The Toxic Avenger Collection 4K Review (TROMA)
The Toxic Avenger is a dark comedy low budget superhero franchise. It was created by Troma’s co-founder Lloyd Kaufman (Tromeo & Juliet, The Toxic Avenger franchise, Nuke Em High franchise, Poultrygeist, Terror Firmer, and Sgt. Kaubukiman NYPD). It has spawned 4 original films, a brand new mainstream reboot, various video games, a comic book run with Marvel, a musical, and a children’s animated television series known as the Toxic Crusaders. It was produced by Troma’s co-founder Michael Herz (The Toxic Avenger franchise, Nuke Em High franchise, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Zombie Island Massacre, Blood Hook, Combat Shock, Girl School Screamers, and Def by Temptation). It’s the franchise that helped to push the independent studio Troma Entertainment into one of the most respected and loved underdogs of underground cinema. The original was made in 1984, the next two (Part II and Part III: The Last Temptation of Toxie) was made in 1989 while being shot back to back, the Toxic Crusaders series was made in 1991, Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV was resurrected in 2000, the musical, and now the upcoming reboot The Toxic Avenger will be released in 2024. The Toxic Avenger universe is one of the most unique entries in the popular superhero sub-genre and it keeps up to that reputation with every release. The original features were directed by both Lloyd Kaufman (Troma’s War, Shakespeare’s Sh*tstorm, Squeeze Play, Waitress!, and Stuck on You!) and Michael Herz (Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD, Troma’s War, Squeeze Play, Waitress!, and Stuck on You!) from Troma. Unfortunately, the original lower budget productions didn’t perform great during it’s limited theatrical runs but they were very successful on home video!!!!Melvin Ferd Junko III (played by: Mark Torgl from The First Turn-On!, Citizen Toxie: Toxic Avenger IV, Return to Nuke Em High, and Hollywood Werewolf) is a 98-pound weakling who works as a janitor at a health club in Tromaville, New Jersey. Some of the customers which includes Bozo (played by: Gary Schneider from Class of Nuke Em High, Beach Balls, and Troma’s Edge TV), Slug (played by: Robert Prichard), Wanda (played by: Jennifer Babtist from Class of Nuke Em High, Head Games, and Goodbye New York) and Julie (played by: Cindy Manion from Blow Out, Preppies, and Troma’s Edge TV) continue to harass and bully him. One day, they trick Melvin into wearing a pink tutu. He is chased around the health club and out the second-story window, where he falls into a drum of toxic waste, which sets him on fire. After running down the street, Melvin douses the flames in his bathtub, but the chemicals transform him into a hideously deformed mutant with superhuman size and strength. He must deal with his bullies plus drug Kingpin Cigar Face (played by: Dan Snow from The Toxic Avenger franchise, Return to Nuke Em High, Troma’s War, and Tenement) and his ruthless dealers. Will Toxie (played by: Mitch Cohen from The Toxic Avenger franchise, Clerks, and Chiller Cinema) outcome all these changes to save Tromaville from all these brutal thugs?Toxie (played by: Ron Fazio from The Toxic Avenger franchise, Basket Case 2, Shell Shocked, and Clover) has made Tromaville a safe place again after defeating his local rivals. His blind girlfriend Claire (played by: Phoebe Legere from The Toxic Avenger franchise, King of New York, and Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD) gets him a job at the Tromaville Center for the Blind. Apocalypse Inc., a New York-based chemical company, finds Tromaville to be the perfect home for its new takeover site. The chairman (played by: Rick Collins from The Toxic Avenger franchise, Nuke Em High franchise, Troma’s War, Snake Eater, and The Sopranos) orders his number one Mona Malfaire (played by: Lisa Gaye from Class of Nuke Em High franchise, Toxic Avenger franchise, Terror Firmer, Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD, and Shakespeare’s Sh*tstorm) to call a meeting with the board of directors and fire the entire personnel department. Apocalypse Inc. discover Toxie’s father had left him and his mother when he was a baby. Using one of their “bad girls” as Toxie’s psychologist, they convince Toxie (played by: John Altamura from The Toxic Avenger franchise, Bikini Bistro, Heaven Becomes Hell, The Naked Detective, and Wildest Dreams) to go to Japan to look for his father (played by: Rikiya Yasuoka from Black Rain, Violent Fire, Family 1/2, Izo, Violent Streets, Roaring Fire, and The Executioner 1/2) so they can corrupt Tromaville with his absence. The Toxic Avenger deals with his own personal