25th Jul2014

‘The Toxic Avenger’ Blu-ray Review (88 Films)

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Mark Torgl, Mitch Cohen, Andree Maranda, Cindy Manion, Gary Schneider, Robert Prichard, Pat Ryan, Dick Martinsen, Patrick Kilpatrick | Written by Lloyd Kaufman, Joe Ritter | Directed by Michael Herz, Lloyd Kaufman (as Samuel Weil)

Toxic-Avenger-Blu

For those who haven’t seen The Toxic Avenger, first of all why not? (stop reading this review and go pre-order the Blu-ray now), it is essentially the film that made Troma. Having picked up numerous films for distribution and being predominantly known for sex comedies such as Squeeze Play, Michael Herz and Lloyd Kaufman decided to lense their own horror film and thus The Toxic Avenger was born; in turn Troma became known for campy, over the top, “horror” movies and the rest, they say, is history.

The film tells the story of Melvin Junko, a health club janitor who is the butt of a cruel joke that goes horribly wrong after he is tricked by a gang a sadistic bullies and thrown through a third story window into a vat of hazardous toxic waste. However, instead of dying – as one might expect – an unexpected metamorphosis takes place. As the chemicals take hold of his body, Melvin turns into the Toxic Avenger, doer of good, brutal mauler of evil and protector of Tromaville!

I’ve said this about plenty of 88 Films DVD and Blu-ray releases already but yes, The Toxic Avenger is yet another of those films that I grew up watching (and re-watching) on VHS; and I distinctly remember the rental big box release of the film with the cool plastic 3D cover. Never mind that the film was cut – back then I didn’t really care/have any idea about censorship – that 3D cover called out to me from a see of bog-standard rental tapes on the walls of my local video shop. And over the years my love for the film has not dwindled one iota.

As a long-time fan of the film I honestly would have never thought The Toxic Avenger would ever see the light of day on hi-def Blu-ray (that’s why I’ve bought multiple iterations on DVD already) – let alone from a UK company. It’s as if the Tromaville gods have aligned as 88 Films debut a superb new HD master of the classic Troma “superhero” movie in a print that makes the film look like it was shot yesterday – that is of course if yesterday we were all wearing the most ridiculous 80s fashions and didn’t give a shit about political correctness!

Even if some of the effects don’t hold up in HD – for example there’s a scene in the restaurant fight where you can clearly see the join between the latex prosthetic on Toxie’s hand and the actors actual hand – the gore still looks as nasty as ever (actually moreso given the extra footage). In fact the clarity of the print makes some deaths even more grisly! Speaking of which, fans of The Toxic Avenger will be delighted to hear that this new release is the fullest the film has ever been seen in the UK outside of importing DVDs from the US or Japan – bicycle-kid head crushing photo-op, and all…

But an uncut print is not the only reason to pick up this new Blu-ray. Oh no. You see 88 Films have packed the disc with a heap of extras – starting with the Japanese cut (available in SD only), which extends some scenes and adds a little extra character development. But the extra film is only the beginning.

Also included on The Toxic Avenger Blu-ray is the original introduction to the Japanese Cut, complete with incorrectly translated English subtitles; the 15th and 30th Anniversary introductions to the film by Lloyd Kaufman; the intro to the Toxic Crusaders cartoon (88 Films really should include episodes as bonuses on their planned sequel releases); an hilarious mockumentary called “Toxie: 15 Years Later”; a much sought-after episode of Tromaville Café: The Death of Toxie; Troma Studio Building Tour; Mopboy Secrets with commentary by Mark Torgl; and some of Troma’s usual bizarre extras such as The Radiation March; Why is Lloyd Kaufman living in a refrigerator box?; Public Service Announcement; Aroma Du Troma; Toxic Slide Show; and of course the original theatrical trailer.

Packed with everything a Toxie fan could want, The Toxic Avenger is released on Blu-ray on August 18th, courtesy of 88 Films. It will also be available in a Slipcase edition (exclusive to HMV) and Blu-ray Steelbook via Zavvi.

***** 5/5

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