, and it’s lovingly upfront about it, but I wonder how much further the creators could’ve gone had they not toed the line a bit. No restrictions on what they performed are noticed, but what if fewer studio references and more imaginative disturbances?
Tower Rats is no Gremlins 2 meta-commentary mind you - it’s too heartfelt about Troma to feel tied up - and its intentions aren’t to burn anything down, but to expand, believe it or not, what’s possible for filmmakers and fans, professionals and amateurs alike. It’s just oh so pure, even when face-down in its own puke. Kevin Walter’s dizzying hall of spectacle is straight out of the carnie tent, far away from the carnival. The public just isn’t ready for this reality, but it’s the one most deserved. Looking around any street corner will prove that.
This chunky escapade ought to make for one of those “get a load of this!” kind of college dorm nights, but anything less would be an insult. Tower Rats doesn’t go down well, but it hits spots that most films just don’t or won’t reach. For that, for those who dream, and for those who have the tools to birth creativity into this world, Troma has an inspirational collage of highs and lows that’ll turn heads and stomachs to end and begin everything. Just… just be careful.
Tower Rats screened as part of Film Maudit 2.0.
Sincerely Yours in Moviegoing,
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