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MARCH 2024

Untold NUON Tales: Welcome to Tromaville

On May 11, 2000, VM Labs held a booth at E3 2000 to showcase the NUON and various work in progress software titles.  In addition to the booth they had on the main floor, they had a separate VIP suite.  Several celebrities visited the VIP Suite and signed their DVDs for people.  One of these celebrities that visited was Lloyd Kaufman, director, screenwriter, producer, actor, and Co-founder of Troma Entertainment.  Troma Entertainment is one of the longest standing independent American movie studios and was founded by Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz in 1974.  They are known for creating films such as The Toxic Avenger, The Class of Nuke ‘Em High, Mother’s Day and Tromeo and Juliet in the 80s and 90s.  In conjunction, they are known for birthing the careers of numerous well-known actors/directors like James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy writer), Trey Parker and Matt Stone (creators of South Park), J.J. Abrams (directed/co-produced/co-wrote Star Wars The Force Awakens), the prolific Samuel L. Jackson (Producer/actor in over 100 films), and more.  Below are are a couple pictures of Lloyd Kaufman and Troma staff at VM Labs’s E3 2000 VIP suite, one dressed dressed as Kabukiman from Troma’s movie Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D., and someone dressed as the Toxic Avenger from Troma’s Toxic Avenger movies.

"The Toxic Avenger and Kabukiman greet visitors to the NUON VIP suite." (Photo taken by Scott Henderson) "Director Lloyd Kaufman of Troma Studios makes a movie in the VIP suite." (Photo taken by Michael Fulton)

These pictures were featured on the homepage of VM Labs’s website in their E3 2000 photo reel.  Now, was this just simply celebrity appearance?  Or was it more than that?  Well, later that year in November, Troma Entertainment announced the list of sponsors for the TromaDance 2001 Film Festival.  Who happened to be one of those sponsors?  VM Labs of course, as pictured below:  

In conjunction, VM Labs shared the following on the homepage of their official website:

What was the reasoning for this sponsoring?  On Troma’s side of this deal, it can be summed up by Troma Co-Founder and President Lloyd Kaufmann in a Dec. 5, 2000 press release: “Since the TromaDance Film Festival celebrates art instead of commerce, the support of sponsors is vital.  Fandom, NUON and the other supersponsors of TromaDance 2001 are true champions of independent art and cinema.”  On VM Labs’s side, was it a mere promotion of the NUON or again... was it more than that?  Perhaps a partnership was in the works?  It would not be long before more information was revealed. 

On May 11, 2001, G. Noel Gross from released an article about the Chiller Theatre Expo, described as being “home to the world's best horror and sci-fi convention.”  In this article, the author got to speak with Ronni Thomas, DVD Producer at Troma Entertainment.  They discussed some new releases coming from Troma Entertainment.  “We discussed the Toxic Avenger box set due this Summer. It'll feature the first three films, plus a NUON-enhanced fourth disc with all sorts of goodies (including Toxic Crusader toons).”  He went on to say that the DVD debut of Toxic Avenger Part 3 would also be NUON-enhanced.  Trailers for each of the movies featured in the box set can be watched below: 

In sum, it appears that the relationship between VM Labs and Troma Entertainment, beyond the sponsoring of TromaDance 2001, was that Troma was going to use NUON technology to add special features to their Toxic Avenger movies and cartoons.  While the NUON is primarily known as a gaming system, VM Labs touted the NUON as a special DVD player that had features unlike that of anything else on the market.  In the words of VM Labs:

“In addition to applying advanced features to the vast library of pre-existing film titles, VM Labs has released a set of software tools that enable Hollywood Studios to add powerful "NUON Special Features" to their feature films. These Special Features open up a whole new dimension of enjoyment for film enthusiasts to explore and enjoy their favorite titles from completely new perspectives. Look into the dark and far-away scenes of adventure films, view your favorite athlete frame by frame, dissect your favorite special effects, learn about fantastic behind the scenes information that only the director knows, even play NUON games right from the movie disc.”

