It's the film that truly launched Troma Entertainment -- now the world's oldest independent movie studio. Filmmakers Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz had made a series of exploitation flicks before The Toxic Avenger (1984, 82 minutes), but it was the mop wielding do-gooder that connected with fans. Toxie has spawned three successful sequels and even a children's cartoon show. He's Troma's Mickey Mouse -- with a soul. But beneath the blood, breasts and beasts beats the heart of Lloyd Kaufman, a man who wants to save the world, while making fart jokes. My kind of auteur.
The movie: Tromaville, New Jersey has become the nation's premiere toxic waste dumping ground. Meanwhile, Melvin (Mark Torgl), a 98-pound, buck-toothed janitor at the local health club falls victim to a cruel prank, which ultimately sends him screaming out a second-story window and into an 18-wheeler full of nuclear goo parked below. He's horribly burned and disfigured until his body is transformed into the hulking super human hero -- THE TOXIC AVENGER! Turned away by his disgusted mother, Toxie makes a new home for himself at the city dump. When he happens upon a crime scene, he's overcome with a rage that forces him to destroy all evil with his mighty strength and trusty mop. It's during just such a heroic moment, when Toxie meets the only woman who could love him -- a blind babe named Sara (Andree Maranda). As their love blooms, so does our hero's status in the community as a true public defender. That is until the corrupt power elite -- the bloated mayor and his Nazi police chief -- decide to kill Toxie before he discovers the strangle hold they have on the city. CineSchlockers will be pleased to hear that Mr. Torgl will reprise his role as Melvin in Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger Part IV.
Notables: Four breasts. 21 corpses. Flaming hands. Eyeball poking. Shotgun dog murder. Man beaten with his own severed arm. Deep-fried fingers. Sauna self-gratification. Gratuitous urination. Budding-romance montage. Granny beating. Multiple car chases with explosion. Slow-mo firesuit stunt.
Quotables: Armed robber shouts, "All right everybody! Drop your tacos or I'll blow your brains out!" Toxie throws down the gauntlet, "You can tell all your scum friends that things are gonna change in this town -- I'm not just another pretty face!"
Time codes: Point system of the vehicular-manslaughter game (7:05). Birth of a legend: The Toxic Avenger (17:30). First clear look at Toxie's lovely mug (48:15). Sara and Toxie make sweet love -- with their clothes on (54:00).
Audio/Video: Digitally remastered and presented in fullframe as per the director's wishes, "My theory, aesthetically, is that most people see my movies on video and television, so my image is just as wide as widescreen, but I give people more on the top and bottom." Utilitarian Dolby Digital mono track.
Extras: Uncut version. Witty and insightful commentary by director and Toxic Avenger creator Lloyd Kaufman (who also does a video intro and outro). Scene-specific commentary by Mark Torgl. Gallery of about 40 images including a freeze-frame of a bikini'd Marisa Tomei from her split-second pool scene appearance. Seven deleted scenes. A brief interview with Toxie at his luxurious estate. Interactive, departmental tour of the Troma Building with revealing movie clips and hilarious new footage (about 15 minutes in all.) Take the Troma Intelligence Test with video rewards and punishments. "Toxic Crusader" cartoon promo reel. Five-minute "Toxic Cafe" episode: The Death of Toxie. Promo video called Aroma du Troma. Public service announcement with the National Dance Institute. Trailer park with reels on this film, plus Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D., Class of Nuke 'Em High, Tromeo & Juliet, Def By Temptation, Surf Nazis Must Die, Bloodsucking Freaks and The Toxic Avenger Part II. Motion-video menus with audio.
Final thought: A bonafide classic that expertly melds social conscience, gratuitous sex and head-crushing gore. Highly Recommended.
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G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.