The Toxic Avenger (1985)
By: David Michael Brown on June 16, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Stomp Visual (Australia). All Regions, NTSC. 1:85:1 (Non-anamorphic). English 2.0. 90 minutes
The Movie
Director:Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz
Starring:Andree Maranda, Mitchell Cohen, Pat Ryan Jnr
Screenplay: Joe Ritter
Music: Mark Katz
Tagline: "Melvin was a 90lbs. weakling until nuclear waste transformed him into..."
Country: USA
The Toxic Avenger is the archetypal Troma film and I'm guessing most Digital Retribution readers won't need an introduction.

For the few who have never seen the film before it tells the story of Melvin, a janitor at a Tromaville Gym. He is picked on by the meathead jocks that frequent the gym and in an unfortunate chain of events falls into a barrel of nuclear waste. He is transformed into The Toxic Avenger, a tutu wearing, mop wielding mutant superhero out for revenge. He gets himself a blind girlfriend and vows to rid the town of Tromaville of the filth and crime that has made it such a terrible place to live in. The plot is really an excuse for Kaufman and Herz to show as much tasteless gore and blatant nudity that is possible in an hour and a half.

The film pushes every boundary it can and gave us a few cinema firsts in the process. Death by Gym machine, death by milk shake and the justly infamous scene where a bunch of thugs shoot a seeing eye dog. Its sick stuff but also very very stupid. The acting is awful as anyone who's seen a Troma film will know but the film has a charming ineptness. Kaufman's style of directing is definitely point the camera and go, there is very little style on display but that's not why you watch a Troma film.

As always the ingenuity on display is the work of a warped genius, the scene where the jocks play hit and run reaches its climax when they run over a boy on his bike is a fine example of low budget filmmaking. Kaufman wanted to show the boys head being crushed so they injected a water melon with red food die, put a wig on it and ran over it with a car. That's the thing with Troma films, you watch them for what they are, Kaufman doesn't apologise for the violence and sex on display, he revels in it and knows that why people watch the films.
The picture quality isn't too great. The film does look better than I have ever seen it but there is still that low budget sheen that all Troma films have.
The stereo mix is fine, nothing spectacular but it does the job. It's a bit muffled occasionally but that's probably the original no expense spared Troma approach of sound design.
Extra Features
The first disc includes interviews with the cast and crew of The Toxic Avenger. We hear from Michael Herz, Vice president of Troma, Mitch Cohen the original Toxie who was told on location by a bum "hey man it ain't that bad" when dressed up as Toxie. Dan Snow who played cigar face, Robert Pritchard who stars as Slug and also played Spike in Class of Nukem High and finally Toxie's mum Serabel Levinson. All are entertaining and show that everyone is willing to do almost anything for nothing at the behest of Kaufman. The ever-zany director gives a non-stop running commentary joined by Lenny Goodman, a Troma fan with a speech impediment. Its a typical Troma joke that doesn't quite work.

A selection of deleted scenes that wouldn't have added too much to the final film make for interesting viewing but were wisely left out. They also throw in Kaufman's original intro and outro from the films original laser disc.

"Where in the Wolrd is Toxie" completes the first disc with an extensive trip around the world showcasing Toxie's appearances at almost every International film festival known to man. Kaufman, camera constantly in hand bumps into the likes of Udo kier, Dario Argento, Herschell Gordon Lewis and Pupi Avati along the way. The non-stop publicity machine that is Kaufman stops at nothing to promote his films including a fine moment when Toxie and Sgt. Kabukiman are almost arrested for climbing the fence at Buckingham Palace.

The second disc starts off with some fan testimonials from wrestler Blade and James Bernardnelli, the animator of the Toxie Adventures. Kaufman then interviews fans about the film as they look back to when they first saw the film.

We then get scenes from Ira Kortum's Toxic Avenger: The Musikill that unfortunately looks pretty awful. For some reason the Tromatic Extras and Coming Attractions are not included on the Australian release. It's a shame as for a two disc set the second platter is a bit pointless.
The Verdict
The Toxic Avenger is a cult classic and is definitely the finest film that Kaufman and Company every made. The winning combination of gore, sex and lowbrow humour will make it a must for any fan of cheap thrills and bargain basement horror.
Movie Score
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