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September 20, 2013

Movie Review: The Toxic Avenger - The Japanese Cut (1986)

Troma’s classic The Toxic Avenger really needs no introduction – it’s a classic. Not only is it one of the best cult films ever made but it's a special film that truly put Troma on the map after about 15 years of churning out horror and exploitation. 

You know the story: Melvin, the 90-pound weakling, falls into a vat of toxic waste and instead of melting, turns into a limb-ripping, head-splattering superhero. It’s politically incorrect and has something to offend everybody. That’s the charm, and the reason it appealed to folks all over the world - including the people of Japan who embraced this film like a Kaiju. Troma has now released a rarely seen alternate Japanese version so fans can enjoy a little extra Toxie.

The Toxic Avenger has seen numerous versions - an R-Rated cut, a TV cut (usually shown on USA UP All Night) a director's cut that includes all the excised gore from the R-rated and TV cut. The unrated Director's cut also includes some extra dialogue in addition to the grue. This Japanese cut is slightly longer with a couple of minutes just that. Nothing mind-blowing here but it's something big fans will eat up. The extra footage mainly consists of the Mayor and some additional exchanges between Melvin and his mom. Anyone who may have purchased the long out of print Japanese Laser-disc that included this same version will be pleased that the digital censorship on the nastier gore scenes that was present is nowhere on this DVD.

The video and audio quality isn't quite as sharp as the Director's cut as the colors are washed a bit but it is understandable because of it initially being aimed at the Japanese twenty years ago, so age consequently has caught up with this tape master. Don't expect a restoration, but do expect a decent enough presentation.

The extras aren't too heavy here: The old intro used for the Japanese with both Michael Herz and Troma President Lloyd Kaufman is present on this release. The two Troma heads go into a little background on the film in front of an audience that looks much like what you'd see on an old episode of Jerry Springer. Some cool information is covered on the production of The Toxic Avenger and even corny jokes get dropped with the aid of obvious canned laughter. Trailers for other Troma flicks are also and included to round out the discs supplements.

When it's all said and done this release will most likely cater to the big Toxic Avenger fans and not so much the casual viewers. I'm one of those big fans so it fits just nicely to my Director's Cut and the three sequels. Now bring on the Blu-ray! Recommended.

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