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Thursday, 4 August 2016

Mr Topps - Some terrific Troma Trash from Adam de la Cour

Director - Adam de la Cour

Writer - Adam de la Cour

Producer - Adam de la Cour

Key Cast - Benjamin Campbell Piggot

Key Cast - Lloyd Kaufman (yes, only Lloyd bloody Kaufman!)

I've made it no secret in the past here at 5D of my unashamed love for many things Troma-related. This love has been there ever since I rented a certain video (yes, that's a 'video' kids - they were big, bulky and full of tape), namely The Toxic Avenger, one barmy summer's evening way back in the late 1980's. I feel pretty confident in saying that the impact of the film (and even more so, that of the movie studio that produced it, Troma entertainment) upon my eager little psyche was instant and profound.

I also know that I'm not alone, because since Troma's creation by Lloyd Kaufman 40 years ago (making it the U.S.A's longest running independent movie studio) it's safe to say that the company has had a fair modicum success - not just in terms of critical and some commercial success (in between the periods of financial meltdown) but also in becoming a deliciously trashy part of the whole social fabric of film making. That's not to say that the appreciation of Troma's output knows no bounds, because the appreciation of their work is more often than not, polarised. It's most definitely a Marmite type of thing, you either love it or hate it (and I hate it by the way - Marmite that is). 

In fact I would so far as saying that few studios such as Troma have created such an extreme of movie going opinion. I could talk about the snobbery from certain quarters towards Kaufman and his work which often manifests itself in patronising and condescending 'they're so bad that they're good' or 'they make them bad on purpose' comments. However that may well be a rant for another time.

As of this moment, I have yet to interview the redoubtable legend that is Lloyd Kaufman. I did come close a couple of years ago when his New York assistant arranged for me to speak to him on the phone, but alas a rather debilitating illness of mine at that very time put paid to that. But I will get my target someday, oh yes I will. I have however managed to satisfy my predilection for Troma by producing articles on a number of related projects; namely the excellent British horror comedy Banjo by Troma alumni film maker, Liam Regan (which you can see RIGHT HERE) and then a year or so ago the weird and wonderful Purge by David King (which you can see RIGHT HERE).

So this week you can imagine just how happy I was to be contacted a short while ago by British musician and filmmaker, Adam de la Cour regarding his Troma related short film. In all honesty I have to say that I was initially even more impressed by his opening sentence which was, "I've been checking out your site and it looks great." Yep, it's almost as if he knew what a superficially easy pushover I am for a few complimentary words. Now putting aside the insignificant fact that this has occasionally landed me in trouble (just asked my overworked legal team) I was of course immediately taken in by the words of outright adoration (well that's how I describe them).

We all love clowns.........right?
Adam quickly got to the point of his request saying that he was wondering if I'd be interested in reviewing his short film. Not only that, but in a tasty little caveat the film concerned is due to be released on blu-ray alongside Troma's Return To Return To Nuke 'Em High at some point in the near future. He then really went for the emotional jugular by being all polite and nice-like with the parting words "Let me know if you're interested and I'll send you a link. No worries if not!" Bugger, talk about a cheap shot in trying to appeal to my decent nature.....

As it happens he didn't really need to do that because he had me at 'released on blu-ray alongside Troma's Return To Return To Nuke 'Em High '

Adam's film in question is Mr Topps, and at just over 10 minutes Is quite frankly 10 minutes of of the most deliciously trashy Troma-like horror comedy that I've seen in some time. The synopsis for which is fairly straightforward;

"Rancid stalwart of the capitalist dream, Mr Topps, wakes to find himself in a Donald Rumsfeld inspired version of This Is Your Life, in which mysterious host, Deep Throat, lovingly reunites him with a collection of past associates, each one literally itching for a one to one."

You really don't want to know what's happening here.
Well, what can I say about Mr Topps? Well for a start the performance from Benjamin Campbell Piggot as the man himself is genuinely laugh out loud excellent in his all round performance and should be commended in making a truly awful character so appealing. It really is safe to say that by rights as a person Topps is what my dad would have called, 'a tosspot waste of selfish skin', a fact that is readily reaffirmed in the film by those he has crossed now taking their revenge on the hapless soul. Piggot's comedy timing, both in delivery and facial expressions are indeed priceless.

In true Troma-like fashion, a smooth by-the-numbers plot isn't really taking place here - actually it doesn't take place at all. So I would stay away from this if you prefer your narrative to be neat, clean, tidy and all wrapped up in an audience focus group driven by the numbers drama. However, if like me, you have a penchant for insanely trashy and surreal visions that confidently and unashamedly wears it's freak show credentials on its sleeve then this short beauty of craziness is for you. Even better, do as I did and watch it with someone who you would put your mortgage on not liking it. That way you can joyfully watch the film and wallow in the look on their disbelieving face at the goings on of fish, the shaving cream et al.........

Take a look at the trailer for Mr Topps to get a fish flavour of what I mean - it also features a certain Mr Kaufman...

Do you know something? After a number of years now in the 5D universe I am still as ever in awe of the multitude of filmmakers out there who are steadfastly pursuing  their film passions, often on a budget that wouldn't even come close to covering the cost of the Cucumber sandwiches at a mainstream studio management meeting. Take Adam's journey to completing Mr Topps for example. In order to make the film he painted his basement black, borrowed some lights, exploited his friends and family (in more ways than one apparently ), and shot it with two tiny budget Sonys. It cost him about £300, with the real expense being the custom made mechanical, concertina-boxing-glove and the £50 trout......... that's right, I said 'Trout'.

I would implore you to watch Adam's creation of Mr Topps when it features on blu-ray alongside Troma's Return To Return To Nuke 'Em High. Not only do you get to see an the newest release from a legendary studio, you also get to see what the future could hold for Trash comedy horror.

Adam de la Cour is a British musician and filmmaker. He started making short films in 2013, which mainly have their roots in experimental film and video art. These include the Japanese game show inspired Batsu!!! and the surreal vaudeville These Things Happen. 

He's currently dabbling in genre-movie tropes and writing his first feature length screenplay Pilty, about a man who is driven to extreme acts of violence by the smell of VHS clamshell cases.

His films have been screened at various festivals and venues in the UK, including Supernormal (as part of Exploding Cinema), Canterbury Fringe, and London's Whitechapel gallery.

You can find out more about Adam de la Cour and his work on his website at

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