When it comes to cult movies - and I mean really horrible Z-rate (a B-rating would be an honorific for these “films”) - film, one can do no better (or worse) than Troma Entertainment. With dozens of films with insane titles like Cannibals! The Musical, Surf Nazis Must Die, and Class of Nuke 'Em High, Troma has made a name for itself in the world of horrible-but-loveable cult films. Over twenty years after the release of his “cinematic masterpiece,” Lloyd Kaufman, owner of Troma Entertainment, has teamed up with Adam Jahke to deliver the book version of their classic film The Toxic Avenger.
Now, those who have never heard of The Toxic Avenger may be surprised to know that this gross manifestation of a warped imagination has experienced quite the media blitz over the years. His popularity spawned three sequels, a comic book series, and several seasons of a cartoon series, The Toxic Crusaders. After all that, it’s hard to imagine that a novel based on the first movie could really give readers anything more to laugh, cry, or be offended by, but Kaufman proves that he can stoop even lower than dirt.
The Toxic Avenger goes where no movie, cartoon, or comic book could (or would want to for that matter), and just when one believes the humor could not get any more disgusting and lewd, Kaufman proves there is no end to debasing humanity. The story itself follows the antics of Melvin Ferd as he transitions from weak, imbecilic janitor living at home with his nagging mother into powerful, still somewhat imbecilic Toxie, living in the local junk heap at the coolest bachelor pad this side of Tromaville while fighting evil, injustice, and the American way - the American way being greed, exploitation, and violence.
This book is, first and foremost, hilarious. The storyline is nothing impressive, but the asides, the footnotes, the descriptions, and everything else will ceaselessly produce laughter in readers. Whether it is chapter three’s title, “The Gang (Wherein Little Melvin Stumbles onto a Scene of Hot Group Sex and Discovers the Joys of Sweet Sapphic Love)” or the fantastic footnotes that run like a DVD commentary (“A few jobs that are less glamourous than janitor are fish sexer, janitor’s aide, and any position with Troma Entertainment including president.”), the laughs keep flowing. Kaufman, who claims absolutely no hand in the actual writing process, cannot deny that his humor permeates the book. Indeed, this novel would not be nearly as entertaining and hilarious without his sadistic touch. Six pages of black and white photos also accompany this book with more outrageous and amusing captions.
No one should pick up this book for a compelling story. It has no chance of being a bestseller, an award winner, or remembered in five years from now. The publisher will probably have to pay people to take away future copies after all the fans have purchased their copies. Next year, it could be used for toilet paper in several third-world countries, and truth be told, that’s probably the best use for it. But everyone, or at least those with a tough stomach, should pick it up for the laughs and endless humor found throughout the story.