Shakespeare’s Shitstorm

Shakespeare’s Shitstorm ★★★★½

Lloyd Kaufman's most ambitious film also captures a mood we've rarely seen from him - reflective. Shakespeare's Shitstorm, in addition to being perhaps the nuttiest version of The Tempest ever conceived, serves as a summation of Lloyd's career and a capsule vision of the things that have thematically driven his films for decades - independent thought, a cynical eye cast toward corporatism and bureaucracy, social satire, and comedic anarchy.

The end party scene is one of the defining sequences in the Kaufman filmography. As a group of revelers descends into a chaotic mass of bodily waste, drug withdrawal, and sickness, Lloyd as Prospero lords over it all, the crazed puppeteer as master of the bedlam. Is this Lloyd's vision of his career as an indie filmmaker, as one who has created chaos and somehow brought order out of it? Or is this Lloyd as observer, watching as the world around him has become hellish and sick? It may be both.

Regardless, this is the work of a man who knows that he is on the back end of his career as an artist, a once-headstrong twenty-year-old who is now exploitation cinema's last great working auteur. Lloyd has said that this may be his last film; though he has no intention to quit filmmaking, he is realistic about how difficult it is to get funding for his films, and he knows he isn't getting any younger.

This is why the closing moments of Shakespeare's Shitstorm have a bittersweet sadness to them. Sadness is not an emotion regularly associated with Lloyd's work, but even I, the most cynical of viewers, could not help but get a little choked up as Lloyd struck a contemplative and wistful tone, all while clad in an elaborate body suit with three tits, a hairy back, bulging muscles, and a giant penis. And if that sounds strange, I suppose Lloyd wouldn't have it any other way. Like so many other moments in the Kaufman oeuvre, it springs from a truly unique vision that is like no other director's. If fate dictates that this is indeed the last Troma film, then I salute Lloyd and the entire Troma team. God bless them for gifting us this vision.