So, this is the third of Troma’s Toxic Avenger series and the third I’ve reviewed and what more is there to say? Well, while the first was all out, over the top, lo-fi schlock and the second was Toxie’s epic adventure movie, what then is his Last Temptation?
In terms of the plot Toxie is tempted to the dark side by the returning Apocalypse Inc with an offer of hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for eye surgery for his blind finance, Claire. This comes after an extensive, soul-searching first act of the film where the gory schlock of the previous movies is replaced with a surprisingly existential crisis – alongside the expected off colour humour.
While the first, and some of the second, Toxie movies hadn’t quite hit home with this humour this one has a lot more charm so, while it certainly could be viewed as offensive to pretty well everyone, the jokes seem far more good-natured and step over a barrier into such surreal territory as to clearly be something of fantasy.
Key to this is the performance of Phoebe Legere as Claire. The impression I got is that, other than the scenes where she is blind, this isn’t really someone acting but is a massively eccentric performance artist just doing what she does (be it dancing, singing or inexplicably, plot-wise, playing the accordion), while Toxie moves the plot along around her.
The other aspect that seems to work better here is the satire. While it remains hugely heavy-handed it actually does seem to be making a point.
The opening sequence sees Apocalypse Inc’s henchmen taking over a video rental shop and replacing all the indie, and specifically Troma, films with the top 20 from the big studios – then Toxie turns up and disembowels the bad guys in classic Troma style. Like I say, it’s not subtle but it gets its point across and has fun with it, also setting up an ongoing series of hyper-meta references to Troma’s own movies, and the fact that The Toxic Avenger is a movie too.
The satire against big business continues as Toxie becomes a Toxic Yuppie in the thrall of Apocalypse Inc, before we step back into the realms of absurd fantasy when The Devil turns up for the (comparatively) big action climax.
Much like the previous movie where the expanded budget was spent on going to Japan, Toxie 3 uses its budget to destroy some things, mostly school busses, so, while its scope isn’t quite as broad as its predecessor it does have some fairly impressive (by Troma standards) action moments as Toxie is put through his paces and, inevitable, sets the world to rights and becomes a true all American hero – like a kind of deformed mutant Hulk Hogan in a tutu.
Of course, movies like this are always going to be an acquired taste and, while this is the least gory of the Toxie movies so far, it is probably the most well executed and generally entertaining making far more watchable, if not entirely absorbing.