Back in 1982, Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz released a short independent film to a single New York movie house. Lloyd likes to think that this was the spark that started it all, but everyone I've ever met who saw the movie, saw it first on video in 1987.
THE TOXIC AVENGER: The Director's Cut - 1984
USA Release: April 11, 1986
USA: Rated R
Home Video has saved many an arthouse flop, and even though THE TOXIC AVENGER is by far no arthouse movie (per se that is, after all, Arthouse theaters created the sensation of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW),
Toxic Avenger has a wacked out appeal that gets under your skin. I've introduced many a person to THE TOXIC AVENGER that just watched the movie with disgusted disbelief, only to find themselves, days later, snickering over some mind numbingly ridiculous scene.
The story is about Melvin Junko (Mark Torgl: CITIZEN TOXIE:
The Toxic Avenger Part IV) the janitor; a nerdish, cowardly outcast
who is the punching bag for every person at the local gym.
One day the
cruel pratical jokes go too far and Melvin falls into a vat of toxic waste,
much to everyone's delight. The waste later transforms him into The Monster
Hero! (which is Toxie only they didn't have the
title for the movie when they shot it) i.e. THE
TOXIC AVENGER (please tell me that you
saw it coming). Toxie goes on a rampage to "clean-up" the town
of Tromaville in the most brutal ways possible, though no one gets what they DON'T deserve.
From the film
Look for a young Marisa Tomei in the gym shower scene.
Look for a young Patrick Kilpatrick
(THE CELLAR, SCANNER COP II,
THE GRANNY, DARK ANGEL [TV])
in the Mexican Diner.
Screenwriter Lloyd credits "Toxie's" charms to the fact that he's an outcast, an oddball and a rebel, but I think Toxie's true charm lies in the fact that the movie, instead of spoofing major budget pictures, goes for the throat of its own: Cheap, crappy movies!
The fun of THE TOXIC AVENGER is that it is funny on purpose. The characters, even and especially the bad guys, are all over the top and unbelievable.
I'm talking Way WAY over the top! It skewers everything including
itself, without ever stooping to lampooning any one specific movie.
movies like Airplane, Spyhard, or Hotshots where many of the jokes go
flying over your head if you haven't seen the specific flick being shined, THE
TOXIC AVENGER is recognizable to all. THE TOXIC AVENGER is every monster movie we've ever seen on every Saturday episode of those local "Horror House" TV shows.
is not to say that Toxie is just as mild. The violence is brutally graphic,
from squishing eyeballs in their sockets to crushing a child's head under
a car tire. Yet the gore is done with such unabashed fun that it reminds me of an old MAD magazine
comic come to life. In later years, THE TOXIC AVENGER became a Saturday morning cartoon and even had its own line of action figures.
TROMA Team Video is becoming quite popular these days among the Metal crowd and their new releases star the likes of musicians such as Lemmy Kilmiester. Lloyd Kaufman is one of my favorite people in the world and I'm glad that there are folks like him and Director Michael Herz out there putting out such horrible, outrageous fun.
THE TOXIC AVENGER is one of the worst I've ever seen and well deserves its Five Negative Shriek Girls for being so bad it's great!
This review copyright 1998 E.C.McMullen Jr.
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HEAD PRODUCTION DESIGNER
JOSEPH CROSS, ALEX MERAZ, BRIANA EVIGAN)
SPECIAL EFFECTS MAKE-UP
(SFX MUA) and Michael Madsen's stunt double on the movie
A SIERRA NEVADA GUNFIGHT
MICHAEL MADSEN and JOHN SAVAGE).
DOUG JONES, D.B. SWEENEY, GARY GRAHAM)
(Starring COLIN CUNNINGHAM, GARY GRAHAM)