The Toxic Avenger is perhaps one of the most culturally significant examples of b-grade cinema since the likes of Roger Corman and Ed Wood Jr invaded our movie screens. Due to it's increasing popularity since it's initial release in nineteen eighty four, The Toxic Avenger has spawned three sequels, an animated children's spin off series and a Broadway musical.
The Toxic Avenger also largely helped launch Troma Entertainment as a highly regarded production company amongst the b-grade enthusiasts and also a tad into the mainstream audience. Hopefully after you've read my review and better yet, watched the actual movie, you'll see why.
As the town of Tromaville is on the drastic up rise of crime, there is only one man that can save the day, Melvin, a 98-pound stereotypical nerd who works as a janitor at the Tromaville Health Club. After being constantly harassed by the local bullies at work, Melvin wearing a tutu, is pushed out of a window and lands in an inconveniently placed tub of toxic waste. Instead of perishing, Melvin mutates, gains abnormally large strength and decides to use his power to take on all the crime of Tromaville and take down their corrupt mayor.
The Toxic Avenger as formulaic as it is could quite easily be the dictionary definition of "guilty pleasure". I'm not going to describe the hidden dark disturbed symbolism of this complicated piece of art, because their really is none; The Toxic Avenger is a film of exactly what you think it is, only about ten times better.
One of the many great things about this film is the way it plays on your own nostalgia, but still retaining it's own refreshing spin. Whether you've watched just about every b-grade movie in existence, or have never seen one in your entire life, I can almost guarantee you'll experience some sort of Déjà vu. The Toxic Avenger is a to a tee every crime fighting Saturday morning cartoon you grew up with, but with the added dash of excessive violence that you're gore hungry minds always craved in the G rated timeslot.
With a campy rampage of eye gouging, disembowelling and head crushing; The Toxic Avenger reminds you of the many advantages of having brain-numbing fun as an adult. You may wonder, does the film's graphic violence ruin the nostalgia of child hood film and TV? Well it taints it a little, but with the hammy acting, a predictable storyline, and all round more cheese than a Swiss cheese factory, the unmissable charm of this genre is stronger than ever.
Despite this film's violence being completely over the top and at times hilariously absurd; don't be fooled as it can still be disturbing and is quite suitably restricted to those eighteen years and older in most countries. However the animated spinoff series The Toxic Crusaders, which also has its own movie, is a fantastic way to introduce your young ones into The Toxic Avenger and eventually the wonderful world of Troma.
Overall The Toxic Avenger is a must see, especially for the true lovers of b-grade cinema and anyone looking for the ultimate nostalgia fix. This is definitely Lloyd Kaufman's finest work and the only mistake he really made was setting a bar that was too high to beat.
OFLC (Office of Film and Literature Classification) rating: R18 Medium Level Violence.
If you'd like to find out how to view this film legally for free, read on.
Troma's YouTube Special
Despite The Toxic Avenger practically being the poster boy for Troma Entertainment; after thirty-eight years of movies, it's simply the needle in the haystack. Troma Entertainment also offers a large array of high quality classics, such as Tromeo & Juliet, Cannibal The Musical and Blondes Have More Guns.
Thanks to the generosity of Troma Entertainment, now these films and over sixty more are available to view for free on YouTube.