|Film Title: Citizen Toxie : The Toxic Avenger Part 4||Year Released: 2000|
|Reviewed By: Egregious Gurnow|
|Movie Website: Click Here|
|Overall Stars: ***||Scare Factor: **|
We come to expect a narrative, with each successive sequel, to get progressively worse, the acting more decrepit, and the directing to be less and less existent. However, as paradoxical as it might be, with intentional B-movie fare this rule of thumb works to a franchise’s advantage and, fortunately for his viewers, director Lloyd Kaufman took full advantage of this opportunity by giving us not just one or two sequels, but--to date--four chapters in the Toxic Avenger series. This having been said, Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV not only doesn’t disappoint, but mounts to a level which might have been expected for the eighth of ninth installment. Alas, no one does it like Kaufman!
While attempting to save the Tromaville School for the Very Special from the Diaper Mafia, The Toxic Avenger (David Mattey) and his sidekick, Lardass (Joe Fleishaker), accidentally open an interdimensional gate to the town’s polar metropolis, Amortville. During the rift, Toxie and his doppelganger, The Noxious Offender, or Noxie (David Mattey), exchange resident locales. While the former attempts to return to his own dimension, Noxie doubly impregnates Toxie’s wife, Sarah (Heidi Sjursen), while reaping havoc upon the peaceful populace.
Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV opens with a voiceover by Stan Lee, apologizing for the first two sequels to The Toxic Avenger before decreeing that the film we are about to watch is the real sequel to the original. Once Sarah, Toxie’s consistently name-changing girlfriend throughout the series, appears blind once more (as we left her in the original), we are forced to acknowledge that the apology is to be taken seriously. But, as with every Troma film, Kaufman seizes the opportunity to poke fun at himself in that, having renamed the character three times in the span of four films, once we encounter Sarah’s opposite in Amortville--Claire (as the character was redubbed for Parts II and III), thus implying what Kaufman really thinks of the previous two films. But, as the director also did with said installments, we once again see other new faces representing steadfast, established characters as the titular character is now played by David Mattey as--blasphemy!--Toxie is likewise, given a new look.
As can be expected, Kaufman ups the ante in most every respect from the previous chapters as we are presented with satires of . . . well . . . just about everything. Among the most memorable instances amid the continuous onslaught of mockery, we are given Troma’s rendition of famed physicist Stephen Hawking via one Doctor Flem Hocking (James Gunn, looking like Billy Joe of Green Day), the “noted science guy” with “obligatory exposition.” As always, narrative legislation is breeched as Hocking is used as a plot explicator who outlines all of the juxtaposed confusion which preceded his introduction, beginning with a cunning exposition concerning the existence of “Amortville” (loosely translated as “a town of death”). This is after we are issued a hostage crisis lead by the Diaper Mafia as reported by Channel 69’s Tromaville Action News team (the station’s insignia being “TnA”), which weighs the influences that might have played into the terrorist group’s motivation for their killings, as the anchors cite music, movies, and video games as possible culprits but adamantly refuse to humor the notion that violence seen on the evening news played any role whatsoever in the unfortunate event. Next, in signature Troma style, a black man (Barry Brisco) is drug behind a truck. Toxie apprehends the driver (Mitch Cohen, the original Toxic Avenger), burns him to the point where the figure appears to be in blackface, and delivers him to a Klan rally. In order to keep from exhausting its satirical value midway through the picture, Kaufman then takes us to Abortions ’R Us, which is lined by picketers chanting “Choose Life or Die,” before a very pregnant Sarah is reported as needing to be “de-fetused” stat. Last but not least, we have a barrage of parodies of American superheroes with the Vibrator (Lauren Heather McMahon), a female superhero whose name speaks for itself; a satire upon Aquaman with the introduction of Dolphinman (Olivier Tendon), who is admittedly pretty ineffective unless water comes into play; the Man Cowboy (Anthony Cantanese), an insane bovine-human mutant; Master-Bator (Jarred Alterman), an auto-stimulating rapper; and irrefutably the best actor in the Troma series, Sergeant Kabukiman, NYPD (Paul Kyrmse), an Eastern protagonist who is perpetually drunk (though, sadly, the filmmakers have him drinking Vodka at every turn instead of Sake).
Trademark laughs by way of satire disguised as irrelevancy are abound as two Tromavillians stand beside the town’s welcoming sign and tear off sheets of paper from the population listing like calendar days as Noxie depopulates the village. Mocking the discrepancy between reel and real time in cinema, as the bomb which will trigger the interdimensional rift announces T-5, Toxie breaks in order to impregnate Sarah, have her pack his lunch, and stops to chat with a gay, mentally challenged, junkie (Michael Budinger), all before returning in the nick of time. Yet, above all else, Sarah’s pregnancy test results, which read, “Congratulations. Sorry you’re pregnant,” stand second only to the very subtle, yet highly creative, phonetic play between the terms “Nazi” and “Noxie,” as our antagonist’s fascist army house red armbands with their leader’s face in place of a swastika.
What would a Troma pic be without a handful of homages posited tongue-in-cheek? In reference to the original in the series, yet going one more in so doing, we have once again Terry Gilliam’s Monty Python and the Holy Grail with a double arm removal sequence. Remember the beheading scene in the original? How about the old lady whom Toxie helps across the street? Well, not only does Kaufman combine the two to a very explicit degree, but he signs off by having Doris Troncillito’s character shit herself as the last bits of life ooze from her decapitated corpse. Victor Fleming’s The Wizard of Oz is utilized once again as well as Auntie Em is mentioned atop Toxie wearily admitting that “I don’t think we’re in Tromaville anymore” before the key to returning home is made possible by similar methods utilized in the 1939 production. But the fun doesn’t stop here. Obviously, given the title, Orson Welles’s masterpiece is redrawn as we enter “Tromadu,” a Tromatized version of Zanadu, as Hugh Hefner’s playboy mansion stands in for the famed newspaper giant’s home, only overtly delivered as a bordello parading as a palace of prestige. On par with his ever-present insistence upon cinematic deconstruction, Kaufman places his allusion to Welles next to Frank Henenlotter’s cult classic, Brain Damage, as we are victim to a personified penis after delivering his requisite 3 Stooges jibe before wrapping up with a wink-and-a-nod to David Fincher’s lost line in Fight Club, “I want to have your abortion.”
Surprisingly, amid the parodies, laughs, and various allusions, as the staple gore from the original returns by the vat-ful, we are presented--for the first time--with actual character development but, as can be expected, Kaufman reserves this valued cinematic technique for a minor character as he continues to bombard us with intentionally poor overdubbing via his main character.
However, as much chaotic, flippant fun Citizen Toxie may be, Kaufman’s bouncing between parallel universes does become a bit distracting, leading one--at times--to suspect that the narrative might not be entirely consistent. Yet, we are forced to quickly abandon such trite quibbles with the storyline and admit that if we were to continue to ponder such truly arbitrary aesthetic concerns, we might well be the focus of the director’s satirical distain during his next feature.
In conclusion, Lloyd Kaufman brings us another masterpiece as only he could concoct. In short, everything that one comes to expect from a Troma production is present in Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV, only four-fold. However, before I wrap, I have to say I was greatly, greatly impressed, surprised, and daunted by Paul Kyrmse’s performance and was saddened to discover that he has done little outside of his role as Kabukiman.
Conversation piece: Watch for cameos by Motörhead’s Lemmy; porn stars Ron Jeremy and Julie Strain, Corey Feldman, and Eli Roth
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