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1984 film directed by Lloyd Kaufman

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All in good, guilty fun; The Toxic Avenger is exploitative gold.

  • Aug 6, 2011
Rating:
+3
*** out of ****

Thank goodness that films as good as "The Toxic Avenger" exist when it comes to much needed escapism. Without these films, we might just explode from the stress of everyday life. Sometimes we just want to sit down and watch a movie. And while there are other movies that you could certainly watch instead, you shouldn't distance yourself too far from this one. As strange and corny as it may seem, "The Toxic Avenger" is a film that I'd actually end up recommending to a good amount of my readers.

If you like B-movies, then you'll probably love "The Toxic Avenger". It's a good-old-fashion exploitation/midnight movie from the 80's, directed (mostly) by Lloyd Kaufman; who is known for his whacky and exploitative sense of humor. "The Toxic Avenger" won't appeal to those who take the film and its idea of "humor" too seriously, however, if you surrender your intelligence; you might just admire the craft that went into it.

Melvin is a work-out-gym janitor who mops up the floors, never gets girls, and it basically nothing more than a "98 Pound Weakling". The film bombards his character with steriotypes. He stutters, he's forever nervous around women, he's never TALKED to a woman for much longer than a minute, and he still lives with his mother. He doesn't appear to be a fan of movies or comic books; he's just a nerd. And the people at his work-place constantly make fun of him for that.

One day, they pull a prank that has Melvin ending up in a barrel of toxic sludge. The material immediately affects his skin; mutating him into a creature much larger, stronger, and awesomer than anyone he's ever been before. Melvin takes on the name "The Toxic Avenger", and starts serving up justice in the town of Tromaville. There's a sinister plot involving the town mayor, a romantic love-interest of Melvin that happens to be blind (which works to Melvin's advantage), and much, much more.

The film is kept simple, and I liked that. It's an entertaining film that probably inspired a comic book series, and a television program; which I know it did, but the latter was not successful. However, "The Toxic Avenger" did spawn a couple sequels, and I might just see them. Lloyd Kaufman is good at making movies like this one, and while the first film of his that I saw was his latest big one, "Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead", I'm ever-so-happy that I can appreciate a film as crude and mindless as this one. But perhaps there's a part of me that is accepting enough to enjoy stuff like this.

However, some good directorial skill was put into the film. After all, good exploitation and satire, both which this film attempts, comes from good filmmaking and some good writing. I laughed a lot in the film because it blended goofy satire with even goofier slapstick. Yet, it's smartly made; and I kind of admired it. There's some decent make-up effects work going on, the acting is effectively campy, and the overall feel of the film matches what Kaufman intended perfectly. He made this film to appeal to an audience that could see it for what it is. It's not a perfect movie, but few exploitation-comedies truly are. They can simply be good, inspired films; that touch our hearts in creepy, strange ways. If anything, "The Toxic Avenger" is memorable because it's one of the few exploitation films that actually appeals to me. But perhaps I liked it because it blended common superhero stereotypes, clich├ęs, and lore with satire and toxic waste. You can't beat good movie-making.

A lot of the movie is funny. I admit that some of the jokes are cruel and hard to laugh at. But if you can get by that, then this is a pretty fun watch; and that's all it needs to be. I could look into it more than I need to and just dismiss the thing as a whole, or I could enjoy the movie. I chose to do the second thing, because it was easier. "The Toxic Avenger" requires no thought whatsoever. It's not necessarily for a "dumb audience", but it is laid back, and well-made enough to appeal to a cinephile such as me; and that's saying something, especially when you're dealing with something as intentionally stupid as this.

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August 06, 2011
"...It's not necessarily for a "dumb audience", but it is laid back, and well-made enough to appeal to a cinephile such as me; and that's saying something, especially when you're dealing with something as intentionally stupid as this." well said! I really feel you on that one. Sort of what I feel when I see those stupid Japanese pink movies LOL!
 
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More The Toxic Avenger reviews
review by . August 23, 2009
The Toxic Avenger was the flagship of Troma's movie line during the mid to late 80's. This film was responsible for keeping the company a float during this time period and it also marked a turning point in the company's history. For years, Lloyd Kaufman and company were making cheesy low budget sex comedies. With the birth of the Toxic Avenger, they started to expand their horizons, focusing on low budget horror/comedy trashy spoofs films. Instant cult classics were being produced by Team Troma.   …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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About this movie

Wiki

The first film of the Toxic Avenger series.

110 minutes is the Director's prefered cut.

Released on video unrated.

Character actor Patrick Kilpatrick makes his screen debut.

Marisa Tomei appears as an extra in the film.

One of Troma's most profitable films.

A cartoon series The Toxic Crusaders was based upon the film.

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Details

Director: Lloyd Kaufman
Genre: Comedy, Sci-Fi, Horror, Fantasy
Release Date: April 11, 1986
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Lloyd Kaufman
Runtime: 87 minutes
Studio: Troma
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