The movie that made Troma!
The Toxic Avenger (1986)
Directed By: Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz (The Toxic Avenger Part II, Tromeo and Juliet)
If you are into the lesser known movies of the world, the ones that are considerd to be of a “cult” status then odds are you’ve heard of “The Toxic Avenger”. After all this movie did do wonders for the careers of directors Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz.
This little film that went basically unnoticed when it was released in 1986 went on to gain a large cult following over time and ended up being the gem that Kaufman and company needed to put Troma Entertainment on the map.
The movie would spawn a series of sequels (none in my opinion half as good as the original) and even a children’s cartoon that I recall watching on Saturday mornings when I was a kid.
Today Troma isn’t doing so great according to many sources. But one could argue that given the way of the economy who is? But we aren’t here to get all political or gloomy today are we my friends? Nope, today we are here to review a grand little film that you may enjoy if you leave your seriousness at the door. That movie being of course “The Toxic Avenger”.
What an odd film this one is. But that isn’t a bad thing really. Actually if one takes a deeper look into this film that shows it’s 80’s time frame roots very well you’d notice that is really the charm of it. The acting is bad, at times the characters are way WAY over the top, but it all blends well to make the movie flow smoothly without much (if any) drag to it.
As you follow a plot that sees a group of murdering teens tease and torment a nerdy health club janitor named Melvin up to the point that is a victim of a horrible prank with even worse of a horrible result, you’ll find yourself at times strangely fascinated with what you witness.
By the time Melvin transforms into the crime fighting mutant with super strength named Toxie (for short) who is smitten with a rather hot blind chick named Sarah, you find yourself forgetting all common sense and just going with it. Even as you notice Toxie’s voice change from a normal sounding guy during close ups to a Berry White-ish sounding tone when shown other ways.
You may even notice yourself cheering for Toxie when he (along with his trusty mop) takes matters into his own hands when ridding the city of Tromaville of it’s wrong doers. A list that doesn’t only consist of the bullies who caused his transformation but a list of evil doers such as the towns Mayor, and criminals that go by the wacky “Dick Tracy” like names of Cigar Face.
And don’t worry all you horror fans out there, if it’s blood and gruesome images you want, with this film that is a good part of what you get. When someone gets “off’d” in this movie it isn’t by just normal standards either. One good thing about Troma is when they kill someone in their movies they tend to make it pretty memorable if not humorous. But fear not, in this case, it’s OK to laugh.
“The Toxic Avenger” isn’t as much of a horror film as it is a dark comedy. There is just as much if not more things clearly placed here for those with a questionable sense of humor as there is for those looking for a good scare.
That being said if you are looking to check out this one for yourself, you’ll most likely find it in the horror section along with it’s sequels and many other Troma classic’s such as “Tromeo And Juliet”.
All in all I think if you like reading this column and you enjoy the types of movies I tend to review that you’ll find yourself having a joyfully twisted time watching Toxie at work.
The Rating (7/10)