Despite a promising pairing, when the Toxic Avenger DVD box set came out (called The Tox Box),it was done so without any NUON features and no further reports were made relating to their alleged partnership with VM Labs.  What happened?  With it being set to release in the summer, just a few months away, why would the NUON content suddenly get cut?  Well, it appears that the box set did not come out in the Summer of 2001 after all, but was delayed to 2002.  Could this have been the reason?  With many questions left unanswered, I spoke with the former DVD Producer of Troma Entertainment himself, Ronni Thomas:

    V-SNES: Do you recall what happened to the NUON enhanced Toxic Avenger DVD box set project?

    Ronni: It doesn’t seem we followed through with the NUON stuff... and here is a very plausible scenario: Whomever at NUON reached out directly to Lloyd (president of Troma) and told them they had amazing new DVD technology and Lloyd said, "great we love it as long as it's free” and sent the guy directly over to me.  I said "sure - we will use your technology” (there was at the time a fair share of day drinking and drugging) and either A) We pissed the NUON guys off - a highly likely scenario or B) Lloyd got pissed off at them for some reason like "they should be paying us to use their technology!!" - and equally likely scenario.  It was magical chaos.  But nobody would know more than me sadly about the NUON stuff except Mike Butler who was kind of the adult at Troma Team Video at the time.      

    V-SNES: To clarify, do you know if implementing the NUON technology was ever started or are you saying that the agreement with VM Labs collapsed before that could happen?

    Ronni: As far as I know, we did not even start the process - I'd have remembered - part of my interest in early DVD tech was my life as a closeted computer engineer.

    V-SNES: VM Labs was a sponsor for TromaDance 2001.  Do you recall any of the circumstances around this?       

    Ronni: Yes it does - Tromadance at that time you'd maybe talk to Doug Sakkman - another real character.  This is an oddly fun way to revisit the craziness that was Troma.  I VAGUELY even remember the NUON guy's face and trying to extort a few free NUON Enhanced DVD players out of him - which we may have actually done because I DO recall seeing the interface.  And for some strange reason recall them wanting us to work with some authoring house in New Jersey Somewhere but I'm hazy on the name and that may not be part of the NUON saga. 

As per Ronni’s recommendation, I reached out to former Troma Team Video employee Michael Butler:  

    V-SNES: What do you recall about the NUON-enhanced Toxic Avenger DVD box set?

    Michael: I do recall talk of a make-your-own-Troma movie whereas the viewer could pick clips from our catalog.  I don't recall specific plans for the Toxie Box Set.

    V-SNES: So this was a standalone thing targeting the NUON platform?

    Michael: I think that was the idea, we would do a stand-alone project where the viewer could pick scenes from various Troma films. I seem to recall they had one manufacturer, at the time, with NUON enhanced DVD players.

    V-SNES: How far did this idea get into development?

    Michael: We did not get very far with the project.  I am not aware of any work done after I left the company.

    V-SNES: Were there design documents for it or were the ideas ever put to paper? Also, when did you leave the company?

    Michael: I don't recall ever getting to the point where we actually started work on the projects.  I left Troma in 2001, Ronni was still there after I left.  He may remember if there were discussions after I left.

    V-SNES: Do you recall what the relationship was like between VM Labs and Troma Entertainment? I know for example that VM Labs was a sponsor for Tromadance 2001 but not much more is known beyond that.

    Michael: That was probably around the time we were discussing a potential partnership. Lloyd Kaufman was not shy when asking people for money.

I then checked back in with Ronni to discuss this new information regarding this second NUON project.    

