Netflix Review – Love, Death, and Robots: A Heavy Metal Reboot without the Rights

Netflix decided to give Tim Miller (Deadpool) and David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club, The Game, Gone Girl) a shot at the reboot of Heavy Metal that they’d been pitching for years, only without the name or the soundtrack.

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Yep, this aged perfectly.

SUMMARY

It’s an anthology. It’s 18 different stories done by different teams that have basically no common theme. Sure, the title makes it seem like everything is Sci-Fi, but they’re not. Most are, to be sure, but not all.

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Art styles vary immensely and awesomely.

Here’s a sentence about each of them, in the order that they originally posted them, though Netflix is playing with the order:

Sonnie’s Edge: A woman psychically commands a bio-engineered monster in future gladiatorial matches.

Three Robots: Three different AIs explore the remains of Earth in a parody of most people taking a trip to a foreign country.

The Witness: A woman witnesses a murder and is pursued by the killer all through the city.

Suits: Farmers in Mech-Suits defend their crops against futuristic coyote-like aliens.

Sucker of Souls: Vampires vs. Cats does not favor the Vampire.

When the Yogurt Took Over: Yogurt is smarter than people, but you probably knew that already.

Beyond the Aquila Rift: Lost space crew ends up finding what they hope are familiar faces.

Good Hunting: Probably the one with the biggest metaphor in the entire series… and also a steampunk transformer.

The Dump: A guy who runs a dump finds out there are more than just rats living there.

Shape-Shifters: The US has werewolves fight the Taliban and it’s pretty awesome.

Helping Hand: Someone crossbred Gravity and 127 Hours.

Fish Night: Two stranded salesmen find a mystical doorway to a time before people.

Lucky 13: A pilot tells stories about her connection with an “unlucky” ship.

Zima Blue: A journalist finds out the truth behind the last great work of the universe’s greatest artist.

Blindspot: Cyperpunks try to rob a convoy.

Ice Age: The Simpsons episode “The Genesis Tub” (itself a ripoff of The Twilight Zone’s “The Little People”) gets ripped-off in a fun short with a solid ending.

Alternate Histories: We watch Hitler get killed a lot in fun ways, including being beaten to death by angry Jewish people.

Secret War: The Red Army fights a demon invasion.

END SUMMARY

Since this was originally supposed to be a new version of Heavy Metal, I think it should go without saying that this is very Not Safe For Work. Now, sometimes it is actually done quite well, with nudity that is artistic or swearing that feels natural or in-character. Sometimes, it’s just boobs for the sake of boobs… but not in the way that Heavy Metal did them. See, Heavy Metal was always about hyperbolic exaggeration and exploitation, going so over-the-top that it bordered on self-parody. It’s that full-on almost comedy feel that allowed you to avoid any form of introspection about exactly why you thought a movie featuring mostly half-naked and incredibly busty women committing acts of ultra-violence was more fun than, say, . However, some of these shorts are actually very thought-provoking, which, unfortunately, means that sometimes you actually do notice when the nudity is just there for titillation.

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… This is like 2 minutes of nothing plot-essential.

I’d say that, and this is a rarity for an anthology, I don’t think there’s actually a “bad” short in here. Some are better than others, to be sure, but there’s not one where I point to it and say “nothing in this was good.” The animation styles range quite a bit, going from basically photorealistic CGI to moving pulp comics, but all of them are very impressive. Given that all of them are shorts, it’s difficult to really get involved with the characters as much as you would in a traditional movie, but very few of these are actually character-driven. Most of them are just about the action or the scenario playing out, often with a solid twist at the end. Some are deep and require an exploration of the use of symbolism or allusion, while some of them are just people blowing stuff up or robots making funny jokes.

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Seriously, all of the animation is amazing. 

I’m going to go ahead and address the elephant in the review that I keep seeing on people’s social media comments about the series: Yeah, several of these are very exploitative towards women and, as I said earlier, not in the original “oh, this is so ridiculous it’s basically harmless” way. Good Hunting, for example, includes scenes of things being done to a woman which are deeply disturbing on many, many levels. Now, yes, they’re supposed to be deeply disturbing because the person doing them is a monster (part of the theme of the short), but the fact is that it’s still graphically evoking the theme of violence against women. It’s definitely something that was bound to cause controversy, particularly when you consider it was an almost all-male production crew. If you’re not into exploitation, the following shorts are probably still fine for you: Zima Blue, Three Robots, Alternate Histories (there’s sex, but it kills Hitler and is super abstract, so…), Suits, Sucker of Souls, When the Yogurt Took Over, Helping Hand, Fish Night, Lucky 13, Ice Age, Blindspot.

