The Toxic Avenger (1984)

toxic avenger poster 1984 movie
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 4/10
Visuals: 5/10

Intentionally so bad-it-is-good

Might just be so-bad for some

Movie Info

Movie Name:   The Toxic Avenger

Studio:   Troma Entertainment

Genre(s):   B-Movie/Comedy/Action/Adventure/Horror/Comic Book

Release Date(s):   May 1984 (Premiere)/April 11, 1986 (US)

MPAA Rating:   R

toxic avenger melvin sheep mark torgl

One fine lamb

The town of Tromaville, New Jersey is under siege.  Criminals seem to run the city, and Mayor Belgoody (Pat Ryan Jr.) seems to be leading them all.  When a mop-boy named Melvin (Mark Torgl) at the local health club falls into a vat of toxic waste while being tormented by the men and women of the club, he is transformed into the Toxic Avenger (Mitch Cohen).  Meeting a blind woman named Sarah (Andree Maranda) who can “see” through his monstrous form, Melvin is out to clean-up Tromaville, and the mayor and his cronies cannot let that happen.

Directed by Michael Herz and Lloyd Kaufman (who also helped write the film), The Toxic Avenger was a low budget horror-comedy film produced by Troma Entertainment.  The film received a small release in 1984 in New York City and gained a cult following on video after being released in 1986.

toxic avenger taco bell robbery

Who wants tacos!!!

The Toxic Avenger was always one of those movies in the horror section of the video store that you always just glazed over.  It was goofy looking and wasn’t horrific like a slasher film…even as a kid you could tell it wasn’t necessarily quality.  Eventually, I did rent The Toxic Avenger but didn’t enjoy it much as a kid.  After an adult the humor is more evident and fun (especially in the superhero movie boom period), but it still could be too much for a lot of viewers.

The movie is a spoof.  It is a spoof of horror movies and a spoof of superhero movies.  Everything in the movie is over-the-top, but it is also meant to be.  It recognizes that it isn’t a good movie and that it is goofy and not plot driven.  The end of the movie has the villain killed and the hero cheered by the people…there is no suspense or danger, and it does all seem very rushed and underdeveloped.

The acting is poor but once again you can’t go in expecting much.  The fun of the movie would be the characters who are clichés of ’70s and ’80s movies.  Mark Torgl is the uber geek.  Pat Ryan Jr. is the money grubbing mayor in the pocket of the mob.  You have punks, Irish cops, and gym beefcakes and cheesecakes…the acting might not be great, but it does fit the characters.  The director’s cut of the film featured a small cameo by Marisa Tomei as an extra.

toxic avenger sex sarah andree maranda mitch cohen

Damn….that was a good movie

The visuals for the film are real mixed bag.  It takes the stock and comedic aspects of the movie and then juxtaposes them with gore like people having their heads run over, dogs being shot, and hands being fried in a deep fryer.

The Toxic Avenger falls into that weird niche of self-aware bad movies that in their own self-awareness, they (almost) cross into being a good movie.  The movie help turn Troma Entertainment into its own mini-empire and spawned three sequels, a family friendly cartoon, a musical, a comic book series, and plans for a remake.  The Toxic Avenger was followed by The Toxic Avenger Part II in 1989 (which was filmed back-to-back with The Toxic Avenger Part III:  The Last Temptation of Toxie).

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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