“Toxic Tutu” (2017 – Mad Monster Party): An Enthusiastic Look at the Fandom for The Toxic Avenger and Mark Torgl

It’s an almost true story that started way back in 1984…

You don’t have to be a fan of Troma Studio movies to be familiar with their franchise freak, The Toxic Avenger. What started as an R-Rated horror/comedy about a wimpy health club mop boy named Melvin Junko who gets thrown into a vat of toxic waste and is transformed into an oozing superhero was surprisingly embraced by the public, who not only supported several diminishing sequels, but even the development and broadcast of a family friendly animated TV series.

But there was more to the story than what fans watched up on the screen. According to the latest Toxic Avenger film, Toxic Tutu, there is a deep dark secret hidden behind the making of the original film, a secret that Mark Torgl, the original Melvin the Mop Boy, is about to reveal as part of his first-ever horror convention appearance at the Mad Monster Party.

Toxic Tutu follows the adventures and mysteries of Mark Torgl

And a lot of people are willing to do almost anything to keep Torgl from spilling the Toxic beans.

Written and directed by Joe Nardelli, Toxic Tutu may be a tough movie for non-Toxic Avenger fans to really get into, at least at first. The best thing for them to do, then, is to go back and watch The Toxic Avenger to not only get caught up on the storyline, but to immerse themselves in the Troma style of the film as a kind of litmus test to see if they are ready to take the story to a whole other level with Nardelli’s movie. If you don’t appreciate the original, there’s no way you’ll enjoy Toxic Tutu. If you do, however, then Tutu is the right film for you.

Lloyd Kaufman (left) and the Toxic Avenger (right) support director Joe Nardelli’s (center) Toxic Tutu

There are a few key reasons why Toxic Tutu works so well, starting with the casting of Mark Torgl to play himself. After decades of staying out of the public eye — to the point where (according to IMDB.com) he hasn’t even appeared in any movies since Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV in 2000 — it’s great to see Torgl on screen even if he is playing “Torgl” and not Melvin. He really embraces the documentary style that Nardelli employs to start the story, too, milking the idea of the mystery he is about to reveal in a way that both intrigues and delights. You don’t just watch him tell the story; he pulls you into the point where you physically need him to tell you what happens next.

The next reason for the film’s success is the way that it really captures the energy — and borderline fan insanity — of the Mad Monster Convention. There have been other movies either set in conventions or made about conventions, but the way Nardelli shoots Mad Monster is so kinetic you almost feel the energy coming off the Toxic fans in waves as they await the arrival of Torgl and his message. The footage does more than just set the scene; it recreates it.

Mark Torgl (Melvin the Mop Boy from Toxic Avenger) returns in Toxic Tutu

The final reason for the film’s success is the way the director and his cast treat the subject with the ultimate sincerity. As silly as the story gets at times — and it gets pretty silly, especially towards the end — everybody in front of and behind the camera works their butts off to sell it to the audience, maybe not as gospel truth but always as enthusiastic entertainment. More than the majority of filmmakers, Nardeli and Torgl know — and respect — their audience and work extremely hard to make damn sure the film they deliver lives up to even the most rabid Toxic Avenger fans’ expectations.

Toxic Tutu 3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

John Black
John Black still remembers his first horror movie, sneaking in to a double-feature of Horror House with Frankie Avalon and a Boris Karloff film he can’t remember the name of but will always remember for giving him his first glimpse of cinematic nudity as one of the actresses moved from the bed to the door without putting on any underwear! (Fond family memory: That glimpse, when discovered by his parents, cased John’s mom to call the theater and yelling at the manager for letting her son see ‘such filth’.) Luckily, John was more impressed by the blood and horror than the bare haunches and quickly became a devotee of the genre.

John has been a professional movie reviewer since 1987, when his first review – of a Robert De Niro film called Angel Heart – appeared in the entertainment section of The Cape Codder newspaper. He’s been writing about film ever since, primarily now as the entertainment editor at Boston Event Guide. Hardly a day goes by when he doesn’t watch at least one movie, which is how he thinks life was meant to be.