demons overseas while his home town is being destroyed. He returns to a living nightmare. Can he fix everything before it’s too late?Things have become peaceful again in Tromaville, putting Melvin Junko the Toxic Avenger into depression, as he can no longer fight crime and fails at normal jobs such as auto mechanic and babysitter. Claire, his blind girlfriend, may be able to see again thanks to a new groundbreaking surgery, but it will cost $347,000. Toxie takes a job as a spokesman for Apocalypse Inc., the same company that he defeated before to cover Claire’s surgery. The Toxic Avenger lets his guard down and he starts worry about a normal life. Apocalypse Inc. takes advantage of the fallen hero and starts corrupting Tromaville again with their evil power. Toxie is forced to make a comeback to save Tromaville once again. The chairman reveals his true identity and he’s much stronger than he let on from before. Can Toxie get back to his old ways before he loses everything that he cares about?At the Tromaville School for special needs which includes Tito (played by: Michael Budinger from S.E.T.I) and Sweetie Honey (played by: Lisa Terezakis from Duane Incarnate), a bloody thirsty gang known as the Diaper Mafia lead by Tex (played by: Trent Haaga from Killjoy franchise, Tales of Halloween, Starry Eyes, Mulva, and Terror Firmer) hold them all hostage with explosives until The Toxic Avenger (played by: David Mattey from The Book of Boba Fett, Shameless, Better Call Saul, Hancock, Supernatural, and American Horror Story) shows up with his sidekick Lardass (played by: Joe Fleishaker from Tromeo & Juliet, Terror Firmer, Poultrygeist, Nuke Em High franchise, The Toxic Avenger franchise, Troma’s War, and Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD). The whole situation turns into a gruesome mess before it’s done. Toxie runs home quickly to impregnate his wife Sarah (played by: Heidi Sjursen from PDA Massacre and Skin Crawl) after handling everything. The explosion causes Toxie to be thrown into a multiverse that’s completely opposite of his current surroundings. He must face an evil version of himself Noxie to save Tromaville. There’s a group of z-list superheroes which includes a washed up Sgt. Kabukiman (played by: Paul Kyrmse from Terror Firmer and Troma’s Edge TV) trying to help out. The Toxic Avenger faces his biggest challenge which happens to himself. Who will win this battle for Tromaville? Good or Evil????First off, I want to say that this is one of the best home video releases of 2023! I love Troma but the original Blu rays had questionable quality, some of them were slightly cut, and they just felt a little rushed to be honest. This Toxic Avenger Collection 4K set has made up for all of those past mistakes. This is one of the biggest improvements when it comes to home video and that’s with the help of one of high quality labels Vinegar Syndrome handling all these transfers. The original Toxic Avenger is one of the best independent features ever made. It’s a unique and completely different look into the superhero sub-genre. It has a perfect mix of superhero, comedy, action, horror, and with a touch of drama to complete this low budget classic. It’s a fun return to the 80’s where some of most entertaining films were made. It has cool fx, great soundtrack, creative production design, and some slick cinematography. Troma used their very small budget wisely here and it all appears on the screen.The Toxic Avenger is one of my all time favorite characters. The villains in these films are always a little silly and wacky but it works in the Tromaville universe. The follow up was shot as one long and epic movie but they decided to split it up since they had so much material for it. Honestly, if it had the right editing between both films to cut it down into just a solo feature like they originally planned, it would have been so much better. Regardless, I still enjoy both 2 and 3 as separate movies. 2 is much better but I feel like they probably took the best material from the project to make sure the sequel was successful though for another one. Don’t get me wrong, 3 has some really great moments especially the villain’s transformation. The biggest surprise in the entire series is Citizen Toxie. This 4th installment doesn’t hold back at all and it’s definitely not for the weak. It can easily offend a decent amount of different people with some of the taboo subjects featured in this last sequel.Troma did the multiverse in the comic book and superhero world before it blew up in the mainstream media when it comes to cinema. It just shows how much this independent studio was way ahead of it’s time when it came to being original