    Ronni: Hahah yes!  That was actually my idea, the movie thing, but it evolved into something completely different before it died.  From what I remember it was a remix type application - we had a massive library of back catalogue titles.  Titles like NightBeast, Fatty Drives the Bus, Gore Gore Girls... you get the point - so the idea was going to be to basically string out segments of those backcatalog titles - say 100 clips at like 5 minutes each - and the NUON user could remix the clips which ranged from exploding heads, car crashes, mutant transformations and stuff like that and create their own film.  Still a fun idea, much easier to accomplish in today's world...  I think we got to the drafting stage where we mapped out the various clips you'd be able to 'click' on and put into an order and then, who knows!  Talked to Doug, he mentioned remembering the NUON concept but not that detailed. 

    V-SNES: Why might these NUON projects have been cancelled?

    Ronni: The very likely scenario why the Troma NUON collaboration didn’t work is that after I left Troma, they did not hire another Director of DVD development.  And these projects were started while I was at Troma but I left before completion - I did continue to work with Troma, but as a vendor doing the DVDs and I didn’t pursue NUON (I'd moved on to doing porno DVDs and trying to kickstart my filmmaking career).  The DVD responsibilities shifted to Brian McNulty who was an editor and wouldn’t have understood (or quite frankly want to DEAL with) technologies like NUON.  My previous career was in computer engineering so I loved tech like VM Labs and NUON (also I was raised on video games and VHS horror - so it would have been a perfect pairing).  But as much as I love Troma and really loved my time there - it becomes exhausting and I quickly fatigued and lost my drive - the NUON/Troma collab was a victim of circumstance sadly...  If I'd taken on the challenge a year or two earlier it would have been something awesome I am sure.

    V-SNES: Do you recall when the NUON projects were cancelled?

    Ronni: The NUON/Troma projects would have died shortly after 9/11 so Mid-year 2001 - but interest in the project probably waned late 2000. 

    V-SNES: Would Troma have needed a devkit to implement the NUON-enhanced features for the Toxie DVD box set and/or the make-your-own-Troma movie remix application?

    Ronni: From my recollection, the NUON guys were going to do the heavy lifting with, I believe, David Anthony at Metropolis DVD.  We would have done what we usually did - create a flow-chart and run of program and then deliver all the assets to NUON or Metropolis.  They'd send us back proofs and we'd yell at them for one thing or another to try and get a discount... seriously.  LOL...  It's funny - years later I would do a Lancome or some dumb cosmetic / social influencer campaign that was using am Israeli technology called "Interlude" which was essentially NUON for internet video.

To find out if any of the materials from these projects survived, Ronni recommended I reach out to former Troma co-worker Stephanie McKeon.  She was an Art Director at Troma Dec 1999 – Nov 2002.  After refreshing her memory about the NUON projects, here is what she had to say:  

    Stephanie: Right, I do remember tossing around those ideas. Ronni was pretty much head of the DVD creative department. We were a tiny team and aside from him, and myself (head of art department), there would be no one else really with info on this. There was a video editing team, but they didn't really get involved in DVD related projects unless it was editing footage recorded specifically for the DVD. In the case of NUON it would have used all existed footage already. Unfortunately, Troma was notorious for not keeping records of things, so I would say chances are really likely even if a rough disc or file on a computer existed somewhere it would be toast by now. Especially more complicated when Troma closed down their NYC main office and moved to Queens I'm sure a lot of things got trashed along the way. I know even in my department there was almost no saving of art assets, they just didn't have the resources or time to make it happen. I suppose there might be a business card of the guys at NUON who might remember dealings with Troma. Or even have some rough cuts of some things, but seeing how they've been gone for decades who knows what happened with any of that stuff.

    V-SNES: Do you recall why the NUON projects might have been cancelled?

    Stephanie: My guess is it is either: it was going to cost Troma too much to produce and Lloyd Kaufman said no, or we just never had the time to put together all the assets. The company shrunk a lot by 2001 and people were leaving so they downsized and didn't rehire/replace positions. 

Next, I spoke to the man himself, President and Co-founder of Troma Entertainment, Lloyd Kaufman:

    V-SNES: What do you recall about VM Labs?

