The Toxic Avenger Collection throwback review by Bobby Blakey
For over 40 years iconic independent filmmaker Lloyd Kaufman and his Tromaverse has been bringing some of the most outrageous films to the masses including Poultrygeist, Sgt. Kabuki Man and more recently their return to the Nuke ‘Em High franchise with the 2013 sequel Return to Nuke ‘Em High: Volume 1. Now as we prepare for the release of the highly anticipated Volume 2 let’s take a look back at the flagship character of Troma. The Toxic Avenger himself, in this 4 movie collection.
The Toxic Avenger follows the story of Melvin, the Tromaville Health Club mop boy, who inadvertently and naively trusts the hedonistic, contemptuous and vain health club members, to the point of accidentally ending up in a vat of toxic waste. The devastating results then have a transmogrification effect, his alter ego is released, and the Toxic Avenger is born, to deadly and comical results. The local mop boy is now the local Superhero, the saviour of corruption, thuggish bullies and indifference. This first entry was unleashed on fans in 1984 and despite its silly premise actually plays up pretty straight forward, more so than I remembered. Sure it’s over the top and ridiculous, but it serves up a fun new twist on the superhero genre like only Troma could. Once you get passed the Melvin stuff and into Toxie it kind of turns more superhero horror in the best way possible while still being loads of fun. I have always loved this movie and re-visiting it just reminded me why. Easily one of my favorite parts is the mix of the monster like growls of Toxie and his very proper regular voice that cracked me up every time.
The Toxic Avenger: Part II debuted in 1989 and follows The Toxic Avenger who is lured to Tokyo, Japan by the evil corporation Apocalypse Inc. So while the Toxic Avenger is fighting crime in Tokyo, Apocalypse Inc. spread evil in Tromaville. This next chapter offered up a new voice and direction for the character and while still goofy and entertaining doesn’t have the punch of the original. The voice for Toxie that I loved in the first film was replaced and it just felt off for all the wrong reasons. A lot of this film features footage from the previous film to fill the gaps I am assuming to get the feature length it needed when splitting up the and the next film into two. Most of it takes place in Japan and fully takes on the ridiculousness there as well complete with a fish head man, women in drag and so much more. Look closely and you will also see the feature film debut of martial arts action star Michael Jai White in a small but great couple of fight scenes. I am not a big fan of this chapter, but make no mistake it delivers the fun of toxie in its own way.
The Toxic Avenger: Part III follows Toxie has nothing to do after getting Apocolypse Inc. out of town. He tries to get a job, but fails as a normal job is no place for a creature of superhuman size and strength. Until one day, Toxie is told that his blind girlfriend Claire, has a chance to see again, but it costs a lot of money. Then Toxie gets the opportunity to work as a spokesman for his enemy Apocolypse Inc. He says "yes" so he can get money for Claire. Not knowing what he was doing, Apocolypse Inc. takes over Tromaville and makes everyone slaves to work for them. This entry is the result of so much footage shot for the second film it got split into another. There is a lot of carry over in this film and actually works a lot better than the last. They should have streamed down the nonsense of the last film and just went with this story as it offers up the fun fans want. Sadly we are still given the bad voice, but that is not all that bad when walking into the insanity of Troma. There are more appearances from Michael Jai White as well as some way better effects including an awesome transformation sequence that stepped things up before getting back to the ridiculous. I had fun with this entry that almost felt like it went back to the vibe of the first film while still stumbling along on some levels.
Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV follows the notorious Diaper Mafia take hostage the Tromaville School for the Very Special, only the Toxic Avenger and his morbidly obese sidekick Lardass can save Tromaville. However, an explosion results in some unforeseeable consequences, creating a dimensional tear between Tromaville and its dimensional mirror image, Amortville. While the Toxic Avenger (Toxie) is trapped in Amortville, Tromaville comes under the control of Toxie's evil doppelganger, the Noxious Offender (Noxie). This final chapter is billed as the true sequel to the original and feels like it too. There was clearly more money put into it with a new look to Toxie’s make-up and tons of new over the top effects. Right out of the gate it amps up on the nonsense and brings the ridiculous fun. This time around we not only get all the silly fun and insanity there are plenty of familiar guests including director James Gunn, Corey Feldman, the late Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf from the Howard Stern Show, the late great Stan Lee as the narrator and original Melvin himself Mark Togl.
All of these films are insanely stupid, gross, violent, perverted and offensive all in the best way possible. There are so many things that will trigger the easily offended but are quite hilarious if you have any sort of sense of humor. There is no arguing that they are far from great cinema, but anyone not knowing what they are getting with a Troma film deserves the shock and awe. I love these movies and Lloyd Kaufman for having the balls to put them out there. That is the reason he and Troma are still impacting independent cinema all these years later.
These are must see films for not only Troma fans, but those that just love over the top ridiculous fun. Head over to www.tromadirect.com to grab your copy of the The Toxic Avenger Collection available now.