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1989, dir. Lloyd Kaufman & Michael Herz
96 min. Not Rated.
Starring: Ron Fazio, John Altamura, Phoebe Legere, Rick Collins.

Review by Noel Wood

Now, I realize that what I'm doing this Halloween season is a tribute to the fine folks over at Troma films, but by no means does that imply that I'm not going to be brutally honest when I need to be. I'm going to be fairer and balanced-er than Fox News ever dreamed of being when I review these things. I'll tell you what's good, and I'll tell you what's bad.

And while THE TOXIC AVENGER is a great movie, THE TOXIC AVENGER 2 isn't quite up to snuff. I'll get to that momentarily.

The Toxic Avenger is our friend Melvin, who lives a happy life with his blind girlfriend Claire. Claire is apparently not the same person as his blind girlfriend Sarah from the first installment. Not only is she played by a different actress and dubbed with a different name, she's a bit sluttier than the previous blind gal, constantly clad in some of the tackiest outfits you've ever seen. the size of her hair and her breasts have jumped up a few notches since the last film as well. Melvin's mother has also received a bit of a makeover, going from the sweet little old lady in the original to a shoo-in for Linda Richmond in this one. And most importantly, The Toxic Avenger himself has received a little bit of a makeover in this edition as well, with his deep bellow gone and replaced by a happy-go-lucky do-gooder's voice. Melvin's last name has even changed from Furd to Junko sometime in the interim.

The story picks up a few years after the last TOXIC AVENGER film wrapped up. Tromaville has become a nice little town to live in since Toxie cleaned up all of the evil within it, and now its citizens dance in the street and live in peace. Toxie has chosen to volunteer at the Tromaville center for the blind, inspired by Claire. However, all of the peace and quiet has to end eventually, or else there would be no point to a sequel. Sure enough, some nefarious no-gooders called Apocalypse, Inc. blow up the center for the blind, leaving only Claire and Melvin as survivors. When they realize Melvin is still alive, they sic their henchmen on him. This sequence is a battle royale of sorts, with Toxie taking on just about every possible stereotype that his nemesis can throw at him, destroying them in manners that go farther than the first film even did.

The film takes a step back when the plot gets tossed in to the mix. You see, these Apocalypse Inc. folks are set to take over Tromaville, and in order to do that, they need to neutralize him. Their plan involves tricking Melvin to take a trip to Japan to find his long-lost father, while setting him up to have his "Tromatons", the chemicals in his body that make him destroy evil, wiped out.

Maybe this is where George Lucas got the idea for "Midichlorians". Once again, you take something cool like Toxie and castrate him by putting some goofy scientific explanation on his prowess. Now, I realize that TOXIC AVENGER movies ain't exactly grand scale opuses, but it's still a goofy excuse to go film on location in the Orient for a few months.

Shortly after his arrival in the land of the rising sun, Toxie rescues a young Japanese girl from some attackers, and she repays him by helping him to locate his pop. Of course, she speaks in the most shrill and harsh voice you've ever heard, and I don't even think Toxie wants to put up with it for long. Then again, I don't know how many people really want to put up with Melvin's annoying narration for an hour and a half, but what do I know?

Japan proves to be a haven for evil, as Melvin finds his Spider-Sense, er, Tromatons tingling far too often. This leads to some pretty fun sequences of unnecessary violence and gratuitious nudity, but that's what we're all here for anyway. Eventually, he finds his father, but his Tromatons are still going crazy. Turns out daddy is a tool of Apocalypse, Inc, and has been hired to relieve Toxie of his powers.

Toxie takes care of his situation in Japan, but while he's away, Apocalypse, Inc. has taken over Tromaville. After learning some training techniques from the Sumo, he heads back to save Claire from an army of evil women, and prepares to take back Tromaville from its captors.

But alas, THE TOXIC AVENGER PART 2 is only half of the picture. You see, initially this movie ran some four hours, and had to be split into two sepearate movies. As a result, you don't get a very satisfying conclusion until you reach THE TOXIC AVENGER PART 3, which was released shortly after this one. I'll get around to reviewing it next, so don't worry too much about me leaving you hanging here.

THE TOXIC AVENGER PART 2 is a lot less gory than is predecessor, focusing more on pure slapstick and poising itself as more of a comedy. Some of the violence is on par with the original, but there's just a certain something that's missing. The whole Japan trip just seems like it goes on forever without really accomplishing much other than to conveniently get the bad guys to take a foothold back in Toxie's hometown, and as I mentioned above, the end of the film is a little less than fulfilling.

But still, despite its flaws, THE TOXIC AVENGER PART 2 is a watchable sequel that certainly upholds its Troma banner. It ain't nearly as charming as the original, but it works okay as part of the whole.

Rating: Three out of five Toxies.


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