    Lloyd: My recollection was the people there were great, they were pioneers and doing new things. I don't know why they would have gone bust, other than, I guess, they didn't have enough capital. 

    V-SNES: What do you recall, if anything, about your visit to the VM Labs VIP suite at E3 2000?  Or perhaps, by extension, what do you recall about your time at E3 2000 in general?  What was it like?

    Lloyd: I do recall the E3 and somehow they paid me some money to come out there and gave us a booth. And we were sharing the booth with a Porno actress and with a celebrity, guy had a lot of pop marks, very well known, very respected. We both came out on our own pretty much, but Traci Lords had a manager, a handler, and a whole retinue.  She was very nice, all got along very nicely. I did whatever I was supposed to do and we must have taken some merchandise with us. 

    V-SNES: Troma had a couple NUON projects in the works.  Does Troma have anything left from these projects in their archives?

    Lloyd: We have searched but could not find anything.  

    V-SNES: What was Troma like back in 2000/2001?  Are there any aspects that stand out to you?

    Lloyd: I think that's when we did get into DVD. But we were doing okay. We were still getting into a pretty good number of theatres and home video was doing well. The giant devil worshipping international media conglomerates and one of whom own blockbuster hadn't snuffed out all the independent video chains and stores so there was competition and there were a lot of stores that wanted Troma movies because they rented very well. In fact, Video Shack in New York, which I think was the very first little...It was a big store, but they had a little chain. One near Times Square said that the Troma VHSs and whatever they had of ours were the most stolen and didn't get returned.

    Most years we were doing all right. We made Terror Firmer around that time, which was a flop until now. It's very successful now. Then Citizen Toxie, the fourth and best of the Toxic Avenger movies shot I think in the year 2000. It came out about a week after 9-11. Spider-Man had erased the twin towers and the other big movies were cutting out the World Trade Center. We kept the building is in because I thought it would be a good good part of the history. And of course, when it opened in New York, the audience applauded. So, I did the right thing.

    V-SNES: Online forums have lost a lot of popularity since the early 2000s.  We are lucky the NUON-Dome Helper forums have managed to stay alive after 20+ years.  According to Ronni, Troma had “a proto-online community that gained tons of money in the heyday of tech”called “Tromaville” back in the early 2000s. Can you tell us more about it and what happened to it?

    Lloyd: Yes, I recall it very well. We were under-capitalized. We were pretty much like Facebook except we didn't have enough money to continue. We had to pay the members of the community. In fact, we were paying Tom Fulp I think, do you know Newgrounds? Oh, well, it's a huge gaming. Now it's bigger than ever. He's a great guy too. He's in Citizen Toxie, but I think we were paying him $50,000 a month. You know, we just didn't have that. We couldn't survive. So that closed, but it was before Facebook and we had the right idea. We just didn't have it properly funded. That was a huge thing for us and I think we blew about four million bucks on it... Yeah. But we did have the very first remote broadcast. Now you can do it on your phone. But then we had this truck the size of Rhode Island that was there broadcasting both the beginning of Tromaville, like the astronaut, you know, 10, 9, and we turned that on and we were shooting Citizen Toxie at the Playboy mansion. We had people with four or five cameras filming it and that was a big deal too, you know, in terms of history, but nobody knows about it. Again, it was too far ahead of its time and we spent a shitload of money on it. 

    V-SNES: While Troma never released any NUON content, Troma movies have been released with special features throughout the years.  Are there any that you are particularly fond of?

    Lloyd: We had that with our first DVDs. We had an interactive intelligence test called TIT, Troma Intelligence Test. There were multiple choice questions on it. We had another thing, it was an interactive tour. It was very funny of our studio, different departments and, you know, we played it straight, but it was hilarious. We had a script department where my two little kiddies could act in those, you know, they were five and six, I think. They were the script department. They were very funny and most of the departments were funny. That was big and people still remember that.  

    V-SNES: A new Toxic Crusaders video game is currently set to be released in 2024.  What can you tell us about this project? 