The best short in the show, in my opinion, is Zima Blue. I was shocked to see that TV Guide’s review called it “a big old bucket of bolts.” The art in it is magnificent, but it’s actually what you can understand about the story on a second watching, having learned the ending, that really sets it apart. It’s about the nature of being an artist, about creating, and about trying to make others see that which you hold within you that is so basic and primal that you can’t even bring into words. What the artist, Zima, figures out, is something so complicated that it’s moved all the way back to simple and it’s that particular moment of clarity that the ending captures beautifully.

LDR - 5ZimaBlue.png
So beautiful.

Overall, I will say that I like that Netflix is trying new things, particularly taking advantage of its lack of a rating system.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

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55) Deaths-Head Revisited (The Twilight Zone)

“All the Dachaus must remain standing. The Dachaus, the Belsens, the Buchenwalds, the Auschwitzes – all of them. They must remain standing because they are a monument to a moment in time when some men decided to turn the Earth into a graveyard. Into it they shoveled all of their reason, their logic, their knowledge, but worst of all their conscience. And the moment we forget this, the moment we cease to be haunted by its remembrance, then we become the gravediggers. Something to dwell on and to remember, not only in the Twilight Zone but wherever men walk God’s Earth.”

The Joker On The Sofa

It’s pretty obvious from their contemporary portrayal in movies like The Great Dictator, that most of Europe and the rest of the world didn’t realize how bad concentration camps were. When we did find out, most of the people who heard the descriptions or, even worse, saw the camps themselves, wanted to forget that such a thing ever happened. Even now, one of the things that most aids Holocaust deniers is that the camps were literally nearly unbelievably cruel. It’s so uncomfortable to bring up, some people just want to avoid the subject altogether. Rod Serling was not one of those people.

TwilightZoneConcentrationCamp.png Oh, yes, just funny walks. That’s all.

Serling clearly had a mad-on for intolerance in general, and for Hitler and Nazism in particular. He often wrote episodes that depict horrifying ends for people who judge based on race, as well as any who would sympathize with the…

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Rick and Mondays – S3E1 “The RickShank RickDemption”

Season 3 kicks off with a game-changing bang… that tells us the game isn’t changing.

SUMMARY

It’s been a few months since the Second Season Finale and Rick (Justin Roiland)  is being interrogated by the Galactic Federation’s top agent Cornvelious Daniel (Nathan “Firefly Was A Masterpiece” Fillion) inside of a fake reality that exists in Rick’s brain. Rick quickly sees through the ruse and reveals that he is actually capable of making alterations to the interrogation scenario when he changes Cornvelious Daniel’s coffee into a farting butt. Despite that, Cornvelious Daniel tries to convince Rick to show him the secret to interdimensional portal technology by giving him the chance to relive his last memory of his wife. Rick agrees to take him there, but they stop for McDonald’s Mulan Szechuan McNugget Sauce along the way, because it only exists in his memory.

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The image that launched a thousand a-holes to later go to McDonalds.

Meanwhile, Summer (Spencer Grammer) is rebelling against the family’s new life under Galactic Federation rule. Beth (Sarah Chalke) is unemployed because alien tech makes horses immortal, while Jerry (Chris Parnell) is thriving, because his new bosses are such bureaucrats that people who are completely clueless are more successful under them. Morty (Roiland) tries to talk Summer out of saving Rick, but ends up telling her that the dead Rick from “Rick Potion #9” has a working portal gun. She robs the grave, but the pair are caught by the family’s robot Conroy (Tom “Ice King” Kenny). They escape through a portal to Morty’s original universe and are saved by Jerry C-137 and Summer C-137. The now near-feral Smiths destroy the portal gun and try to exile Summer, but are stopped by a group of Ricks from the Citadel of Ricks who detected the portal gun’s destruction. Summer tells the Ricks that Rick C-137 has been captured, but is dismayed when they tell her that means he’ll have to be killed by Seal Team Ricks.

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The image that launched a thousand fanfiction.net nightmares.

