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The Toxic Avenger 4K/Blu-ray "Tox Set" Collection Review

The Toxic Avenger: A Gruesome and Bizarre Series of Films that established an institution of independent film

The Toxic Avenger movies are a series of cult-classic horror-comedy films that took the B-movie genre by storm. Created by Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz, these films embrace their low-budget origins and deliver a unique blend of gore, dark humor, and social commentary. Thanks to the fine folks over at MVD I had a chance to revisit all four movies in the franchise, exploring their strengths, weaknesses, and overall impact on the genre.

The Films

THE TOXIC AVENGER (1984):

Directed by Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz, THE TOXIC AVENGER is a film that defies categorization. It's a cult classic that has gained a dedicated fanbase over the years, and it's not hard to see why. The film stands out for its gleeful embrace of absurdity, over-the-top violence, and dark humor.

At its core, THE TOXIC AVENGER is a B-movie through and through, and it revels in that distinction. The story follows Melvin Ferd, a meek and unassuming janitor who transforms into the titular Toxic Avenger after an unfortunate incident involving toxic waste. This transformation turns him into a hulking, grotesque, and superhuman vigilante.

The film's low budget is apparent, and this works in its favor, giving it a gritty and unpolished charm. The special effects may be crude by today's standards, but they add to the film's sense of campy fun. The makeup and prosthetics used to create the Toxic Avenger are surprisingly effective, making the character simultaneously gruesome and endearing.

The movie's violence is shockingly graphic and often borders on the absurd. It doesn't hold back in delivering scenes of grotesque gore, which can be both cringe-inducing and darkly comical. This is not a film for the faint of heart, and it revels in pushing the boundaries of good taste.

Amid the absurdity and violence, there's a noticeable layer of social commentary. THE TOXIC AVENGER takes a satirical approach to the superhero genre and, more broadly, to American culture and consumerism. The film's setting, the fictional Tromaville, is a cesspool of corruption and moral decay, serving as a backdrop for the Toxic Avenger's vigilante justice.

The character of the Toxic Avenger himself is a symbol of the underdog triumphing over evil. His grotesque appearance is in stark contrast to his strong moral compass and willingness to protect the innocent. This juxtaposition is central to the film's humor and commentary.

The performances in the film are intentionally exaggerated and campy, fitting the tone of the movie perfectly. Particularly, the actor portraying the Toxic Avenger, Mitch Cohen, brings an unexpected depth to the character despite the outlandish circumstances.

THE TOXIC AVENGER is not a film for everyone. It's a cult classic that embraces its weirdness, revels in its low budget, and pushes the boundaries of taste and decency. While it's not a masterpiece of cinema, it has earned its place in the annals of cult movie history. For those who appreciate dark humor, camp, and a unique brand of over-the-top violence, THE TOXIC AVENGER is a must-watch. It's a celebration of the bizarre and a reminder that sometimes, the most unforgettable films are the ones that defy convention and embrace their eccentricity.

THE TOXIC AVENGER PART II (1989):

Directed once again by Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz, THE TOXIC AVENGER PART II is a sequel that continues the outrageous and gleefully absurd exploits of its grotesque, radioactive superhero. For fans of the first film, this follow-up is more of the same, which is either a selling point or a warning, depending on your taste in cinema.

Picking up where the first film left off, THE TOXIC AVENGER PART II reintroduces us to Toxie, the mutated janitor-turned-vigilante, still protecting Tromaville from the forces of evil. The plot centers on his journey to find a cure for his toxic condition while battling a new criminal organization that threatens his hometown.

Much like its predecessor, this sequel revels in its B-movie sensibilities. The low budget, over-the-top violence, and crude special effects are all still present, and they're taken to even greater extremes. If the first film pushed the boundaries of taste, this one gleefully leaps over them.

The film's dark humor and satirical elements remain, albeit with a more pronounced sense of self-awareness. THE TOXIC AVENGER PART II takes the opportunity to poke fun at the tropes of superhero storytelling and its absurdity. It's a film that knows exactly what it is and doesn't pretend to be anything else.

One of the most memorable aspects of the film is its unapologetic campiness. The performances are exaggerated to the point of caricature, with the characters and their motivations pushed to extremes. Toxie, as the unlikely hero, continues to be a symbol of the underdog's triumph against corruption and evil, which is a theme that carries over from the first film.

The action and violence in this sequel are even more extreme if that's possible. Gruesome deaths, over-the-top fights, and gratuitous gore are served in spades. For fans of darkly comical violence, THE TOXIC AVENGER PART II provides an ample serving.