    Lloyd: It's by Retroware and they've been promoting it heavily at many of the gaming conventions. They don't have it finished, but they have enough so they can allow fans to play what they've got. But it's not just Toxic Crusaders, it includes Kabukiman, Tromie The Nuclear Rodent, and Tromaville. It's a beat em up game. I know you can go to Make-A-Wish and I think they have samples up or trailers up for the game.   

    V-SNES: What has your role been in this project?

    Lloyd: Nothing other than to approve stuff and praise Retroware. We obviously had to give them a certain number of materials that we had to sort through, but Retroware has done all the heavy lifting and carried all the water and they've been very, very, very creative. And again, I know nothing. I don't play video games, but the young people in our office who have sampled the game, who when they're not watching porn, they do play video games and they loved it. They loved the game. And this was several months ago, the game has since moved along toward the finishing line. It's very close now. They have me come to an number of gaming conventions where I get a small fee and we have a booth and promote the game and also sell our own t-shirts and toys and merchandise and we've got DVDs, Blu-rays, etc. So they've brought me to one in Oregon recently in Portland. I think that's the largest one. It was a lot of fun and James Rolf had a booth right next to us. He's a big fan and I'm a fan of his.

    V-SNES: What other new projects are currently brewing at Troma? Are there any new films that are in the works right now?

    Lloyd: Yes, quite a number. I've produced a movie that's almost finished called Curse of the Weredeer, which is an anti-hunting movie. I didn't direct it. We produced it in Tennessee by Ben Johnson, wrote and directed it. Divide and Conquer by Mercedes The Muse produced fairly recently. It's been in some theatres and it's now on Troma Now. It's a very strong feminist movie. A real feminism. I'm currently producing Cater Killer, which is the title sells it all. Says it all, but it also has undercurrent of we have a huge insect die off monarch butterflies and many bees, many of the insects without whom without which we cannot live are have a huge die off as is every fish reptiles frog. It's a disaster. So there's a slight undertow. There's all our movies. There's a slight subtext, but it's going to be terrific. Again, a young protege directing it. And then Mercedes The Muse is just starting to reproduce her new movie called The Rise of the Trometts, which she got the script and she’s casted it. Another one in called Sweet Meats, which is a horror musical by a very funny comedian called Ricky Glor. I've seen his comedy routines and he gets a huge and he gets a huge audience when he does them. He's on YouTube. Very funny. I liked his script so we've given him money. He's finished shooting. I imagine he's well along the way to editing. I don't really bother these people too much other than to help with the script. Hopefully it's helpful.

To help fill in any remaining details of this story, I reached out to former VP Third Party Development of VM Labs, Bill Rehbock:

    V-SNES: What kind of relationship did VM Labs have with Troma?

    Bill: Greg LaBrec, who'd previously worked with me at Atari and Sony, was responsible for introducing Lloyd to NUON technology and inviting Lloyd to participate in our E3 booth. Lloyd was impressed with how NUON was able to enhance the typical DVD viewing experience and graciously agreed to spend time in our booth at the show and autograph copies of The Toxic Avenger and Class of Nukem High. He spent considerably more time with us and the people that visited our stand than we ever anticipated and it was great having him there. We had initial discussions during 2001 regarding building NUON enhancements into future Troma titles, but lack of funding began impacting development of the authoring tools and ultimately VM Labs was sold to Genesis in early 2002. As far as I was aware, Genesis really never wanted to evangelize the interactive capabilities of NUON, so nothing ever came of the discussions.

    V-SNES: Do you recall anything about TromaDance 2001? Were any photos or videos taken of the live NUON demonstrations?  

    Bill: I recall the event, but I didn't attend.  Greg LaBrec was likely at the event. There were no related photos on Greg's HDD and I don't know who else would have taken any.

