Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Toxic Avenger (1984) Film Review

The Toxic Avenger posterDirector: Lloyd Kaufman
Stars: Mitch Cohen, Patrick Kilpatrick
Genre: Horror, Comedy, B-Movie, Splatter

Who doesn't like The Toxic Avenger? It's easily Troma's most recognizable film, and definitely one of their best. Troma is, for those unfamiliar, a production company that makes very low budget horror films. I'm talking very low budget. I mean, these guys pretty much set the definition for what a B-Movie is. They've made such films as Terror Firmer, The Class of Nuke 'Em High, or the masterpiece that is Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead.

Troma Entertainment have always made the movies that they felt like making and I don't think they've ever taken themselves seriously. And that's something you need to know when going into one of their films: it's just for fun. The same goes for their classic The Toxic Avenger. Go in expecting diamonds, you'll leave disappointed. Go in expecting a very funny and outrageous puddle of mud, you will enjoy yourself immensely.

The plot goes like this: There was a boy named Melvin who worked at a gym. Everyone made fun of him and picked on him, until one day they took it too far. They drove Melvin to end up falling out of the window and into a barrel of toxic waste. Thus giving birth to Toxie, New Jersey's first superhero! Toxie then makes it his goal to rid the town of evil, but the mayor of the town being evil himself did not like this idea. So the entire film is a battle between Toxie and evil and the town versus monster.

It's a fairly simple plot, not the most ridiculous Troma has written, but still a very enjoyable plot. I can't really say any of the character's were likable, except maybe Toxie, but they were all definitely well done. No one likes Melvin, but you definitely feel bad for him. Or the Bozo character who was filled with tons of energy and really was quite frightening. The Mayor was perfectly corrupt, the cop was perfectly '80s. Even those robbers holding up the Mexican restaurant were all memorable. Frank the smooth talking black guy who can spin a switchblade in his fingers like nobody's business, or the crazy shotgun wielding Leroy with painted face, looking like he came straight from A Clockwork Orange audition.

There's also a bit of suspense with the Toxie character. They intentionally never give you a good look at his face for a while. So there was some thought that went into the pacing and buildup to the character, which definitely isn't a bad thing. It's nothing amazing but a nice addition.

Toxie in The Toxic Avenger

The fight scenes are actually pretty awesome. The restaurant scene is my favorite. The deaths are pretty cool too. Whether their cooked to death in a stove, or deep-fried, or have their skulls crushed by weights. It's all awesome, hilarious, over the top, and done with decent effects. 

What can one really say about a film like this? There's sadistic thugs who run over children and the elderly to gain points in their made-up game. There's girls who masturbate to pictures of mutilated corpses. Gory death scenes. A bad ass driving scene that ends with a car blowing up. A hero that is perhaps as twisted as the ones he kills, but looks awesome and is aesthetically memorable. If none of these things make you want to watch this than this film is not for you.

Frank without an arm in the Toxic Avenger

Oh, there's also a scene with Marisa Tomei. Yeah, you know, the famous actress best known for her role in My Cousin Vinny. Yeah, her first film was The Toxic Avenger. She didn't say anything, or even do much, and she was only on screen for about two seconds as an extra, but still. Marisa Fuckin' Tomei.

The Toxic Avenger is wonderfully cheesy, ridiculously funny, and over the top gory. If you know what you're getting in to, it's hard not to enjoy yourself. 

Recommended for: Troma fans, Gorehounds, fans of B-movies

4/5 stars

Sequels: The Toxic Avenger Part II (1989), Part III: The Last Temptation of Toxie (1989), Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV (2000), The Toxic Avenger V: Toxic Twins
There was also a spin-off animated children's cartoon called Toxic Crusaders which was based on The Toxic Avenger. Yes, this film got a children's cartoon. 

Purchase The Toxic Avenger: DVD - Stream
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