Toxic Crusaders: The Movie 1991
Just when I thought I was done with the Toxic Avenger I noticed that they had collected some of the cartoon episodes and made it movie length. Not only that, but it’s currently available to watch on YouTube on Troma’s official YouTube channel, though for some reason the four live action Toxie movies aren’t available anymore. It’s a weird concept to turn a campy movie with so much sex and violence into a children’s cartoon. Something similar had been done before with Rambo having been made into a cartoon, but this at least has a superhero angle going for it. The animation is typical low quality like many of the mass produced cartoon properties of the 80’s and early 90’s. The writing is very formulaic, the voice acting is generally below average, but it’s sprinkled with moments of humor that hit me in just the right way, and the formulas fell right along with many of the cheesy cartoons I grew up with and I didn’t hate watching it by a longshot.
The concept sticks pretty close to the second and third movies, which was right around when this was made. Melvin has essentially the same origin, although the thuggish Bozo is renamed to Bonehead and is later thrown into a barrel of “acid rain”, becomes slightly disfigured, and is recruited by the show’s evil villain. That evil villain is Dr. Killemoff who is a cartoon-i-fied version of the head of Apocalypse Inc from the 2nd and 3rd movies. Instead of being the devil himself, Dr. Killemoff is a cockroach alien from the planet Smogulon, and the reason he’s polluting the Earth is to make the atmosphere similar to Smogulon’s so his race can take over the planet. This is honestly a lot more logical than the live action movies, even though it’s diluted a bit when other Smogulonites visit Earth with no apparent ill-effects. Killemoff also has a mutant/cyborg henchman named Psycho who was my favorite character of the bunch. He’s basically psychic and has the running joke where for every scheme that Killemoff comes up with, he suggests an improbable way for the scheme to be foiled which is exactly what happens later in the episode. It’s a great gag because of how easily dismissed it is by Killemoff, and even though he gets more and more annoyed when at the “told you so” moments, he never goes the extra step actually listen to what he has to say and better prepare for it.
The heroes themselves were nothing special. Toxie of course is pretty much the same, with his superhuman size and strength only his Tromatons don’t compel him to kill evil people, it merely detects evil, and his mop is now alive too. There’s also Nozone who has a giant nose with requisite super sneezing power and a voice that sounds like a congested Goofy, Major Disaster who can control plants but doesn’t really do much, Headbanger who is the overly Jewish sounding scientist who used to work for Killemoff atom smashed onto the body of a dimwitted surfer dude, and Junkyard who was a dog that got combined with a bum. I think Junkyard is actually a fairly dark origin if you over-think it because it’s the dog that is the dominant personality who gains the intelligence of the bum, but his personality seems to have just died. And of course, there’s also Yvonne who is essentially Sarah from the two previous movies only nearsighted instead of blind and an annoyingly high pitched voice. They also carried over her accordion playing.
The one thing this show has going for it is the humor. In between moments of childish slapstick, dumb villains, or even dumb heroes, there are some funny bits thrown in. Some of my favorites are when they fall into meta humor and break the fourth wall, such as referring to how many viewers they have, even though I imagine 7 million viewers was an extremely high estimate. I also got a little kick out of the fact that every time they referred to themselves they quoted the exact line “hideously deformed creature of superhuman size and strength” which is a bit of a mouthful and also used the same way in the movie sequels. I already mentioned how much I enjoyed Psycho and how he always takes the air out of Killemoff’s grand scheme. The animation may be cheap, the voice acting may be average, the stories may be cliche, but I had some fun watching it, and you can even watch this one with your kids around. The live action ones? Not so much. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.