    V-SNES: One idea that appears to have never made it off the ground are NUON-enhanced versions of The Toxic Avenger Part 3 & Toxic Crusaders cartoons.  Were any specific features about this discussed?  In conjunction, do you recall if Troma discussed their make-your-own-Troma movie remix application project for NUON with VM Labs?

    Bill: I can't say exactly what Troma might have discussed internally, but Greg LaBrec and I were certainly hoping that NUON would fit into Troma's plans for make-your-own movie.

    V-SNES: The make-your-own Troma movie was only in the drafting stage. Did VM Labs ever receive such drafting stage materials from Troma?

    Bill: I'm pretty certain not. I'm going to see a group of VM Labs people in December, but I'll ask everyone to make sure.

Unfortunately, the meetup with VM Labs people was cancelled.  On the bright side, in Bill’s search through his own stuff, he found a number of photos of Troma at VM Labs’ suite at E3 2000.  In fact, those first two photos shown earlier that were posted on VM Labs’ website in their E3 2000 photo reel were originally lost.  The web page was archived with descriptions, but did not contain the photos themselves.  Thanks to the help of Bill and Don Thomas, former Director of Peripheral Licensing and Promotion who originally put the collection of photos together, we were able to recover both of those photos and more.  While not all of these photos were taken by (as credited in brackets), all photos in this collection were accompanied with humorous captions written by Don Thomas:    

“Scott Hunter and Joe Sousa after a wild E3 party. Maybe not. Hard to tell.” (By Scott Henderson) “What's that saying about two legs? (We're all hoping Nick knew about the photo.)” (By Scott Henderson)
“Another celebrity finds Ballistic to be a monster challenge.” (By Scott Henderson) “This game is gonna'get ugly.” (By Scott Henderson)
“The Troma cast of characters were all great sports!” (By Scott Henderson) “Sgt. Kabukiman decides that they best read the manual.” (By Scott Henderson)
“Hello Mr. Henderson. What were you focused on here?” (By Scott Henderson) “So someone said Traci Lords took the Red Eye to get to the VM Labs booth, eh?” (By Michael Fulton)
I lost a contact. Has anyone seen it?" (By Don Thomas) “Mr. Scott Hunter with film idols.” (By Don Thomas)
“Mr. Lloyd Kaufman of Troma Video.” (By Don Thomas) “I love you man.” (By Don Thomas)

“Mr. Don Thomas and his pals from Troma Video.”
(Taken for Don Thomas)

“Mr. Lloyd Kaufman of Troma Video.” (By Michael Fulton) “Toxic Avenger. Live and in-person?” (By Michael Fulton)
“Sgt. Kabukiman of Troma Video.” (By Michael Fulton) “So I ate a Tromette? And your point is?” (By Michael Fulton)
“The girls of Troma Video. (Hence the origin of the term: Tromettes.)” (By Michael Fulton) "Don't talk like that to Sgt. Kabukiman ever again!" (By Michael Fulton)
“Sometimes Mr. Hunter seems to enjoys his work a little too much.” (By Michael Fulton) “So, Mike Fulton, there ARE times you'll let someone else borrow your camera!” (Taken for Michael Fulton)
"The little ghouls room is down the hall and to the left."
   (By Don Thomas)
“Lloyd Kaufman signed copy of Nuke 'Em High on DVD.” (By Don Thomas) “Lloyd Kaufman signed copy of The Toxic Avenger on DVD.” (By Don Thomas)

With Bill’s meetup with VM Labs people getting cancelled, I reached out directly to a few members of the third-party support staff at VM Labs to get confirmations on some missing details.  Not only with the Troma Movie Remix application, but the details around TromaDance 2001 as well.  Did Greg LaBrec attend TromaDance?  More importantly, were there others at VM Labs that were in attendance?  The first person that got back to me was Keita Iida, Director of Product Marketing at VM Labs Mar 1998 - Mar 2002: “In terms of TromaDance, I did not go to that; however, if anyone from VM Labs did attend TromaDance it would have been Scott Hunter as he was the primary account manager for Troma at the time.”  With that, I soon got into contact with Scott Hunter, Director of Licensing at VM Labs May 1998 – Sep 2001.   

