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THE TOXIC AVENGER PART III: THE LAST TEMPTATION OF TOXIE (1989)

"I was back, fighting crime, corruption and toxic waste. But it wasn’t always that way. Who would believe that a few short months ago I had actually joined the forces of evil…?"

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Director: Michael Herz, Lloyd Kaufman

 

Starring: Ron Fazio, John Altamura, Phoebe Legere, Rick Collins, Lisa Gaye, Jessica Dublin, Michael Kaplan

Screenplay: Gay Partington Terry, Lloyd Kaufman, Pericles Lewnes, Andrew Wolk and Phil Rivo

Synopsis: While enjoying the wide variety at their local video store, the good people of Tromaville are confronted by some goons from Apocalypse, Inc., who tell them that from now on they’ll only be watching the company wants them to watch. When the people object, the goons begin shooting. A bloodbath looks inevitable until the appearance of the Toxic Avenger (Ron Fazio, John Altamura), who slaughters the goons and saves the townspeople. Toxie then recounts the events of the past few months, which saw him become the spokesperson for evil…. After driving Apocalypse, Inc. from Tromaville, the Toxic Avenger has no more evil to fight. Reduced to stopping little old ladies from cheating at cards and making children eat their lima beans, and having to live off the welfare cheques of his blind girlfriend, Claire (Phoebe Legere), Toxie falls into a deep depression. This is worsened when a letter arrives indicating that Claire’s sight could be restored, but only by an operation costing $357,000. Desperate for money, Toxie tries a series of menial jobs and then, when that fails, attempts suicide. Meanwhile, the Chairman of Apocalypse, Inc. (Rick Collins) is furious at being driven out of Tromaville. The Chairman’s assistant, Malfaire (Lisa Gaye) suggests that they put Toxie on the payroll. Soon, Toxie receives a letter offering him a job. When he arrives at the headquarters of Apocalypse, Inc., the Chairman conjures up a vision of Tromaville’s future, explaining that his corporation’s function is "fulfilling desires". Toxie is confused but tempted, and finally agrees to become the company’s spokesperson when the Chairman offers him a salary of $357,000. Starting his new job, Toxie is at first so excited he doesn’t notice that Apocalypse, Inc. is forcing the people of Tromaville into "rehabilitation centres" and "self-improvement seminars". Meanwhile, Claire undergoes her eye operation and has her sight restored. For a while, Toxie and Claire are blissfully happy, but then, under the malign influence of Apocalypse, Inc., Toxie begins to turn into a yuppie, obsessing over his wardrobe and reading the Wall Street Journal. Claire sees what is happening to Tromaville and makes a desperate effort to bring Toxie to his senses. After wrestling with himself, Toxie sees the light and begins to undo the damage he has done. Then he confronts the Chairman, who transforms to reveal his true identity.

Comments: Towards the end of this movie, the Toxic Avenger tells his infernal adversary, "This has gone on long enough!" Frankly, it’s impossible not to agree. By the time we reach the end of the third installment of the life of Melvin Junko (nee Furd), there is not only nowhere else to go, but the story has been thoroughly flogged to death. Now, I don’t want to seem na´ve here. I am fully aware of Joe Bob Briggs’ dictum concerning sequels, and I am also aware that making the same movie with the same cast is a great cost-saver. But really, I think just a tiny helping of new material might have helped (and no, I don’t consider the revelation that the Chairman is actually Satan incarnate is "new" - anyone even vaguely acquainted with Troma’s view on life should have seen that one coming).

The pity is, Toxie III had the potential to be the best of the series. It probably contains more funny one-liners than either of the other entries, and there is the (unfulfilled) promise of rich satire in a couple of the story’s threads. Firstly, there is the film’s opening salvo, when the Tromavillians are told there’ll be no more "variety" at the video store. "But we like having a lot of choices! We don’t want just Top Twenty!" objects a woman. Of course, she is immediately shot. Given Troma’s loudly stated opinions on the subject of "big business" and "Hollywood" (ever heard Lloyd Kaufman on Steven Spielberg? Yikes!!), it seems to me that a sustained attack on Blockbuster and its ilk might have been fruitful. Instead, the screenwriters chose to serve up the warmed up leftovers from Part II, returning to the story of Apocalypse, Inc.’s attempt to take over Tromaville.

The structure of the film is painfully familiar. It opens with the obligatory bloodbath. Most of this we’ve seen before, but there is one original (if disgusting) sequence when Toxie forces a goon’s hand into the workings of VCR. The goon’s hand gets literally shredded, something we’re able to see on the TV hooked to the VCR (ah, the wonders of modern technology!). We then wander through a re-hash of most of what we’ve seen in Part II (not to mention Part I). The only positive aspect of this section of the story is what I see as the film’s second lost opportunity: Toxie’s descent into Yuppiedom. There are some genuinely funny moments in this section, but it’s tossed away all too soon in favour of Toxie’s confrontation with Satan (a make-up job that is half-impressive, half-ludicrous) and a dreary eighties video game plotline. Finally, the film climaxes with the defeat of Satan, who disintegrates (gross, but funny), some heavenly intervention to release Toxie from his evil contract and restore Claire’s sight, and the wedding of Toxie and Claire. Although the world was later blessed (?) with a Toxic Avenger cartoon series, Troma wisely chose to draw the line at that point.

Overall, Toxie III is pretty hard going. The scene-for-scene regurgitation, combined with the endless use of padding (flashbacks, dream sequences), suggests that the film-makers were contracted to 100 minutes. Frankly, the wielding of a judicious pair of scissors would have given us a much better film. So, indeed, would a less distasteful presentation of Phoebe Legere’s Claire, who spends most of her screentime lying on her back with her legs spread, and is photographed by having a camera shoved into her crotch. Still, there is an undefinable something about this film that makes it difficult to stay offended with it – and don’t think I didn’t try. Perhaps it’s that the people making it are so obviously enjoying themselves. This is particularly evident during the scene when Satan abducts a school bus full of kids. They’re supposed to be terrified, but they’re clearly having the time of their lives. The film’s end credits are as funny as anything in it. My personal favourite is the segue from "Key Grip" to "Key Gripe" to "Key Grope", but there are a number of rewards here for viewers with the stamina to make it right to the end.

Check out all the details of this movie on the IMDB

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