Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel “THE I IN EVIL”, and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
“CITIZEN TOXIE: THE TOXIC AVENGER IV” (Blu-ray Review)Movies/TV,News,Reviews Ken W. Hanley
Even for horror fans unfamiliar with the 40+ year running indie studio Troma, THE TOXIC AVENGER franchise remains the best known property among Troma’s intellectual property. Yet even with an iconic underground figure as Toxie, it’s been 15 years since THE TOXIC AVENGER had a proper entry released unto unsuspecting fans of splattery satire. However, TOXIC AVENGER fans can now at least enjoy the fourth (and, as of this writing, latest) addition in the franchise, subtitled CITIZEN TOXIE, in high definition, as Troma has given the film the Blu-ray treatment!
While the film more-or-less disregards the previous TOXIC AVENGER sequels to a degree, CITIZEN TOXIE does make up for it with their most high concept plot to date, which is certainly saying something. CITIZEN TOXIE begins with an explosion that triggers an interdimensional rift, which causes Toxie to swap places with his evil cross-dimension counterpart The Noxious Avenger. As Toxie tries to find a way home from an otherwise repulsive universe, Noxie begins a new age of destruction in Tromaville, targeting Toxie’s wife and compadres along the way. And, of course, there’s plenty of anarchy, bloodshed and offensive scatological humor, as any Troma fan would expect.
While hardcore Toxie fans may be turned off by the fact CITIZEN TOXIE knocks down two films of TOXIC AVENGER canon, the film is admittedly a much more impressive and cohesive sequel than the two films that came before it. Kaufman’s direction, while admittedly scattershot in the way most Troma fare can be, is surprisingly on-point, using strong production values and the biting, absurdist script to his advantage. And beyond that, the imaginative premise and convergence of Troma characters offers a TOXIC AVENGER film with more substance than blood, guts and other bodily excretions.
CITIZEN TOXIE also features a stronger-than-expected new transfer, free of some of the compression issues that hurt TROMA’S WAR. The video is well-defined and offers the clearest picture the film has to date, aiding the most with the colorful and more splattery moments. The audio mix is also satisfactory, and while not a complete home run, the 2.0 audio transfer works pretty well for an independently produced disc as it never gets too busy to be inaudible or cacophonous.
However, where CITIZEN TOXIE brings its A-game is in the special features department, with Troma loading the disc with more extras than a fright fan can handle. The crown jewel of the set would be “Apocalypse Soon,” a candid, fascinating and frequently hilarious documentary detailing the frustrations of producing CITIZEN TOXIE on an independent level. However, that’s not to say the other features are not worthwhile as well, especially the three commentary tracks that each offer a different perspective and candor than the next. And of course, then there’s the shtick-y new introduction from Kaufman and Co., a “History of Troma” featurette from the American Cinematheque and an 8-minute tribute to Lemmy from Motorhead, a longtime Troma supporter.
Overall, between the surprisingly strong film and the fantastic features on display, CITIZEN TOXIE should be a worthy purchase for fans of the TOXIC AVENGER franchise or Troma in general. It’s easy to see why this film is the most beloved of the TOXIC AVENGER sequels, and while Troma is still an acquired taste for the unfamiliar, this film is fairly representative of the reasons why the company and their characters remain so beloved over the years. And with the company’s decision to trade in the world of high definition, many fright fans will get their first chance to experience the insanity that is CITIZEN TOXIE in the best format the film will likely ever traverse outside glorious 35mm.