Aki Vs. Evil – The Toxic Avenger and Father’s Day

In a previous instalment I discussed directors, who’s work I might not be the biggest fan of, but I do appreciate their existence. I could have easily added Michael Herz and Lloyd Kaufman (who co-directed this under a pseudonym) to the list.

Spoilers.

In The Toxic Avenger, Melvin, the janitor for a gym, happens to step on the wrong toes accidentally, so he is targeted for harassment by the pretty sociopathic clients. He ends up being drenched in toxic waste, which transform him into a superhero of sorts, but who is disfigured enough to be called a monster by the press. He meets a blind woman, who he starts a relationship with, and roams the city streets attacking various criminals, which puts him into the sights of the mayor and his criminal organization.

In Father’s Day, Ahab (get it?) is hunting The Father Killer, a serial killer who targets fathers specifically, including Ahab’s. He is joined by Twink, who’s father has just been killed, and Ahab’s adoptive father’s mentee, a local priest. Together they dwell deeper into the mystery.

Herz and Kaufman started Troma in 1974, making it the worlds longest running independent studio (according to Wikipedia). Father’s Day is by Astron-6, a Canadian production company, but it does also carry the Troma branding and the duo produced it. Both of these movies also take place in Tromaville, an absurdly corrupt town somewhere in New Jersey.

The Toxic Avenger was kind of hit for Troma in mid-80s. It’s their best known property with several sequels, attempts at remakes, a child-friendly animated TV show and so forth. I’m not sure where the attraction is. I guess the grotesque countenance of our hero is the thing, but the movie in itself is not that good. There doesn’t seem to be a very strong plot, but instead the scenes just happen. There is some motivation and some incidents sort of leading into others, but there’s not much in the way of bones between the meat. I’m not one to use my energy to try to make myself look smart by trying to point out meaningless plotholes, but that’s kind of the way this movie works. Things just happen to elicit strong responses from the audience – the basic B-movie formula.

Father’s Day almost feels like a parody of a Troma movie. Everything feels like turned up a couple of more notches. Whereas Troma movies try to be fun and sort of sex positive, Father’s Day has plenty of elderly male-on-male rape, sexual torture and incest. It’s a gross-out movie, but instead of bodily functions, it grosses us out by using taboos. It also makes fun of the disjointed nature of B-movies. At one point there’s a teaser for another, fictional movie, and our heroes just travel the distance they were trying to figure out how to cover without any explanation.

I don’t know how much the fact that these movies had multiple directors contributed to the feel of the movies, but I think it’s more that they didn’t really care when making The Toxic Avenger and they tried to mimic this in Father’s Day. Still, the first one had two directors and the second one had a whopping five – all the members of Astron-6. While Astron-6 hasn’t worked in this manner since this movie, it is interesting to see a movie like this. How did they divide the duties? With such a small budget as theirs, it would seem cumbersome to have meetings on everything.

Recently I was watching a video by Patrick (H) Willems. He talked about superhero movies for adults. Not porn, but how the characters for children have somehow been co-opted by certain groups, who want R-rated entertainment. But how is this actually for adults? I mean, if we look at those R-rated superhero movies, most of them are not really for what we would consider adult tastes. Sure, there’s Logan, which is a great movie, but there’s also Deadpool (which is also good, but very different) and Batman v. Superman (which I’ve never seen), which are limited to adults not because they have themes adults would find interesting, but because they have content some people want to protect children from.

So, Troma is pretty much specialized on these movies: Not really movies for adults, but movies restricted for adults. Gladly, there’s plenty of us who are old enough to watch these movies, but not really adults. I’m 43 and I still love all this stupid shit, because there’s honesty in this stupidity. These movies don’t try to be anything more than what they are. There’s plenty of movies, which are at least as stupid in their content, but are trying to be serious and fail horribly. I don’t really like most of the Michael Bay movies I’ve seen, but I do have a certain appreciation for him as a director, becaue he is also very honest about what he wants to do. He just happens to have a hundred times more money to use, which weirdly makes his movies less interesting.

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