like they always have been. Citizen Toxie is pure entertainment so there’s never a dull moment and it’s just wild. It’s loaded with cameos. I wish more independent movies were like this. You can tell everyone that worked on really cared about the small production and it really shows on the screen. It gets better with every revisit. As for acting goes in all these Toxic Avenger films, do not expect any Oscar winning performances. Everyone in these knows exactly what they are making and they are over the top which works great in these types of low budget features. You will see lots of familiar faces/voices pop up in this amazing set which includes Ron Jeremy, Corey Feldman, Debbie Rochon, Stan Lee, James Gunn, Lemmy, Julie Strain, Eli Roth, Tiffany Shepis, Patrick Kilpatrick, and Michael Jai White. Marisa Tomei has been rumored to be in an uncredited background role but personally I could never spot her in it and I’ve seen it so many times over the years. If you are a fan of Troma, Lloyd Kaufman, The Toxic Avenger, and low budget cinema then this 4K set is a must own for your collection. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!Let’s discuss this high definition presentation from Troma! All of these transfers with HDR10 feature an 2160p (1.85:1) fully uncut restoration from the best in the game Vinegar Syndrome. I’ve owned all of these films in various home video releases over the years so comparing this new 4K set to those vhs, dvd, and blu ray options is like seeing them for the very first time. It’s like night and day when revisiting those older versions. The best thing about this Toxie collection is that this is the very first time in the states that every feature from this franchise is completely uncut in HD when it comes to home video. The original Toxic Avenger trilogy had a bigger budget than 4 so despite it being the newer movie from the set it still has the lowest quality when it comes to visual but it’s still the best it’s ever looked anywhere. As for the audio, they all have the English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track on the UHD discs. It’s probably not what most collectors and die hard HD fans were hoping for when this was originally announced but everything sounds really good on here despite that. All of the dialogue is very clean, all of the madness is elevated, and the music has a nice boost to it. It also has English SDH subtitles. Every Toxic Avenger film in this set also includes a blu ray of the new restoration and 4K transfer in 1080p.Let’s talk about the special features from Troma! Besides all the featured “Audio Commentaries” and brand new “Intros”, the rest of the extras are located on the blu ray discs. Here’s what’s on the original Toxic Avenger release when it comes to special features. it has an almost 2 minute “Intro” with director Lloyd Kaufman. “Audio Commentary” # 1 with director Lloyd Kaufman. “Audio Commentary” # 2 with actors Gary Schneider, Robert Prichard, and Dan Snow moderated by a Troma team member. Both audio tracks are very different from each other which is really nice because it’s gives you variety and a different perspective on the independent production. Lots of information and stories are shared on them. “Behind the Scenes and In Production Slideshow” is a little over 4 minutes. It has an older 4 minute “Intro ” with director Lloyd Kaufman. It has an almost 19 minute”Interview” with actress Jennifer Babtist. It has an almost 3 minute”Interview” with actor Robert Prichard. It has an almost 9 minute “Interview” with actor Mitch Cohen. It has an almost 5 minute “Interview” with actor Dan Snow. It has a little over 15 minute “Interview” with co-director Michael Herz. Just a note, only the Jennifer Babtist chat is in HD. The rest of them are from the old dvd releases so they are in SD. These interviews cover lots of different topics mainly about the production including locations, working with fx, overall experience, stories, personal relationships, other projects, audition process, famous people that interested in a role, and so much more. “Mark Torgl’s Special Video” is a little over 6 minutes. The actor shows some original props from the movie. He jokes around plus he’s hanging out with some women while doing all of this. This one is also in HD. “40 Years of Troma” is a quick 2 minute appreciation of the independent studio. It has a “Theatrical Trailer”.Here’s the extras for The Toxic Avenger Part II. It has an almost 2 minute “Intro” with director Lloyd Kaufman. It has an “Audio Commentary” with director Lloyd Kaufman. Lloyd Kaufman is great when it comes to these audio tracks. He is always hilarious, very entertaining, and you learn lots of