While the film delivers on the promises of its predecessor, it does little to evolve or deepen the story or characters. The humor and satire, while fun, can become repetitive, and the shock value may wear thin for some viewers.

THE TOXIC AVENGER PART II is a continuation of the gleefully absurd, violent, and outrageous storytelling that made the original a cult classic. It doesn't seek to break new ground but instead doubles down on what made the first film a unique experience. For those who relish dark humor, camp, and gratuitous violence in their cinema, this sequel is a worthy follow-up. It's a reminder that some films are meant to be unapologetically bizarre and absurd, and in that regard, TOXIC AVENGER PART II doesn't disappoint.

THE TOXIC AVENGER PART III: THE LAST TEMPTATION OF TOXIE (1989):

THE TOXIC AVENGER PART III: THE LAST TEMPTATION OF TOXI continues the misadventures of Tromaville's favorite radioactive superhero, Toxie. Directed once again by Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz, this third installment takes the franchise into even more surreal and unconventional territory.

The film picks up with Toxie, still sporting his grotesque appearance and powerful, pollution-fighting abilities, now working at a health club. Despite his fame as a local hero, he remains unassuming and humble, a quality that's central to his character's charm.

What makes THE TOXIC AVENGER PART III: THE LAST TEMPTATION OF TOXI  stand out from its predecessors is its willingness to take the franchise in a more surreal and bizarre direction. The plot takes a strange turn as Toxie is tempted by the devil himself, leading to a series of increasingly surreal and absurd scenarios.

The film's humor, while as dark and irreverent as ever, leans more heavily into the absurd. There's a sense of gleeful weirdness that permeates the entire narrative. The social satire and commentary that were present in the earlier films take a backseat to the oddball comedy.

The exaggerated performances and over-the-top violence continue to be staples of the franchise. The special effects, while still low budget, are more creative and inventive, contributing to the film's quirky atmosphere.

THE TOXIC AVENGER PART III: THE LAST TEMPTATION OF TOXI also features a greater exploration of the character's inner conflict, as Toxie grapples with his dark desires. This added depth to the character's development is a welcome change of pace in a series known for its unapologetic campiness.

In keeping with the tradition of the series, the film doesn't shy away from the use of gross-out humor and graphic violence. It maintains its crass and irreverent tone throughout, pushing the boundaries of taste and decency.

THE TOXIC AVENGER PART III: THE LAST TEMPTATION OF TOXI is a film that knows its audience and caters to those who appreciate its unique brand of weirdness. It's not a movie for everyone, and it doesn't aim to be. Instead, it revels in its oddity, delivering a conclusion that remains true to the series' commitment to subversion and the unexpected.

CITIZEN TOXIE: THE TOXIC AVENGER PART IV (2000):

CITIZEN TOXIE: THE TOXIC AVENGER PART IV takes the unconventional and irreverent style of its predecessors and cranks it up to the extreme. Directed by Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz, this installment dives headfirst into madness and offensiveness, making it perhaps the most bizarre entry in the franchise yet.

The film revisits Tromaville, where Toxie, the beloved mutant janitor, is still its heroic guardian. However, when a parallel universe mishap leads to the emergence of an evil counterpart named Noxie, chaos ensues, and the fate of both dimensions hangs in the balance. Toxie's journey to defeat Noxie and restore order unfolds in a chaotic and thoroughly absurd fashion.

CITIZEN TOXIE is a wild ride of absurdity, which may both amuse and offend viewers in equal measure. It's important to note that the film doesn't hold back, doubling down on the dark humor, violence, and crassness that's been a hallmark of the series.

The film's social commentary takes a back seat to the wild and wacky narrative, with absurdity often trumping any deeper meaning. While it retains elements of satire, it's buried beneath layers of surrealism and absurdity. This installment isn't as concerned with delivering a message as it is with being outrageous and unconventional.

The performances are, as expected, exaggerated and campy, with characters that either border on or are straight caricatures. The actors seem to relish their roles in the film's chaotic world. Particularly, the portrayal of Toxie by David Mattey remains a highlight, as he captures the character's unique blend of grotesque heroism.

The special effects are deliberately crude and over-the-top, which adds to the film's charm and fits its low-budget, campy style. There's a sense of glee in the creative use of practical effects to depict extreme violence and gore.

