Toxic Avenger Part III: The Last Temptation of Toxie, The (1989)

Author: Brett H.
Submitted by: Brett H.   Date : 2009-01-22 08:17

Directed by: Lloyd Kaufman & Michael Herz
Written by: Gay Partington Terry & Lloyd Kaufman
Starring: Ron Fazio, Phoebe Legere, Rick Collins, Jessica Dublin, Michael J. Kaplan, Joe Fleishaker & Dan Snow

Reviewed by: Brett H.

“So this is your big, beautiful love machine.”
“Yes, that’s one of the advantages of being a hideously deformed creature of super-human size and strength. ”

I would say once you hit the third sequel, the series is nearing some serious franchise immortality. Of course, it’s not always this way, what with 13 Witchcraft films having hit shelves and few were waiting on pins and needles for I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer. But, there are many special part threes. Their powers include A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, Friday the 13th 3, Day of the Dead, and hell, even Sleepaway Camp 3 and Ghoulies III, for those who have a craving for cheesy slash or tiny hellraisers. The Toxic Avenger Part III: The Last Temptation of Toxie was never intended to cap off the end of a trilogy that’d remain dormant until Citizen Toxie was released over a decade later. Truth is, the shoot of Toxic Part II amassed 5 plus hours of footage, so Troma, being the penny-pinchers they are, decided to cut it up into two movies. One dealing with Toxie’s trip to Japan to find his father, the other of Toxie coming back to Tromaville and ending up getting in tight with the evil businessmen invading the fair city! Naturally, you can’t take one film and chop it in half and expect good results. Is this third Toxic film nothing more than waste? Read on.

The film begins as so many Troma films do, with a recap containing footage from previous movies so as to pad out the running time with outrageous footage they’ve already shot to save money. Toxie (Ron Fazio) is back from Japan and Tromaville is all cleaned up. What’s a superhero to do when there’s no crime to fight? Toxie goes through a crisis to find his identity and decides he better find a job real quick, his lovely blind girlfriend, Claire's (Phoebe Legere) welfare cheques just aren’t cutting it. The greedy corporation Apocalypse Inc. has moved into Tromaville, taking away the city’s sparkling cultural identity and flushing it down the pipes. Those of us that have seen Citizen Toxie know that Toxie was an alumnus of Tromaville’s School for the Very Special, so he’s not exactly the most searing chemical waste in the barrel and gets sucked into working for the heathen businessmen. Why? A new technology has been discovered that will cure his wife’s blindness… and $357 000 doesn’t just grow on trees.

Without knowing it, our tutu-clad hero has joined the bad guys, and it takes him quite a while to realize that not only is his boss (Rick Collins) evil, he’s actually Satan in the flesh! Soon enough, the Avenger is kicking ass and taking names for the good of the people again, and the evil video store chain retailers that threaten to take away Tromaville’s freedom of rental choice are disembowelled and strangled with said guts. But, can Toxie really take on the devil? Will the good people of Tromaville forgive him for what he has done? And, very importantly, will Toxie’s loving girlfriend get the gift of the sight so she can finally see her bumpy-headed stud muffin for the very first time? It’s Tromaville’s biggest battle by far, and who knows, it could very well be The Last Temptation of Toxie!

Toxic Avenger III is marginally better than its predecessor, but there are some severe faults along the way. Although I’m deathly afraid to revisit Toxic II, I went into this instalment with mild reservations. I wasn’t a huge fan upon first viewing because the flick lost a lot of the soul of the others in trying to play the game of the corporations and toning down the gore and sex in the film to levels that would barely push an R rating today. From splitting up the underlying film into two parts, Troma basically took what surely would have been a cult classic and turned it into two films that plod along rather slowly, yet are full of fun concepts. In my opinion, many of the best parts of the shoot ended up in Part III, and really the only parts of the second that kept my interest was Toxie wind-surfing to Japan and the opening massacre. With less gore, nudity and general absurdity, it gives Troma more room to develop the story, which actually is quite manageable and giddy.

Problems still arise with footage being used a few times in the film to pad out the running time for nonsensical reasons. The film runs 102 minutes, and really, it's not essential for a film of this nature to go above and beyond 90. If you were to look at it from the perspective of a non-Troma viewer, their movies may tend to be a bit too long to hold their attention, but for Troma fans, they’re just happy to get all the Toxie they can get. So, I guess it all depends on which side of the coin you reside on. In this particular instance, I can stomach the 102 minutes, not so much the 103 minutes on display in Toxie 2. This film takes place in Tromaville, and in my mind, it’s where Toxie should stay. On his trip to Japan, it proved to be mildly entertaining, but the city of Tromaville and the sociological and corporate issues it is forced into is the true key of the franchise’s success. The Avenger himself plays well off these people, and in Japan, it lost a lot of impact.

Now, onto the good stuff. At the beginning of the flick, Toxie mops up some goons in the local Tromaville independent video store, which is lined with posters and tapes from Troma’s extensive catalogue. It really brings you back to the eighties and is a heck of a lot of fun. Included is an especially inventive kill where a corporate thug’s hand is thrust into the moving parts of a VCR and the hand shredding results are played on a TV. The Faustian nature of the flick is also rather interesting and no one is ever going to complain about Toxie going toe to toe with the green, goo-dripping Satan, but the end battle lasts a good half an hour and begins to drag. Toxie uses his sumo skills from Part II to take on the devil, and seeing him in a hardhat, sportswear and a top hat complete with tux will always get a big smile from me. The tame, but explosive Toxie sex scene (and toilet scene) are a hoot, especially when some pyro blasts from underneath Claire and Toxie and the earth start’s shakin’ AC/DC style.

Troma released The Toxic Avenger III on DVD in its original uncut form with a rather feature heavy VHS a/v quality edition. There’s a Lloyd Kaufman commentary track where he has two people with him to jog his memory, and his comments are always insightful and Troma-rific as well as a Joe Fleishaker (Troma’s biggest action star that’s probably best known for his portrayal of Kaufman’s co-founder in all things Troma, Michael Herz) commentary track that’s a bit slow, but Joe wasn’t exactly in the movie a whole lot. Troma fans will certainly enjoy it enough to listen to it once, but I doubt anyone else will make it through. Other features include the mandatory great introduction by Lloyd Kaufman, numerous cast interviews, a ‘Where in the World is Toxie’ feature that’s found on other Troma DVDs, the Radiation March (of course) as well as some footage from Dan Snow (Cigar Face in Toxie 1,2 & 3) on the set of the fourth movie, where he plays a nazi cop. All in all, it’s a great package. The Toxic Avenger III is a bit redundant, although easily a step ahead of its predecessor (and way behind its successor), but is still chock-full of good-hearted ideas and packs enough punch to be seen at least once. Rent it!

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