Back in Rick’s head, he shows Cornvelious Daniel the story of figuring out interdimensional travel: While he was just a scientist in his garage trying to invent in-universe teleportation, another Rick came to him and informed him that teleportation is not an accomplishment, but interdimensional travel is. Rick, however, realized that this would make him miserable and alone, so he refused, infuriating the other Rick, who left. Rick C-137’s wife, Diane (Kari Wahlgren), comes out to check on him and Rick says that he’s giving up on science, so they should go for ice cream. He gets in the car, but when Diane and Beth come out, someone blows up the garage. Rick then writes out the mathematics behind interdimensional portal technology, something that the modern Rick says made him an “unfeeling ghost.” Cornvelious Daniel, thrilled at having achieved his message, uploads the equations… only to find out that they actually give control of the “brainalyzer” to Rick, who puts his brain into Daniel’s body and leaves him to die. The entire backstory was a lie. As Rick, now in Cornvelious Daniel’s body, tries to use his access to shut down the Federation, he’s interrupted by Seal Team Ricks, who kill everyone, but Rick manages to put his brain into one of the other Rick’s heads and kill the rest of the team, escaping from the Federation. He contacts the Citadel of Ricks and transfers his consciousness into the body of a high-ranking Rick.

S3E1 - 3Diane.png
Probably not even close to Rick’s actual (likely redheaded) ex-wife.

Summer and Morty are being put on trial by the Council of Ricks, to whom Morty admits that he still is loyal to Rick. The trial is interrupted by Rick C-137 teleporting the citadel into the middle of the Galactic Federation Prison. Chaos ensues, with prisoners and the Ricks and Mortys fighting each other. The Council of Ricks take Morty and Summer hostage, but most of them are killed by Rick C-137. The remaining Council Rick (Riq IV) holds Summer hostage, but Rick C-137 fakes being shot by Morty (who didn’t know about it), giving him an opening to kill Riq IV. Rick, Morty, and Summer then break into the highest-level room of the Prison, giving Rick access to the top of the Federation’s computer system. Rick then changes the value of their currency to 0, collapsing the Federation economy and leading them to evacuate the Earth. Rick then returns home, where Jerry tells Beth to pick between Rick and him. She picks Rick and divorces Jerry. Being left alone with Morty, Rick proceeds to tell him that he did all of this to get rid of Jerry and the Federation, because he wants more Mulan McNugget Sauce.

END SUMMARY

I can’t even begin to cover this episode without mentioning the fact that it was part of one of the greatest April Fools Day pranks in history. Without warning anyone, this episode began to play on a continuous loop on Adult Swim. I was at a party at the time, and I didn’t believe it, thinking it was just a prank. But then we bothered to check the site and, to our amazement, here was a new episode of the show, almost exactly a year and a half after the last one, just like Mr. Poopybutthole said. Absolutely amazing.

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Few images have made me happier than seeing this that day.

This episode stands for a complete rejection of character development, something that helps set this show apart in comparison with similar series, while simultaneously playing with the notion of what constitutes such development. At the end of the second season, we believe that Rick has finally decided to do something for his family rather than himself, but this episode reveals that everything was actually just Rick getting revenge on all of his enemies through an elaborate gambit. Morty, who threatens to never forgive Rick for leaving in the last episode, reveals that his feelings towards Rick haven’t changed. Beth, who finally seems to have gotten past her fear of her father leaving, immediately takes him back. The only one who seems to really change is Summer, who is now somewhat idolizing Rick. At the end of the episode, Rick takes it a step further by revealing that his new motivation is now just to get more McDonald’s Mulan Szechuan McNuggets sauce. Not to avenge his family or to fight for justice or anything else that usually motivates protagonists, no, just the sauce.  And that’s one of the best jokes a show can make: Rick’s motivation is completely unimportant to us, so why shouldn’t it be something absurd?

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Also, a reference to Angel from X-men becoming Archangel, another pointless change.

We even think that we’re getting Rick’s secret backstory to explain why he is the way he is, only for it to be revealed to be completely made up. It’s similar to how a lot of writers have treated the Joker in comics and film: Even when we’re given a backstory, it’s best to think that it could be a complete lie. After all, if we found out that Rick really is just driven by some catastrophic event or concrete motivation, wouldn’t that kind of ruin what makes him awesome? He’s just a force of chaos and that’s what works for him.

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This tells us nothing and everything at the same time.

Overall, this episode was the perfect continuation of the last season’s cliffhanger. It had references to things that had happened throughout the series, but it also just re-established the setting for the true Rick and Morty formula: Rick and Morty doing random crazy stuff because Rick’s a selfish prick.

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

Alright, so I just pointed out that this episode ultimately removes any real selfless element of Rick’s sacrifice from the season 2 finale, but I actually don’t think that’s completely true. Let’s break down how Rick’s plan worked:

  1. Get captured.
  2. Get put in a brainalyzer with an agent who wants the formula for interdimensional transportation.
  3. Determine what brainalyzer you’re in by seeing how many times Jerry can fold himself.
  4. Use that information to determine what virus will give you control of the machine.
  5. Put your brain in the agent’s body.
  6. Get Level 9 access.
  7. Wreck Federation Economy.
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… So, they don’t have English, but they use Arabic numbers? Also, this would not work.

