The Toxic Avenger (1984)

Slug: "I love the sound of breaking bones."
by Michael Herz and Lloyd Kaufman
With Andree Maranda, Mitch cohen and Mark Torgl

The Toxic Avenger is a prime Troma film. Troma films are usually regarded as comedy horror films that are particularly graphic and play on stupidity for the comical relief, it also includes social critics, although they are mostly aimed to direct the plot. The only troma film I had seen before was Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2006) which was absolutely gross but absolute fun. I decided to give The Toxic Avenger a chance.

After a quick reminder that the viewer's discretion is advised due to extreme violence, the movie starts in Tromaville. All the youth meet at the health club where they work out and enjoy their well sculpted bodies with each other. The ugly duckling, however, has the name of Melvin and he is the clumsy mop boy that others love to play pranks on. After a final prank, Melvin runs out of the building--well, more precisely, jumps out of a window--and falls in a tank of toxic waste. Melvin then becomes the Toxic Avenger, a "monster" who fights evildoers but feels no ill-inclination towards the good people.

The movie is really all over the place so it is hard to know where to start. The level of disgusting things happening is pretty high, as is the stupidity of most lines and situations. Despite all this, it works. I would nearly class this film as a comedy or satire rather than as a horror movie, because the gore is so over-the-top and placed in such awkward situations that it is funny. Also, there is no real suspense or scary moments, except for the graphicness, because we know the Toxic Avenger only intervenes against the scum of Tromaville.

A lot of the usual elements and tropes of horror movies make an appearance in this film: the gratuitous nudity of attractive young females, the sadistic young males who think they are untouchable and of course, the various, creative, death scenes. As with Poultrygeist, a lot of gore actually happens in the kitchen with food involved--which is quite peculiar, but is pretty fun in the end. One of the most hilarious characters of the movie is the Mayor, a sleazy fat man who is not ashamed of being corrupt and feels threatened by the good deeds of the Toxic Avenger.

Some of the fight scenes or car scenes are pretty repetitive and too long to be enjoyed, at least for me. The special effects are quite cheesy but it renders very well and the graphicness is top-notch. It also fits very well in the mold of 80's grainy image and colorful leggings. The politic aspect of the movie is fun, but it shouldn't be your main focus when watching this as nothing serious really comes out of this movie.

I liked: The mayor! The overall, revenge of the nerd feeling. The fast food scene. Fast paced.

I disliked: It's difficult to play on stupidity a whole movie length and not have some downtimes. Purposefully pretty cheap.

I felt some scenes were too action driven and therefore impended on the horror elements, which in the end relied purely on the graphicness of the death scenes and the toxic avenger himself. Overall, it's pretty funny if you don't take anything seriously.


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