Monday, April 21, 2014

The Toxic Avenger (1984) 30th anniversary screening at Night Visions

This was written 13.4.2014. I haven't checked, if things have changed since writing of this post. There are two updates at the end, which tell the situation of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 at time they were written. Why I would write about The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in The Toxic Avenger movie. Please read further and learn why.

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie The Toxic Avenger (1984).

Night Visions is small film festival, that concentrate on underground films in Helsinki. Name refers to  main event, which is movie marathon with two screens, that shows films from Saturday evening to Sunday morning. Films are timed so, that both screens start showing movies at same time and movies end around same time. It is an interesting event with lot of walking up and down stairs when movies end. I have done that once. This year I didn't find enough interesting movies to do it. So I missed Captain America II (1979). It started 6:45 at Sunday morning and I didn't feel like waking up around 5 am just to see bad movie. This year program was quite Troma heavy, which brought Torma president and creator Lloyd Kaufman, who had Q&As after Troma movies. Also after this one.

The Toxic Avenger tells story of Melvin, a mop boy of a gym, who felt into toxic waste barrel and became superhuman hero Toxic Avenger. Why Superhuman hero you may ask. Superhuman hero, because Marvel and DC own rights for word superhero. Toxic Avenger was superhero, when Marvel published Toxic Avenger comics. After that layers remembered to remind Troma, who owns the rights to word. Lloyd Kaufman forgot DC during the Q&A and gave name of movie studio instead.

Trailer tells almost everything you need to know about the movie, if you don't want to be spoiled. Movie is after low hanging humor. Full of over acting and weird characters. There are no realistic characters. Everything is over the top. I am not fan of Troma style. I understand, why people like it. It is not for me. I want more intelligent movies. Toxic Avenger is just naive, but idiotic, violent and obscene fairy tale comedy. Toxic Avenger has sense or something that makes him fight evil. When he seem to lost that, turns out, that lovely lady was actually one of the worst criminals around. Everything is run by criminals before Toxic Avenger. Then he gets rid off all crime. That is Toxic Avenger in a nutshell.

Q&A was much more interesting to me. You can find videos of Lloyd Kaufman from YouTube. He was like that in Q&A. He joked about almost everything, but also gave serious answers after jokes. Most interesting question was, how independent movie making has changed during 40 year of Troma. Kaufman sees, that making movies is easier and cheaper now, but it is harder to get independent movies through gatekeepers. They don't get as many screenings for their movies as they did at time of Toxic Avenger. Earlier they got movies released same time everywhere. Now their movie are screened this week at one place and next week other. Many of his answers told this same story from different points of view. Gatekeepers has set bar so high, that some independent movies will never get to audience.

He probably doesn't know, same problem is coming for big studios too. It seems, that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will get quite limited release in Helsinki. Main cinema chain and studio haven't got agreement over money. That could mean, the movie is shown only on small cinemas and one closed cinema will be opened just for The Amazing Spider-Man 2. My solution to Kaufman's gatekeeper problem would be selling independent movie as files or streaming service to customers. No area restrictions or anything else that prevent citizens of foreign countries from using your service. Things will go to that direction. Service for underground movies could get many regular customers, if terms are reasonable.

Another interesting question was about Toxic Avenger remake. There is one planned, but that doesn't mean Troma couldn't do Toxic Avenger 5. Deal with remake is such, that it allows Troma to make Troma-level Toxic Avenger movies. They will do fifth movie, when they have script that doesn't suck. They have other project to finish before they can start Toxic Avenger 5. Kaufman was supportive of Toxic Avenger remake. That would help Troma by bringing them some money. Other questions were mostly about Toxic Avenger movie or that gatekeeper problem. One more thing. As part of Troma's 40th anniversary, they have uploaded Toxic Crusaders to YouTube and you can watch them for free.

I tried to take photos from Q&A, but couldn't get anything useful. It was held against black background and my mobile phone burned everyone's face and kept everything else messy.

UPDATE: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 situation got cleared. Movie will premier in Helsinki only on screens that screened Troma movies during Night Visions. In fact Troma movies had more screens than The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will get. I think Lloyd Kaufman would find that hilarious. The cinema chain, that has 70% market share in Finland, didn't agree with Sony's terms and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will premier only on small independent cinemas in Helsinki. That will be the reason, why movie won't be among most watched movies in Finland.

SECOND UPDATE: I don't know, who gave up or who won in negotiations, but The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will get proper blockbuster release in Finland too. I guess there was too much money to be made, that one side decided give up and get something rather than sacrificing almost everything. This episode showed, it is not always so easy for big studios either.


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