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It's a Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad Movie

The Toxic Avenger (1985)

[2.0 turkeys]

What an awful movie. Granted, The Toxic Avenger is a Troma Studios movie, so it was a given that it was going to be bad. But this was bad on so many levels. The entire first half of the movie was bad in a bad way. It wasn't until the movie was about half over already that there was any reason to give this movie more than one turkey. And even though the second half turned things around and offered a lot more bad-movie laughs (and that's not really much of a feat, since the first half provided exactly zero) it still wasn't enough to earn the movie as a whole anything more than two turkeys.

The movie starts off with a disclaimer. "Warning. The Toxic Avenger Contains Scenes of Extreme Violence." Well, sure it does. And if those scenes were in the least bit realistic, the movie might have earned that disclaimer. As it is, I've seen more realistic death scenes in the Friday the 13th series.

The opening narration tells us that the town of Tromaville is the toxic waste capital of the world, a fact backed up moments later by a sign that reads "Welcome to Tromaville: Toxic Chemical Capital of the World." Great PR there.

We're introduced to our cast of characters early, at the Tromaville Health Club, where it would seem the entire town spends most of its time. There is Melvin, the extremely geeky janitor who becomes our eventual hero. There's Bozo, who is very "stressed." Slug, Bozo's sidekick, who does very little but smoke and do some terrible acting. Then there are their two girlfriends, who do even less. They're in this movie strictly to flash their assets and get killed.

Bozo and his gang have a very strange hobby. They drive around killing people. The women apparently are aroused by it. Bozo is very stressed, so he does it for a release, I guess. The thing is, they are so unsecretive about the whole deal, it's a wonder they last long enough to get whacked by the Toxic Avenger at the end. Bozo has decals on the side of his stupid car with depictions of all the things and people he has run over. Slug keeps all the newspaper clippings about their antics taped up in his locker at the health club. The two women take pictures of the victims after they get run down and look at and laugh about them in the middle of the crowded gym. It's baffling.

Eventually, Melvin ticks off Bozo and his gang, and they plot revenge. Bozo's girlfriend seduces poor Melvin and tricks him into coming to the health club pool dressed in a pink leotard and tutu. Melvin finds "Julie" in the dark by the pool, but when the lights are turned on, it is revealed that he is instead kissing a very very very fake looking sheep dressed in a bikini. No, I'm not kidding. Anyway, the crowded health club has a laugh at Melvin's expense as Melvin runs around like a spaz.

Meanwhile, outside, two poor truck drivers who have been driving for "two whole hours" pull over right in front of the health club. They start snorting some dope (which they do by sticking their entire faces into two big plastic bags with so much dope in them these guys must be millionaires to be able to afford them) as they take their well-earned break. Their cargo is, of course, toxic waste. You can tell that because they're carrying it in open drums on the back of a flatbed truck. The stuff is bright green and bubbly, which is exacly how we're all pretty sure toxic waste looks. These drums aren't even strapped on to the stupid truck, they're just sitting there lined up in rows. Even if the name of the movie weren't The Toxic Avenger, I'd already be pretty sure someone was going to fall into one of those drums.

Sure enough, Melvin doesn't disappoint us. He runs away from the taunting crowd of people to the upstairs of the health club. Unfortunately, all of the taunters follow him, so he does the only logical thing he can do at this point and dives through a closed second floor window into the vats of toxic waste waiting below.

"He's a faker!" Bozo declares as pretty much the entire town gathers around Melvin as he writhes on the ground in extreme agony. People come running from every direction to laugh at Melvin as his skin bubbles and boils. Eventually, he actually catches on fire and goes running down the street as the town watches on, still laughing.

At this point, Melvin goes to the hospital to get emergency treatment for his terrible condition and -- oh no wait, that's not what happens. That's what would happen if this were anything but a Troma Studios movie. Instead, Melvin goes home and takes a bath. His concerned mother knocks on the door repeatedly and asks if he's ok. Melvin just whimpers as his skin and hair fall off. Eventually, he grows muscles, and his voice deepens as he lets out a loud roar. "My little Melvin! He must have finally reached puberty!" his proud mother says from outside the bathroom.

We then switch to a scene where three very odd thugs attempt to bribe a cop. The cop refuses, and the thugs begin to beat him up. Enter The Toxic Avenger, hero of the people, protector of innocents, crotch-grabber extrodinaire. I'm not kidding. In this scene he grabs the crotch of each bad guy at least once and repeatedly beats on the family jewels of poor "Cigar Face." Unfortunately, this would set the tone for the whole movie, as crotch shots play a big role in the life of The Toxic Avenger. He's on the giving and receiving end of some prett vicious nad whacks throughout the course of the movie. After saving the cop, Melvin tries to go home, but his mother screams and slams the door in his face when she sees him, which leaves the poor outcast no other recourse than to go sleep in the dump.

