“Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV” begins with a classroom of disabled students getting rubbed out by “The Diaper Mafia,” a gang wielding guns and pacifiers while adorned in Depends undergarments and pink pajamas. Later, a walker-navigating senior citizen flips over a hot rod’s windshield during a nasty hit-and-run. A pious mayor is impaled by a wooden grave marker, and a police chief has his arms torn from their sockets like ears of corn being yanked off a stalk. Then, things get really ugly.
The latest spawn to be unleashed from Troma film guru Lloyd Kaufman, “Citizen Toxie” is a noxious cauldron of broken bones, bouncing breasts, and body fluids sucked through a whirring blender set for “puree.” In the tradition of past Troma gut-rippers like “Class of Nuke ’em High”, “Tromeo and Juliet”, and “Terror Firmer”, Kaufman shows what mankind can accomplish, using a hollowed out cantaloupe stuffed with cranberry sauce and run over by a speeding truck. (In his upcoming book, Make Your Own Damn Movie, the filmmaker warns against trying this splattered head effect with watermelons. “They’re too thick,” he explains.)
Here’s the setup in a nutshell. An explosion rocks Tromaville, the fictional New Jersey town that all of Kaufman’s twisted tales are based in, causing a “dimensional tear” between this gentle, peace-loving community and its polar opposite, Amortville. We follow Tromaville’s long-time superhero Toxie (David Mattey), a one-time health club mop boy, who once plunged into a vat of radioactive waste, and emerged a hulk-like crusader of justice. In this most recent installment, Toxie finds himself transported to the run-down, crime-plagued streets of Amortville. Meanwhile, his evil counterpart “Noxie” (aka The Noxious Offender, also played by Mattey) whips up a reign of violent terror in the once-tranquil Tromaville. Can these mis-matched mutants be re-routed to their proper dimensions before too much havoc is spread? Of course not. In Kaufman’s twisted world, excess is always best.
Aside from its go-for-broke gore, “Citizen Toxie” springs some inspired satire on viewers who can handle Troma’s bloody æsthetic. As Noxie decimates the town’s good citizens, an onlooker stands by a “Welcome to Tromaville” street sign and reduces the population statistics as each body is hastily dispatched. Another scene features a positive pregnancy test that reads, “CONGRATULATIONS / SORRY.” The fact that said E.P.T. is accidentally wedged into a sandwich and eaten for lunch is the gooey icing on this mucus-coated cake.
The film’s wild “piece de resistance,” however, is a knock-down, drag-out duel to the death between two unborn mutant twins. While they’re wrestling in the womb, using an umbilical cord as a bull-whip or strangulation rope, the two tots are trading slo-mo blows during a Troma-style homage to “Raging Bull”. Martin Scorsese must be proud.
As in previous Troma camp-fests, familiar faces from pop culture’s subversive fringes lurk about in nearly every frame. Lemmy Kilmeister, the burly, bass-playing biker from British band Motorhead, is along for the ride, as is Ron Jeremy, adult cinema’s omnipresent porn jester. The Late Hank the Drunken Dwarf of Howard Stern fame also leaves his soiled mark on “Citizen Toxie.” Corey Feldman, Hugh M. Hefner, writer James Gunn (currently penning the screenplay for “Scooby Do”), and nearly any other show business misfit that happened to be within spitting distance of the set can be glimpsed by a watchful eye.
What last-word summation can do justice to the pungent, visceral overkill of “Citizen Toxie”? Let me put it this way. There are times when a greasy cheeseburger hits the spot better than filet mignon, and moments when a can of malt liquor goes down easier than Chardonnay. With this in mind, Troma films are the cinematic equivalent to a night of drowning soggy fries in ketchup while sipping on a skunky Pabst Blue Ribbon in some sordid L.A. burlesque club. Hail Toxie.