Blindspot: The Cult of 2013: The Toxic Avenger

toxicavenger It would have been almost impossible to do a blindspot series about cult films without including Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz’s TROMA Entertainment.  Spanning nearly 40 years, the films released by TROMA have essentially written the book on low-budget cult classics.  The most popular of these films was 1984’s The Toxic Avenger, which was co-directed by Kaufman (under the pseudonym Samuel Weil) and Herz.  The film is an action/horror/comedy about a nerdy health club janitor named Melvin, who falls into a barrel of toxic waste, in a prank gone wrong.  Melvin mutates into The Toxic Avenger (Mitch Cohen) and now has an uncontrollable desire to dispose of evildoers in ultra-gory ways, while also saving, and beginning a romance with, a blind girl named Sara (Andree Maranda). When it comes to “so bad it’s good” films, I actually found The Toxic Avenger to be quite enjoyable.  Even though much of the acting is excruciatingly bad, it is quite obvious from the start that this isn’t a film that’s meant to be taken seriously.  The film is quite infamous for its graphic violence and gratuitous nudity.  Probably the most talked about death in the film involves an early scene, where evil jocks crush a boy’s head by running it over with their car, with a pair of slutty girls getting turned on and taking photos of the end results.  As awful as this sounds, this was actually the least graphic of the many gory deaths in the film, which range from death by milkshake blender to a head getting crushed by weights.  This is definitely a film meant to please the gorehounds. There are many times when The Toxic Avenger would move back and forth between being an action/comedy and a horror film.  There is one scene in particular, which is very much like a slasher film and is very different in tone, when compared to the rest of the film.  Then off course there’s the romantic plot, which is probably one of the oddest romances seen on screen.  I do find it interesting how The Toxic Avenger was only shown from behind or close-up for the first half of the film, with his voice being noticeably overdubbed.  While I initially thought this was because of limitations with the make-up, I was actually somewhat impressed by the full result.  Sure, it’s still obviously a guy in latex, but I somehow thought that the make-up was going to be really bad, with no moving facial features. The Toxic Avenger become such a cult classic after its release that it spawned three sequels and the character is now the official mascot of TROMA.  I was actually introduced to the character as a kid when it was adapted into the 1991 cartoon series Toxic Crusaders.  Now that I’ve seen The Toxic Avenger, I do find it somewhat disturbing that someone would think that such a violent film would make a good Saturday morning kids cartoon. Either way, I can say that I definitely thought that The Toxic Avenger was cheesy and gory fun.8 | LIKED IT I thought it would be fitting for me to finish off this post with a photo I had taken with Lloyd Kaufman (and The Toxic Avenger) at this year’s Fan Expo:
Me and Lloyd Kaufman

Sean Kelly Author

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).