The Toxic Avenger Reviews
A brilliantly hilarious, entertaining and gory as hell horror comedy that became Troma's landmark film and made the studio the popular cult independent studio that it is today. Yes the acting is laughable and the film gets a little cheesy, but this is pure escapism at it's best! The film was originally given an "X" rating for it's extreme violence and gore such numerous head crushing and brutality. But the movie went on to become one of the greatest cult movies of all time, this is definitely a movie for those with a strong stomach and warped sense of humour.
The story is about a health club mop boy named Melvin who ends up being ridiculed to the point of falling into a vat of toxic waste. He transforms into a "monster hero" whose purpose is to rid evil from the city of Tromaville.
The Toxic Avenger isn't Citizen Kane. Let's face it, the acting sucks. The story is lukewarm and most of its audience comes from the fact that it's so overboard in the gross out category. It's like a moving B-grade comic book, always trying to push the envelope as it goes along. The vision that went into this film is what really is great about The Toxic Avenger. The entire idea that "let's go out and make a movie" isn't seen on You Tube or any of that crap. Sure, when you look at it in comparison to other movies The Toxic Avenger sucks, but it has a heart while many other films fail to have a pulse.
My favorite moment of the film is when Toxie's pissing toxic waste in an alley and some guy pulls up in a limousine, trying to pimp a 12 year old girl to Toxie and the girl says, "You tricked me! I thought we were going to a David Bowie concert!"
Thank goodness that films as good as "The Toxic Avenger" exist when it comes to much needed escapism. Without these films, we might just explode from the stress of everyday life. Sometimes we just want to sit down and watch a movie. And while there are other movies that you could certainly watch instead, you shouldn't distance yourself too far from this one. As strange and corny as it may seem, "The Toxic Avenger" is a film that I'd actually end up recommending to a good amount of my readers.
If you like B-movies, then you'll probably love "The Toxic Avenger". It's a good-old-fashion exploitation/midnight movie from the 80's, directed (mostly) by Lloyd Kaufman; who is known for his whacky and exploitative sense of humor. "The Toxic Avenger" won't appeal to those who take the film and its idea of "humor" too seriously, however, if you surrender your intelligence; you might just admire the craft that went into it.
Melvin is a work-out-gym janitor who mops up the floors, never gets girls, and it basically nothing more than a "98 Pound Weakling". The film bombards his character with steriotypes. He stutters, he's forever nervous around women, he's never TALKED to a woman for much longer than a minute, and he still lives with his mother. He doesn't appear to be a fan of movies or comic books; he's just a nerd. And the people at his work-place constantly make fun of him for that.
One day, they pull a prank that has Melvin ending up in a barrel of toxic sludge. The material immediately affects his skin; mutating him into a creature much larger, stronger, and awesomer than anyone he's ever been before. Melvin takes on the name "The Toxic Avenger", and starts serving up justice in the town of Tromaville. There's a sinister plot involving the town mayor, a romantic love-interest of Melvin that happens to be blind (which works to Melvin's advantage), and much, much more.
The film is kept simple, and I liked that. It's an entertaining film that probably inspired a comic book series, and a television program; which I know it did, but the latter was not successful. However, "The Toxic Avenger" did spawn a couple sequels, and I might just see them. Lloyd Kaufman is good at making movies like this one, and while the first film of his that I saw was his latest big one, "Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead", I'm ever-so-happy that I can appreciate a film as crude and mindless as this one. But perhaps there's a part of me that is accepting enough to enjoy stuff like this.
However, some good directorial skill was put into the film. After all, good exploitation and satire, both which this film attempts, comes from good filmmaking and some good writing. I laughed a lot in the film because it blended goofy satire with even goofier slapstick. Yet, it's smartly made; and I kind of admired it. There's some decent make-up effects work going on, the acting is effectively campy, and the overall feel of the film matches what Kaufman intended perfectly. He made this film to appeal to an audience that could see it for what it is. It's not a perfect movie, but few exploitation-comedies truly are. They can simply be good, inspired films; that touch our hearts in creepy, strange ways. If anything, "The Toxic Avenger" is memorable because it's one of the few exploitation films that actually appeals to me. But perhaps I liked it because it blended common superhero stereotypes, clichés, and lore with satire and toxic waste. You can't beat good movie-making.
A lot of the movie is funny. I admit that some of the jokes are cruel and hard to laugh at. But if you can get by that, then this is a pretty fun watch; and that's all it needs to be. I could look into it more than I need to and just dismiss the thing as a whole, or I could enjoy the movie. I chose to do the second thing, because it was easier. "The Toxic Avenger" requires no thought whatsoever. It's not necessarily for a "dumb audience", but it is laid back, and well-made enough to appeal to a cinephile such as me; and that's saying something, especially when you're dealing with something as intentionally stupid as this.