In the history of fiercely independent and very cheap American filmmaking, several franchises have attained longevity or cult status. One of them is The Toxic Avenger from Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz, a story of a superhero from New Jersey who is far from the stereotypical depiction of modern superhero characters today. Recently, news circulated that the reboot project, which had been initiated since 2010, has succeeded in recruiting several well-known names, including Peter Dinklage and Jacob Tremblay. Therefore, it feels like the right moment to bring up the original film again.
Tromaville, New Jersey, the world’s toxic waste disposal capital and the location for any subsequent Troma production, is also home to Melvin Junko (Mark Torgl), although he is sometimes called Melvin Ferd for several reasons. Whatever his last name, Melvin is a kind, gentle-hearted boy, not very smart at the local health club.
Some of the regulars at the club consist of a group of naughty teenagers – Bozo (Gary Schneider), Slug (Robert Prichard), Julie (Cindy Manion), and Wanda (Jennifer Babtist). They often mess around and beat people. To get revenge on Melvin who accidentally splashed water on them, they took a countermeasure which resulted in Melvin being plunged into a tub of toxic waste.
Because of that accident, Melvin actually turned into a mighty creepy creature. With his current situation, Melvin later becomes a hero to protect the city and battles all forms of crime there, as The Toxic Avenger.
Originally conceived by Kaufman in the mid-1970s as something called Health Club Horror, The Toxic Avenger, was filmed around New Jersey with an anonymous cast and crew for around $ 500,000 and completed in 1984. The new title, in fact, is probably more of a which was determined later, because apart from the closing narrative, the name Toxic Avenger (let alone “Toxie”) never appears in the film.
Wrapped with sadistic scenes and gore typical of 1980s action films, this comic book adaptation is actually a film about Adiwira, even though the approach leads to a typical horror film. With the theme of good against evil.
Unfortunately, with this approach, when it was first released in 1984, this R-rated film did not succeed in attracting the sympathy of many viewers. It wasn’t until one year after its release, and after a long screening at the Bleecker Street Theater in New York as a midnight film, that the film’s die-hard fan class started to emerge and grew. It was recently discovered that the version shown in theaters and in other mediums was the result of massive censorship, while the original version of the editor’s cut could only be seen on the official DVD version released around the 2000s.
In proper comic book style, the original film ended with a few sequels, and in 1989 Kaufman and Herz finally got it. The problem was that at the end of the shoot Kaufman realized he had too much material for a 90-minute film.
As a result, in a step twenty years from now that many filmmakers are now taking, he chose to edit all the material together, cut it in half, and release it as two films: The Toxic Avenger, Part II and The Toxic Avenger Part III: The Last Temptation of Toxie. Released in 2000, Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger Part IV, which escalates almost the entire formula of the original film, closes a series of feature films about the original saga The Toxic Avenger.
Meanwhile, in other mediums, The Toxic Avenger had spawned an animated film series entitled Toxic Crusaders, which was then re-edited into a direct to video animated film entitled Toxic Crusaders: The Movie. Not only that, even a Broadway drama version has also been produced. The latest development is that this film franchise will be rebooted by Legendary Pictures, which is now the owner of the film’s copyright.