information about the feature. I want to note that every special feature on here are from the older dvd releases so they are upscaled SD like the ones on the original Toxic Avenger disc in this set. It has an older 3 minute “Intro ” with director Lloyd Kaufman. “At Home with Toxie” is almost 4 minutes. It’s a silly chat with superhero Toxic Avenger. “A Word from Troma’s Villainess Lisa Gaye” is a little over 2 minute chat with the Troma actress. She’s goes over her career in a quick interview. “Toxie on Japanese T.V.” is a little over 3 minutes. It features some behind the scenes footage with director Lloyd Kaufman. It has an interview with actor Mayako Katsuragi. It has an old dvd “Intro” from director Lloyd Kaufman that’s a little over 40 seconds. It has the almost 1 minute “Radiation March’. This special feature was on damn near every Troma home video release back in the day. “40 Years of Troma” is a quick 2 minute appreciation of the independent studio. It has a “Theatrical Trailer”.Here’s the extras for The Toxic Avenger Part 3. It has an almost 2 minute “Intro” with director Lloyd Kaufman. “Audio Commentary” # 1 with director Lloyd Kaufman. “Audio Commentary” # 2 with Troma vet actor Joe Flieshaker. It has an older 4 minute”Intro ” with director Lloyd Kaufman. “Make your own damn Horror Movie” is a little over 11 minutes. Actor Lloyd Kaufman goes behind the scenes for the horror film “Old 37”. He interviews some of the cast plus he gives his own tips on the subject. The director of this project doesn’t seem too amused with this extra which kinda makes it hilarious. “A Halloween Carol” is almost 10 minutes. It’s a darker and silly spoof on the classic Christmas Carol with Lloyd Kaufman. “Rabid Grannies on Blu Ray” is almost 2 minutes. It’s a promotional piece for their HD home release. It has the almost 1 minute “Radiation March’. This special feature was on damn near every Troma home video release back in the day. “TroMoMa” is almost 12 minutes. It follows director Lloyd Kaufman as one of films is presented at the Museum of Modern Arts showcase. It shows some of the Q & A from it. “40 Years of Troma” is a quick 2 minute appreciation of the independent studio. It has a “Theatrical Trailer”.Last but not least, here’s the special features for Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger 4. It has a little over 2 minute “Intro” with director Lloyd Kaufman. “Audio Commentary” # 1 with director Lloyd Kaufman. “Audio Commentary” # 2 with actors Trent Haaga and Michael Budinger. “Audio Commentary” # 3 with editors Gabe Friedman and Sean McGrath. This disc is stacked with extras. All of these audio tracks offer you a completely different view of the production. You will learn all kinds of information and get some great stories between all this bonus material. It has an older “Intro” with director Lloyd Kaufman which is a little over 3 minutes. “Apocalypse Soon” is an almost 148 minute full length documentary on the making of this sequel. It’s one of best independent documentaries about putting together a low budget film. This is the true highlight when it comes to all the extras on this set. It’s an all access pass for behind the scenes at Troma. No one holds back here, it’s 100% honest and there’s no sugarcoating when it comes to this production. Lots of interviews and great BTS footage are displayed in this documentary. You get to experience the problems that director Lloyd Kaufman faces during this. It damn near feels like you are there as a part of the crew. It gives you a whole new appreciation for filmmaking on a very small budget. “40 Years of Troma” is a quick 2 minute appreciation of the independent studio. “Troma’s Tribute to Lemmy” is a little over 8 minutes. Lots of cool clips and moments with the Motorhead rockstar that worked on a few Troma features over the years. It has a “Theatrical Trailer”. My only real takeaway from this recent home video release is that it doesn’t really have any exclusive or brand new material besides the “Intros”. I would have loved to see more updated interviews or documentaries about this iconic franchise on here. As you noticed with this review, a decent amount of these special features have nothing to do with The Toxic Avenger but I personally appreciate them. Troma always tries to load their home video releases with bonus material. It’s a mixed bag with the stuff on here when it comes to the quality, some of is in HD and some of it is upscaled SD. This might be my first official review for 2024 but I have to mention that this is one of the best and my personal favorite home video releases of that year. This should be in your collection ASAP! It’s available everywhere right now.