If a comic book uber-geek and a B-movie fanboy had a lovechild, and then that lovechild fell into a vat of radioactive chemicals, "The Toxic Avenger" would emerge dripping in slimy, campy ooze. A midnight-screening cult classic, "The Toxic Avenger" is such a broad and hyperbolic horror/comedy that only the most adolescent of gore-hounds could find its mix of locker room raunch and latex entrails tantalizing.
Swimming somewhere amongst the puerility is a nerd's revenge fantasy. Tromaville is the "Toxic Waste Capital of the World", according to its welcome sign. Melvin's the shrimpy janitor at a proto-Globo Gym full of juicers and leotarded floozies. In a prank he's accidentally dumped into barrel of toxic waste, and then mutates into a tutu adorning elephant man with a knack for crime fighting.
The town's a cesspool -- and I don't just mean the leftover plutonium and battery acid: a surplus of crazed criminals rule the streets, a quartet of meatheads -- who look like 70's-porno actors -- run over pedestrians for fun. The town mayor sells drugs, and even a nice old lady runs a sweatshop. You'd think it was Dodge City. Melvin starts to mop up the scum and wins the heart of a blind damsel in distress.
"The Toxic Avenger" is sporadically nauseating, often sadistic, and not nearly as sickly-funny as it thinks it is. Tongue-in-cheek irreverence never works when it's this labored over; it's funnier when the self-knowingness is smoothly woven in (like in "The Evil Dead 2"). Any political or environmental subtext drowns in a pool of organ puree and dick jokes. If diverting carnage is your cup o' tea, you might find this playfully disgusting. I found it airheaded, gross and, frankly, boring.