    V-SNES: What was the first interaction you had with Troma while working at VM Labs?  By extension, what did you do with Troma as their primary account manager at VM Labs?

    Scott: Not sure of first interaction. I think it might have been Bill Rehbock who suggested reaching out. I think he may have seen the early growth of NUON tied to the same sectors that grew VHS, porn and exploitation. My job was to first get Lloyd interested, who then saw the value in something cutting edge at the beginning of the DVD generation. After making the connection, I just made sure Troma's programmers worked with our programmers to get Troma films, Toxie in particular, onto NUON so we could further show off the tech.  

    V-SNES: What kind of work went on between VM Labs' and Troma's programmers? 

    Scott: I don't have any knowledge of what was being discussed directly with the programmers.  My guess is it was a basic getting used to the tools to create NUON specific menus on DVDs. But I don't think it got into Troma specifics.

    V-SNES: Did you attend TromaDance 2001?

    Scott: Yes, I attended TomaDance 2001. A poster from the event hangs on the wall of my home office. 

    V-SNES: What led to VM Labs becoming a sponsor for TromaDance 2001?

    Scott: I think that came down to timing. I believe we were in the early stages of the relationship, and we wanted to show off what NUON could do with everyday DVDs. I think Lloyd invited us. 

    V-SNES: There were live demonstrations of NUON Interactive DVD at TromaDance 2001.  Could you describe these demonstrations?

    Scott: While NUON-specific features on DVDs were still in development, we had been showing off things like clear fast forward, zoom and pan, and lighting adjustment. We used Troma's already existing DVDs as demos.  

    V-SNES: Do you have any pictures or videos from the event?

    Scott: What I found was a picture of me with Lloyd and friends from E3 2000 and a minute long video I put together from TromaDance 2001. Crunchy video but you can see a few things from the event.  It was just done for fun as I was testing out a new camera I found.

    V-SNES: Do you by chance recall what was written on the NUON t-shirt in the NUON display at TromaDance?  The most I can make out in the video you made is “Toxie Loves NUON!”

    Scott: I do not recall what was on the shirt. Your guess sounds correct.

    V-SNES: Were any other VM Labs employees present at TromaDance 2001?  Bill guessed that Greg LaBrec would have been there.  Was he present at this event?

    Scott: I was there with NUON game producer, Joe Sousa and music supervisor, James Grunke. Greg was not present.   

    V-SNES: Bill Rehbock told me that it was Greg LaBrec who was responsible for introducing Lloyd to NUON technology and inviting Lloyd to participate in VM Labs' E3 2000 booth (which is why he guessed he would have been at TromaDance).  Do you recall the extent to which he was involved with Troma?

    Scott: I defer to Bill and thank you for jogging my memory. It was indeed Greg whose idea it was to bring in celebrities to promote NUON at E3. He was a great marketing guy who, like I mentioned of Bill, saw the initial adoption of NUON going through exploitation channels. I'm not sure why he wasn't at Tromadance. I'm sure he was involved with throwing ideas at the wall, but overall his job was to market the NUON platform, so his Troma touchpoints were minimal. It is unfortunate that he is gone.

    V-SNES: Were Joe Sousa and James Grunke doing work with Troma as well?

    Scott: Joe was our our game designer/producer. We had worked together and hung out together from when I started at Atari through Sony to VM Labs. He was also a great salesman of NUON so it made sense that he was there. James was an audio guy, but I don't remember being at a point when that was needed with Troma. He also liked to ski, so we had a day hitting the slopes with Lloyd.

    V-SNES: Do you recall Troma’s Ronni Raygun Thomas?  At TromaDance 2001, he vaguely recalls trying to convince a VM Labs employee to give him a free NUON.  Was this you by chance? 

    Scott: I recall meeting Ronni in the Troma offices in New York. However, TromaDance was a bit of blur so it could have been me, Joe or James. I don't recall.

