5 Fun Facts From The Return To... The Return Vol. 2 Q&A with Lloyd (and Pat) Kaufman
We caught Lloyd Kaufman while he was in town for the Austin premiere of Return to… Return to Nuke ‘Em High AKA Vol. 2. It was a really fun night filled with the lewd, lowbrow humor, the Toxic Avenger, and a highly entertaining and surprisingly informative Q&A session with Lloyd Kaufman and his adorable wife, Pat, who he affectionately refers to as “Commissioner.”
Lloyd is still as sharp as ever, and he doesn’t miss a beat as he fires out zingers to the crowd of Troma enthusiasts, who lapped up every moment of it. He and the “Commissioner,” who is extremely bright and effervescent, compliment one another nicely, and could not have been more kind and gracious people. They truly love all of their fans, so much so that they were more than willing to hang out well after the Q&A to take photos, shoot the shit, and sign and sell merch.
The Q&A was a blast and is full of really great information. You can listen to the audio of the full session below, but we’ve also transcribed the 5 most interesting tidbits for your reading pleasure below. Enjoy!
The two-part format was allegedly inspired by Quentin Tarantino.
Moderator: When you decided to do Nuke ‘Em High again, did you know it was going to be Volume 1 and Volume 2 from the beginning?
Lloyd Kaufman: Yes, we did. Actually, you know how we got the idea? [To Pat:] You wanna tell them Commissioner?
Pat Kaufman (faintly): No, you tell them.
LK: Years ago, I was at the Sitges Film Festival in Spain. Tarantino was there, and it was right after one of his big hits. I asked him, “What am I gonna do? We make low budget movies, and it’s getting worse and worse…” He said, “Do something bigger! BIGGER!” And on half a million bucks, it’s hard to be pretentious, but I managed to do it with two volumes. When I saw Kill Bill was in two volumes, that was it. Then I said, I’m gonna do that, and now there’s two volumes.
Lloyd Kaufman has quite the list of influences.
Audience Member: Being a horror fan, what directors inspired you while you were coming up with Troma?
Lloyd Kaufman: Well, I went to college in the 60s, and I went to college not intending to make movies. I didn’t even know what a director was. I didn’t know Charlie Chaplin was a film director, I thought he was just a clown. I think the directors that really influenced me were the French New Wave directors, and the whole auteur theory of making movies, which talks about how the director is in control of the movie. I bought on into it, which was a big mistake… I could’ve been Michael Bay, god damn it… [laughter] But at any rate, John Ford, Howard Hawks, Chaplin, Keaton. You know, I’m from the 60s, so the people that I really liked were the people I grew up with. Jean Renoir, Leni Riefenstahl, and Stan Brakhage, an experimental filmmaker, but probably the greatest visual artist of my life. Basically, [Roberto] Rossellini, the auteur kinda people.
Pat Kaufman: You were not inspired by horror film directors because there weren’t that many [at the time], other than the ones working for Roger Corman, who ultimately became a very good friend of yours.
LK: Well, I was a big fan of James Whale. Frankenstein made a big impression on me. The fact that it combined horror and comedy and had sort of a dark sense of humor — and Todd Browning also. Frankenstein clearly informed The Toxic Avenger — you can’t miss that because Frankenstein lives in The Toxic Avenger — and Chaplin informed The Toxic Avenger with his blind significant other. The whole idea of Tromaville came from Preston Sturges.
Lemmy Kilmister’s involvement with Troma only cost a bottle of liquor and two Tromettes to chat with.
Moderator: So this is the last on-screen appearance of Lemmy. Talk about Lemmy’s history with Troma. How did Lemmy first get involved?
Lloyd Kaufman: The first film with Lemmy was Tromeo and Juliet, and I wish I had used subtitles back then — I just didn’t think of it. In Tromeo and Juliet he had the most lines, but you can’t understand one word of it. But a very sweet guy. He really enjoyed Troma a lot.
Moderator: Did you call him up?
LK: No! I think Ron Jeremy introduced us, oddly enough. I think it was Ron, I’m not sure, but there’s a business event called the American Film Market, which is a place where distributors buy and sell movies from independent producers, and somehow, in our office there was Lemmy. We got him to be in Tromeo and Juliet, but I don’t remember the whole thing. He never ever charged us a dime. The only thing he wanted, originally, was a bottle of Jack Daniels and two Tromettes to talk to. He’s a gentleman because Troma is incompetent, and it’s boring to be on any movie set because you’re sitting around all day. You hurry to sit down, hurry up and do nothing, and with Troma, you get the added incompetence factor. But he moved up later on to Maker’s Mark.
Pat Kaufman: And what do you drink?
LK: In Lemmy’s honor, I moved over to Maker’s Mark.
The scene in the film between Pat and Lloyd in the editing room was based off an actual fight they had over Poutrygeist.
Audience Member: That scene where you guys are editing and whatnot, how true to life is that? Do you have to rein him in like that?
Pat Kaufman: You don’t think we’ve had this conversation almost everyday. [laughter] That was the easiest scene I’ve ever shot.
Lloyd Kaufman: We had a little private dispute, as I remember it, concerning a cum shot. [laughter] But that scene in the editing room was inspired by genuine, pretty vicious arguing. I mean, I only have half a penis, but it was a pretty strong argument, and it became a scene.
PK: How many of you have actually seen Poutrygeist? [applause and cheers] Okay, so, one of the earlier iterations of that discussion — I wouldn’t say “ar-gu-ment” — is that that I, personally, didn’t particularly like the scene in the bathroom with the explosive scatological blah-blah-blah... And I insisted, successfully, that they would put “censored” with the black bar. And I am told by audiences around the world that one of the funniest scenes in the movie is when the black thing comes up that blocks the view of the explosive, exiting diarrhea. So, in that way, it was actually a proven concept.
LK: That’s the result of 44 years of marriage.
Stan Lee and Lloyd Kaufman collaborated on a project that’s never been released due to funding.
Audience Member: You and Stan Lee have a long relationship. How did you guys end up meeting?
Lloyd Kaufman: Stan Lee and I go back. I’m probably the oldest living friend of his. We go back to the late 60s. And while I was at Yale, the only thing I learned aside from drugs was Marvel comics. The guy next to me had the Marvel comics, and I got knocked out by them, so I searched out Stan Lee. In 1969 and 1970 he wasn’t the Stan Lee you know today, so he was very accessible. He gave me a reel-to-reel tape in which he had dictated an idea for a movie. He told me to write it up, it was called Night of the Witch. I did write it up, but I changed it a bit to where the witch was the good person, sorta like Toxie. We actually had it optioned a few times, and then Stan and I became buddies. He was very nice to Troma, and he was the reason Toxie had a comic book. He said it, and I kinda agree, that the only reason he stayed friends with me is because he and Joan, his lovely wife, love Pat. [laughter]
Moderator: Why didn’t they go for the script?
LK: Good question. We had a Finland producer about 15 years ago that was ready to do it, and Stan was all for it because it would have united Stan Lee and Lloyd Kaufman — you know, Stan Lee’s Night of the Witch by Lloyd Kaufman. The guy came over and met with Stan. Then, we had this big luncheon with Stan’s business partner, and the business partner said, “Oh, no, no no. Stan only does AAA movies now.” And that was the end of Night of the Witch.
Check out the full Q&A below:
What do you think? Did you learn anything cool? We want to know. Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and as always remember to viddy well!