Ultimately, this didn’t end up working out beyond step 5, because of Seal Team Ricks, but at the end of the plan, there didn’t seem to be any steps that would actually get his family back. His last conversation with Morty was that Morty would never forgive him for leaving. Without Morty and Summer being captured by the citadel, who incidentally become victims of Rick’s original plan, Rick might not have been able to get back into the family. Sure, Morty later said that he hadn’t ever really renounced Rick, but Rick isn’t exactly perfect at guessing Morty’s motivations (see: Morty shooting him in the head). Now, he was aware that everyone but Jerry was on his side before leaving, but that’s still a huge risk that he’s never going to see them again, which means that on some level he was at least trying to do something to make his family’s lives better at his own peril.

If you’re saying that he knew his plan to collapse the Federation would work, I counter with: Then why had he waited to do it? Rick has been against the Federation since the pilot, but it’s not until he has nothing left to lose that he finally does it. He’s willing to take the risk now because if he fails, his family is still better off.

So, yeah, the show snuck a little bit of character development into an episode against it. Well done.

LEAVING THE CORNER

Overall, I give this episode an

A

on the Rick and Morty scale.

Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub, I need a drink. See you in two weeks.

PREVIOUS – 21: The Wedding Squanchers

NEXT – 23: Rickmancing the Stone

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

45) Development Arrested (Arrested Development)

It seems like the show has now ended for good, but it had some great moments.

The Joker On The Sofa

Arrested Development, the story of a family going through trying times, is the comedian’s comedy. Jokes come at you at every angle. Some are sight gags, some are puns, some are jokes on pop culture, some are jokes on absurdly obscure references, some are all of them at once. Often, a punchline won’t be delivered to a joke for several episodes. This is why the show did terribly when it was on television, honestly. It takes at least 3 viewings per episode to get even the majority of the jokes. Sometimes you will overhear a fact or piece of pop-culture trivia in real life, and suddenly get a joke on Arrested Development. Fox never understood this. Netflix did, and let us all be glad Netflix paid to continue the show and hope they allow for the other scripted movie and additional season the team is looking for.

ArrestedDevelopment-1Hand This…

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Netflix Review: 13 Demons

This is on @Netflix. If you’ve got a lot of liquor, it’s pretty fun. #13Demons

The Joker On The Sofa

Update: This is now on Netflix, and I have to warn the people.

Compared to Iconoclast, this was a masterpiece, but I’m not 100% sure exactly what this movie was by any other measure. On its IMDB page, it appears I’m not alone, since a ton of the reviews are super low, and others are fairly high.

SUMMARY

The plot starts in medias res with 2 guys being accused of murder in a police station. They’re being held and interviewed separately, but delivering similar answers, claiming that they’re both demon-slaying paladins with fanciful names “Torkul of Darkhaven” (Stephen Grey) and “Abelsworth of the High Wind.” (Michael Cunningham) I braced myself at this point. It then flashes back to their origin.

13Demons-1Interrogation.png If you’re being interrogated while covered in blood, you may as well claim insanity.

It’s the 90s, the 2 guys are stoned gaming roommates, and a third guy (Daniel…

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Futurama Fridays – S3E2 “Parasites Lost”

Fry eats a bad egg salad sandwich and finds himself infected with awesomeness.

SUMMARY

While at a gas station, Fry (Billy West) buys an egg-salad sandwich from the men’s room vending machine. Despite the awful taste, he ends up eating the whole thing. While she’s cleaning the windshield, several truckers insult Leela (Katey Sagal). Fry tries to defend her honor, but ends up insulting her more. When they get home, Fry and Bender (John DiMaggio) are sent to fix the building’s boiler, because Scruffy (David Herman), the Janitor, is too busy reading pornography. The boiler explodes and a pipe is lodged in Fry’s abdomen. Surprisingly, Fry seems fine, until the pipe suddenly is cut in half and the hole in Fry’s stomach regenerates. Zoidberg (West) gives Fry a deep colonoscopy and determines that his body is actually filled with superintelligent worms, which were actually the eggs in the egg-salad.

S3E2 - 1Bathroom
Best place to buy food at a truckstop.

In order to get the parasites out, the Professor (Billy West) creates a series of micro-droids remotely controlled by the crew and a miniature planet express ship. They are going to journey into Fry’s body (without his knowledge, because the worms know everything he knows) and travel to the pelvic splanchnic ganglion to cause Fry to completely void his bowels (including the worms). Leela distracts Fry by taking him on a date, but it’s revealed that the worms aren’t harming Fry. In fact, they’re making him stronger, smarter, better looking, and healthier, something that impresses Leela immensely, especially when he beats up one of the truckers that insulted her.

