He was 98 pounds of solid nerd until he became…THE TOXIC AVENGER! The first superhero from New Jersey!
Now let us praise a great film studio. Troma, the folks who have given us such classic cinema tales as Class Of Nukem' High and Redneck Zombies, started out small…that is until the success of their studio spokesman, Toxie, in the original classic horror/comedy, The Toxic Avenger. Finally out on DVD, Troma has packed their unrated director's cut with enough sludge and slime to fill a landfill (and more). Folks, if you're looking for mindless entertainment filled with no socially redeeming value whatsoever, you've come to the right place (and oh, you just don't know how true that is…).
Facts of the Case
How does one go about trying to describe the plotline for a film called The Toxic Avenger? To misquote Ed Grimly, it's as inane as inane can be.
Melvin, a geek working as a janitor at a health spa in New Jersey, is the target of slander and attitude from a group of local bullies and supermodels (I'd write the actors' names, but do you really give a frog fart what they are?). To get a laugh off the guy, they decide pull the mother of all pranks on him (it involves a sheep and a tutu…and that's all I'm sayin' in the name of good taste). The joke goes horribly wrong, and through a series of events as spectacularly misguided as the Titanic crossing, Melvin is thrown into a batch of toxic waste. There he dies a horrible death…or does he?
Oh no…no, no, no…he does not die, my friends. Instead Melvin is resurrected into a bulking, deformed, misunderstood creature the world (and connoisseurs of bad taste) have come to love and know as…[insert swelling hero music here]…THE TOXIC AVENGER! Yes, Toxie is here to stay to battle crime, corruption and small film budgets everywhere!
I would go on about the rest of the plot, but that's the most you need to know…to say anymore would spoil the surprises this DVD has in store (and you CAN'T go wrong when the DVD case says "Featuring the FULL head crushing scene!" If that's not a ringing endorsement, than I don't know what is).
If you have a weak stomach or voted for George W. Bush this year, don't rent this film. However, if you like movies that have not one iota of good taste in them, then The Toxic Avenger is your cup of joe (and believe me, this too will keep you up long into the night, but for a much more frightening and altogether different reason).
Let's see…you're right now thinking "So, Judge Patrick, did you like this film?"
How can you like a film that includes scenes of dismemberment and complete destruction towards nerds, jocks, gays and regular folks alike? This film has gratuitous nudity in every other scene, violence with no real motivation, a story line that hangs like the last rotten tooth on a 16th century beggar, and swearing that Trey Parker and Matt Stone would be proud of.
Well, of course I liked this film.
Sure, it's got something to offend everyone in it. But this comes from a day and time (the 1980s) when films this morally degenerate could be made without a real stink. If this movie were made today, it would be lambasted by every kind of PC group around. The directors, Michael Herz and Lloyd Kaufman, couldn't direct a competent picture to save their life. But for once, that's okay. This film doesn't need competency (what it needs is a bath in holy water and a splash of rubbing alcohol). It's disjointed, uneven and crudely executed. But that's what cheap-o/comedy/horror films are all about. This is the cheapest kind of entertainment…it is, without a doubt, the Citizen Kane of B-movies (well, actually John Water's gonzo Pink Flamingos might take that honor…but that film comes from a completely different planet altogether).
The Toxic Avenger is presented in a full frame version. It is leaps and bounds above its counterparts, but there are still many traces of grain and scratches to be found on the transfer (apparently the source print was not what we loosely call a "shining example"). Audio is presented in Dolby 2.0 and sounds…well, like Dolby 2.0. It's very thin and not that impressive. You can just chuck it in with the full frame visual presentation. I could complain, but this is from Troma…need I say more? The extras are what make or break a disc like this…
…and they are plentiful. First off we have around seven deleted scenes that include such titles as "Toxie Phones Home" and "Fat Girl Goes Nutzoid." I think that's tantalizing enough, don't you? This bonus selection include such lost classics as the "whipping a guy's nuts with a towel" scene and the "pull the obese girl's finger and watch her fart" scene. Only through Troma studios would we get such treasures.
The T.I.T. (Troma Intelligence Test) is a fun little game that tests your knowledge on such fun films as Surf Nazis Must Die! and The Toxic Avenger Part III. Each time you answer a question wrong, you get your just dessert (such as someone being killed in a very cheesy way). However, if you answer correctly, you get a fun little prize (i.e. a woman's jiggling, naked breasts).
If only all my dates ended up the same way (DATE: "So, Patrick, where do you work?" ME: "In an elementary school." DATE: "Well, good answer…here are my boobs.")
Next up is the "Troma Building Tour." Director/owner Lloyd Kaufman introduces this little segment, which is actually pretty in-depth. This is one strange tour. Where else can you visit different virtual reality-type floors to a building and see such wonders as a rubber penis-monster or two chickens having (I kid you not) sex? I don't say this often, but I was in awe. I'd continue, but this is one extra that really needs to be seen to be believed.
There is a section entitled "Hot Tromabillia" which includes merchandise and other tidbits released by Troma in the past 15 years. Here is a rundown on some of the extras in this section:
• A director's intro by Lloyd Kaufman discussing this particular
Oh the fun you'll have!
A picture slideshow for The Toxic Avenger is also included, as are eight preview trailers, such as the tasteless Blood Sucking Freaks and the cheapie vampire flick Def By Temptation. You'll be enthralled by every toxic moment.
Finally, we get a commentary track by director Lloyd Kaufman. I have personally sat down and read the book this guy wrote ("All I Need To Know About Filmmaking I Learned From The Toxic Avenger"), and I can honestly say this guy is certifiably nuts. I promise, you won't be disappointed by this commentary track. A film this bizarre deserves a track as equally bizarre, and Kaufman doesn't disappoint. Are there any other superhero creators that take their inspiration from French silent film star/director Max Linder?
No way, José. And that's what makes this film so darn tootin' special.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Listen, there are plenty of bad things to say about this movie (the quality of the transfer, the morality of this film, et cetera), but you aren't going to find them here. Instead I am just focusing on the fact that this is a Z-grade film that is enjoyable to watch on its own terms. If you'd like to pit it against Schindler's List, be my guest. However, if I were you, I'd take it on its own terms.
It's cheese. Stringy, slimy, molded cheese…and who could ask for anything more?
This DVD goes for as little as $19.99 in the stores, so you're not cracking open your wallet too wide when you make this purchase (especially with all the extras included).
If your tastes lean toward films such as Das Boot or Terms Of Endearment, stay as FAR away from The Toxic Avenger as you can (i.e. Guam). If, however, you think a movie that brings flatulence to a whole new level has redeeming qualities, well…all I can say is "welcome home."
Get outta here, ya scamp. It's hard to hate a movie as juvenile and fun as The Toxic Avenger. Court dismissed!
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
• Commentary Track
Review content copyright © 2000 Patrick Naugle; Site design and review layout copyright © 2013 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.