A church in Holborn, Central London would seem to be a contrasting choice to what was about to be unleashed on an invited group of press, but Sofia-based games developer Heamimont Games, with help from Motörhead’s Phil Campbell and Troma President Lloyd Kaufman, with support from good old Toxie aka The Toxic Avenger were out in force to unleash a special preview of their games Victor Vran Overkill Edition and Motörhead – Through the Ages, which are linked together and are being released across several platforms in PC, PS4 and XBOX One versions. The attendees were given the chance to play the game in various versions and amidst a buffet of food and drink, plus the official Motörhead beer, ‘Road Crew’ (brewed by Camerons) and a JD and coke special in honour of the late Motörhead leader Lemmy, Starburst were delighted to speak with both Lloyd and Phil about the game and their respective careers.
INTERVIEW WITH LLOYD KAUFMAN
Starburst: Two films you worked on behind the scenes, Rocky and Saturday Night Fever, are celebrating 40 years. What are your fondest memories of working on those and did you think they were going to create such a lasting legacy?
Lloyd Kaufman: Well, they were my film school and I learned a lot of what I did from John G. Avildsen and John Badham. In fact, on the official Troma YouTube movie channel, you can watch John G’s movie Cry Uncle, which was a Troma Film and Joe, which was Peter Boyle and Susan Sarandon’s first film, was directed by John as well which I did. I knew Rocky was going to do well, because John was a great director and so was John Badham. I actually have a part in Fever as the driver for Tony’s brother Frankie when he leaves the house. I can’t be seen in the TV version, but on the DVD and Theatrical, you can (the scene is just after the bridge sequence when Tony and co. dare to climb the girders). If you have a great director, you will have a great movie.
Troma continues to be such a key brand in independent cinema. The Toxic Avenger remains such an iconic character amongst fans and cultists. If Disney came along and offered you a substantial amount of money to buy the Troma library so they could make a whole host of reboots (i.e. a Michael Bay-ish version of The Toxic Avenger), lets say $4.1B like they did with a certain Mr. Lucas, given what you have successfully created on your own terms, would you take the money?
Of course – everyone has their price. Indeed, James Gunn, who started with us at Troma, actually wrote Guardians of the Galaxy, a great movie that I enjoyed and he is now Disney through and through.
You are very straight talking when it comes to filmmaking and in your book Direct Your Own Damn Movie!, you talk of Martin Scorsese inspiring a ‘tsunami of pretentious, look at me film school filmmakers’. However, overall, given what does succeed in the business, are there any filmmakers you admire from that background and context that have created something of significance?
Well, Scorsese is the one example I cite. When we were mixing Tromeo & Juliet, we did it at night at the same place where Scorsese was mixing during the day because we got a discount and at night, the Dom Perignon champagne was left around with a lot of bottles half open, so we’d drink it!!!
You worked for Cannon as well at one point. Given what became of the company eventually, which lessons or observations did you learn and mak from working for them?
Cannon was where I met John G. Avildsen and they produced Joe. The most valuable lesson I learned was never to quit. I had to deliver a tape to tape recorder to some writer on Staten Island and said to him, I don’t want to do this. He told me there and then to quit and go for it. Joe was turned into a great movie by John who made it for $150,000.
Your fellow classmates whilst at Yale were Oliver Stone and George W. Bush, two very political figures in both filmmaking and office. Do you have a particular Oliver Stone favourite film?
Well, Oliver and I started out together. He used to hang around the set of a film we made called Super Cookies, which was a lesbian version of Hitchcock’s Vertigo and we also grew up together before we attended Yale.
If you could hypothetically pick an A-list cast for a Troma film, which film would you do and who would you have as, say, Toxic Avenger or Sgt. Kabukiman?
I am an auteur director and it is always about the director. I am not interested in stars too much, although a lot of talent has come out of the Troma world like Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Samuel L. Jackson’s first film was with us, Def by Temptation (although I didn’t do it myself). I also like Emma Stone as well. I have Toxie 5 in script form, but haven’t done it yet because I don’t have the money, but if I did do it, I would cast a wrestler called Dolph Ziggler in the role, he is a very talented actor.
Finally, can we expect Donald Trump to get the Troma-tically lampooning experience soon. It was said that Toxie was a spokesman for world peace. Is there a script in the works that is going to give Trump a proper send-up?
In my new film Return to Return to Nuke ‘Em High – Volume 2, there are some Donald Trump references in there (Lemmy plays the President of the USA in his last role before his sad death recently).
INTERVIEW WITH PHIL CAMPBELL
Starburst: Motörhead were such an integral part of musical culture and we are here at this launch to celebrate the release of a new game around the band. When you were touring with Lemmy and co in the 1980s, did you relax with video games between gigs etc. back then and what were your favourites, if any?
Phil Campbell: From around the 1990s I used to play them at home and Lemmy would always be playing them between writing lyrics and other things. Lemmy used to play all sorts. I think he played Star Wars as well.
Did you let your children play video games, or were you strict to get them to focus on education and so on?
Yes, they loved them, although back in the day they were very expensive – about £40.
Motörhead – Through the Ages is another opportunity to celebrate the legacy of the band. Was the concept of the game your idea or did you collaborate with others in the genesis?
Well, the company initially asked us to supply music for the games and a lot of the guys who developed the game were already Motörhead fans, so effectively we sat together to create a game. There’s a lot of history and crazy stories – we’ve done everything. Overall, I am very proud of it.
Technology has played an increasing part in how music is created and performed, particularly during concerts when LCD displays and huge screens are all part of the appeal for concertgoers. Were Motörhead very aware of this during their time, or were they more of a purist group in terms of live performance?
It was always 100% about the music. We would often vary it a bit where we were and based on what we could afford, but it was always about the music.
Your group The Bastard Sons obviously must give you a lot of personal satisfaction post-Motörhead. How does the dynamic of the music and group differ from the earlier band?
It’s good, all my three sons are in it and Neil Stones is the singer. We started it about four years ago and produced an EP of songs. We played mostly festivals and started with cover songs, but we are planning to do a full album this year. It is a party band and we play a lot of obscure Motörhead as well as the likes of “Ace of Spades” and “Kill by Death”.
Guitar Hero is a game that has kind of diluted the potential of real guitar playing. As a hobby guitarist of over 30 years myself I played it and it isn’t the same as the real thing. What do you think of that game generally in terms of it’s success and potential and has it influenced people to take up the guitar?
Well, we offered eight songs to Guitar Hero and a bunch of new songs as well. The funny thing is when I play Guitar Hero, I use my little finger more than I do when I play a real guitar (laughs). Also, I failed on the Guitar Hero “Ace of Spades” after about 20 seconds (laughs).
Finally, what are you most proud of musically and what is your favourite guitar and why?
I think the fact that we played together for forty years. Every gig was special. In terms of my favourite guitar, my wife bought me for our anniversary five years ago an original Les Paul Custom from 1957, a black with rare alnico pick-ups and a Bigsky tremolo. I used to have about 400 guitars, a lot of which I have given away to charity, but I still have about 100 in my possession and 30 of which are classic.