||THE TOXIC AVENGER
Introduction/review for the Cutting Room, Episode 2
By Joseph Christiana
Ladies and gentleman, we’d like to welcome you to Tromaville. Founded in 1974 by Lloyd
Kaufman and Michael Herz, Tromaville is nestled somewhere in the wild suburbs of my home
state New Jersey. Half cartoon and half bloody nightmare, Tromaville is filled with exploding
heads, severed limbs, and mutants slathered in a gelatinous ooze. Power plants and corrupt
authority figures preside over teenage cliches. The language spoken is Cheeseball and if you
listen closely you’ll hear 80’s glam rock filling the air. The town’s oldest and most celebrated
fable is THE TOXIC AVENGER a film that has become a cult classic, making Tromaville an
important destination for any horror fan.
Co-Directed by Kaufman and Herz in 1985, the film tells the story of Melvin Junko, a nerd who’s
the janitor at a trendy Tromaville Health Spa.
There, Melvin is the object of ridicule for a band of testosterone fueled bullies who play a game
where points are earned by running over innocent Troma-ites.
One day Melvin snaps under the pressure and he flings himself through a window into a vat of
toxic waste on the street below.
He undergoes a horrific transformation that leaves him incredibly strong, disastrously ugly, and
inclined to stamp out evil.
Armed with only his mop, Toxie exacts revenge on the bullies and a host of others including the
corrupt Mayor of Tromaville.
There are deaths by head crushing, deep frying, disembowelment, and ice-cream sundae, to
name just a few. There’s a parade of real boobs. And our unlikely hero falls in love with a blind
woman and lives happily ever after with her in a toxic dump.
I first watched THE TOXIC AVENGER one intoxicating Saturday afternoon with my intoxicating
buddies when I was sixteen years old. And I remember being confounded. I knew it was a
terrible, ridiculous film. I knew that there was a good reason that I had never seen a film like it
before. And I knew that I had loads of fun watching it.
But I didn’t know why.
Returning to Tromaville all these years later, I think I can better put my finger on it. It has
something to do with the heart of the hero and by implication, the heart of the filmmakers. We’ll
get to all that in a minute. But I think a good place to start is to look the toxic elephant in the
room right in its toxic eye, and stick a fork in it:
Despite what you think of the film, guys… is it even a horror picture?