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Monday, April 7, 2014

My Personal Vendetta Against Troma Pictures ...

I'm about to share a story with you, yet another humorously tragic story from my childhood.

This is yet another very personal story that no one really knows. In fact, it's a small point of shame in my life and most definitely something that affected me (I.E. fucked me up) for decades upon decades.

Bear with me.

THIS is a movie called "The Toxic Avenger" ...

It is celebrating it's 30th anniversary this year. We have a magazine at my work celebrating it's history. It is a ultra gory camp horror film and it was made by a company called Troma.

Here's the wiki on it ...

"The Toxic Avenger is a 1984 American superhero film released by Troma Entertainment, known for producing low budget B-movies with campy concepts. Virtually ignored upon its first release, The Toxic Avenger caught on with filmgoers after a long and successful midnight movie engagement at the famed Bleecker Street Cinemas in New York City in late 1985. This was the film that 'built the house of Troma', and was Troma's first horror film. Previously the production company focused on sex comedies such as Cry Uncle! and Squeeze Play!. Subsequently, Troma focused almost exclusively on horror films. The Toxic Avenger is now widely regarded as a cult classic.

The film has generated three film sequels, a stage musical production, a Marvel comic book and a children's TV cartoon. Two less successful sequels, The Toxic Avenger Part II and The Toxic Avenger Part III: The Last Temptation of Toxie, were filmed as one. Director Lloyd Kaufman realized that he had shot far too much footage for one film and re-edited it into two. A third independent sequel was also released, titled Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV. A fourth sequel entitled The Toxic Avenger 5: Toxic Twins is planned for a future release. A short lived animated children's TV series spin-off, Toxic Crusaders, featured Toxie as the leader of a team of mutated superheroes who fought against evil alien polluters."

This is considered one of the greatest cult movies ever and one of the best worst movies of all time. In my world, a world completely centered around bad movies, this is my Godfather, my Citizen Kane. Seriously. This movie is one of the big ones when it comes to bad movies.

And I have never seen it.


Never "really" seen it.

This would be akin to a professional movie reviewer saying that he just "never got around" to seeing Casablanca or that he couldn't bother "sitting still" for Godfather Part Two. It's a fairly shameful fact of my life that I , Reverend Steve, the founder of The Church of Ed Wood, have never seen the movie The Toxic Avenger, it's numerous sequels, or even one second of that damn cartoon. In fact, I have never sat down and watched a single Troma film besides this one crappy golf-themed horror movie called Blades from 1989.

I've never seen The Toxic Avenger.

And I have a damn good reason.

When I was eight years old my parents and my brother and I would all rent videos to watch during the weekend. Videos, as in VHS. This was 1985 we're talking about here. In fact, sometimes we'd even rent Beta. THAT'S how old I am.

Now, renting something that everyone would want to watch as a family was really never an option. We all rented things for us to watch on our own. My brother, who was four years older than me and therefore under the constant impression that he was older and, therefore, better than me, would usually rent some action explosion film or a horror movie. My parents would rent some adult movie or, as was usually the case, a literal "adult" movie. Me, I was still crazy young, so I was obsessed with cartoons and muppets and Disney movies and especially superheroes. I was almost always in the kids section all by myself staring at video boxes looking for something I've probably seem a million times so that I could see it a million and ONE times and almost ALWAYS by myself.


One day I saw a video. It wasn't in the kids section but it wasn't OUT of the kids section. I specifically remember it being riiiiiiiight smack dab in between, you know? There's the kids area and right next to it was the new release section and there wasn't really a divider there, so this movie was right in between the kids and a section of the new release wall.

The video had a superhero on the cover. The tagline of the box said that "He was a 98lb. weakling" until he became this massive ugly mush of a monster/superhero. I mean, the character LOOKED so ridiculously stupid, and after numerous minutes looking for a non-existent rating on the back of the box, I assumed that it was a children's movie.

I was wrong.

You know where this is going, right?

The thing that really bothers me about this story, see, is the fact that I specifically remember holding the box and running to my parents and showing them the box and SPECIFICALLY handing the box to the employee when it was time to check out. I told the video store clerk "I'm gonna rent a superhero movie!" holding a copy of the freaking TOXIC AVENGER! So, a few things happened there. My parents, first of all, should have cared enough to really check what I wanted to watch. Secondly, the old fuckers who ran that hole in the wall video store should have given a shit enough to STOP ME FROM SCARRING ME FOR LIFE!!!

Because when I popped that video into the vhs player and sat down to watch my superhero movie all by myself !THIS! is what I saw ...

About ten minutes into the film, where the rich kids run over someone's head over and over again, I started crying and turned the movie off. Once I was calmed down enough, I fast forwarded it a bit and pressed play. It was boobs. Titties. Then I fast forwarded it again. More gore. Titties, sex, and ultra violent gore. And did I mention that I was eight years old?

I never told my parents. I felt that I would get in trouble, either that or they would just laugh at me. Once I had seen a frightening thriller on tv and I started having vivid nightmares about someone breaking into my room at night and killing me. But, when I tried to tell my mom that I was frightened that someone was going to kill me, my mom misheard me and thought that I said that I was afraid MY BROTHER was going to kill me. My mom laughed in my face, then went to tell my brother the stupid thing I said. They made fun of me for MONTHS about that, so I wasn't going to tell THEM that I had accidentally rented the king of all sex and gore horror comedies.


This isn't the only incident that scarred me from watching horror movies. See, here's another painful story that happened to me around that same time ....

I woke up bright and early one day. We were all going to go see Bambi at the dollar theater at Valley West Mall in Phoenix, Arizona. It was my birthday. I couldn't WAIT to see Bambi on the big screen, or as big as you could get in the shitty ass Valley West Mall movie theater. But, OF COURSE, when we got to the theater they were all sold out for Bambi. Figures, right? So my older brother somehow convinced my mom that we should all go see Poltergeist instead.


Horror movies reeeeeeallllllllly fucked me up when I was a kid.

So from this point on in my life, I NEVER watched horror movies! In fact, it would take a prrrretty jarring moment in the following century to change my fear of horror films. But, despite my love of horror and gore now I still haven't watched Poltergeist since that fateful day and I sure as shit have never tried to watch the stupid, childhood-ruining Toxic Avenger.

And so, this is why I have never seen one of the greatest bad movies of all time.

And I think it's a pretty darn good reason, too, all things considered.

I know that I shouldn't say this, what with me being a lover of bad movies and all, but ...


1 comment:

Unknown said...

Those are incredible stories. I have a great deal of pity for you. When my sister was 8 and we were babysitting her, we let her watch "Poltergeist" and she didn't sleep for two weeks. My mom made us sit up in her room with her until she got over it.

But when I was 10, my parents allowed us all to watch "The Amityville Horror" on HBO, and that night I woke up screaming because I was convinced Jody The Pig was outside of my bedroom window. I STILL get scared, thinking about Jody The Pig.

Of course, now I write horror stories, for fun. So it probably messed ME up, too.