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‘The Toxic Avenger Part II’ (R)

By Richard Harrington
Washington Post Staff Writer
April 21, 1989

What happens when you take a movie that's good stupid fun and take out the good fun? Usually, you get a sequel, and "The Toxic Avenger Part II" is the proof. Four years ago, mild Melvin Junko, a 98-pound weakling, was tossed into a vat of seething chemical waste and emerged as the Toxic Avenger, a sort of Mr. Mean Gene with a chemical aversion to evil, "the first hideously deformed monster superhero to come from New Jersey." Tromaville was a Jersey town with Dodge City delusions until the newly traumatized (make that Troma-tized) Melvin cleaned up everything but the original script, which was part satire, part gross-out, and gravitated toward the minus side of B filmdom.

In this sequel, Tromaville has turned into Pleasantville, its now-carefree citizens engrossed in "dancing in the streets, tattooing, manufacturing orange juice and watching excellent movies." Melvin (Ron Fazio) is working at the Center for the Blind; he's in charge of the croquet games.

Enter the bad guys, Apocalypse Inc., looking to turn the center into a toxic-chemical dump. Which is a good description of the script from here on in, as Melvin dispatches many of said bad guys, deals with his blind bombshell of a girlfriend (Phoebe Legere) and travels to Tokyo in search of his father. As Melvin mops up evil -- literally -- he becomes the Lone Deranger, fueled by a steady diet of Drano, D-Con and Sani-Flush.

To be sure, there are a number of laughs, though perhaps too many depend on one's appreciation of genre films. Other Troma Inc., films, including the original "Avenger" and "Class of Nuke 'Em High," worked partly because there was a silly, surreal energy coursing through them. This sequel seems less inspired than calculated. The filmmakers never decide whether to play for laughs or gross-outs, and just as you're giggling at some silliness, you'll cringe at some graphic excess. Well, as Charlie the Tuna might say after a dose of mercury, "Whaddaya want, a film that tastes bad or a film with bad taste?"

"The Toxic Avenger Part II" contains some gore, violence and bad language.

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