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I love that the worm city has forks and knives, like they’re the only things the worms knew.

Realizing that Fry is actually better because of the worms, Leela travels inside his body and kills the micro-droids of the crew before they can tickle the ganglion. The crew explain to Fry what happened, and Fry elects to keep the worms. Later, Leela takes Fry to her place and he plays a piece he wrote on the Holophonor, an instrument which creates an elaborate holographic art film as he plays it, causing Leela to become completely infatuated with him. Unfortunately, Fry realizes that it might be the worms she loves, not him. He goes inside his own body and orders the worms to get them out. When they refuse, he starts to damage his own brain, threatening to kill himself if they don’t. They concede and leave.

S3E2 - 3Holophonor
That’ll get you laid, man.

Fry comes back to Leela’s apartment and tries to play the holophonor again, but does it terribly. Leela realizes he’s an idiot again. He attempts to seduce her his way, but fails immediately. Leela kicks him out. He is later seen taking a lesson in playing the holophonor.

END SUMMARY

This is easily in my top 10 episodes of Futurama. Maybe in the top 5. It has some of my favorite one-liners, contains one of the more perfect twists on a sci-fi premise in the show, and really cements that Leela might reciprocate Fry’s feelings if he would just work on himself. It’s also an episode that is referenced, either directly or indirectly, multiple times throughout the rest of the series. Even the original series finale “The Devil’s Hands are Idle Playthings” directly references this episode and Fry’s effort to play the holophonor at the end of this episode forms the last shot of that episode, and the series, until the restart.

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Yeah, this was a good ending to the show.

The bulk of the episode is a tribute to the film Fantastic Voyage, in which a team of people shrink down to microscopic size to remove a blood clot. In this episode, the Planet Express crew instead controls tiny robots, because Professor Farnsworth can’t afford the “tiny atoms” which are required. I’d point out that the tiny robots also solve the issues of how being tiny would make you super dense, freeze you to death because your body wouldn’t generate enough internal heat, and that you couldn’t breathe enough oxygen to stay alive at that size, even scaled down, but I’m not going to do that because that would make me a nerd. The great twist on the episode is that unlike the clot, the worms aren’t harming Fry. In fact, they’re making him superhuman. Futurama often does these nice twists on classic media, but I still think the idea of the mysterious parasites being a good thing is one of the better ones.

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Also, the tumor didn’t have swords.

It’s also notable that this episode has the fewest speaking roles in the series. It’s focused almost exclusively on the internal workings (haha) of the Planet Express Crew. Every one of them has at least one solid joke, too. In fact:

FAVORITE JOKE(S)

Everyone has a great line in this, so I’m going to do all of them:

Zoidberg: (After Fry is said to be as strong and flexible as Gumby and Hercules) Gumbercules? I love that guy!!!

Fry: Leela, there’s something I’ve wanted to tell you for a long time but every time I try I get nervous and my mouth feels like it’s stuffed with peanut butter, even when it’s not.

Professor: Listen, this is gonna be one hell of a bowel movement. Afterwards he’ll be lucky if he has any bones left!

Amy: (On seeing Fry’s bowel) It’s gorgeous. That place used to be a big dump.

Leela: I don’t have words to say how wonderful you are, Fry. I haven’t felt this happy since double-soup Tuesday at the orphanarium.

Bender: (After Fry’s been dumped)  If it’s any consolation, my life is great! Babes! Bucks! I got it all!

Hermes: (describing his famous “Jerk Prunes”) I call it “Caribbean Drain-o”!

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 33: Amazon Women in the Mood

NEXT – Episode 35: A Tale of Two Santas

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

The Toxic Avenger: The Musical: The Movie – As Awesome as it Sounds

… I love this musical. I will never be ashamed of that.

The Joker On The Sofa

Let us take a fun trip back in time to the year 1984. Reagan got re-elected, Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek made his debut, Purple Rain blew the world’s collective mind, George Orwell was proven only kinda right about his predictions, and the world was introduced to the first superhero from New Jersey, the Toxic Avenger.

ToxicAvengerMusicalPoster

First shown in the movie that gave him his name, the Toxic Avenger was a product of Troma Entertainment, a company famous for making low-budget exploitation films. As a lifelong fan of exploitation films of almost all kinds, I consider Troma to be one of the best sources out there for schlock. However, Toxic Avenger was their magnum opus, eventually becoming the symbol for the studio. It was also their first “horror” film, rather than the raunchy comedies they’d done previously. While it tanked at the box office, it followed the The Rocky Horror Picture…

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