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The Toxic Avenger

USA 1985
produced by
Michael Herz, Lloyd Kaufman for Troma
directed by Michael Herz, Samuel Weil (= Lloyd Kaufman)
starring Mitchell Cohen, Andree Maranda, Mark Torgl, Jennifer Prichard, Cindy Manion, Robert Prichard, Gary Schneider, Pat Ryan, Dick Martinson, David N.Weiss, Dan Snow, Doug Isbecque, Charles Lee jr, Patrick Kilpatrick, Larry Sulton, Michael Russo, Norma Pratt, Sarabel Levinson, Reuben Guss, Dennis Souder, Sarabel Levinson
story by Lloyd Kaufman, screenplay by Joe Ritter, additional dialogue by Lloyd Kaufman, Stuart Strutin, Gay Partington Terry

Toxic Avenger

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Melvin (Mark Torgl) is a nerdy mopboy working at the local gym in Tromaville (the toxic waste capital), hated & despised by everybody because he doesn't meet beauty- & fitness-standards, especially by Bozo (Gary Schneider), Slug (Robert Prichard), Julie (Cindy Manion) & Wanda (Jennifer Prichard), a gang of bullies who relish in hit-&-run-killings.

One day, the quartet decides to play a trick on him that - rather unexpectedly - ends with Melvin falling into a barrell of toxic waster. & this stuff makes Melvin mutate into a monstr5uous superhuman being - The Toxic Avenger (Mitchell Cohen).

From now on, he gets furious everytime he sees an evil person - furious enough to kill them & stuff mops into their mouths.

At first, he is of course seen as a deadly monster, even his mother (Sarabel Levinson) throws him out, &  the only girl who would take him, Sara (Andree Maranda), is blind. Then though, as Tromaville thanks to Toxie gets safer & safer, the town gets ever more popular & more & more people move there. Everybody's happy.

Everybody ?

Of course not, mayor Belgoody (Pat Ryan) sees his plans to build even more toxic waste dumps on the city's premises for his private profit threatened by the city's goody-good image, & so, when Toxie kills a harmless old lady, Mrs Haskell (Norma Pratt), he sees the perfect opportunity to turn public opinion against the Toxic Avenger - even though it soon turns out that Mrs.Haskell has actually been running a white slavery ring.

Soon, the police & the national guard aim all their guns at the Avenger, & it does look grim for him indeed - but then a few of Toxie's friends, among them cop O'Clancey (Dick Martinsen) get between Toxie & the guns of the law, & soon make both cops & soldiers see reason, see that Toxie is the good guy.

So in the end, when Toxie brutally murders the mayor, the only one who didn't see reason, in front of soldiers, cops & townsfolks, he receives a round of applause for it.

 

Despite the fact that Troma had existed for quite some time before this movie, turning out weak teen-comedies & weak horror pics, this was the movie that finally put Troma on the map, a blend of sci-fi- & superhero-movies with teen-comedy, garnered with some gross-out-effects & disguised as a satire on the 80's fitness-boom, that was at the same time a totally unexpected but very up-to-date blow against the holy cows of its time. Also, it set the standards for almost all Troma films of the future, which would almost invariably propel around sex, violence, blood'n'guts & comedy..

The movie itself does not quite live up to its promises though: the gross-out-effects lose their appeal because of over-saturation, the comedy is pretty blunt & badly executed, & the story, despite some ironic touches just follows the same cliché as so many American superhero-comics do, basically saying killing's all right as long as you kill bad people (that trashy Marvel Comics would dedicate 2 comic-book series to Toxic Avenger would further prove that point).

The raw direction of the movie & the crude special effects do lend the film some naive charm though.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
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WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD