Joe Bob's Drive-In: The Toxic Avenger

By JOE BOB BRIGGS, Drive-In Movie Critic of Grapevine, Texas  |  Jan. 10, 2002 at 5:00 PM
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Lloyd Kaufman, the bug-eyed raunchy movie mogul who owns the greatest movie studio in New York's Hell's Kitchen -- and the only movie studio in Hell's Kitchen -- has spent the last 25 years making some of the most grotesque, insanely offensive, morbid comedies in the history of the world.

By far the most popular creation of them all is "The Toxic Avenger," a mild-mannered mop boy who falls into a vat of lime-green nuclear waste and emerges as the first hideously deformed superhero from New Jersey.

"Toxie," as he's called by punk bands and pop film critics everywhere, has become so famous since his introduction in 1984 that you can now buy Toxic Avenger action figures, games, Topps trading cards, and even designer jewelry -- all this in tribute to a head-crushing killer whose face looks like it's been bashed in with a bag of nickels, impaled with a turkey fork and barbecued on a George Foreman grill.

After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Lloyd's company, Troma Films, briefly considered whether to delay the world premiere of "Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger, Part IV." But then they decided: HELL NO. Toxie is a New York institution!

The result is something you're going to need an iron stomach to handle. It begins when a brutal gang of diaper-wearing gunmen (don't ask) take over the Tromaville School for the Very Special, which gives Lloyd an excuse to hire dozens of extras posing as abused retarded children. (Not hard to do in New York; he had to turn people away.) The Kaufman Method of Cinematic Art is basically to fill up the screen with hundreds of bodies in outlandish costumes, cut fast from one to the other, and make sure there are plenty of exploding heads.

And this time he outdoes himself in the gore department, pretty much directing closeups of every internal organ and certain types of sudden death that are simply too gross for description.

Toxie does end up coming to the rescue of the terrified children but not before the carnage includes such scenes as -- I'll use one of the milder ones -- a guy who grinds his finger up in a pencil sharpener, then uses it to poke another guy's eye out. The melee concludes with Toxie ripping the police chief's arms off, choking two reporters to death, wading through a crowd while ripping off limbs and tongues, then throwing a girl against a brick wall.

But it's not Toxie! At some point we've entered a parallel universe in which Toxie is actually Noxie, the "Noxious Offender," while the REAL Toxie is wandering around the dump where his shack used to be, searching for his soon-to-be-pregnant blonde bombshell wife, who is conveniently blind.

Sure we've seen it before. But have we seen it with porn star Ron Jeremy as the mayor who gets rammed through the throat with a crucifix? I think not.

In other words, absolutely no plot to get in the way of the story, AS USUAL with Lloyd.

Eighty-two dead bodies. Sixty-six breasts. Nazi-clubbing. Dancing morons. Armless legless extras. Head-bashing. Breast-beating. (It's not what you think. Or then again, maybe it is.) Intestine-ripping. Eyeball-poking. Double-arm-removal. Tongue-extraction. Burning arm. Diaper-wiping. Syringe-hurling. Impalements. Multiple grotesque aardvarking. One body-parts blender. Six exploding heads. Exploding buildings. Radiator face-burning. One hanging. Stangulation. Face-punching. Head-butting. Disembowelment.

Two motor vehicle chases, with elderly pedestrian head-crushing. One crash and burn. Excellent "Citizen Kane" ripoff newsreel. ("Nose blood!")

Gratuitous Al Goldstein (for the uninitiated, he's the publisher of Screw magazine). Gratuitous heroin injections. Gratuitous Julie Strain (perhaps the only Penthouse Pet in the world who would consent to have her face ripped off on camera). Gratuitous abortion protesters with "Choose Life or We'll Kill You" signs. Arms roll. Legs roll. Heads roll. Intestines roll. Kung Fu. Kabuki Fu. Mop Fu.

Drive-In Academy Award nominations for Debbie Rochon, as the pregnant special-ed teacher who gets trussed up and held hostage on "Take a Mexican to Lunch Day"; Joe Fleishaker, as the 350-pound sidekick "Lardass," who fights villains with a loaf of hard French bread and his "Action Sausage" nunchucks and his aerosol "Liquid Lard"; James Gunn as Doctor Flem Hocking, a midget physicist in a wheelchair whose motto is "I die, but my insane theories live on!"; Lisa Terezakis, as the teen hooker with a mind of jelly; Michael Budinger, as the kind crackhead from another dimension who becomes "The Retarded Avenger"; Paul Kyrmse, as the alcoholic Japanese superhero Sgt. Kabukiman, NYPD;

Barry Brisco, as the guy who gets dragged behind a redneck pickup truck and loses his entire body except for his head, but finishes the movie; Ron Jeremy, who is never satisfied with being in cheap porn movies but continues to promote his career with his clothes on; Heidi Sjursen, as the dimwit blonde blind wife of Toxie with two enormous talents; Lloyd Kaufman, for writing, directing, producing and running down the street in a diaper in the final scene; "Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf," as God; and David Mattey, for donning the Toxic Avenger goo makeup and saving the day with a pair of ill-fitting ruby red slippers.

Three stars. Joe Bob says check it out.

"Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger, Part IV" website:

(To reach Joe Bob, go to or email him at Snail-mail: P.O. Box 2002, Dallas, TX 75221.)

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