The Toxic Avenger is an American cult classic comedy horror film first released in late 1985 by Troma Entertainment, known for producing low budget B-movies with campy concepts. Virtually ignored upon its first release, The Toxic Avenger caught on with moviegoers after a long and successful midnight movie engagement at the famed Bleecker Street Cinemas in New York City in late 1985.
The film has generated three film sequels and a children's TV cartoon. Two less successful sequels: The Toxic Avenger Part II and The Toxic Avenger Part III: The Last Temptation of Toxie were filmed as one movie. Director Lloyd Kaufman realized that he had shot far too much footage for one movie, and reedited it into two. A third independent sequel was also released, entitled Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV. The animated children's TV series spin-off was Toxic Crusaders where Toxie was the leader of a team of mutated superheroes who fought against evil alien polluters. The cartoon series was short-lived and it was quickly canceled. New Line Cinema had planned a live action movie based on the cartoon, but the deal was ultimately canceled.
Later, a group of drug dealers, led by the criminal Cigar Face (Dan Snow), are harassing a police officer by the name of O'Clancy (Dick Martinsen), trying to buy him off. When he refuses to accept the money, Cigar Face and his gang prepare to kill Officer O'Clancy. Out of nowhere, a large creature comes and saves the day, showing in a brutally violent way that he does not like evil in any form. When he is done taking care of them he puts a mop on all their faces, which becomes his call sign. Officer O'Clancy is initially terrified of the creature but soon learns he was only trying to help and will not hurt him.
The officer's rescuer was the Toxic Avenger (Toxie), who is Melvin having been transformed by the incident. He then tries to return home but his mother is terrified of him and will not even let him in the house. The Toxic Avenger then goes to the junkyard and builds himself a makeshift home.
Elsewhere in Tromaville, a gang of three men holding up a Mexican food restaurant. The men kill one of the patrons, and then attack a blind woman named Sarah (Andree Maranda). They kill her guide dog and are about to rape her when The Toxic Avenger arrives. Toxie then has another bloody brawl with crime, taking care of the gang with unforgiving zeal. The Toxic Avenger sees that Sarah is beside herself by the loss of her dog and the traumatic experience. He takes her back to her home, where they begin to get to know one another and subsequently become involved.
When the Toxic Avenger goes back to his crime fighting ways, he makes way for the health club. There, he takes care of the popular girl Wanda who was involved in the plot that turned him into the creature he is now. Afterward, Toxie is relieving himself in a back alley when a limo pulls up and a pimp tries to push a 12-year-old girl onto him. When he starts to fight back to save the girl, a group of men come out of the limo, in which he fights them all off and saves the girl. The Toxic Avenger returns to the health club and attacks the other tormentors who were responsible for what happened to him. He then confronts his archenemies Bozo and Slug, ending in Slug getting thrown out of a moving car and Bozo driving off the side of a cliff.
The leader of the crime ring in Tromaville, who turns out to be Mayor Belgoody (Pat Ryan Jr.), is horrified of what is happening to his goons. He is worried that it will lead back to him and wants Toxie to be taken care of. A group of men, lead by none other than Cigar Face, surround Toxie all pointing guns at him. Right before they fire he jumps up to a fire escape and they end up shooting each other. When the Toxic Avenger kills a seemingly innocent old woman in a dry cleaning store (she is in fact a leader of an underground white slave trade), Belgoody looks at this as his opportunity and calls in the National Guard.
Back in his junkyard home, the Toxic Avenger is terrified of what he has become. He and Sarah decide to move away from the city and take a tent into nearby woods. They are not there long before they are discovered. The Mayor and the National Guard come to kill him but the people of Tromaville will have none of it. The Toxic Avenger saved them on numerous occasions and they are now his friends. The Mayor's evil ways are revealed, and the Toxic Avenger proceeds to rip out Belgoody's organs to see if he has "any guts". The movie ends with a reassurance that wherever evil brews in Tromaville, you will find the Toxic Avenger.
In 1975, Lloyd Kaufman had the idea to shoot a horror movie involving a health club while serving as the pre-production supervisor on the set of Rocky. At the Cannes Film Festival, Kaufman had read an article that said horror films were no longer popular, so Kaufman claims that he decided to produce his own version of the horror film. However, the film's final outcome was less a bona fide horror film and more of a violent campy comedy horror-spoof with extreme violence embedded through out. The setting of the movie in a health club and the movie was given a working title of Health Club Horror. Kaufman wrote the script with the help of writer Joe Ritter.
The Toxic Avenger has also been adapted to other media. From April 1991 to February 1992, Marvel Comics published The Toxic Avenger comic. The comic was written by Doug Moench, drawn by Rodney Ramos, and lasted for 11 issues. In July 2000, Troma published an extremely rare comic book entitled The New Adventures of the Toxic Avenger. This comic was offered to people who donate $75 or more to TromaDance 2007. Recently, Lloyd Kaufman and Adam Jahnke wrote a novelization entitled The Toxic Avenger: The Novel. It was released on May 10, 2006 and was published by Thunder's Mouth Press. It was also adapted as a musical, on two occasions. The first, Toxic Avenger: The Musical, debuted at Omaha's Blue Barn Theatre in 2004. This production was written and directed by Rob Urbinati, with music by Kevin Saunders Hayes. The movie was adapted as a musical a second time, as Toxic Avenger: The Musikill, with lyrics by Ira Kortum, who also directed and starred in the production, which premiered in Portland, Oregon. The music was composed by Martin J. Gallagher, with the assistance of Marc Rose. Kaufman reportedly had nothing to do with the production, although he did verbally support Kortum's adaptation and attended the production on Opening Night. Excerpts from Toxic Avenger: The Musikill are featured on the 21st Anniversary edition of the original Toxie. The definitive musical version "The Toxic Avenger" will have its World Premiere at George Street Playhouse on October 1, 2008, directed by John Rando with music and lyrics by David Bryan and book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro. A graphic novel about Toxie and other Troma properties, Lloyd Kaufman Presents: The Toxic Avenger and Other Tromatic Tales, was released in 2007 from Devil's Due Publishing.
References== George Street Playhouse: The Toxic Avenger
`Toxic' DVD Shows Ups, Downs of Indie Films. (DVD Watch).(Troma Entertainment introduces 'Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger Part IV')
Mar 02, 2003; Fans of low-budget movies know The Toxic Avenger. He's the 90-pound weakling who fell into a vat of toxic waste and became a...