A Face Not Even Mom Loves

There’s no rationalizing The Toxic Avenger, and why would anyone try? It’s pure unfiltered nonsense, with literal Nazi cops, Nazi goons, kids splattered by cars, elderly criminals shoved into a clothes dryer, and gratuitous nudity for the sake of it.

In 1984, no one saw Toxic Avenger was condensing the decade’s already hoary entertainment, from Porky’s to Rambo sequels and even RoboCop. The only difference is Toxic Avenger showed no fear or limits.

Watching Toxic Avenger is akin to experiencing a surreal mania from the past

A hero for the people – the righteous, normal people anyway, of which Toxic Avenger has few – Toxie (Mitch Cohen) exists in a world that’s seemingly in a weird pseudo-apocalypse, all pure Troma. It’s where gangs shoot dogs, point guns at babies, and viciously beat the elderly. Women take off their tops because sex sells, and the brutality willingly crosses every line.

It seems unbelievable this spawned a children’s cartoon series, but how quickly it’s forgotten that Rambo and RoboCop did too. Production values, meaningful satire, and serious dissection of PTSD aside (which is admittedly a lot), the films aren’t that different. Each celebrates American violence, suggests an ever dwindling social order, and exploits graphic gore for a profit. Toxic Avenger just does the worst of those things, and on a thin budget with a cartoon-like impact.

Watching Toxic Avenger is akin to experiencing a surreal mania from the past, with crude editing, sloppy dubbing, and the soul of hardcore exploitation. Toxic Avenger speaks on corrupt cops, corrupt government, a dwindling climate, and bullying, but does so with such unique verve as to forget all of that to focus on Toxie mauling exaggerated caricatures.

In a backwards way, Toxic Avenger parodies and mocks mainstream movies, going further into depravity than studio movies as if on a dare, yet doing exactly what those mega-budget productions do, only at a fraction of the budget. That’s admirable, and when combined with impossibly ludicrous dialog, Toxic Avenger accidentally works as low-rent, low-class entertainment. Undoubtedly, if movies were given consciousness, low-rent and low-class would be taken as the greatest of compliments by Toxic Avenger.


While littered with specks, scratches and dust, Toxic Avenger’s 4K restoration is otherwise a great one. It’s remarkable how much detail the print contains. Texture looks stellar, and the overall definition is striking at its peak. The sharpness rarely deviates from high-end perfection. Facial definition hits an absurd peak in close. A few inconsistencies randomly appear, as if the frame is out of alignment. Those pass quickly.

Satisfying color replication pumps up the saturation without losing the flesh tones and their natural glow. Primaries excel, from the green ooze that spawns Toxie to the clothing.

HDR brightens the New Jersey skyline and scenery. Highlights give Toxic Avenger new life, especially during the transformation sequence, and the stable black levels look impeccable too.


While the video defies age and budget, the audio struggles. Scratchy and muffled dialog both reduce fidelity, with some lines coming across worse than others. Dubbed lines stick out painfully. The cheap score strains the treble.


Lloyd Kaufman provides an introduction and a commentary. A second commentary features the cast, Robert Prichard, Gary Schneider, and Dan Snow. On the Blu-ray only, separate interviews with each of them join an additional interview with co-director Michael Herz. Star Mark Togl speaks on the film in another bonus, with a photo gallery and trailer closing Toxic Avenger out.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

The Toxic Avenger
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras


Trash that embraces trashiness, Toxic Avenger’s surreal absurdity remains iconic.

User Review
5 (2 votes)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 45 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD:

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