The Toxic Avenger (1984)
By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Six Pack) -
In anticipation of Halloween, Theme Thursdays this October will feature all four of Troma studio’s Toxic Avenger films, which have become available on Netflix instant (for those daring enough to expand their horizons). Building on the tradition pioneered by shlock-maestro Roger Corman, Troma Studios emerged in the 80s as true z-movie auteurs. Mining the depths of bad taste with budgets only slightly larger than a high school art project, Torma’s films captured the imagination of the video-rental generation. While they may have taken a business hit in recent years, and as a result are be as prolific as they used to be, Troma is still around , producing the unproduceable.
Takes a lickin, keeps on… Chicken?
The Toxic Avenger follows Melvin, a sub-moronic janitor of a health club in the sprawling metropolis of Tromaville, NJ. When a group of sadistic club members become fed up with Melvin’s idiocy, they concoct an over-zealous scheme which results in him landing face-first into a vat of Toxic Waste.
Full of grotesque gore effects, glorified violence, and gratuitous nudity, The Toxic Avenger is a wonderfully trashy film. The satirical nature makes it immensely watchable, so long as you’re resigned to watching a train wreck, you may as well watch one that is truly impressive.
To say that there are actors in this film is sort of like calling the security team at Wal-Mart “Police Officers”. Sure, they’re performing a valuable service, but compared to the real thing, it’s just depressing. Director Lloyd Kaufman knows what his audience wants to see and he provides it as cheaply as possible. Being in the 80s, the majority of the cast was likely either friends of friends, or transients paid in cocaine and empty promises.
Once he becomes the Toxic Avenger, Melvin’s voice changes considerably. It is dubbed by a voice actor with the subtlety of a lawn mower driven over gravel at midnight. Of course the Toxic Avenger makeup effects can’t make it easy for the actor to talk, so I’d imagine the dubbing was done out of necessity, and the eccentric nature in which it was performed was only a bonus.
The film’s music is so memorable it could only have come from a public-domain library. And totally did, because why else would they use “Night on Bald Mountain” to announce the Avenger’s entrance into every scene? (I suppose if you squint the Avenger looks like the Chernobog…)
Ok, not really…
I found myself laughing maniacally through the entire film, so much so that towards the end I was starting to feel the physical strain of the ordeal. This is strange because I certainly wasn’t laughing at the “jokes”, most of which were clearly put in to ensure the audience knew this movie shouldn’t be taken seriously. Eventually I realized that the jokes were so bad that it was just another hilarious reflection on the filmmaker’s lack of talent. Fail so big it turns into a win.
An honorary beer goes to Director Lloyd Kaufman, for my realization that he did three sequels to this… I haven’t gotten to them yet, but it must have taken some kind of genius or madman to come up with more for this character to do.
My vote is for genius
Most certainly terrible, but somehow also pretty awesome.
Take a Drink: whenever “Night on Bald Mountain” plays.
Take a Drink: for the body-count.
Drink a Shot: for gratuitous Nudity.