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MOVIE REVIEW : No Antidote for 'Toxic Avenger'

November 10, 1989|CHRIS WILLMAN

Troma Inc.'s no-budget scuzzball horror-comedies, like the movies listed on the marquee at any Pussycat Theater from week to week, can be counted on to have all their best creative energies invested in the title alone. "The Toxic Avenger III: The Last Temptation of Toxie" (selected theaters) is yet another case in which the agonizingly cretinous script seems to have been a bothersome afterthought to the brainstorming session for the name, which in this case promises Scorsese parody and delivers only sore-sleazy prattle. Death be quick.

A prologue recapping the first two films reminds us that the Toxic Avenger--a nerd who gained superhuman strength and homeliness in an industrial accident--is "the first super-hero from New Jersey." No doubt he's also the first super-hero ever to reach into a squirming bad guy's guts, pull out his intestines and play jump-rope with them in the opening scene of a motion picture.

Toxie's real battle, though, is with old Beelzebub himself, a wacky marauder who offers the Avenger control of Tromaland, N.J., for his complicity. The monstrous hero briefly falls for this devilish line and turns into an ugly, "babe"-spouting, power-tie-wearing yup--an amusing idea badly bungled by butterfingered director/producers Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz, whose idea of satire is stuck somewhere between the Garbage Pail Kids and fifth-grade boys'-room sex jokes.

Having the hero of the grade-Z "Toxic Avenger III" (MPAA-rated R) resist selling his soul to the devil is too, too ironic; based on this cynical amateur enterprise, Kaufman and Herz seem like the sort of junior auteurs who would gladly gift-wrap and offer points on their souls for Satan, if only he would return their calls.

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