Friday, May 25, 2012

The Toxic Avenger

The Toxic Avenger (1984)

Dir: Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz (Troma)

IMDB Rating: 5.9 out of 10

So , After over a month of reviewing the worst films I could muster up I felt I needed a break and decided to watch a film I know would not let me down, A personal favorite. While searching through my seemingly endless collection I figured I may as well watch a flick that I love , That I have not reviewed for the site and it turns out that there are several and I am not quite sure why I have not reviewed them. Perhaps it is I feel that they are too well known? or maybe I think I will be too nice and fear ripping into them. Whatever the reason I said fuck it and grabbed a flick that no matter my mood I am always up too watch and that film is The Toxic Avenger.Now I know that this film is nowhere near a rarity but, with talks of the dreaded PG remake coming out sometime in the near future I figured I would get to this series before it becomes mainstream again. I noticed one thing when thinking about my personal favorite films and they all have something in common, They are all rather original and truthfully rather simple in concept. Films like Basket Case, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Maniac , Neon Maniacs and The Toxic Avenger Series all come completely out of left field yet manage to take standard pop culture influences and tweak them to create something never seen before. On the surface Toxic Avenger is a standard super hero film but, The over the top gore and sleaziness of Troma makes it unlike any Marvel or DC universe story ever  conjured up.So now let take a look at New Jersey's first super hero , The Toxic Avenger.

          The story takes place in the fictional town of Tromaville , The World's largest toxic waste dumping grounds where nerdy loser Melvin Junko works as a janitor at the local Gym/Health Spa. We are introduced to Bozo and his gang of misfits who clearly do not like Melvin or much of anyone for that matter. This is made clear when they exhibit their favorite pastime of vehicular homicide for sport.After accidentally walking in on Slug and his girlfriend having sex in one of the gyms locker rooms, Bozo and the gang devise a plan to get Melvin back. Unfortunately for Melvin this prank goes horribly wrong and his life will never be the same. Bozo's Girl Julie seduces Melvin and tricks him into dressing in a tutu and meeting her after hours in the gym.In a simple switch-a-roo
Melvin realizes he is kissing a sheep in front of a gang of on lookers. Embarrassed Melvin flees through the halls and leaps from a 2nd story window landing in a bucket of Toxic waste which immediately begins eating away at his flesh, Before he bursts into flames while running down the street and away from further ridicule.

Melvin returns home and while attempting to cool down in a bath his body begins to transform into the Hideously deformed creature of super human size and strength we all have grown to know and love The Toxic Avenger. Toxie unsure of what to do with himself heads out to  collect his thoughts but something inside of him (Tromatons)  alerts him to the forces of evil and he saves a local police officer who is being attacked by some local thugs Cigar Face and his boys. Toxie brutally disposes of the goons and disfigures one's face before he flee's the scene. After cleaning house Toxie leaves a mop behind as a calling card to any other wrong doer's with thoughts of raising hell. Quickly the local media picks up on the story of this new crime fighting monster. As the spotlight on Toxie begins to grow , Young Melvin returns home only to scare the ever loving shit out of his mother so he is forced to find a new place to call home and this leads him to the only reasonable place the Tromaville Toxic waste dump.Elsewhere the town Mayor is in plans to turn the dump into a new place for waterfront property and to move the dump closer to the main water source. Toxie then meets his love interest a young blind woman named Sara when he saves her from yet another group of thugs who are attempting to rob a small diner. After Sara's service dog is shot and she is nearly raped by the dirt bags Toxie springs into action and disposes of them in the usual imaginative Toxic Avenger ways.Toxie and his new friend then quickly take a liking to each other and begin dating though Toxie is afraid she will leave him if she realizes how disfigured he is.

