DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com Awards & Recommendations at Amazon.com.
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Michael Herz, Lloyd Kaufman
Andree Maranda, Mitch Cohen, Jennifer Babtist
Writing Credits:
Joe Ritter

The Toxic Avenger is born when meek mop boy Melvin falls into a vat of toxic waste. Now evildoers will have a lot to lose.

Rated NR.


Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 82 min.
Price: $99.99
Release Date: 10/24/23
Available Only as Part of 4-Movie “Toxic Avenger Collection”

• 2023 Introduction from Co-Director/Producer Lloyd Kaufman
• 2014 Introduction from Co-Director/Producer Lloyd Kaufman and Co-Director “Michael Herz”
• Audio Commentary with Co-Director/Producer Lloyd Kaufman
• Audio Commentary with Actors Gary Schneider, Robert Prichard and Dan Snow
• Interviews with Cast and Crew
• “Mark Torgl’s Special Video” Featurette
• “40 Years of Troma” Featurette
• Slideshow
• Trailers
• Blu-ray Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Dolby Vision Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


The Toxic Avenger [4K UHD] (1984)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 1, 2023)

A campy mix of horror, action and comedy, 1084’s The Toxic Avenger found little exhibition in theaters, but it did well on video, and that was enough to turn it into a cult classic. With a reboot that stars Peter Dinklage on the horizon, this becomes a good time to revisit the original film.

Wimpy Melvin Ferd (Mark Torgl) works as a janitor at a health club. There he absorbs the abuse of the location’s bullying and psychopathic bodybuilders.

When a gag goes awry, Melvin winds up in a tub of radioactive waste, and this turns him into a powerful creature eventually called the “Toxic Avenger” (Mitch Cohen). Melvin/Toxie works to right wrongs around town, a quest that earns him powerful enemies.

If nothing else, I’ll give Avenger credit for its apparent influence on 1987’s Robocop. Both share more than a few similarities, so the connection seems hard to view as coincidence.

I’ll also give Avenger credit for its warped ambition. The movie meshes different domains in a wild manner that makes it fresh for its era.

Thus ends the positive aspect of this review. While I can fin potential charms in a weird mix of genres like Avenger, the end result fizzles.

Much of the problem stems from the general cinematic incompetence on display here. From the acting to the directing to the editing to the photography, everything seems amateurish at best.

Of course, “rough around the edges” movies can offer fun. I don’t reject Avenger as entertainment due to its clumsiness.

No – I reject Avenger because it delivers a muddled mess. Like Robocop, the film comes with some immensely depraved characters and situations, but unlike the superior Paul Verhoeven offering, this one plays everything for cheap, crude laughs.

This disconnect turns into a major issue. For instance, we find a scene in which the aforementioned health club maniacs play a violent “game” in which a driver earns “points” dependent on whom he flattens with a car.

We see a manic “Bozo” (Gary Schneider) graphically slaughter a young boy on a bike – all while a peppy rock song plays. The scene then delivers an ironic joke as a tag.

Perhaps the filmmakers intended this as parody, and clearly a lot of Avenger acts as satire. However, the movie ladles out these domains in such a scattershot and bizarre manner that it becomes tough to swallow.

I guess fans delight in these juxtapositions, but I don’t think they work. In Robocop, Verhoeven made the glib “humor” in some scenes uncomfortable, as it highlighted the sadism of the villains.

That doesn’t become the case with Avenger, as it simply goes for laughs the entire time. The movie casts a broad “comedic” net and plays everything as a joke.

This fails to work. The film’s violence seems so intensely nasty that I find it impossible to leap from the depraved brutality to the wacky gags.

Avenger clearly aspires to a level of cleverness it can’t achieve. It wants to indulge in campy satire and exploitation while it floats above those domains.

It flops. The film is just too stupid and witless to attain these goals.

As noted, Avenger comes with potential, and maybe the sequels will fix some of this movie's many flaws. As seen here, though, the first Avenger delivers a witless, mean-spirited genre effort that constantly panders to the lowest common denominator.

The Disc Grades: Picture C-/ Audio C/ Bonus B

The Toxic Avenger appears in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. I don’t know how much restoration the film got for its 4K debut, but it came with more than a few problems.

Overall sharpness worked fine, at least. Some soft shots materialized, but these appeared related to the source, and the majority of the film brought pretty good delineation.

No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred. I also saw no edge haloes, and the film came with an ample layer of grain.

Colors varied and occasionally felt a bit mushy. However, the hues usually demonstrated reasonable pep, and HDR added a little oomph to the tones.

Blacks seemed fairly deep, while shadows offered reasonable delineation, even if low-light shots leaned murky at times. HDR brought emphasis to whites and contrast.

The image hit most of its issues due to print flaws, as the movie came with a lot of specks, nicks, tears and marks. These varied in intensity but nonetheless cropped up on a pretty frequent basis.

And that became the primary problem here, as I got the impression little to no clean-up work occurred for the presentation. This remained a watchable image but all these source concerns left it below expectations.

Indeed, narrowly earned a “C-“, as all that damage almost pushed me to a “D+”. Enough of the image looked good enough to stay in “C-” territory, but the image deserved more attention.

