Directed by: Lloyd Kaufman
Written by: Trent Haaga, Patrick Cassidy, Gabriel Friedman & Lloyd Kaufman
Starring: David Mattey, Heidi Sjursen, Paul Kyrmse, Joe Fleishaker, Michael Budinger, Lisa Terezakis, Mark Torgl, Ron Jeremy & Corey Feldman
Reviewed by: Brett H.
ďIím just a common street whore who happens to know the key to inter-dimensional travel.Ē
It took Troma over a decade to revive their flagship series, 1984ís The Toxic Avenger after two severely lacklustre sequels back in 1989. By then, Toxie had stood the test of time among fans and they were absolutely begging to see the lumpy headed superhero back in action, protecting the fine citizens of Tromaville, New Jersey from crooked cops and, why not, Satan himself. The times had changed, but many of the sociological issues explored in the original Toxic Trilogy remained the same, perhaps gotten worse. I have enjoyed the first Toxie since my initial viewing of an R-rated Canadian VHS, which I am told contains footage thatís not present in any other version on the planet, and itís common knowledge these days that Parts II & III were semi-disastrous. Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger Part IV, as monumental to the Troma library as Kane to Warners, is definitely nothing like the minor failures that had come before it. This Toxie for the new millennium! 2000 times as crazy, 2000 times as kookyÖ and 2000 times the good vs. evil Toxie/Noxie-fetus womb battles!
The tale that put Troma back on the map (for a second, the Tales from the Crapper debacle would knock them right back off) begins with a recap of the entire Toxic Avenger series. We see the backstory of Melvin being knocked teased and chased out of a window, plummeting into the green tubs of toxic goop that would transform this 98-pound weakling into a legend, and the narrator rightfully apologizes for the humdrum sequels that followed. And now this fourth entry begins with the renegade Diaper Mafia barging in on Tromaís school for special students and holding the place hostage because of their beliefs that handicapped people shouldnít be in school; itís a waste of tax dollars! They request a nudie news crew to get their cause out to the public and blast a handicapped student every five minutes until the bikini babe arrives with her morbidly obese cameraman. The lead mafia henchman is about to abort the baby of a kind schoolteacher when, oh my gosh! That bikini bimbo isnít just there to break news - sheís there to break heads! The babe transforms into Tromavilleís hero of all heroes, The Toxic Avenger (David Mattey) and his the cameraman is revealed to be his trusty sidekick, Lardass (Joe Fleishaker)!
A couple dozen kills later, the leader of the gang sets off a bomb that will explode in five seconds after his heart stops. Toxie mistakenly disembowels him (and tries to patch things up by re-inserting his guts!) and the timer begins. In those long 5 seconds, Toxie goes to his dump shack and makes sweet love to his blind wife, Sarah (Heidi Sjursen) before making it back in time to save a couple kids after Lardass heroically gives his life and swallows the live bomb. Of course, he passes gas, which is ignited by flame and the whole place goes up, leaving only Noxie (David Mattey) to walk out of the school. Wait-a-minuteÖ Noxie?! It seems that two simultaneous, magnificent blasts switched the kind and lovable Toxic Avenger with the evil and crack selliní Noxious Offender by creating a warp, swapping monsters and people from alternate dimensions! Will Toxie ever make it back to Tromaville from the evil slums of Amortville, or will the working class people of Tromaville have only the mighty chopsticks of the one and only, heavily inebriated, Sgt. Kabukiman to protect them from the fascism of Noxie and his cronies?
Citizen Toxie is an avalanche of satire, social commentary, urine & feces, memorable cameos and blood-drenching excess; itís everything that makes a Troma film great! Having thoroughly enjoyed this, my second viewing of Citizen Toxie, it became apparent to me why even those unwilling to look past the insanity that is Troma sometimes donít enjoy their films to the fullest. When in Tromaville, it helps a lot to know as many citizens as you can. When I first experienced the film, Iíd only seen three other Troma films, the first three Toxies, and I missed a lot of the gags and took no notice of the familiarity that Troma films so lovingly offer to their devoted viewers. The first Toxie sequels were tedious, poorly paced and way too derivative of the original film to get much enjoyment out of, but Citizen Toxie takes everything to the extreme next level, cranks it up past 11 and is unrelenting until the shockingly clever climax.