The film's narrative is a wild rollercoaster ride, filled with bizarre twists and turns that constantly defy expectations. It plays with the idea of parallel universes and explores the duality of good and evil, albeit in a way that's more absurd than profound.

While CITIZEN TOXIE will undoubtedly find its fans among those who appreciate its unique brand of weirdness and dark humor, it's not for everyone. It's a movie that goes out of its way to shock and offend, and it doesn't hold back on the gratuitous violence, offensive language, and gross-out gags.

CITIZEN TOXIE is a continuation of the franchise's commitment to surrealism, dark humor, and extreme violence. It doesn't seek to make sense or deliver a profound message; it's all about embracing the absurdity of its premise and pushing the boundaries of taste and decency. If you're a fan of the series' signature weirdness and are unafraid of offensive humor, this installment provides another dose of chaotic and unconventional entertainment.

Conclusion:

The Toxic Avenger movies are not for the faint of heart. They embody the spirit of low-budget filmmaking, with all its flaws and eccentricities. While the series suffered from diminishing returns and a loss of originality, it remains a cult classic franchise that embraced its limitations to create a unique cinematic experience. These films revel in their over-the-top violence, dark humor, and social satire, leaving an indelible mark on the B-movie genre. For fans of cult cinema and those seeking something truly outlandish, The Toxic Avenger movies are worth exploring. 

Special Features

TOXIC BONUS FEATURES:

  • New 4K scan and restoration (from the films’ original camera negatives*) of each film presented in their original 1.85:1 aspect ratio in HDR with English DTS 2.0 Stereo audio
  • New introductions for each film from Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma Entertainment and creator of The Toxic Avenger
  • Commentaries featuring casts and filmmakers on every film on all discs!
  • Optional English Subtitles for the deaf or hard of hearing on all discs
  • Collectible Toxic Avenger Postcard
  • Region Free 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray discs

THE TOXIC AVENGER [Unrated Director’s Cut] 4K Ultra HD

  • Prologue by Director Lloyd Kaufman

THE TOXIC AVENGER [Unrated Director’s Cut] Blu-ray

  • Introduction by Director Lloyd Kaufman
  • Interviews with Cast Members Jennifer Baptist, Robert Prichard, Mitch Cohen, and Dan Snow
  • Interview with Co-Director Michael Herz
  • “Mark Torgl Talks About The Toxic Avenger” featurette
  • Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery
  • Trailers

THE TOXIC AVENGER PART II [Unrated Director’s Cut*] 4K Ultra HD

  • Prologue by Director Lloyd Kaufman

THE TOXIC AVENGER PART II [Unrated Director’s Cut*] Blu-ray

  • Introduction by Director Lloyd Kaufman
  • “At Home with Toxie” Mockumentary
  • Interview with Cast Member Lisa Gaye
  • Japanese News Report On The Filming of The Toxic Avenger Part II
  • “Radiation March” Short Film Directed by Lloyd Kaufman
  • The American Cinematheque Honors 40 Years of Troma
  • Trailers

THE TOXIC AVENGER PART III: THE LAST TEMPTATION OF TOXIE [Unrated Director’s Cut] 4K Ultra HD

  • Prologue by Director Lloyd Kaufman
  • Audio Commentary with Director Lloyd Kaufman
  • Audio Commentary with Cast Member Joe Fleishaker

THE TOXIC AVENGER PART III: THE LAST TEMPTATION OF TOXIE [Unrated Director’s Cut] Blu-ray

  • Behind the Scenes of the “Return to Nuke ‘em High Vol. 1” screening at MOMA
  • The American Cinematheque Honors 40 Years of Troma
  • “Make Your Own Damn Horror Film” - Behind the Scenes of Old 37 with Kane Hodder and Bill Moseley
  • “A Halloween Carol” Short Film
  • Infomercial for “Rabid Grannies” Blu-ray Release
  • “Radiation March” Short Film Directed by Lloyd Kaufman

CITIZEN TOXIE: THE TOXIC AVENGER PART IV [Unrated Director’s Cut] 4K Ultra HD

  • Prologue by Director Lloyd Kaufman

CITIZEN TOXIE: THE TOXIC AVENGER PART IV [Unrated Director’s Cut] Blu-ray

  • “Apocalypse Soon: The Making of Citizen Toxie” Behind the Scenes Documentary
  • Tribute to Lemmy Kilmister
  • The American Cinematheque Honors 40 Years of Troma
  • Trailers

You can order your copy of The Toxic Avenger Collection (8-Disc Tox Set) from MVD HERE.

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