DIRECTED BY: Michael Herz, Lloyd Kaufman
FEATURING: John Altamura, Phoebe Legere, Rick Collins, Ron Fazio
PLOT: Evil corporation Apocalypse, Inc., wanting to turn Tromaville into a toxic waste
dump, lures the mutant superhero Toxie away to Japan to search for his father.
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: Films churned out by Troma Studios are low-budget affairs heavy on sex, violence and absurd comedy; they are weird compared to typical Hollywood fare, but they’re all similar compared to each other. With the above-average effort Tromeo and Juliet representing the studio on the List of 366, it’s unlikely that any other Troma films will make it.
COMMENTS: I am a contrarian. I believe that The Toxic Avenger, Part II is actually a slightly better film than the original The Toxic Avenger. The reason is the shift in tone from malicious teen revenge fantasy/comedy to pure comic spoof. This sequel purges much of the mean-spiritedness from the original–such as the scenes where the audience is expected to identify with the Avenger as he stalks and kills half-naked girls from the upper crust of teen society–while still retaining it’s politically incorrect edge. The original over-impressed viewers in 1984 due to its novelty and outrageousness, but viewed retrospectively, this sequel is just as bizarre and humorous (which is to say, very bizarre and mildly humorous). The centerpiece fight scene comes early on, with Toxie dispatching and dismembering a seemingly endless variety of bizarrely costumed goons–a dog boy, a transvestite, a midget, and a number of rejected Village People characters–to the tune of “It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got that Swing.” The scene is more extended and over-the-top than the restaurant holdup sequence in the original Avenger, and should satisfy fans of absurdist violence. Once Toxie reaches Tokyo, he meets even more strange characters, including briefcase carrying, mohawk-wearing Japanese businessmen, and fights ninja duels with ridiculous props, including “throwing starfish” and a swordfish-like creature with a functioning chainsaw in place of the horn. The jokes are aggressively lowbrow, but every now and then the Troma writers throw in something clever to remind you they’re not as stupid as some of the shamelessly lame slapstick gags might suggest–there’s a sly insertion of a David Mamet “quote” that’s laugh-out-loud funny.
The producers shot more footage for this sequel than they could use, so the assembled cast quickly finished off a second sequel, The Toxic Avenger Part III: The Last Temptation of Toxie and released it the same year.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:
“What happens when you take a movie that’s good stupid fun and take out the good fun? Usually, you get a sequel… Other Troma Inc., films, including the original ‘Avenger’ and ‘Class of Nuke ‘Em High,’ worked partly because there was a silly, surreal energy coursing through them. This sequel seems less inspired than calculated.”–Richard Harrington, The Washington Post (Toxic Avenger 2, contemporaneous)