The Toxic Avenger

Dir: Michael Herz, Samuel Weil (Lloyd Kaufman), 1984

5/10

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Arguably Troma’s most famous film, it’s got to be its most successful, launching several sequels, a children’s cartoon (seriously!), a computer game and a musical.

Melvin Ferd is the janitor at a health club and a nerd.

A weakling, he is constantly picked on by its members.

With a prank played on him, the janitor falls into a drum of toxic waste and emerges as a super strong, mutant.

Calling himself Toxie, the mutant becomes a superhero in Tromaville, ridding the city of crime.

It won’t come as a surprise to you that this film (or any of Troma’s output) is not to be taken seriously.

A John Waters for the eighties, Kaufman thrived on the ridiculous and bad taste with sex, often, playing a big role.

Whereas Waters championed trash cinema, Kaufman goes for the silly, comic book film.

The Toxic Avenger has cult written all over it. It’s poorly acted, has an atrocious script and copious amounts of gore that was rarely seen in a film of that time but did help to usher in the over the top visceral violence that became prominent, like that seen in Street Trash and Bad Taste.

Of course, all the ham and schlock is intended as it forms part of the comedy and charm. Regrettably, it seldom works.

The violence can be a little too much to be funny.

Of particular note is a scene in a restaurant where Toxie meets his future lover, blind girl Sarah.

A gang of hoodlums hold the place up, kill her guide dog and try to rape her.

These two acts are too extreme to be funny and become an antithesis to the comic violence prevalent in the rest of the movie.

But, aside from all this, the question you have to ask yourself is “is it funny?”.

Unfortunately, the answer to that is “no”.

It’s clunky and tries too hard to be outrageous. Ironically, by TRYING to be funny it, ultimately, counteracts its own intentions and just becomes dull.

That’s not to say that it’s not imaginative or, at times, even interesting but that it’s not all that funny.

Peter Jackson did it all so much better in Bad Taste.


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