Melvin the mop boy is mocked by everyone where he works - the Tromaville gym - but it is all about to change. After being set up to be ridiculed, Melvin ends up in a barrel of nuclear waste and he turns into the horrific, but kind, monster hero "The Toxic Avenger". He's ready to clean up the streets from scum.
Do I need to introduce this movie to a single person here? I probably don't. A review of "The Toxic Avenger" is not needed, but I do feel guilty for never reviewing this back in the day when we started Film Bizarro. You'd think it was essential, right? Njutafilms has now released all the four movies "The Toxic Avenger", "The Toxic Avenger Part II", "The Toxic Avenger Part III: The Last Temptation of Toxie" and "Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV" in a boxset here in Sweden. It's a great release to pick up if you're just after the movies, but not one to pick up for extra material (there's just a few extras). Njutafilms have been doing a good job at bringing some classic Troma movies to Sweden, some which were previously released by a rather small Swedish Troma branch.
What was originally the "Health Club Horror", ended up becoming a genre-bending, icon creating cult classic called "The Toxic Avenger". Who would have expected this after a number of sex comedies from the Troma duo Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz? Whatever the original ideas would have became, the incredibly violent but funny nature of "The Toxic Avenger" helped Troma put a huge stamp on horror and independent cinema in general. It is hard to believe that Toxie and a number of other mutants ended up in their own cartoon called "The Toxic Crusaders", along with a number of toys. It did happened, and everything that got them there is something that Troma still lives up to. But does "The Toxic Avenger" hold up after all of these years, and after all of these rewatches?
"The Toxic Avenger" is equally outrageous and unbelievable now as it was when I first saw it. It's surprising considering how many have been trying to follow the Troma formula by going to extremes, yet barely anyone has managed to do it as charming and ridiculously funny as they did back in the '80s. Is it flawed? Of course - and it should be! This is the embodiment of independent filmmaking, what would it be if not flawed? It's the flawed nature of "The Toxic Avenger" that has turned fans into filmmakers for decades now. Few movies are filled to the brim with "I could make this!" moments as "The Toxic Avenger" (but despite many people thinking they can, most haven't succeeded). Having watched the movie quite a few times in my life time, some of the magic is gone and I don't find myself watching it alone anymore. Luckily I can still have moments where I show it to an unsuspecting audience now and then, just like I did growing up.
This review isn't a typical review, but a little tribute to a wonderful, genre-changing splatterfest with a mutant superhero in the lead role. You have all probably seen the movie already, but if anyone is missing it on DVD then I can recommend the set from Njutafilms. It's not too expensive and it should be very easy to find (especially in Sweden). It's not the most luxurious release of the series but it's worth looking into.
If you're a fan of this movie or Troma then I also recommend the book "All I Need To Know About Filmmaking I Learned From the Toxic Avenger". It goes deep into the creation of Troma and "The Toxic Avenger".