The Toxic Avenger (1985)

Michael Herz
Samuel Weil

Mitchell Cohen - The Toxic Avenger
Andree Maranda - Sara
Pat Ryan, Jr. - Mayor Peter Belgoody
Gary Schneider - Bozo
Cindy Manion - Julie
Robert Prichard - Slug
Jennifer Baptist - Wanda
Mark Torgl - Melvin Furd

Genre - Horror/Comedy/Science Fiction/Cult

Running Time - 82 Minutes

Score - 4 Howls Outta 4

There are good movies. And there are bad movies. It's all subjective, depending on our tastes and our attitudes towards the subject matter presented to us. If you been following my very popular WTF? Worst Films Extravaganza series, you know there are some films so bad that it just brings out the inner wolf out of me and deservingly get ripped to shreds. However, there are bad films out there that are so bad that they're actually really good and are of high entertainment value. And if you ever want to watch a film that's bad, yet so good, you usually go to one film studio: Troma Films.

Lloyd Kaufman has created a niche market when it comes to bad films. Movies like TROMEO AND JULIET, CLASS OF NUKEM HIGH, and REDNECK ZOMBIES have garnered a cult audience who has an appreciation for these sort of films. But the film that has made Troma what it is today is probably their best one. And that film is THE TOXIC AVENGER. For those who want to party inside the House of Troma, THE TOXIC AVENGER is the perfect place to start.

Some nerdy, 90 pound weakling named Melvin (Mark Torgl) has a job as a janitor at the Tromaville Health Club, mopping floors and cleaning toilets badly. Due to his frame and the way he carries himself, Melvin is constantly the butt of jokes at his workplace by the patrons who work out there - specifically blonde bimbo Julie (Cindy Manion), her angry boyfriend Bozo (Gary Schnieder), their perverted friend Slug (Robert Prichard), and his brunette nympho girlfriend Wanda (Jennifer Baptist) who spend their times playing a game of hit-and-run to see who can garner the most points [Puerto Ricans are worth 30 points while children under 12 are worth double]. Julie creates a plan to humiliate Melvin by seducing him into a pink tutu and making him kiss a sheep in front of the entire Health Club. Melvin, obviously embarrassed, hysterically jumps out of a window of the Health Club and falls into a vat of toxic waste, which burns him and makes his skin bubbly. Returning home and attempting to wash off the waste, Melvin begins to transform into the seven-feet-tall and muscularly deformed Toxic Avenger [although he's known as The Monster Hero here due to Troma not sure what to title the film when the script was used].

Now a new, uh, man, The Toxic Avenger begins to sense all evil in the city of Tromaville, killing all criminals and leaving his calling card by mopping their faces in. He even manages to gain a girlfriend in Sarah (Andree Miranda), who happens to be blind. Enjoying a "normal" life for a change, he has no idea that fat Mayor Peter Belgoody (Pat Ryan, Jr.) wants to destroy Toxie in order to continue his corrupt reign over the city.

is one of the most popular cult films you could ever watch. While a failure at the box office, its massive success on the video market led to multiple sequels and even a popular cartoon called The Toxic Crusaders that I enjoyed very much when I was younger. Is the film bad? Absolutely. There's no question about it. But it knows it's bad and intentionally pushes all sort of buttons to elicit reactions out of its unsuspecting viewers. That's why THE TOXIC AVENGER is a great film.

After watching THE TOXIC AVENGER, you realize why it was such an underground success. It's funny as hell. It's gory and bloody in an over-the-top manner. And best of all, this film knocks the conservative way on its ass by being one of the most intentionally politically incorrect films of all time. I mean, what other film will you get two couples pretty much getting off running down a kid on a bike and then reversing their car back just to squash his head like a watermelon? Or one of the chicks who were part of that tragedy actually fingering herself as she looks at the photos she took of roadkill? Or that brutal scene where Bozo and Slug beat up an old woman for her car in broad daylight? How about having every stereotype being displayed, not caring if they offend people? I mean, homosexuals are seen as men-crazed, tight clothes wearing individuals. Tromaville's police chief seems to be inspired by characters from Hogan's Heroes, acting like a Nazi and even calling the Mayor "Mein Fuhrer". Even the blind are unscathed, seen as clumsy and helpless individuals because they can't see. Most films wouldn't have the balls to do something like this today unless they're written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park fame. That's why THE TOXIC AVENGER is so special. Sure, a lot of people dislike the film for this very reason but they don't get it. The film is supposed to be bad. It's supposed to be pushing boundaries. It's supposed to make you feel dirty for watching such filth. It's self-aware and doesn't take itself seriously at all. This is the kind of film that is fun to watch and probably more fun to make. If you can't appreciate a film like this, you need to take that stick out of your ass and learn how to loosen up and have fun.

Directors Michael Herz and Lloyd Kaufman aren't the greatest directors in the world. But THE TOXIC AVENGER proves that it doesn't really matter. It just makes the film more charming and appealing with the pretty bad visual style. The editing is uneven. The pacing is disjointed. But it just makes watching the film that more inviting because it's supposed to look cheaply made. I will say that the special effects teams did a decent job with the Toxie transformation, but the rubber mask that's supposed to be Toxie's face cracks me up. I loved the shots of gore and blood. Very awesome. And what about that cheesy soft rock theme that plays whenever Toxie and Sara are together? Talk about gasping for some Air Supply.

The acting is horrible. Each actor is over-the-top and couldn't deliver lines believably to save their lives. But it wouldn't be a Troma film if the acting was so good and it just makes this B-movie that much more entertaining. I happen to find Toxie's dubbed voice extremely hilarious and worth the price of admission alone. This isn't Shakespeare and it shouldn't be treated as such. This is a showcase for horrible thespians and thank God for it.


- In 1985, Tromaville was the Toxic Chemical Capital of the World. In 2008, it's Paris Hilton's vagina. I don't think even Toxie can salvage what's left of that polluted wide open area.

- At the Health Club, men are free to wear tight briefs while flirting with each other. The Health Club also allows really obese people to get full body massages while they eat meaty sandwiches, as well as allowing members to fornicate in the middle of a workout session. Is there any wonder why I work out at home?

- There's only one muscle men need to worry about. John Wayne Bobbit learned that the hard way years ago.

- Running over a Puerto Rican is worth 30 points. At least I'm worth more than everyone but children under 12. Well at least to everyone but Michael Jackson and R. Kelly, that is.

- Don't let a dumb, vindictive blonde seduce you into wearing a pink tutu. She's either pulling a prank on you or she's setting you up with her gay best friend. If you value your dignity and/or your anal virginity, I'd advise you to stay away from a pink tutu.

- Some gay thugs beat up a cop. I guess three queens can beat a straight...

- Out of the three thugs that try to rob the fast food joint, the white guy was named Leroy and the black guy was named Frank. Shouldn't it be the other way around?

...What? Like you weren't thinking the same thing?

- Frank needed help after getting his arm ripped out of its socket by Toxie. Someone give the brotha a hand!

- Don't help a blind girl home. Her hospitality will handicap you more than she is. Time to buy another cup...

- Some drug dealer got his noggin crushed by a weight machine. That's no way to get ahead in life!

is a horribly made film that's actually a blast to watch. If you're into indie films, cult classics, and movies that have an offbeat sense of humor, this movie is for you. It's immature. It's fun. It's Troma. What more can I say except that THE TOXIC AVENGER is one of the best bad films ever made. Let's grab some mops and rid the world of filth - Monster Hero style!

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