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THE TOXIC AVENGER PART II (1989)

"I am the first hideously deformed monster hero of superhuman size and strength ever to come from New Jersey. They call me - the Toxic Avenger!"
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Director: Michael Herz, Lloyd Kaufman
Starring: John Altamura, Ron Fazio, Phoebe Legere, Rick Collins, Lisa Gaye, Rikiya Yasuoka, Mayako Katsuragi
Screenplay: Lloyd Kaufman, Gay Partington Terry, Pericles Lewnes, Fumio Furuyo, Yoshiko Miyamoto, Andrew Wolk, Phil Rivo
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Synopsis: Since the Toxic Avenger (John Altamura, Ron Fazio) cleaned up the town, Tromaville, New Jersey, is a nice place to live. Toxie is working at the Tromaville Center For The Blind, along with his girlfriend, Claire (Phoebe Legere). Toxie is depressed because there is no more evil for him to fight. Things change when Apocalypse Inc., a chemical company led by its evil Chairman (Rick Collins), decide to take over Tromaville. They know that they must first kill Toxie, and set off a bomb in the Center. Most of the blind people are killed, but Toxie and Claire survive. A hoard of hitmen are sent in after Toxie, but he kills them all. At the headquarters of Apocalypse Inc., the Chairman’s second in command, Maifaire (Lisa Gaye), announces that Toxie’s crime-fighting urges are caused by strange toxic particles in his body called "tromatons". Toxie can be killed by the use of anti-tromatons. Since such a complicated substance could never be produced successfully in America, it is necessary to get Toxie to go to Japan. Apocalypse Inc. pays Toxie’s psychiatrist to tell him that all his problems are due to never knowing his father, and that he must find his father in Japan and resolve things. Toxie sets out for Japan. In his absence, Apocalypse Inc. takes over Tromaville. After a long search, Toxie locates his father and is horrified to discover that he is a criminal who he must fight and kill. During the battle, Toxie is badly injured by anti-tromatons. Nursed back to health and serenity by a group of sumo wrestlers, Toxie returns to Tromaville for the final showdown against Apocalypse Inc.

Comments: Having pretty much hated The Toxic Avenger (1984), I must confess to being pleasantly surprised by this, the first sequel. Don’t get me wrong: the sex, gore and gratuitous nudity are still rampant, and the film opens with an orgy of violence that lasts a good fifteen minutes, and includes the most enthusiastic employment of the spurting arterial blood effect since Monty Python did Sam Peckinpah. Toxie gets to have sex twice (I said it before and I'll say it again: yecchh!!) and loyal fans even get to see their hero sitting on the toilet.

But mixed with these inevitable Troma components are a much lighter overall tone, some funny lines, and - God help us! - even a couple of flashes of genuine wit (including a David Mamet joke!) which help to dissipate the air of nastiness that spoilt the original film. When Part II opens, we learn that Tromaville, freed of its bad guys, has turned into a place where the good people are free to indulge their favourite pastimes, which include dancing in the streets and dancing in the streets. This comes to an end with the arrival of Apocalypse Inc., and at this point you have to stop and pay a certain reluctant tribute to the courage (if not the good taste) of the Troma-ites: after all, it isn’t everyone who would have the nerve to open a film by annihilating a bunch of blind people. Still, everyone has their limit, even Troma, and Herz and Kaufman do baulk at killing a blind baby (possibly because she’s played by one of the Kaufman clan), leading to the much reproduced image of Toxie nursing a sunglasses wearing infant.

Having failed in their attempts to kill Toxie, the evil people of Apocalypse Inc. plot to send Toxie to Japan, which turns out to be necessary because of inferior American technology. Toxie rides to Japan on his windsurfer, enters the country "Godzilla-style", and then spends a considerable amount of time wandering around have serio-comic violent encounters and being stared at by amused and puzzled Japanese people. (While entertaining, this sequence really does go on far too long. Still, the film’s Japanese co-producers were obviously paying for it, and if this is the way they choose to advertise their country, who are we to quibble?)

Finally locating the man who is meant to be his father, Toxie is traumatised by discovering that he’s an evil criminal who smuggles cocaine inside of tuna fish, and even more traumatised when he ends up killing him. Returning to Tromaville, Toxie learns that Apocalypse Inc. has taken over, turning the orange juice factory in an Agent Orange factory, and making the local cinema screen Apocalypse Now (1979) instead of Troma films.

Obviously, this has to be stopped. Toxie takes on the evil corporation, defeats it, and everything ends happily when the Tromavillians go back to dancing in the streets and Toxie’s real father shows up. By the time of this sequel, the role of the Toxic Avenger had obviously become too much for any one actor to handle, so two are credited as playing Toxie. (One voice, one body? Turns under the make-up? Who knows?) Toxie’s girlfriend, called Sara in the original film, is here called Claire, and is played by Phoebe Legere, who it must be said lacks the ditzy charm of her predecessor. Rick Collins and Lisa Gaye represent everything that Troma most despises, usually summed up under the heading of "big business".

Offering memorable cameos are Bill Ferris and Irene Scase Summerville as a bickering elderly couple whose wedding anniversary celebration takes an unexpected turn when Toxie hijacks their cab. Although it took five years for this sequel to appear, there was a lesser time lapse - in fact, no lapse at all - before the appearance of another. The Toxic Avenger Part III: The Last Temptation Of Toxie (1989) was shot back to back with Part II, stars most of the same cast, and offers the world the unlikely sight of the Toxic Avenger becoming a Wall Street tycoon in order to finance his girlfriend’s operation....