Our editor-in-chief Nate Yapp is proud to have contributed to the new book Hidden Horror: A Celebration of 101 Underrated and Overlooked Fright Flicks, edited by Aaron Christensen. Another contributors include Anthony Timpone, B.J. Colangelo, Dave Alexander, Classic-Horror.com's own Robert C. Ring and John W. Bowen. Pick up a copy today from Amazon.com!
Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV (2000)
My great love for Troma has been no secret. When Classic-Horror set out to score its first major interview with a filmmaker, we didn't seek out standards like Stuart Gordon, Tobe Hooper, or George Romero. We asked Lloyd Kaufman, the President of Troma Studios, to sit down and talk horror.
So, it is no surprise that I was overjoyed to be able to watch Citizen Toxie, the latest installment in the Toxic Avenger series. Typically speaking, I view modern sequels with some amount of apprehension, but I went into this one with high expectations. I came out undisappointed. This is the best Toxie film, without a doubt.
After a Stan Lee-narrated prologue that recaps the actions of the first film (and apologizes for the second and third), we're tossed right into the action as The Toxic Avenger (David Mattey, voice of Clyde Lewis), Tromaville's favorite hideously deformed creature of superhuman size and strength, battles the Diaper Mafia in a special education classroom. One megatonic explosion later, and he finds that he's switched places with his dimensional doppelganger, The Noxious Offender. Now, Toxie's stuck in the hostile town of Amortville, while Noxie quickly gets down to terrorizing Tromaville. Only Chester (Troma superstar Joe Fleishaker), a hideously obese particle physicist who performs fellatio for snack pies can help our hero get home and save the day.
Whew, that's a lot of plot - and as per Troma's typical modus operandi, it's all incidental. It's an excuse for Kaufman to parade out a lot of unsubtle social satire, dealing with abortion rights, organized religion, racial violence, sexual identity, and plastic surgery. No punches are pulled, and all sacred cows (and sacred Mad Cowboys) are tipped.
Oh, and there's plenty of violence. Blood gets tossed around by the bucket, but sadly, Citizen Toxie is lacking deaths as memorable as the ones in Terror Firmer and Troma's War. Toxie's usually good about finding a clever and unusual way to dispatch somebody, but he takes the backseat to Noxie's antics, which tend to be more cruel than creative.
There's so much going on, though, that it's difficult to really find fault in that, though. First, you have Toxie's storyline, which grows to include two mentally handicapped children, a talkative disembodied head, the aforementioned Chester, and God (yes, that God). Back in Tromaville, there's Noxie, Toxie's pregnant wife Sarah (Heidi Sjursen), a drunken Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD (Paul Kyrmse), the Nazi ATF officer Ted Kazinski (Dan Snow), and a bevy of useless heroes like Dolphin Man, Master-Bater, and The Vibrator.
Plus, the film references keep you going. The most obvious are actually back to previous Troma films - a clown on a unicycle (which, depending on your experience with the company, could be from Stuck on You or Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD), a person proclaiming their very recent AIDS infection (from Troma's War), and the signature Troma Flying Car, now in at least its fourth use. On top of that look for not-so-subtle nods to Citizen Kane, Shock Corridor and Star Wars, Episode I.
One very lovely feeling about the film is that it often plays like a Troma Reunion Film. Other than Fleishaker (Troma's War, Terror Firmer) and Snow (The Toxic Avenger, Troma's War), you have appearances by Debbie Rochon (Tromeo & Juliet), Ron Jeremy (Terror Firmer), Mark Torgl (The Toxic Avenger), Rick Collins (The Toxic Avenger, Part II), Mitch Cohen (the original Toxic Avenger), Bill Weeden (Sgt. Kabukiman, NYPD), and James Gunn (writer of Tromeo & Juliet).
The cameos don't stop there, though! Look for porn star Julie Strain, Lemmy from Motorhead, the late Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf, Hugh Hefner, and Corey "Stand by Me" Feldman as Sarah's gynecologist.
Citizen Toxie, while not the definitive Troma film (the war still rages between Troma's War and Terror Firmer), is definitely the crowning achievement in director Kaufman filmography. In my interview with him, he pointed this out as his favorite of his own films, and one can see why. It's a fantastically irreverent journey and a fond return to a beloved character.