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.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV (2000)
We finish our look at the Toxic Avenger sequels, as forced by Netflix when I had to watch them all before they dumped them from Watch Instantly on the first of the year, with Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV. This is one I'm glad I fit in, because it looks like the Hulu one is the R rated version. I haven't watched that one, but I'm guessing it's the R rated one because it's 20 minutes shorter than the one Netflix had. Good thing I made the unrated one happen, because I can only imagine how neutered the R rated version would be.
Citizen Toxie: Toxic Avenger IV starts off with our hero Toxie and his trusted sidekick Lardass trying to save a classroom of developmentally delayed students from a gang of thugs wearing diapers. When the gang sets off a bomb, Lardass tries to eat it in order to save everyone, but he fails, and the explosion creates a dimensional rift, sending our hero to Amortville, a twisted alternate dimension version of Tromaville, and his counterpart from there, Noxie, into Tromaville. Can Toxie get back to our dimension before Noxie destroys Tromaville and Toxie's reputation with it?
This is the everything but the kitchen sink sequel you either really wanted or have no stomach for-- and then there's me, somewhere in the middle but leaning more towards the really wanted end of the spectrum. On the one hand, especially early on, they leaned on a lot of jokes about crap and people that are learning disabled, the kind of thing that's just really lazy more than anything, and that was a disappointment; but like all the others, once it hits its stride, we're treated to another great combination of social commentary, hilarious satire, and gross-out gore that's a staple of great Troma. Not to mention, this had some sweet celebrity cameos. I had a few qualms outside of the beginning, in particular they wasted Sgt. Kabukiman by having him be just a drunk, but otherwise, this was a fun and entertaining way to wrap up the series.
One thing that hit me as I was watching this was how many of the references were time specific, and what that will mean for people who watch this ten years from now that were born in the early 2000s. The school shootings, the man who was dragged behind a truck to his death in Texas-- even the Twin Towers, which were a huge symbol because this film was first screened in New York in November of 2001, and Lloyd Kaufman decided to keep the images of the WTC in the film, something that garnered a huge ovation from the crowd. It's going to be up to people our age to watch these movies with that generation and explain these things, but I think that will be part of the experience, to say where we were when 9/11 happened, or what the climate was like in this country in the late 90s when Columbine happened.
Where do I start with the celebrity cameos? I guess with Corey Feldman, who plays an ob-gyn, and is listed in the credits under the name "Kinky Finkelstein". Lemmy is also back with a small cameo. Ron Jeremy played the town mayor. Then we had Joe Fleishaker, who, instead of having a cameo in this one like he did the others, has a bigger part as both Lardass, and then as the physicist that gets Toxie home. Is it right that I consider Joe Fleishaker to be a celebrity? (Maybe not, considering I initially fell for the Michael Herz ruse and thought that's what his name was...) One celebrity that didn't make it in though: Hugh Hefner, whose Playboy Mansion was used for the Citizen Kane shots, and who himself had some scenes, but they were cut out after his lawyers sent Troma a ceases and desist letter.
As the title suggests, this movie pokes fun at a lot of classics, in particular what is often held up as the greatest of all time, Citizen Kane. If you're expecting me to go on a rant about how Citizen Kane is overrated, you won't get it, because I love it and believe it's deserving of its status; but I liked that Kaufman and co. had a lot of fun Troma-tizing it. If anyone is going to poke fun at Citizen Kane, it has to be Troma, and I liked that they did it as well as I hoped. (I can't mention some of the other classics they poked fun at, because it'll give away too much of the movie.)
Finally, I left a celebrity cameo out of my list above, because I wanted to save it for here. The Sklar Brothers play Tromaville news anchormen (they're credited as Foofy and Skippy Applebaum). They used to do a show on ESPN Classic called Cheap Seats, where they'd watch videos of old, off-beat sporting events that used to air on ESPN or ABC Wild World of Sports, like celebrity fishing tournaments hosted by Steve Garvey, or early 80s professional wrestling. They'd mock the events MST3K style, and mix in some sketches. Anyone who's been rockin' with us for a while knows I love sports, and their sense of humor was pretty close to mine, so it was a great match. It was really cool to see them in this, plus, they were pretty funny too.
I don't know what to do about recommending this, because it looks like the Hulu one is edited-- pretty heavily too if it's 20 minutes shorter. In that case, look for a DVD. The best way to describe this is that it's a real Troma movie for real Troma fans, so if Troma's more hit and miss for you, you may not want to bother; but if you're a huge Troma honk (then you've probably already seen this, but if not) I'd go out and make this happen, because this movie has your name written all over it.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0212879/