• Toxic Avenger III, The: The Last Temptation of Toxie



    Released by Troma
    Released on: May 12, 2015
    Directed by: Lloyd Kaufman & Michael Herz
    Cast: Ron Fazio, Phoebe Legere, Rick Collins, John Altamura
    Year: 1989
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    The Movie:

    Toxie (Ron Fazio/John Altamura) is down in the dumps. He has cleaned up the crime in Tromaville and is reduced to scaring old ladies cheating at cards. What is worse is his financial situation. He is out of work and has little skills outside of being a superhero. Because of this, Toxie has to rely on his blind girlfriend Claire’s (Phoebe Legere) monthly welfare check. All of this changes when Toxie receives a high paying job offer from the evil Apocalypse, Inc. Will Toxie sell-out and get Claire a much needed eye operation? If so, what will happen to the people of Tromaville once Toxie turns bad?

    The Toxic Avenger III: The Last Temptation of Toxie, directed by the Troma brain trust of Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz, is your typical post-Toxic Avenger film made in-house by the company. It is loud, over the top and crude with an anti-authority mentality. All of these things makes Toxie’s 3rd adventure an all-time classic for every weird 13-year old boy, but it can be pretty tedious for anyone old enough to vote. When I was a kid in the late-80s and early-90s, I ate up Troma’s filmography with a spoon. I loved the rude humor and rebellious attitude. I identified with the grossly disfigured anti-heroes. However, within the last few years, after revisiting some old favorites, I found the tropes I used to find so engaging were now falling flat on their face. I was let down by lazy filmmaking and poor, juvenile attempts at humor. The Toxic Avenger III was no different. Watching this film and comparing it to, for example, Class of Nuke ‘Em High I found Kaufman and Herz’s direction had gotten worse and more amateur. Acting, camera set-ups, staging, and editing felt rushed, ill-planned, and slapdash. It seemed as if the duo, after discovering sellable thematic tropes, felt they no longer needed to construct a competent film to keep their fans happy. The Troma brand would sell the film. I would argue Troma’s pick-ups were often better than their in-house productions. Kaufman and Herz were able to do what Stan Lee had done with Marvel in the 1960s with the “Make Mine Marvel” call to arms. They were able to make the brand the star of the show. The difference of course was Marvel was producing high quality, state of the art comics and Troma was making really bad movies.

    Despite the inadequate filmmaking, The Toxic Avenger III: The Last Temptation of Toxie was quite interesting to an extent. Much like how the first film in the series at times felt like Phantom of the Opera in a gym, this entry felt like a cinematic in-bred cousin to F.W. Murnau’s Faust. While Faust, in the Murnau classic, made a deal with the Devil to help the plague-stricken people of his village, Toxie makes a similar deal to pay for Claire’s operation. Also, like Faust, Toxie is tempted by the Devil’s power. However, Toxie becomes a 1980s styled yuppie as opposed to a young man.

    I was also struck by the film’s overtly pro-Christian climax. The Toxic Avenger III employed the Christian religion quite liberally as Toxie fought the Devil, and did so in a very earnest manner. To be honest, knowing what we do about the 1980s Moral Majority group, the film’s cheerleading for religion made the extreme anti-authority, anti-big business stance of the film ring hollow. The strong Christianity of the film felt more sincere than the attacks on greedy businessmen, which were so over the top it, at times, felt like lip services.

    In my opinion, probably the most interesting thing about this film, and every in-house Troma film, is Tromaville. The use of the fictional town, as well as the existence of the Troma company within the films, gives The Toxic Avenger III a strong meta quality. The film seems to exist not only in our real world, but also in the filmic universe Kaufman and Herz has created. I have often wondered whether the video cassette of the original Toxic Avenger Toxie holds and comments upon in the film is a bio-pic or documentary or whether the characters within a Troma film are cognizant of the fact they are fictional. I believe the latter is the case due to Toxie’s remark that the audience should remember Claire from The Toxic Avenger 2. This self-awareness of the characters may explain not only the extreme personalities of the residents of Tromaville but also their freakish appearances, which no one ever seems to blink an eye at. This coupled with the almost 1950s sitcom inspired look of Tromaville as a town creates an environment where both social deviants and Ronald Regan would feel at home.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Troma brings The Toxic Avenger III: The Last Temptation of Toxie to Blu-ray in a high-definition 1.85:1 release. The picture quality is okay, it is not outstanding but probably far better than this film has ever looked in the past. There is some minor print damage but colors are fine throughout. This is not a demo quality release, but I highly doubt anyone expected it be that good. The sound is presented in 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo, and like the picture quality is fine. It is not spectacular but it is mixed well. Unfortunately, the disc is lacking subtitles which would have been nice.

    Troma packed this release with a variety of extras. I suppose the main extra would be the unrated version of the film presented in standard definition on an extra DVD. The bulk of the other extras are found on the Blu-ray, the primary of which is a feature commentary with Kaufman and the film’s editors. It is a lively, active commentary with plenty of information on the making of the film. The commentary is good, but while I found Kaufman funny and cool when I was a kid, I now find him kind of obnoxious. In addition to this commentary, there is a second, jokey, commentary featuring Joe “Flieshaker”. This commentary is filled with typical Troma humor, I guess there is an audience for this type of thing.

    Outside of a collection of trailers for the Toxic Avenger series, most of the remaining extras have little to nothing to do with this film. First up is Tromoma a 12-minute short detailing Troma, along with Return to Class of Nuke ‘Em High, vol. 1, being honored by the Museum of Modern Art. The short features interviews with Return to Class of Nuke ‘Em High’s cast members and crew and seems like it would have been better suited as an extra for that film. Additional Nuke ‘Em High extras include trailers for the films in that series. Next is an 11-minute Make Your Own Damn Movie short showcasing Kaufman visiting, and working as an actor, for a low budget horror film. This feature was rather cute and fun. The American Cinematheque Honors 40 Years Of Troma is a short 2-minute video that feels more like a highlight reel for the company than something of any substance. Also included was A Halloween Carol which is really nothing more than a 10-minute commercial for Troma’s YouTube presence. A second commercial, this time for the Blu-ray release of Rabid Grannies, was also featured on the disc. The special features section was rounded out by Radiation March.

    The Final Word:

    Ultimately, The Toxic Avenger III: The Last Temptation of Toxie is a failure as a film. It is ineptly made and unfunny. However, I have no doubt that fans of the company will enjoy the film. It delivers everything Troma fans want in a film. The Toxic Avenger III is recommended for fans but not really anyone else. That said, the film holds some interest for its metacinematic qualities and placement alongside other in-house Troma films.


    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screencaps!
























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