On the other hand, the movie’s DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack offered exactly what one might anticipate from a low-budget 1984 production. This meant a listenable but less than stellar affair.

Speech showed some edginess at times, but the lines remained intelligible and reasonable natural. Music lacked much range and tended to seem on the thin side.

The same went for effects, as they appeared somewhat rough and without real impact. Again, this turned into the sort of mix I expected for a cheaply-made movie from 1984.

This package brings extras new and old, and on the 4K disc, we get a fresh Introduction from Co-Director/Producer Lloyd Kaufman. In this one-minute, 35-second clip, he promotes the wonders of the film. It seems painless, if not especially useful.

We find two audio commentaries, the first of which comes from Lloyd Kaufman. He offers a running, screen-specific look at roots and development, story and characters, cast and performances, stunts and action, various effects, influences and inspirations, music, cuts made to get an "R" rating, and related domains.

At some point over his long career, Kaufman became more of a showman than a filmmaker, and this caused me concern that his commentary would become a fluffy mix of comedy and self-promotion. Some of that does occur as he touts the Troma universe - and gives himself too much credit such as incorrect claims his 1979 flick Squeeze Play inspired 1978's Animal House. (Unless National Lampoon owned a time machine, it didn’t.)

However, Kaufman balances these tendencies and creates a pretty good commentary. He covers an array of movie-related domains to ensure we learn enough about the production to overcome the self-praise.

For the second commentary, we hear from actors Gary Schneider, Robert Prichard and Dan Snow. Moderated by Troma Home Entertainment Director of Public Relations Joe Narote (potential misspelling by me), all sit together for a running, screen-specific discussion of their casting, their performances, and memories of the shoot.

Even with three actors and a moderator, this becomes an exceedingly spotty commentary. Useful nuggets appear infrequently and get harder to find as the track progresses.

This means the most interesting tidbits show up in the movie’s first act – and even those rarely feel especially compelling. With lots of dead air and little insight, this commentary disappoints.

The package includes a Blu-ray Copy as well, and it opens with a circa 2014 Introduction from Kaufman and Co-Director Michael Herz - well, sort of. Because the real Herz eschews public appearances, heavyset actor Joe Fleishaker plays him here. It offers a glib but painless clip.

The BD repeats the same commentaries but it provides a bunch of other components, and we find a mix of Interviews. This domain brings chats with Prichard (2:37), Snow (4:38), Herz (15:23), and actors Jennifer Babtist (18:39) and Mitch Cohen (8:41).

Prichard and Babtist’s daughter Sky appears during Babtist’s segment as well. Kaufman pops up to semi-interview Herz during that piece.

Across these, the participants cover casting, characters and performances as well as the nature of the Kaufman/Herz co-directing team, effects, and other aspects of various careers.

Unsurprisingly, the longer clips fare best. The Prichard and Snow segments don’t tell us much, though since both appear in a commentary, the brevity of their chats becomes less bothersome.

Babtist gives us good notes about the “sexy girl” roles she played, and Cohen tells us useful tidbits about the physical challenges of his part. Herz also relates some production issues – and this appears to be the real Herz, I guess, but who knows?

As noted, Herz appears to avoid publicity so I don’t discount the strong possibility “Herz” offers another phony, especially because the Herz on display is really chatty and funny, which you wouldn’t expect from a guy who hates to appear on camera. (Fleishaker reappears at the end to add to the gag.)

Whoever he is, like Kaufman, Herz misstates the influence of Troma, though. He claims Swamp Thing ripped off Toxic Avenger, which is way off since the Marvel character predated the Troma flick by more than a decade – and the initial movie adaptation hit screens two years before they shot Avenger, so one can more easily call Troma the ones that stole from other properties.

Mark Torgl’s Special Video spans six minutes, 18 seconds and shows the actor as he offers a tongue in cheek chat about the film. He shows us what are supposedly original props from the movie and gives us some thoughts.

Whether or not these are legit movie artifacts remains up for grabs, and Torgl’s chat goes “wacky” enough to make it less than useful. However, he brings out a pair of hotties as his “assistants”, so I can’t complain too much.

Next comes 40 Years of Troma, a two-minute, three-second reel that shows a montage of clips from Troma flicks overlaid with some text that praises the studio. It feels like a waste of time.

In addition to trailers for Avenger, its three sequels and Return to Nuke ‘Em High, we finish with a Slideshow. This running montage displays 85 images that mix elements from the shoot and movie shots. We get a decent compilation.

Note that this set offers a new Blu-ray and does not appear to simply replicate the prior release from 2014. As far as I can tell, Troma does not sell an individual release of this BD.

As a mix of genres, The Toxic Avenger became a home video cult classic. I admit I fail to see why, as the movie delivers a cheap, ugly and unpleasant experience. The 4K brings iffy picture and audio along with a range of bonus materials. This becomes an erratic release for a disappointing movie.

Note that as of October 2023, this 4K version of Toxic Avenher can be found only as part of a four-film 4K “Toxic Avenger Collection”. This also includes The Toxic Avenger Part II, The Toxic Avenger Part III and Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger Part IV.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.8333 Stars Number of Votes: 6
0 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Main