The thing to understand is that I don’t like this movie because Toxie is from New Jersey. No, I like this movie because I’m from New Jersey!
Poor Melvin Junko was a 98-pound, lowly janitor at the health club in Tromaville, NJ until a prank gone wrong exposed Melvin to toxic waste transforming him into a “hideously deformed creature of superhuman size and strength.” I can barely type the words without getting excited.
The Toxic Avenger put Troma Entertainment and its founder, Lloyd Kaufman, on the map. And not without good reason. The film is nonstop entertainment. Kaufman and co-director Michael Herz waste no time bombarding the audience with over the top parodies of the early 80s fitness craze, drug abuse, and political corruption. Hit and run driving, and mankind’s polluting Earth’s precious natural resources are also on display to round out the evil as well.
Then the Toxic Avenger is born.
Toxie’s mutation drives him to destroy evil wherever he senses it. “I mash people,” Toxie explains to his hot, blind girlfriend, Sara. This is an understatement. Through the course of the film, Toxie rips off limbs, deep fries body parts, impales and/or beats criminals to death. All of which is presented in the typical Troma fashion: cheap and gory.
Two things separate The Toxic Avenger from most other Troma pictures : it's genuinely funny, and there is an actual story. The performances of the evil health club members-Bozo, Slug, Julie and Wanda-are a scream. They achieve a level of overacting that is downright hypnotic. Bozo in particular, with his ‘roid-induced hysterics over finding any fat on his body, or when Melvin “screws up [his] karma.”
Also turning in a horribly over-the-top performance is Andree Maranda, as the blind girlfriend. Think of every bad blind joke you’ve ever seen or heard. Write them down in a list, and you can check everyone one of them off as the movie progresses. They’re all here.
Mitch Cohen plays Toxie on the screen with his huge, muscular body, growling and dismembering everything he sees… in a pretty pink tutu. The genius bit is that wonderfully erudite Kenneth Kessler is the voice of Toxie, creating a disconnect that was only topped when Tony Randall played Brain Gremlin in Gremlins 2: the New Batch.
One thing that was surprising was how much it follows the standard superhero formula:
- Melvin is a loser and is treated horribly.
- Gets superpowers
- Fights evil
- Gets the girl
- Wins over the whole of Tromaville, making it a better place to live.
Hell, you cut out the gore, sex, nudity, and drugs-and this is a perfect family movie! In fact, they did turn it into a cartoon.
But don’t worry, this is still, first-and-foremost, a Troma picture-so any good writing is squashed under bad acting, gory special effects, and heaping helpings of gratuitous female nudity. If nothing else, there is a man on fire running full speed down a normal suburban street. You just don't see that every day of the week! Troma never fails to deliver on its promise of surreal-terrible-low budget-fun.
To sum up: I love this monster hero!