At some indeterminite point in the future, three even stranger thugs try to rob a Mexican restaurant. They put on a comedy routine for the people and make no actual attempt to steal anything. The leader sets his sights on a pretty blind woman (gee, can't see where this is going already) and tries to have his way with her. However, the woman's guide dog will have none of that and growls and barks at the thug. In a stunning scene that flies in the face of movie convention (which states that you can kill, maim, mutilate, massacre, and destroy as many humans as you want, but you can't ever harm a single cute furry animal) the thug has his buddy blow away the dog so he can continue his assault on the girl.

Fortunately for everyone except the poor dog, The Toxic Avenger shows up to save the day. A long, genital-smashing laden fight scene ensues, which ends with Toxic making a sundae on one of the thugs head before drilling a hole in his face, forcing another thugs hands into the deep fryer while the thug screams, "We were only kidding! What's the matter, you can't take a joke?" and throwing the third thug into an oven.

As he is leaving, Toxic is stopped by the blind woman, who can't find her way home without her dog. (Watch closely and you can see the boom mike bob into the scene as Toxic and blind woman talk. Actually, you don't have to watch all that closely -- it's pretty freaking obvious. I caught it, and I was only half watching the stupid movie at this point.) So Toxic does the chivalrous thing and leads her home, where she immediately whacks him in the testicular area with her cane.

The authorities bring in Dr. Snotburger for a press conference, who tells the public in a very animated fashion that "the monster" has a sense for evil and will destroy only evil people. He knows this because of the traces of the monster he has apparently analyzed and by the impeccible deductive skills that have shown him that the monster only has killed evil people up to this point. This is the first and last time we see Dr. Snotburger, which leads me to believe he was only in this movie as an excuse to use the name "Dr. Snotburger."

Toxic kills more bad guys and saves innocent people for a while. Eventually he and Sarah become an item. (Gee, the hot blind chick falls for the disfigured guy -- why didn't I see that coming? Oh wait, I did.) This leads to the first actual funny scene in the movie, a montage of domestic images as Sarah and Toxic set up house together (in the dump of course), which of course includes shots of Toxic getting whacked in the peepee.

Eventually, Toxic goes and kills Bozo and Slug's girlfriends, then Bozo and Slug themselves. Toxic rides on the roof of the car Bozo and Slug just stole from a little old lady, while Bozo tries to shake him off. Toxic throws Slug out of the car and gets in next to Bozo. He tromps down on the gas, and he and Bozo go rocketing off down the street. In this scene, I think Toxic hurts and kills more innocent people while trying to kill Bozo than he does bad people in the movie. Go figure. Anyway, the car eventually flies off a cliff and bursts into flames. We time slip a bit, and the fire is now completely out -- and here is Toxic, none the worse for having just sat in the middle of a towering inferno, climbing out of the car.

He goes to the dry cleaner and kills a little old lady, then home to the dump to be with Sarah. "Every day I go out and MASH people!" he complains, and his loving girlfriend suggests they escape to the country and go camping so he can avoid the temptation to MASH people.

Meanwhile, the mayor uses the killing of the old lady as an excuse to turn the town against the monster. Never mind that the old lady turned out to be head of a white slavery ring. The evil mayor gets the governor to order out the National Guard, and they surround the tent in the woods that Toxic and Sarah are staying in. This one scene was the only scene I really really enjoyed in the movie. It starts with a shot of the tent, from which come the sounds of very theatrical snoring (you know, the snore-whistle thing that only cartoon characters actually do), and pulls back to show the National Guard surrounding the tent with tanks and machine guns pointed directly at it. Priceless.

The mayor orders Toxic shot, but when he emerges from the tent, everyone has a change of heart and won't kill him. The mayor pulls out his pistol and starts shooting, but the bullets bounce right off Toxic's manly chest. Toxic kills the mayor, and everyone rejoices. Suddenly, Sarah starts yelling for Melvin. "Melvin!" she screams. "Sarah!" Toxic replies, wading through the crowd of rejoicing citizens to get to his beloved. They shout back and forth several times until they finally reach each other and embrace, which causes the assembled crowd to go absolutely nuts with their screaming and shouting. It's all very inexplicable. Thankfully, it's also the end.

Scene to watch for: Melvin reading the warning sign by the pool.

Best line: "He is screwing up my Karma. AHHHHHH!!!"

Things that make you go "Huh?": Doing situps with a cigarette.

View this movie's entry at the Internet Movie Database.

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