Melvin is a hopeless dweeb working as a health club janitor in Tromaville, New Jersey. Continually drawing the ire of the roid-raging club members, one day a prank goes too far and sends Melvin careening out a window and into a barrel of toxic sludge. However the green goop transforms him into a 7-foot muscle bound monster, and he takes it upon himself to stand up to the corrupt forces that are ruining the city.
While the Toxic Avenger is a spoof of campy 1950′s horror films, it is not really much of a horror film itself. It is, however, one of the campiest and goriest movie I’ve ever seen and therefore has done more than enough to earn its place here.
The ridiculous tone is immediately set as the opening credits are shot over a hyper-sexualized gym scene with girls in skimpy bikinis and guys in those high-hemmed Umbros we’re all familiar with.
The fat guy in the above clip eating the 6-foot hoagie while getting a massage is the corrupt mayor of Tromaville. (On a side note, don’t try to eat anything while watching this movie.) He and his henchmen facilitate the rampant drug-running that takes place in the gym and out on the streets. A quartet of juiced-up meatheads, brothers Bozo and Slug and their two hot girlfriends, are the main tormentors of poor Melvin. The group organizes a prank that ends up with him dressed in a pink tutu kissing a gussied-up sheep. Ashamed, Melvin is chased by the other gym members through a second story window and in to a barrel of toxic waste. Horribly disfigured, but now a huge-muscly beast, he absconds to the city dump, reemerging when the good citizens of Tromaville need someone to fight for them.
The Toxic Avenger was produced and distributed by Troma Entertainment, the namesake of the fictional town in the film, which has made a name for itself creating over-the-top shock value farces since 1974. Indeed, The Toxic Avenger seems to be the precursor for ‘violence for the sake of violence’ films like Hobo With a Shotgun. Some of the uncouth scenes include a bandit blowing a hole through a blind girl’s seeing-eye dog. Another scene shows a Bozo, Spud, and their girlfriends hitting pedestrians with their car, with a point system based upon the race and age of the victims. After they run over a kid the girls jump out and take polaroids of the corpse so they can get off to them later in the steam room. This is the kind of sick stuff that makes you feel gross just watching it.
Yea, sick stuff like this
But there also is a candidly humorous side of The Toxic Avenger that helps take the edge off the shock scenes by reminding you that this is just a big joke. There are several funny moments, although the main gags in the film include getting hit in the balls, a blind girl bumping into things, and said blind girl bumping into a pair of balls. I wish I could tell you this type of humor was banal and childish, but you know I was laughing the entire time.
I remember The Toxic Avenger as an action figure and a spinoff cartoon when I was a kid. I was vaguely aware it was based on a movie, and after finally seeing it, can’t believe it’s remained such a hidden gem for so long. This movie is fantastic! It’s hilariously campy and gory and disgusting in all the right ways. You can bet this won’t be the last Troma movie reviewed on here. Go find this movie and watch it right now!
The rare laserdisc edition of the film, released in 1998, includes an introduction in which Lloyd Kaufman, co-funder of Troma, interviews a homeless and destitute Toxie. During their exchange Toxie gives a guy a blow job in exchange for crack.
These Troma guys just can’t stop