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Toxic Avenger, The

Reviewed By Brian McKay
Posted 03/12/03 13:32:04

"Even Toasted, Toxie turns tedious"
3 stars (Average)

Lord knows, I watched a lot of crappy (and some great) B movies growing up. One phenomenon that passed me by, however, was the Troma films. Even if you don't know them, you know the reputation - sleazy, cheap, and gory T&A flicks with flamboyant titles like SURF NAZIS MUST DIE and TROMEO AND JULIET.

While I had stumbled across films like Troma's War and The Toxic Avenger as a younger man, they never gripped me the way the Evil Dead franchise or Roger Corman films did. Still, while I wouldn't rate them among my Drive-in classic faves, films like Toxic Avenger do have a certain wit about them, even if it's only half-there.

The plot is about as basic as you can get. A sniveling (and annoying) geek janitor at the local health club (with the unlikely name of Melvin Junko) is picked on by a pair of thugs named Slug and Bozo and their equally thuggish girlfriends. Picking on poor Melvin is the least of their pastimes, as they also like to run over pedestrians and kids on bikes just for shits and giggles.

When one of their pranks on Melvin goes too far, and he ends up with his head dunked in a barrel of toxic waste, the former geek turns into a mutant freak - a horribly disfigured but musclebound creature with a half melted face and superhuman strength. Also, for some strange reason, his whiny teenage voice disappears and he starts talking like a Shakespearean-trained actor with a deep superhero voice. So Toxie decides to seek revenge on the thugs and thugettes, as well as punish all other criminals and evildoers who cross his path, turning him from an urban legend-like monster to a local vigilante hero. He also hooks up with a cute blind girl who doesn't mind shagging mutants. Hey Toxie, send her over to my place when you're done.

While the acting and script are mostly uninspired, there are moments of humor and some really great, gory, cheesy death scenes. Toxie doesn't just beat up bad guys, he rips their limbs off, snaps their spines, and smashes heads open in a variety of ways (best moneyshot: he forces one of the thugs' heads underneath a stack of metal plates on a weight machine at the gym - then lets 'em drop!). It's passable entertainment for a while, but even with the short 87 minute running time (the best thing about B-movies: usually no longer than 90 minutes) it starts to feel a bit long in the tooth.

I suppose it was fun once, but I really don't think I have it in me to make it through sequels like THE LAST TEMPTATION OF TOXIE or CITIZEN TOXIE. I've got too many Corman flicks to catch up on.

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