Troma, a New York City-based film studio dedicated to cheapie films with gory gross-outs (Bloodsucking Freaks), gratuitous sex (Blondes Have More Guns), grotesque monsters (The Toxic Avenger) and general goofiness (Cannibal! The Musical), has been attracting rabid fans for some 22 years. Now the independent outfit is tweaking the majors by holding a screenwriting contest on its Web site (http://www.troma.com/home). "The movie industry thought having nine writers for our film Stuck on You was too many," says Troma president Lloyd Kaufman. "So we thought, let's give 'em 40 and involve our fans. We're not exactly an auteur-style company."
But they are cyber-savvy. The Great Troma Script-Writing Contest invites site surfers to submit two-page installations of Battle of the Bikini Sub-humanoids, the fourth film in Troma's Class of Nuke 'em High series. Each week's winner receives $50, a writing credit in the film and a posting of his or her handiwork on the site.
"There's a modern vaudevillian tone" to the plot-in-progress, says Troma production head James Gunn of the 14 pages that have already been written. In the opening scene, a Forrest Gump sendup, a dolt on a park bench downs a radiation-tainted feather he mistakes for a chocolate and promptly turns into a bloodthirsty monster. "I was just thinking about what movie openings stuck in people's minds," explains Bill Doorley, the industrial film writer from Pittsburgh who won the first $50.
Even contest losers can find goodies on Troma's unsophisticated but jam-packed site. The pages burst with film clips, posters—even an advice column. It's just an extension of Troma's fan-friendly policy, the company says. "How many presidents of Hollywood studios answer e-mail from someone in Sweden?" asks Gunn. About the same number, one supposes, as would release a movie called Surf Nazis Must Die.