“The storm only comes to teach you how to skillfully sail your ship.”
― Matshona Dhliwayo
This bold and controversial film recently premiered at the Fantasia Film Festival (held entirely online due to Covid). Based on William Shakespeare's play, The Tempest, this was an unorthodox adaptation of the play, however, as the bard himself put it, "love is not love that alters when it alteration finds or bends with the remover to remove". Although altered from the original vision of the play, I found this a powerful, insightful, hilarious and altogether over the top film to be delightfully uncouth, disturbing and at times plain fowl (yes, that is intentional). Anyone who has read the Tempest can see how true to the story this film stayed while being undeniably a Troma film. The main story and characters were masterfully included. I really loved the characters of Prospero, Caliban and Big Al especially, played by Lloyd Kaufman, Monique Dupree and Abraham Sparrow, respectively.
I found one of the opening scenes jarring but other than that I truly enjoyed watching this movie in all of it's comedy, disgusting bodily fluids and schlocky horror elements.
The abundance and excesses portrayed in Prospero's Retreat were really fun scenes, that offset some of the more gross visceral scenes, of a literal shitstorm that played out before us.
It wouldn't be a Troma movie without a great underlying message and some pointed commentary on the current trends of humanity, including activism, cancel culture, big pharma and the hypocrisy that surrounds all of those things when taken to the extreme. This was well integrated into this film and despite some interesting divergence of continuity in the beginning of the film, the end result felt really polished, well put together, entertaining and captivating.
On a personal level, it was so fun to see all the appearances of people I know and care about, which made it feel like a reunion of sorts, and I have a well-documented and long-standing love for Debbie Rochon so of course I was so happy to see her on screen as well. This was an ambitious project that turned out to be one of my favorite additions to the catalog of Troma films and probably my favorite adaptation of Shakespeare yet! If you get a chance to watch it, definitely check it out.
One last word. Troma films are not for everyone, but they have their place. They are as much art as any other film and I really enjoy seeing all the hard work, dedication and love that goes into bringing the visions to life. They are facing struggles with censorship and the films being deemed a violation of community standards. We can't let mainstream media dull our experiences. Although YouTube has removed all the Troma movies that were long available for free on that platform, please continue to support independent artists and filmmakers. If you want to enjoy an ever growing library of Troma content, check out watch.troma.com and subscribe to help keep independent media alive.