Friday, October 22, 2010

The Legacy of the Toxic Avenger

Over the years, Troma has grown to be one of my (Chuck) favorite film production and distribution companies. Their brand of over the top film has become immensely successful to its cult audience. Troma is the United States' oldest independent film company. The company was founded by aspiring movie maker Lloyd Kaufman. Today, Kaufman and Troma have a multitude of fans world wide, and have become a household name among horror fans.
Troma's first big success, and one of the main reasons they have so many fans, came in 1984 with the Toxic Avenger. The film is about a 90 lbs nerd who has an accident and falls into a vat of toxic waste, transforming him into New Jersey's first monster hero of superhuman size and strength, the Toxic Avenger. Toxie spends his time ridding his hometown of Tromaville from evil. Along his super hero journey he meets and falls in love with a blind blond bimbo named Sara. Toxie spends the rest of his time picking off the criminals in Tromaville one by one. The corrupt mayor, Mayor Belgoody, and his crooked police force are behind a lot of the wrongdoing going on in Toxie's home town. Because Toxie is cleaning up Tromaville, the mayor puts a bounty out on the monster hero. All in all, Toxie wins and Tromaville rejoices as the mayor shows his guts.
     The legacy of the Toxic Avenger is one that goes unparalleled compared to other cult movies. After the initial movie, there were three sequels: The Toxic Avenger Part II, The Toxic Avenger Part III: The Last Temptation of Toxie, and Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger Part IV. Right now Troma is in the process of producing the Toxic Avenger Part V: The Toxic Twins as well as a big budget remake. Apart from these sequels, the Toxic Avenger spawned a Saturday morning children's cartoon series, the Toxic Crusaders. There is also an off broadway musical dedicated to Troma's 1984 hit.
     There are over 100 licenses for Toxie merchandise in the US and abroad, including a line of Playmates action figures, two marvel comic book series, Topp's trading cards, Nintendo and Sega video games, Thermos lunch boxes and thermoses, Colorforms play sets, International Games board games, a CD-Rom, model kits, Halloween masks, and much more.
    In 1984 when a little known independent film company called Troma began working on a unique superhero film called The Toxic Avenger, they had no idea that this film, as well as the monster hero, would put them on the map. Now, the names Troma and Toxie are known the world around, and the legacy continues. Not too shabby for a hideously deformed creature of superhuman size and strength.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

My Soul to Take 3D (2010)

This is the first blog post that we've actually done together for some time, as we are both attending college in different states. Mike came to PBU for a visit, and we decided that the perfect way to spend our evening would be to head out to the local theater for a viewing of Wes Craven's new flick My Soul to Take. As fans of Wes Craven, we thought it would be sacrilegious to miss out on this. While watching, we couldn't help but wonder...where is Freddy?

Quick Spoiler Free Summary:
 The movie started out with a flashback of a man with schizophrenia realizing that he is a serial killer terrorizing the residents of Riverton. On the anniversary of the death of the Riverton Ripper, seven kids born on that very same date sixteen years prior attempt to allude the vengeful killer. As the teens begin to be picked off one by one, those involved start to question whether or not they know who the killer actually is. Did the Riverton Ripper actually die? If so, has his ghost returned to seek revenge? Or is there an unexpected possibility that nobody expected could be possible?


Plot- 3.5/5
The movie's plot was nothing spectacular, however it wasn't just a goon in a mask. Although it had the aspects of a typical slasher movie, it wasn't as straightforward as a man with a knife who kills teenagers one by one in increasingly gruesome fashions. There was a little thinking that had to be done, which made it a little different than your Friday the 13th's and your Halloween's. The movie's plot was more akin to a murder mystery than your average slasher flick; with the several possible suspects being provided from the start. 

Acting- 3/5
The highlight of the acting was the main character Bug, who had to act with several different personalities. None of the acting seemed like it was over done or lacking in any area. It was all believable, which made it easy to connect with the characters. The movie lost points when the Ripper was allowed to talk. He seemed to channel Freddy Krueger at times with attempts at wit, but fell flat when his lines were delivered in a goofy manner.

Gore- 2.5-5
The film wasn't as gory as you would expect a slasher movie today. With today's bloodsoaked cinema we're not used to seeing a minimalist approach to gore, especially in a genre where these elements are the main event. There seemed to be points where there was unnecessary CGI, as the effects could have been easily shown using natural means. It seems like filmmakers are becoming more reliant on computers where blood packs and pumps would look more realistic. Its a small gripe, but it is still one that bothers us.