Melvin decides to now hunt down those responsible for turning him into the "Monster hero" as he returns to the gym. While there Toxie kills a drug dealer who happens to be on the Mayor's payroll in spectacular fashion, providing one of the films most infamous scenes involving a brutal head smashing with a weight set. On his way back home Toxie happens upon a lowlife pimp who tries to offer Toxie an underage hooker. When the offer is denied the pimp sends his goons who are quickly taken out. The townsfolk of Tromaville are falling in love with this new Hero as the streets that were once overflowing with scumbags are now clean and safe for everyone to walk. Unfortunately for Toxie the Mayor is not happy with these developments as the jails are crowded and many of the criminals in there were in fact under the Mayors thumb. Fearing that Toxie may get to him next the Mayor decides to put together a lynch mob to set out and kill the unwanted hero of the people. While the baddies are plotting his demise, Toxie and Sara move in together and things are starting to look up for him as he no longer needs to hide in the shadows due to his new found celebrity. Still however seeking a bit of revenge he again returns to the gym and this time he does manage to get his hands on Bozo and Slugs girlfriends. Then he tracks down Bozo and Slug themselves after they had carjacked an elderly woman. This leads to a pretty awesome action sequence where Toxie is riding on the roof of the stolen car as they swerve through traffic in attempt to loose him. Unfortunately for Bozo and his sidekick this is not an easy task and Toxie manages to take the wheel and sends Bozo off a cliff to his fiery death.

The Mayor gets a media turn in his favor when Toxie is accused of being just a Monster rather than Hero when he makes a questionable decision by killing a little old lady who appeared to be harmless, unfortunately she turned out to be the leader of a white slavery operation but this is kept under wraps to the general public. Now with the police on his side for the most part and the townsfolk not knowing what to believe , the mayor manages to get some serious firepower involved when he calls in the national guard to track Toxie down. However the Guard wants Toxie alive while the mayor wants him out of the picture for good so he can continue to run his crime organization and get the people's votes by making promises to keep the city clean. Toxie having his own issues with killing these folks guilty or not decides it is time for him to hide out so he and Sara head out to a secluded camping area. Unfortunately for them the police spot him and he awakes to a huge mob including the National guard and the townsfolk surrounding him. Luckily for Toxie the people are behind him and show their support. Things begin to fall apart for the Mayor's plans when he makes it clear he had no intentions of leaving Toxie alive and he was going to go over the heads of his superiors to kill Tromaville's pride and joy. Once the townsfolk and children stand in the way of potential fire to show support for their hero the Guard decides to lay down their arms and let Toxie go free. This of course does not sit well with the Mayor but that doesn't really matter because Toxies "Tromaton's" kick in and he delivers a savage gut punch to the husky Kingpin before the people of Tromaville celebrate with their favorite new citizen.

Toxic Avenger is a perfect example of low budget cinema done right, The people at Troma not only made a highly entertaining film that stands the test of time but they managed to take a simple concept of the standard Super Hero story and not only made their own bizarre and gory twists to it but created an entire universe for their heroes in the form of Tromaville.This series is why I have such a soft spot for Troma in general as it started all the standard fare for their films with the completely ridiculous characters, the insanely over the top gore and the low brow humor that only the folks at Troma can pull off. Many filmmakers have attempted to duplicate the feel and style but it always comes off tacky and stupid. Troma does things that typically I would not like in a film but they add their not so subtle touches to it and for some reason it just works.As I stated before I am aware that this series is not nearly as rare as most of the films I review here but it is a series I hold dear to my heart and I am going to focus on the series for the next few reviews since I don't get to my own personal favorites here too often. Also with the remake on it's way I feel it is justified. I have to say that after all the overflow of remakes of "Classics" this one was the one that pissed me off the most not only because they are going to neuter it and make it PG, Which we have already seen does not work well with the strange animated series "Toxic Crusaders" but Troma is not making it and to me that just does not make any sense at all.However there is a silver lining as Troma is in the works of a 5th sequel to this series which I am sure will be just as ridiculous and awesome as the rest.I know that Toxic Avenger is not a "Great" film by any mainstream standards but, to me it will always be a film that I can enjoy no matter how many times I watch it and I can only say that about maybe a handful or two of films and in all honesty all of those films are along the likes of this type of flick, Never too serious and just created with the sole purpose of entertaining the viewer without forcing you to think at all . Just sit back and have a few laughs. To me Troma is and always will be The Toxic Avenger Series as well as The Class of Nuke Em' High Series and you can never go wrong with any of those flicks in my opinion. If it were not for Troma,Frank Hennonlotter films, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, Neon Maniacs and Sleepaway Camp , I would never have gotten the bug to love these films and there would be no House of Waffles and Bad Cinema and without this site, What would I do while sitting up at night bored and alone? Don't answer that.

Fun Factor:10
Overall: 8 out of 10 (It's a bit bias I know but hey this site is about opinion and ,that is mine)

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