Toxic Avenger, The (Blu-ray) (1984)

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Released 19-Jul-2017

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Cult Introduction-Lloyd Kaufman
Audio Commentary-Lloyd Kaufman
Audio Commentary-Cast: Gary Schneider, Robert Prichard, Dan Snow
Gallery-Photo
Interviews-Cast & Crew-Diverse Troma type featurettes
Featurette-Mark Torgl’s Special Video (6:19)
Trailer-40 Years of Troma (2:03)
Trailer-Trailers for Troma titles
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1984
Running Time 82:13
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Michael Herz
Lloyd Kaufman
Studio
Distributor
Troma Team
Gryphon Entertainment
Starring Andree Maranda
Mitch Cohen
Jennifer Prichard
Cindy Manion
Robert Prichard
Gary Schneider
Pat Ryan
Mark Torgl
Dick Martinsen
Chris Liano
Dan Snow
Doug Isbecque
Charles Lee Jr.
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 2.0 mono
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Puny, nerdy Melvin (Mark Torgl) works as a mop-boy at the Tromaville Health Club where he is bullied by muscled hulks such as Bozo (Gary Schneider) and Slug (Robert Prichard) and teased by their bikini clad bimbos Julie (Cindy Manion) and Wanda (Jennifer Babtist). After one extreme humiliation Melvin throws himself from a second story window only to land in a vat of toxic waste on a truck in the street. The chemical waste blisters his skin and permeates his blood and he gains superhuman strength and transforms into the hideously disfigured superhero, the Toxic Avenger (Mitch Cohen). Toxie then becomes the scourge of Tromaville’s criminals and the corrupt, protecting the citizens, saving an honest policeman from murderers, rescuing kids from hit and run drivers, helping little old ladies across the street and opening jars for housewives.

     When a Taco restaurant is attacked by vicious thugs, Toxie intervenes to save the patrons, including blind girl Sara (Andree Maranda). He hands out his own brand of justice to the hoods, giving them their “just deserts” (this makes sense when you watch the sequence). He then escorts Sara home and love blossoms between them. But not everyone is happy, especially the very corrupt Tromaville mayor Peter Belgoody (Pat Ryan Jr.) who calls out the police force and National Guard to destroy Toxie. Can the honest citizens of Tromaville come to Toxie’s rescue and prevent his destruction?

     There is nothing remotely subtle about Troma films and The Toxic Avenger is no exception. While the film includes topless women, it is really about over the top violence, gore and mayhem and it includes numerous blood spurts and splatter, guts and gore galore, an arm ripped off, an eye gouged out, the squishing of a boy’s head by a hit and run driver, gross acts with food and the killing of a seeing eye dog! In the Troma style there are also jokes about everything from homosexuals to Nazi policemen, bad taste visual humour which is often very funny, wooden acting and cheap sets. It is clear that most of the film’s scanty budget went on prosthetics, made-up, special effects and stunts which actually are not too bad, such as the car crashes, and they did manage to get some real army tanks for the finale. The film also includes some heavy handed social commentary about corruption and dumped toxic waste plus a couple of reflective moments as Toxie, alienated by his disfigurement from the society he protects and rejected by his mother, makes a haven for himself and his blind girlfriend Sara in a toxic waste dump.

     The Toxic Avenger is the film which is synonymous with Troma and Toxie’s misshapen face has become the Troma logo, so important was this film to the fortunes of the company. Toxie is the ultimate nerdy avenger righting the wrongs inflicted upon his society (and himself, it must be said) by the corrupt, the polluters, the vicious and the beautiful, and there is certainly no suggestion that the extreme measures he employs in dealing with criminals, such as frying hands in boiling oil, splitting a heads with a gym counterweight, ripping off arms or pulling a man’s guts out of his stomach, are condemned. Indeed, as in vigilante movies generally, the extreme measures are applauded. However it is so extreme and played completely as comedy, so the filmmakers get away with it, and the environmental, anti-pollution message is as potent today as it was in 1984, perhaps even more so.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The Toxic Avenger is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78.1, in 1080p with the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     This HD presentation is a vast improvement over the Troma SD prints of The Toxic Avenger. There are frequent speckles, and an occasional scratch, but nothing is distracting and grain is nicely controlled. Detail is good, showing off Toxie’s disfigurement, colours are bright, including the vibrant green of the toxic waste, skin tones are good, blacks pretty solid and although some shadow detail was lost it was not too bad. Contrast varied occasionally.

