The Direct to Video Connoisseur
I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.
Friday, January 6, 2012
The Toxic Avenger III: The Last Temptation of Toxie (1989)
Sometimes it's a dilemma to figure out how to attack these movies in order to write a proper review. What to focus on, what to leave out, what themes I want to draw from. Take this film and the one before it, Toxic Avenger II. Knowing that much of this film was taken from the four hours of film that was shot for part 2, the question was, do I do them both together? do I do them both in separate reviews on the same night? how much do I mention the fact that so much of part 2 was in part 3 in the part 2 review, which, ultimately kills the part 3 review? So I decided not to mention it at all in the part 2 post, which inevitably leads to the deluge of "hey, you know part 2 and 3 were shot at the same time" comments in my inbox that I see first thing in the morning when I'm cranky before I've had my coffee, so I fire off a cranky response about how "yes, I'm aware of that, I too read the imdb page for the movie, hence the link at the bottom of the post", but that gives the comments page an angry tenor, something I don't want, so I have to go through and delete things. It's all a pain in the ass, all because Lloyd Kaufman didn't know when to quit in part 2, and then tried to make lemonade out of some lemons for part 3. [End Rant.]
Toxic Avenger III picks up where part 2 left off. Again, Tromaville is basking in the warm glow of it's lack of crime, which is bad for Toxie because there isn't much else he can do for work other than fight crime. Depressed, feeling useless, and living off his blind wife's welfare checks, he then finds out an operation can cure her blindness, if he only had the money. Enter Apocalypse Inc., who offer Toxie a job in public relations for a salary that will cover said operation. Now, with the toughest crime fighter on their side, they force Tromaville to succumb to their evil ends, while Toxie is loving his life as a rich Yuppie. Only his wife can make him see the error of his ways. (No pun intended.)
For a potential lemonade out of lemons movie, this isn't bad. It's another step down from part two, but not as big a drop as the one from The Toxic Avenger down to part 2. And like part 2, once it starts going, it really hits its stride. I loved Toxie as a Yuppie, wearing his Izod/Lacoste polo, calling his wife "babe", penciling her in for brunch. The Faustian bargain with the Devil was great too, with Rick Collins turning in an excellent performance. And of course, there were some great kills and classic Kaufman commentary on big business and it's toxic control over our society. All in all a fun Troma flick.
I think what you have with both of these movies is a lot of people-- Lloyd Kaufman chief among them-- with a bunch of stuff they want to get off their chests, plus a lot of classic movies and modern movies they want to poke fun at, and they ended up with four hours of footage. From there it was probably just a matter of taking what they could after they'd made part 2, and keeping it as a head start/the bulk to part 3. This isn't like Kill Bill, which is essentially one movie broken into two because no movie audience would go see a nearly five-hour long film (though I did just that at a local indie theater that showed both Kill Bills together in one night), these are two separate movies with the second made up of a lot of unused footage from the one before it.
I gotta go back to the Toxie in the Izod (now Lacoste) polo. That 80s Wall Street Yuppie was such symbol in the 80s, and the disdain with which Kaufman and the other Troma folks felt for this symbol is just dripping off their satirization. There's also a clear message that these people do the work of the Devil. While Toxie works for Apocalypse Inc., he never physically attacks anyone, never gives any cops a double arm amputation, nothing violent like that; instead he revels in kicking old ladies out of their homes, and cherishes making money and being trendy above anything else. This focus on white collar nonviolent crime being the work of the Devil was a very astute choice on the part of Kaufman and everyone involved.
I really liked this matte painting here. With the advent of computers, the matte painting in films has gone nearly extinct, which I think is too bad, though I think a big part of that too is the fact that most films are shot on digital cameras nowadays, and I imagine a matte painting would look more obvious in digital than it would on film or video. The cost and time though are the bigger issues. Why pay an artist to create a huge landscape when a computer can do it in less time, for less money, and render it with more visible perspective.
Because I wasn't that old in 1988-89 (9-10), it's hard to go back and recall what the atmosphere was like in this country as Martin Scorsese was releasing The Last Temptation of Christ. I remember the outrage and the protests, but also that there was a fair amount of good buzz surrounding it too. It would be much later in life that I would buy the Criterion DVD of it used, and see that one: it was a very good movie; and two: there really shouldn't have been any fuss, that people were just being overly sensitive. While The Toxic Avenger III is more Faust in story than it is Last Temptation of Christ, the name is more indicative of the time it was released.
I think this movie's about as good as part 2: starts off slowly, eventually hits its stride, and has its moments. Neither are as good as part 1, so again, if you haven't seen part 1, see that first, and then see part 2 before part 3, because they do follow one another story-wise. You can either see it for free right now on Hulu, or pick it up off the Troma website.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0098502/