1984-A-Thon: THE TOXIC AVENGER – The Dungeon Review!
This is my contribution for Forgotten Films 1984-A-Thon! Cheers Todd!
DIRECTED BY: LLOYD KAUFMAN AND MICHAEL HERZ
In June 2010 I compiled a list of my ten favourite horror films for each year of the 1980s. To be honest, 1984 was probably my least favourite year of the decade for horror movies. 1984 however was an especially solid year for non-horror films and features some huge all-time personal favourites including Repo Man, Paris Texas, Blood Simple, This is Spinal Tap and Stranger than Paradise just to name a few. There is one horror film from 1984 however that I thought deserved special attention. It is rude, crude, gory, silly, sticky, icky and an all around smashing good time; Troma’s mutant monster masterpiece The Toxic Avenger.
“People can’t go around doing things just because they’re right. We have to leave these decisions to the mayor and the police chief.”
I watched both the VHS and the 21st Anniversary Golden Edition DVD of The Toxic Avenger. The screen caps I included are from the DVD but I can tell you there is very little difference in picture quality between the two. The DVD however includes loads of special features like interviews, deleted scenes, laser disc intro and outro and lots more. Lloyd Kaufman does an intro for the special edition where he calls The Toxic Avenger “his nigger and cash cow who put his children through college.” Indeed The Toxic avenger spawned three sequels, a musical production and a kid’s cartoon show.
Our tale takes place in the town of Tromaville; The toxic chemical capital of the world; as its sign proudly announces. Population 15,000.
We begin our story at the Tromaville Health Club where Melvin Furd works. Melvin’s life would be forever changed by toxic chemical waste.
This is Melvin Furd; a constantly grinning, awkward and unpopular young man who takes care of the maintenance at the health club.
The club is frequented by many nasty big haired vixens in Danskin workout wear and headband-wearing jocks. This is Julie and Bozo. They have a particular hate on for Melvin and are looking to wipe that grin off his face. “He is screwing up my karma.”
This is Slug and Wanda, friends to Julie and Bozo. Melvin has walked in on Slug and Wanda having sex. Wanda pulls out a knife with a pink ribbon on it and threatens to cut Melvin up if he doesn’t beat it fast.
Tromaville has been plagued by a hit and run killer. The guilty parties being our heinous quartet of Julie, Bozo, Slug and Wanda. The gang of four go out driving at night with the specific intent of hitting and killing the good people of Tromaville. They even have a points system set up. “Jews, wops, niggers and chinks; they’re all worth 25 points. But Puerto Ricans, they’re worth thirty. Now kids under twelve, they’re worth double points.” Tonight’s victim is a child on a bike!
After hitting the kid and graphically squashing his head Julie and Wanda get out and take Polaroid pictures which they admire with great enthusiasm. They really are not very nice people.
Melvin is hard at work cleaning the windows of the squash court.
Julie, Wanda, Bozo and Slug are hatching a plan to wipe that grin off of Melvin’s face once and for all.
Julie convinces Melvin with her seductive charms to meet her in the girl’s locker room. She asks Melvin to change into a pink tutu and tights for their rendezvous. Julie then lures Melvin to the pool. Instead of a bikini-clad Julie he is met with a sheep and everyone in the club laughing and pointing at him. Melvin runs in horror up some stairs and throws himself out of a second story window. Melvin lands in a barrel of green bubbling toxic waste on a flatbed truck parked outside! He pulls himself from the barrel and writhes about on the sidewalk as his skin burns and sizzles and eventually catches fire!
Miraculously surviving this episode he runs home and jumps into the bath. He begins to transform and mutates into a huge creature! The Toxic Avenger is born!
He runs from the house and upon his return is greeted by his horrified mother. Melvin is forced to set up a makeshift home at the town dump.
Toxie’s first order of business is to help out the only honest cop on the Tromaville police force; Clancy. Clancy is having the snot beaten out of him by Cigar Face and his two cronies Nipples and Knuckles for refusing to take a bribe. Just before they are going to blow Clancy’s nuts off The Toxic Avenger arrives to save the day. The Toxic Avenger makes front page news the next day “Monster Mops Up Mobsters!”
For a town of 15,000 there is a disproportionate amount of bad-asses. Three men robbing a fast food joint; Leroy, Rico and Frankie are the next to feel Toxie’s wrath. Before Toxie arrives however the trio take out an outspoken male patron and a blind woman’s dog. The Toxic Avenger takes the trinity out using his brute strength and the restaurant’s amenities (I’ll have the man-sized milkshake and some deep-fried hands to go please). The Toxic Avenger once again makes the headlines; “Monster Hero Save The Day At Fast Food Restaurant.”
Sara, the blind girl whose dog was shot in the restaurant holdup is assisted home by Toxie. Sara and Toxie fall in love and eventually move into his home in the town dump.
Wanda is masturbating in the health club’s spa when she is spanked by Toxie for being a bad girl.
Toxie is winning the hearts of the citizens of Tromaville, but the prisons are getting full and the crooked major is not liking it one bit.
Toxie gets his revenge on Julie. How sweet it is!
The crooked, rotten to the core Major Peter Belgoody calls in the National Guard.
A Happy ending. “So Melvin the Monster hero rids Tromaville of all of its evil so the good citizens could live their lives in peace and happiness. And the next time you’re in danger or in need of help look to the horizon and maybe, just maybe The Toxic Avenger will be there.”
Troma makes low-budget flicks without the burden of offending the average movie goer; it is part of their charm. By no means is every Troma film as entertaining as The Toxic Avenger; some of their fare is downright unwatchable. There are however plenty of gems scattered throughout their library well worth a watch if your taste leans towards salty. The Toxic Avenger is a great place to start if you are unfamiliar with their films. I must admit, I was disappointed in the picture quality of the DVD. As you can see from these images it is very dull and washed out. That said, The Toxic Avenger is a wholly enjoyable product of the 1980s. The big hair, Danskin Dancewear, cheesy music and headbands; freaking headbands. I watched The Toxic Avenger three times in preparation for this review and it never once felt tedious. The film wastes no time getting right into the heart of the matter; the ridicule of our hero Melvin and his revenge once transformed into the monster with a heart of gold. There are plenty of laughs ranging from incredibly corny to “you may not want to admit you laughed at that” crudeness. There is some delicious gore, cheap but suitably gruesome including Melvin’s transformation, two head squashings, the ripping off of an arm and a few other goodies I won’t tell you about. The bad-asses are ridiculously over the top and eccentric as hell; it is especially sweet seeing the two snotty tramps Wanda and Julie get their comeuppance! To summarize, The Toxic Avenger is more fun than a bag of snakes!
Quotes you can use at your next family get together…
“Drop your tacos or I’ll blow your brains out!”
“Always did want to cornhole me a blind bitch.”
“I love the sound of breaking bones.”
“Did you see her face when I punched her?”
“Beat that old lady like a dog!”