The Toxic Avenger, Part II
In case you didn't know, I am the illegitimate child of USA Network's classic Up All Night, a weekend program aired during the 90's that featured a plethora of B-movie goodness, effectively turning this impressionable young man into the blog equivalent of Joe Bob Briggs...though not nearly as sexy. Or talented. You know what I mean. Anyway, instead of going out with friends or sleeping with lots of loose girls, I parked my behind on the couch every Friday and Saturday night to watch Rhonda Shear or Gilbert Gottfried present one terrible movie after another, much to the giddy delight of yours truly. Surf Nazis Must Die! was one of my personal favorites, though nothing touched my corrupt little soul quite like Michael Herz and Lloyd Kaufman's demented super hero epic The Toxic Avenger. Watching wimpy Melvin turn into the hulking Toxic Avenger was a pivotal moment in my life. It touched me in ways no movie had ever touched me. In other words, it's when I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life watching movie like this.
So far, so good.
After cleaning up Tromaville in the first movie, there's really not much for our buddy The Toxic Avenger to do these days. In order to pass the time, he helps our his hot girlfriend Claire run a home for blind people, where daily activities range from basketball to rooftop nature walks. However, when the greedy corporation Apocalypse, Inc. blows up the home in order to make way for PROGRESS, our mutated hero isn't happy about this sinister turn of events. Needless to say, he battles his way through an array of goofy villains, much to the dismay of the company's ruthless chairman. Like all good evil-doers, he hatches a scheme that could destroy The Toxic Avenger forever, though it does have one MINOR glitch. You see, the Japanese are working on a chemical that eradicates the Tromatons which give our hero his super-human strength, but they have no way of transporting the liquid from Tokyo to New Jersey. This is easily solved, however, by bribing Toxie's psychotherapist into telling the big guy that his depression stems from the relationship with his estranged father, Big Mac Bunko, who apparently lives in Japan. How convenient! The plan, of course, is to get Toxie to contact his father so he can use this mysterious solution to kill our favorite misshapen hero. Is this the end for The Toxic Avenger? Will Tromaville fall under the control of the sadistic Apocalypse, Inc.?
Do you even CARE?
The Toxic Avenger, Part II is as silly as they come. Jam-packed with stupid characters, horrible dialogue, and shoddy special effects, the film is essentially held together with Lloyd Kaufman's wacko sense of humor. If you're familiar with Troma and their output, the insanity contained within should be quite familiar to you. For instance, when Toxie uses the head of a swordfish during a sword fight in the streets of Tokyo, this should come as no surprise. However, if you've never experienced anything by this weird little company, be prepared for the ultimate experience in cheesy B-Grade entertainment. In fact, you probably shouldn't watch this one until you've seen the original, which is a bonefied cult classic. I know this term is used everywhere these days, but the first Toxic Avenger flick is the REAL DEAL. Anyone who claims otherwise either doesn't know what a "cult classic" is or they're just messing with your brain. Regardless, avoid contact with these people at all costs. Seriously.
However, as much as I like Part II, it does have its fair share of problems. The first movie wasn't nearly as self-aware as its sequels, which could be a problem for some, myself included. In the first sequel, however, Toxie knows he's an icon, and his dialogue is suitably cheesy. This takes away from the bizarro feeling you got while watching the first installment, a crucial element that is sorely missed this time out. It's still a kick in the pants to watch, mind you, and I did find myself laughing and shaking my head from time-to-time, but it fails to give you that Jumping-Jesus-what-the-hell-was-that? sensation you got from the original. Watching a building full of blind people being slaughtered by stereotypical villains isn't nearly as shocking as seeing some kid's head being crushed beneath the wheel of a moving automobile. Because of this, the sequel almost feels like a spoof of the original. Not necessarily a bad thing, mind you, but it does rob the movie of some potential hilarity.
In terms of Toxie and his movies, Part II is where you should end the affair. Parts III and IV are terrible, mired in self-referential humor, unfunny toilet humor, and two wretched scripts. However, The Toxic Avenger, Part II needs to be experienced by every individual who claims to be a fan of B-movies. It's essential viewing, people, so get to it! However, don't bother with any version that isn't UNRATED and UNCUT. Some versions are missing close to 10 full minutes of footage, ruining what little shock value the movie has in store for those who thrive on such things. And if you haven't seen the original, for the love of all that's HOLY, man! Get out there and pick up a copy right now! You owe it to yourself to check it out. If nothing else, you can help put food on Kaufman's table.
Note to the USA Network: BRING BACK UP ALL NIGHT!