Whilst in the midst of production of their bargin bin, blockbuster epic: The Toxic Avenger Part II, Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz realized that they had actually shot way too much footage than their movie actually needed and correctly surmised that no one would be overly thrilled at the prospect of a four hour Toxic Avenger movie. Now, this is a frequent occurrence in Hollywood, but when you’re on the fringes of the independent splatter scene, shooting too much stuff is hardly cost effective. On the other hand, where the mega-budgeted studios can afford to write this shit off and have some of it pop up in the deleted scenes section of a Blu Ray release, a nickel-and-dime organisation like Troma Films simply shrug their shoulders, say “fuck it” and fashion a whole new sequel out of what’s left. Thus we were “blessed” with The Last Temptation Of Toxie, a Troma production noticably more malformed than it’s two predecessors due to a plot with more patchworking than a vagrant’s blanket.
We return to the sunny shithole known as Tromaville only to find that once again, our hero Toxie (aka ex-nerd Melvin Junko) caught up in the throes of depression as the results of him cleaning up all crime has left him at a sizable loss. Barely surviving off the handicap benefits of his blind girlfriend, Claire, Toxie’s self worth is lower than the dogshit on the sole of a miner’s shoe and it unfortunately leaves him vunerable to the sinister deals of the returning corporation known as Apocalypse Inc. and it’s silver tongued chairman. Becoming a corporate shill to an obviously evil conglomerate, our potato-headed hero becomes a toxic yuppie and can finally afford to pay for the operation Claire needs to restore her sight, but is selling his soul really the answer? Oh, and by the way, when I say selling his soul, I mean that literally as the Chairman’s true identity turns out to be somewhat of a devilish twist…
Where, the first Toxic Avenger was a surprisingly well balanced exercise in ferociously un-PC behavior that mixed dirty jokes, outlandish gore and a suprisingly sweet demeanor to become a genuine trash classic; Part II, while essentially and hour and a half of goofy fight scenes and Japanese people screaming directly into the camera (textbook Troma), didn’t exactly measure up as favourably but still had it’s enjoyably questionable moments. Part III on the other hand is by far the weakest of the trilogy, chiefly because it seems that the bulk of the action was stuffed into Part II leaving this third installment to wander blindly around it own plot like a visually impaired man in an escape room.
No one really expects logic and a sense of lavishly followed continuity from the good folks at Troma at the best of times, but the jigsawed together plot here is as hideously deformed and mismatched as our hero’s melty bone structure. Starting with Toxie gruesomely thwarting an assault on a video rental store where the thugs want to limit what the patrons rent (actually a thinly veiled swipe at the major film studios stranglehold on video chains such as Blockbuster), the film bounces back to the start of the story and proceeds to trot out an alarming amount of footage from the previous films in order to get us up to speed and then immediately starts contradicting it’s own back story. If Toxie had already booted Apocalypse Inc. out of Tromaville in the previous film knowing full well that they were responsible for machine gunning blind old ladies and trying to turn the place into one big chemical waste dump, why is he so easy to con by the exact same people? Obviously it’s because they’re different threads from the same story crudely split to form two completely different plots, but even for a Troma movie it’s massively as erratic as a story told by Grampa Simpson – it has just about the same pace as one too, with the middle section of the film bogged down with the directors driving Toxie’s arc home to an almost fanatical degree.
Now, some of you out there may be oddly perturbed that I’m expecting such polish from a movie that has community theater level acting (at best) and often features it’s female lead sprawling about with her legs almost constantly at a ninety degree angle from each other, but basic storytelling helps, even if you’re trying to make a comedy about hideously deformed creature of superhuman size and strength.
The film does has some good points; the rather, shall we say, “unique” acting from Phoebe Legere that managed to be somehow the most exaggerated performance in the movie (quite the feat in a Troma movie), somehow plays much better here – especially when she shows off her impressive pipes (steady now) when she belts out a tune on the accordion and the film still has that oddly endearing trait of being inordinately ragged round the edges. Take for example the final form of the chairman who is revealed to be (to no one’s surprise) the devil; a rubbery pecced, demon with alarmingly droopy horns and floppy wings, he’s a rather original shade of green instead of the usual, classic, hot rod red he’s usually portrayed as. What this a bold, new approach by the filmmakers to reinvent the world’s most notorious villain? Fuck no, he’s only green because the special effects guys had run out of red paint.
A strange victim of it’s own ambitious attempt to stretch two movies out of a single serving adventure (Peter Jackson can relate), Toxie’s third outing ironically has the strongest concept – he fights the fucking devil for shit’s sake – and yet is the weakest delivery so far with all the good stuff like the car chases and big fight scenes selfishly pumped into the second outing.
While that outlaw, off-beat and hugely adolescent rebellious streak the studio is famous for is still visible, The Last Temptation Of Toxie is honestly for die hard Troma completists only (assuming such a damned creature even exists).
Gotta love that fucking title, though…