In the late 1960's, Kaufman was enrolled at Yale University (where he would later teach multiple Filmmaking Master Classes), diligently working on a respectable degree in Chinese Studies. However, Kaufman was destined for other things. As he explains in his hit book All I Need To Know About Filmmaking I Learned From The Toxic Avenger (published by Penguin Putnam), "At Yale I was placed in a dormitory room with two film fanatics, and I knew everything had irrevocably changed." In fact, Kaufman was infected with a love of movies from which he never recovered.
In 1971, Kaufman met his future partner Michael Herz at Yale. The Troma Universe was born in 1974 with a series of highly original, sexy comedies such as Squeeze Play!, Waitress!, and other titles ending with an exclamation point. These movies, independent precursors to such later smash hits as National Lampoon's Animal House and Porky's, did well financially, although Kaufman continued to work on such outside productions as Rocky and Saturday Night Fever. Kaufman's relationship with mainstream Hollywood would not last long. "There were problems," Kaufman said, "as I always wanted to do things my own way and my employers insisted I do things the correct way."
Kaufman proved his former employers wrong with his 1984 breakthrough movie, The Toxic Avenger. This tale of a health club mop boy named Melvin who is transformed into a hideously deformed creature of superhuman size and strength struck a chord with audiences and critics alike, demonstrating that there was a large number of people who were interested in seeing things done Kaufman's way. The Toxic Avenger led to an animated television series, "Toxic Crusaders," several different comic book titles (published by Marvel and, most recently, Troma's own independent comic book imprint), and four sequels. His most recent film is POULTRYGEIST: Night Of The Chicken Dead!