The Troma badge stamped on the artwork of a movie’s promotion is a seal of sorts, one which stands for many things, not least of which is tenacity. The (in)famous, furiously independent label has released no less than 1000 independent films over 40-odd years; naturally the quality of films released within such an extensive back catalogue vary, but typically, one thing is for certain, you know what you are getting with a Troma release – and ultimately, sit down to view one, you get what you deserve!
UK horror ‘Toxic Schlock’ is soon to be distributed by Troma and boy oh boy does it carry the core principles of the company with flamboyant pride. Its every bit as ‘schlock’ as the title would suggest, and every bit of an awful movie as you would expect it to be; but then, that’s part of the charm isn’t it?
The plot is set in a family run B&B, where its owners unwittingly offer sanctuary to a group of environmental terrorists. As the radio and TV network broadcasts, it’s a bad time to be in dodge, the ‘Seaside Strangler’ is on the loose, and of course there is the impending bioterrorism attack looming. Whilst there are several subplots weaving its way throughout the films main theme, the story concludes in typical genre fashion in a good old-fashioned zombie outbreak.
Sounds great doesn’t it?!
Well, this is a Troma release, so let me re-write expectation with reality. What we actually get is a rather dysfunctional family comprised of a transvestite father, who has an utterly dysfunctional relationship with his daughter – who in turn seems to have moderate/severe learning needs, and a son (I think) who spends the whole movie acting like a gimped-up version of Lassie the dog. The bioterrorists are comprised of an ironically out of place ‘regular’ couple and an older man in a yellow mac determined on bring on the apocalypse with green-goop. The ‘Seaside Strangler’ is a naked man with his face painted as a clown, who we get to see a lot of, and I’m not talking screen time, and the zombies only show-up in a brief 10-minute section at the end of the film.
So, the predominantly dialogue driven film plays out like a repulsive soap, one which, at every step of the way looks to offend your senses or test the limits of your tolerance. Ultimately very little happens in the film, action wise, and the whole film seems to be as much an experiment of just how much can you take, seemingly to question, how dedicated a genre fan are you?
If I was to really go deep in analysis I would say that your enjoyment of ‘Toxic Schlock’ would tell you more about yourself than you probably wanted to know!
But here’s the rub, ‘Toxic Schlock’ has that thing about it. The set of almost undefinable qualities which has made Troma, and those who dare imitate persist through the years; and if you’re a fan, as so many are, you will love this film.
Its story is bland, but its content is dizzyingly vibrant.
Cocks, balls, tits, gimps, grown men in bikinis, women in bikinis and other grown men salivating on themselves as they ramble utter shite. A couple getting gooped on in the shower, an entire extended scene involving the totalling of a bill - in one of the films agonisingly awkward attempts to make you laugh. A woman in their twenties acting like she’s five, who for no reason ends the film acting as suicide club’s ‘Harley Quinn’, and, of course I mentioned the gimp-dog thing earlier!
The editing is choppy and disorientating, the music, often nothing more than a repetitive flute playing wheezy single note progressions that actively pisses you off, the night-time scenes are too dark, and the overall colour grading is washed out.
But again, I act to contradict myself. In the face of its technical shortcomings, it is a difficult film to ignore, and one which certainly won’t be forgotten in a hurry! How many other genre films can you say that for in todays saturated market.
Overall, this one is a simple one to conclude. Love the less slapstick-side of Troma (or just weird shit in general), this is a must watch; ‘Toxic Schlock’ is an almost textbook example of what constitutes that type of Troma film. If you’re not a fan however… you would think me mad for even giving this movie one star, never mind the slap bang average score I have done!