        *Note: Upon further inquiry with Ronni and sharing new info/pictures, he remarks it likely would have been Scott.* 

    V-SNES: What do you recall about the NUON projects Troma was working on?

    Scott: I recall that Lloyd was ever the marketer/showman who wanted to explore new ways for people to experience his films. Unfortunately, it was on the tail end of NUON development so it didn't get to fruition. 

    V-SNES: There were plans to do NUON-enhanced versions of Toxic Avenger movies.  Were other NUON-enhanced Troma movies planned?  Were there any that were specifically discussed?  By extension, were any specific NUON features for these discussed?

    Scott: We were looking at Cannibal the Musical, with its South Park connection, Class of Nuke 'em High, Citizen Toxie, and possibly Terror Firmer. I remember Joe Sousa and I sitting in a hotel in LA during E3 later that year getting totally stoned and watching a copy of that film that Lloyd had just given us. I'll never forget the face of the room service guy who happened to look over as one of the film's more gonzo scenes was playing. Classic. As for features, we threw a lot at the wall. Games; Make your own version of the film; etc. But I don't believe we ever did anything.

    V-SNES: Bill was pretty certain that VM Labs never received any drafting stage materials for the make-your-own Troma movie application for NUON (which is as far as the project got).  Is this something you can confirm?

    Scott: That is correct. A lot of talk. Not much beyond.

    V-SNES: What do you recall the reason was for the cancellation of Troma’s NUON projects?

    Scott: As I mentioned, I think it ran into the end of the VM Labs/NUON lifespan.

    V-SNES: Would you like to say anything else about your time working with Troma?

    Scott: Lloyd Kaufman was/is the sweetest guy. We really only connected during that year, but I have a lot of fond memories of hanging with him at Tromadance, E3 and during our visits to New York. He even sent us a Tiffany baby set when our son was born in August of that year. Another was Lloyd and I attending a poetry reading in NYC done by a young James Gunn. On the walk back to where I was staying, someone walked out of the shadows, crossed in front of us and puked in the gutter. Lloyd responded with, "Welcome to New York."

In the end, it seems Troma’s NUON projects ended before they could really take off. In addition to those who shared their insight here, previously mentioned Troma employees Brian McNulty and Doug Soukman, DVD Metropolis’s David Anthony, and VM Labs’ Joe Sousa were consulted as well, thus rounding off remaining potential key contributors in these projects.  Bill Rehbock mentioned that it was Greg LaBrec, Vice President of Marketing at VM Labs, that got Lloyd Kaufman and Troma interested in the NUON.  Unfortunately, I was unable to speak to him as he passed away back in 2008.  May he rest in peace.           

Troma would go on to release many of their films on DVD and Blu-ray, create a streaming service called Troma Now, make appearances at comic cons and horror film conventions, and continue to bring new films to life.  Lloyd Kaufman still makes his appearances at these events to this day.  In addition, TromaDance festivals are still hosted each year, maintaining a place devoted to film makers of all kinds in the name of equity and independence, regardless of your status in the industry.  It is clear that the heart of Troma has lived on after all these years.  In the words of Lloyd Kaufman, “I believe that independent film making is the last frontier of creative expression available. So I'm always willing to lend a helping hand to a young film maker who's just getting into the business.”

I have met quite a few people who helped bring this project to life, going as far back as December 2022 when I first started it. I’d like to thank Ronni Thomas, Scott Hunter, Bill Rehbock, Micheal Butler, Lloyd Kaufman, Marc Gras, Stephanie McKeon, Keita Iida, Don Thomas, Joe Sousa, David Anthony, RJ Wafer, Rocko Zevenbergen, Garrett Sullivan, Greg Goodwin (aka Doctor Clu), Chris Brockman (aka The Helper), and Kevin Manne (aka K3V). Last but not least, thank you to my fellow NUON fans for your patience and support.

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