Login

The Toxic Avenger Review

Image for The Toxic Avenger

A practical joke misfires and nerdy janitor Melvin gets stuffed into a vat of toxic waste while dressed in a ballerina outfit. He emerges mutated into a Swamp Thing/Hulk-style monster hero and romps around Tromaville, New Jersey, slaughtering grotesque villains and mooning over his blind true love.

★★★★

The foundation stone of the Troma trash movie empire, this signals a slight shift of effort from the production of unfunny gross-out comedies (Stuck on You!, The First Turn-On) to a distinctive genre mutation which gene-splices the fart-puke-boobs gaggery with extreme splatter, comic-book superheroics and embittered satiricial swipes at big business. The Troma style perhaps predates the anything-gross-for-a-laugh approach of the Farrelly Brothers (who also made a film called Stuck on You), but real seaminess between good-natured gags makes for a shifting tone that too often gets beyond the boundaries of good bad taste into merely tiresome unpleasantness.

You can gauge your likely appreciation of the film by whether you find any of these incidents actually funny: a) a guy in a tutu duped into kissing a sheep, b) a ten-year-old knocked off his bicycle and having his head crushed by laughing hit-and-run drivers, c) a girl masturbating over photographs of murdered children, d) an obese man having his insides pulled out, e) a middle-aged dwarf lady shoved into a spin-dryer, f) a guide dog shotgunned dead by a robber who then tries to rape its owner. If none of these raise a smile, buy something else.

Though the effects are gloopy, the filmmaking – which is down to Troma supremo Lloyd Kaufman – is strictly entry-level. ‘Toxie’ has returned in four sequels, and you get much the same bad taste in the mouth from the Class of Nuke ‘Em High films, Troma’s War, Terror Firmer, Tromeo & Juliet, Sgt Kabukiman NYPD, etc.

All-in-all a fairly unpleasant experience for most audiences.

More from Empire