Fear- 2.5/5
One of the elements of the movie that can cause fear is the uncertainty of the identity of the killer. The film is set up so that every one of the possible suspects has a viable motive for being the Ripper. The obligatory "jump out" scares make their appearance, but they aren't enough to spark any real terror. The idea of a deranged person going around killing you and your friends does give one a primal sense fear, but at the end of the day, its a road well traveled. 

In Conclusion- 3/5
At the end of the movie, we didn't feel as though our money was wasted. The movie was nothing spectacular, but we definitely didn't leave the theater angry. The last two movies that we saw in the theater were big disappointments and this was a bit of a relief to be watch an actual horror movie. While not a milestone slasher film, it did nothing wrong that messed with the formula. If that's all that matters to you, then give it a shot. If you're looking for more creativity and gore, then wait for Hatchet II to come out on DVD.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Horrorscope: October 2010


We have a new feature here at Mike and Chuck's Blog of the Dead. As I (Chuck) was sitting in a 3 hour Sociology class last night, I came up with the idea of doing a "Horrorscope." This Horrorscope will be a post put up on the first of each month with a preview of what horror related things can be expected throughout that particular month. Since It is still pretty close to the beginning of October, I figured why not start this now.

Theatrical Releases:
Oct 1:
 - Case 39 (Paramount Vantage)
 - Chain Letter (New Films International)
 - Hatchet II (Dark Sky Films)
Oct 8:
 - I Spit On Your Grave (Anchor Bay Films)
 - My Soul To Take (Rogue Pictures)
Oct 22:
 - Paranormal Activity 2 (Paramount Pictures)
Oct 29:
 - Night of the Demons (Seven Arts Pictures)
 - SAW 3D (Lionsgate)

DVD Releases:
Oct 5:
 - 30 Days of Night: Dark Days
 -  A Nightmare on Elm Street 
 - The Exorcist (Extended Director's Cut) 
 - The Human Centipede (First Sequence) 
 - The Slumber Party Massacre Collection
Oct 12:
 - Lost Boys: The Thirst 
 - Manson, My Name is Evil
Oct 19:
 - Mirrors 2 (Unrated) 
Oct 26:
 - House (The Criterion Collection) 
 - Lake Placid 3 
 - Maniac (30th Anniversary Edition

Oct 29-31:
 - Chiller Theatre Convention 
Oct 30:
 - NJ Zombie Walk in Asbury Park, NJ
Oct 31:
 - Halloween 
 - The Walking Dead premiere (TV) 

Friday, October 1, 2010

Mini Review: Hatchet II

     When Adam Green's Hatchet was first released in 2007, it breathed new life into the slasher genre. A bloodsoaked, gut busting horror franchise was born. Adam Green is back at it with the long awaited sequel, Hatchet II.
     As a fan of the first film, and of slasher films in general, I was very excited for this movie. I talked a couple buddies into going to the midnight release across the PA/NJ border to probably the nicest movie theater I've ever been in. I remember on the way there, worrying about securing a ticket and finding a good seat. Needless to say, there were only 4 other people in the theater that night. We grabbed our popcorn, soda, and Reese's Pieces, and sat back in our very comfortable seats. My eyes lit up as the opening scene began...

     Hatchet II picks up exactly one frame after the first movie ended, with Victor Crowley holding our damsel in distress Marybeth (this time played by the amazing Danielle Harris) in his evil clutches. The first thing you notice is that Victor looks a little different, which makes it better. I really liked how this movie gave a lot more back story, and explained a lot of stuff from the first movie. One of the things I really liked about Hatchet II was the character expansion of Reverend Zombie, played by the Candyman himself, Tony Todd.
    This movie was filled with positives for me. Numerous references to other slasher movies had me cracking up, and I nearly crapped my pants when I saw Lloyd Kaufman make a cameo appearance. As soon as I saw Uncle Lloyd's face, I clapped and yelled out, "THATS LLOYD KAUFMAN!"The story was great, and I thought the movie had a good pace. Danielle Harris was exceptional as always, doing a much better job at portraying Marybeth than the previous actress. The best part for me, obviously, were all the kills. Some of the most imaginative and entertaining kills I've seen in cinema, with plenty of the red stuff flying about. Seeing a man being choked by his own intestine until his head pops off gives me that warm, tingly feeling.
     If you were a fan of the first Hatchet, be sure to not miss this movie. You won't be disappointed. And if you are just a slasher fan in general, the same goes for you. This gore-soaked slash fest is one that will be loved for generations of horror fans to come. Now the countdown begins for Hatchet III...

--- Chuck