    There are no subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is a Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track at 256 Kbps. The audio commentaries have the same specification.

     The cheesy dialogue was easy to hear. The effects where quite sharp, perhaps unnaturally so, but that was fine. There was one section of slight crackle.

    Lip synchronisation seemed fine.

    The score includes music by Delmar Brown, theme music by Mark Hoffman and Dean Summers plus a number of rock songs including Body Talk performed by Sandy Farina and Nothing at All and It’s This Love performed by Mark Hoffman and Race. The score supports the film well.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Commentary by Director Lloyd Kaufman

     Kaufman’s commentaries are always good value. Here he delivers a non-stop, funny and tongue-in-cheek commentary. He talks about a lot of things including the genesis of the film, the cast, stunts and the head crushing scene, special effects, cigarettes in film, on set anecdotes, influences, one armed actors, product placement, merchandising, the hate mail they received for killing the dog and the Troma philosophy. Kaufman complains about the major studios not playing fair because they use good scripts and good actors, unlike Troma! He is also amused by the fact that The Toxic Avenger was so full of sex and violence it was only natural it became a children’s TV cartoon show. A great listen.

Commentary by Cast

     Actors Gary Schneider, Robert Prichard and Dan Snow (Bozo, Slug and Cigar Face) sit with a Troma Public Relations director who asks questions about the shoot. This is a sporadic commentary with silences and short answers but they do talk about their auditions, other cast members, locations, the style of the two directors, the legacy of the film and do add some amusing anecdotes about their experiences.

Behind the Scenes and in Production Slideshow

     85 movie and behind the scenes stills advance automatically with the Body Talk track from the film playing.

Interviews

     The Jennifer Babtist interview is recent (2014), the others older.

     Jennifer Babtist (18:40): A funny and delightful Jennifer Babtist (Wanda) answers questions from off camera and talks about the audition process for The Toxic Avenger, the sex scenes and nudity, working with Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz, meeting and marrying Robert Prichard, the feeling on set. For the last 5 minutes she is joined by her daughter who speaks about seeing her mother in The Toxic Avenger.

    Robert Prichard (2:38): The man who played Slug talks about the fun they all had on the set of the film.

    Mitch Cohen (8:42): The original Toxic Avenger speaks about his audition, the four hour make-up needed to play Toxie, the stunts, the sex scene and why he was unable to do Parts II and III of The Toxic Avenger, before taking us on a tour through his office, talking to his staff.

    Dan Snow (4:39): The actor who played Cigar Face tells how that name came about, working for Troma in 5 films and the set of The Toxic Avenger.

    Michael Herz (15:24): Lloyd Kaufman interviews a fake Michael Herz for a very tongue in cheek discussion about Troma and some of their films.

Mark Torgl’s Special Video (6:19)

     A rather typical Troma extended joke with the original Melvin from The Toxic Avenger (again a more recently made extra).

40 Years of Troma (2:03)

    A promotion for Troma.

Intro by Lloyd Kaufman (4:22)

     A Kaufmanesque introduction to the Troma Blu-ray releases, including The Toxic Avenger.

Troma Trailers

    Trailers for The Toxic Avenger (3:11), The Toxic Avenger Part II (2:20), The Toxic Avenger Part III (3:01), Citizen Toxie (3:28) and Return to Nuke ‘Em High Volume 1 (2:34).

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     There are numerous DVD editions of The Toxic Avenger worldwide including at least 3 in Australia and 2 Region 0 US editions. This Blu-ray release is identical to the US Region A/B/C version, complete with FBI piracy warning, although we do get a few extra trailers.

Summary

     The Toxic Avenger is synonymous with Troma, a film that spawned three sequels. It remains a cult classic and fans of Troma know exactly what to expect. If you are not familiar with the crazy world of Troma, with its bad taste, bad acting, silly scripts, nudity, over the top blood, gore and violence plus social commentary, The Toxic Avenger as the flagship of Troma is an excellent place to start to become acquainted.

     The Toxic Avenger has been released on DVD three times in Region 4 with various extras. Each version has been reviewed on this site: the Tribe Distribution “Director’s Cut” here, the Stomp Visual “21st Anniversary Edition” here and the Unrated Director’s Cut here. Fans of the film or of Troma will no doubt have a copy of the film but certainly the video of the Blu-ray is an improvement over the SD versions by some margin and the extras are a decent assortment of what has been available so I think an upgrade is warranted.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Monday, August 14, 2017
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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