There are some drawbacks, for one the sense of humor used by Troma since the original Toxic Avenger has changed and become more offensive. Normally I am able to look past this, but when our hero is hiding behind special students when Trent Haaga fires shots all around the classroom, it takes away from what Toxie is supposed to stand for. Itís obvious that itís just a gag, but as shown in the original Avenger, those gags shouldnít have to come at Toxieís expense. There is ample grown men in diapers defecating themselves and green bromo seltzer froth to prevent the character of Toxie from having to do stoop to a lesser level. Other than the odd slip up, itís pretty much frantic hilarity, bosoms, over the top kills and entertaining plot advancement that subtly deals with the important sociological issues of our time. Abortion, media hypocrisy, racism, and school shootings are all tackled in the 108-minute running time. Of interest at the time was Tromaís decision to not take the World Trade Center out of the movie (it was screened just after the attacks and the towers got a thunderous applause), unlike Raimiís superhero flick and other television shows and films. I canít help but agree with their decision. Itís nice that someone out there wants us to remember the soul of the structure as it stood tall rather recalling the hellish debris and the memories of actually seeing the planes hit the buildings on television over and over again.
The most interesting aspect of the film is, of course, the yin to the yang; evil Noxie vs. good Toxie. The alternate worlds are very enjoyable, and the movie culminates in a colourful (and by that, I mean blood red) battle that also includes the unborn baby of Toxie and the unborn baby of Noxie (whom had raped Toxieís wife!) going at it in the womb; surely the only instance of this epic idea ever caught on film. The characters (and lesbians) are great, especially Tito the handicapped, heroin-hording hellraiser and all of the cameos are hella entertaining. Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf as God? Amazing, and not just in premise. Hankís thick accented delivery of quality lines will have you in stitches. Sgt. Kabukiman shit-faced is truly a sight to behold, especially when heís in desperate search of a pisser. More cameos by Troma staples, James Gunn, Debbie Rochon, Lemmy, the always willing to drop her top Julie Strain sweeten the deal while the kills are as outlandish as youíd expect. A man is dropped head first onto the ground and his head is violently forced up through his ass, numerous guttings, gunshots and head smushings surely including cantaloupes as main ingredients all paint your screen crimson constantly. The original actor (Mark Torgl) who played Melvin (the human name of Toxie) is even back, after (stupidly) being replaced over $50 in the last sequel.
At the beginning of most Troma DVDs, thereís an entertaining Lloyd Kaufman intro and he proclaims Citizen Toxie in his usual slapstick demeanour as one of the finest DVDs ever. The thing is, heís not lying at all when it comes to the two disc unrated edition. Iíve combed my collection for one that beats it, and Iím not sure one exists. The audio and original fullframe video is even pretty damn good for a Troma production, but obviously still falls short of what DVD can do. The special features includes three audio commentaries that spread ample talent throughout so all are worth a watch, deleted scenes with optional commentary, trailers, behind the scenes footage, outtakes, a handful of Easter eggs, effects footage, screening footage, script meeting footage. Now, thatís an overloaded special edition in itself. And, thereís moreÖ
The mammoth, 137-minute documentary, Apocalypse Soon: The Making of Citizen Toxie, is hands-down, the greatest DVD supplement I have ever witnessed. It takes you behind the direction, behind the fights, behind the nudity and behind almost anything, no, everything else in regards to the production of the movie and we see it all from the eyes of behind the scenes cameras. I loved it so much that itíd be an entire review in itself to go through it. And, you gotta be kidding, there are deleted scenes from the documentary present on the disc as well! I wouldnít dream of adding up all the entertainment on this package, but from simple math skills and some estimates, youíre looking at about 12 hours of quality entertainment packed into these two discs. Citizen Toxie is on its way to becoming a cult classic just barely outdone by the original, and the DVD is undoubtedly the greatest release of its kind. In terms of DVD value, itís absolutely essential, but the movie is what we judge here at Oh, the Horror!, and it gets a heartfelt Buy it!
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