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NOTE: This article being about a Troma movie, many of the trailers and movies being referenced and/or linked should be considered highly not safe for work, containing graphic sex and violence.
Its 11pm on a Saturday in January, and I'm in line for a Midnight Movie at Boston's (Brookline's, if we're being technical) historicCoolidge Corner Theater. So far, nothing out of the ordinary. That goes double for the crowd both in line with me and just milling about - a mix of young Film School Hipsters who could well have been bussed in from the set of Girls. and old-school Punks looking all of their approaching-40s in denim, studded-leather and chains.
An early adopter of the Arthouse/Grindhouse fusion model that so many independent movie theaters have now adopted to survive, The Coolidge draws a crowd as eclectic as its lineup. On any given day it wouldn't be unusual to find high-gloss Festival Daaah-ling Oscar Bait (or Indie Spirit Awards Chum, take your pick) sharing the marquee with a repertory showing of some D-list 90s family comedy angling for the dollars of college kids who watched it to the point of memorization in middle school (or younger kids who only just found out about it from Doug Walker or Lindsay Ellis) and a schlocky 50s monster flick accompanied by a tangential science lecture as part of a Science on Screen partnership with this or that local museum.
But tonight, we're here to see a schlocky new movie, and the guests of honor - the filmmakers - have just arrived. They cut low impact profiles: Just another couple out to the movies, accompanied by a smattering of their cast and crew, with nothing else resembling an "entourage" in the Hollywood sense. A far cry from George Clooney rolling into Telluride with a private army of showbiz lampreys swimming at his side. They've come for the applause, the glory and the vindication, to be sure, but also to work: To move the DVDs, t-shirts and books that will (hopefully) make the effort financially worthwhile. This is the real Independent Movie scene, films financed out of pocket and profits recouped in direct cash transactions.
Inside, their "setup" will be familiar to anyone who's been the friend of an artist, author or even game developer working from the ground up: the folding table covered with merch and their previous efforts (DVD after DVD of bloody slashers, drooling rubber monsters, erupting cleavage and anything else attention-grabbing), the posters and price-list scotch-taped to the wall, the Star Couple in control (but only just so) of the maelstrom. He, the director/spokesman, poses for photos and autographs whatever lands in front of him (sometimes a movie, occasionally a body part); she - his partner in life and crime - mans the table and directs traffic, equal parts Mother Hen and carnival barker. Later, after the screening, he'll stand to answer questions from the audience while she documents the event, alternately beaming from behind a camcorder and entreating him to remind folks that the merch table is still open.
Their energy and affectations are innately youthful, and you would be forgiven for assuming based on my descriptions that they were indeed "a couple of kids" - college-aged indie filmmakers at the birth of their career. But no, they're grownups. Senior citizens, in fact. Outside of this context, they'd look like somebody's grandparents, the kind of "sweet old couple" some of the Hot Topic fangirls in the audience would coo over while imagining themselves and their partners in the autumn of life. Even inside this context, their "auntie and uncle you only see on holidays" demeanor should be discordant; given that they're being fetted by a crowd of punks and hipster-gorehounds for a movie that features, among other things, exploding heads, teenagers melting into slime-puddles mid-coitus, nubile lesbians kiss-swapping irradiated vomit and a wheelchair-bound villain being beaten to death with a giant erect phallus.
But no. It makes perfect sense: Because the kindly older couple are Troma Films' infamous Lloyd Kaufman and wife Patricia, and the movie is Lloyd's latest feature: Return to Nukem High - Volume 1.