The reboot of the Toxic Avenger is one of the most fascinating projects to be announced in the past year.
With a stellar cast including Kevin Bacon and Peter Dinklage, could this be the Toxic Avenger movie we didn’t know we needed?
Bloody Flicks caught up with director Macon Blair to discuss the film in more detail.
What can you tell us about developing a Toxic Avenger movie?
I saw Toxie as an impressionable kid and it had quite an impact on me—the absurdity and gleeful bad taste of it. So in one sense it’s an exciting privilege to get to take a swing at a new version but it’s also kind of daunting because there are different goals we’re trying to hit simultaneously. Troma fans are passionate and dedicated and it’s important to make a movie they feel like honors the original. I don’t presume we’re going to be able to please every single person but the intention and the hope is that fans will feel like we’ve preserved some of that Kaufman vibe. But at the same time, we want to make a movie that will connect with contemporary audiences who may not have heard of Troma or Toxie, who are coming into it without that context, so it can’t all be winks and nods and rehash of the original.
How involved was Lloyd Kaufman and Troma in getting the film off the ground?
Let me tell you something about Lloyd Kaufman, everyone thinks he’s this sweet and charming eccentric grandpa but in fact he is a dangerous menace. This is a true story: Shortly before filming began, he broke into my home using a crowbar and stole several pairs of underpants out of my bedroom. Approximately two dozen pairs of briefs, mostly Fruit of the Loom but also some off-brand stuff. He then packed each pair of underpants into separate sandwich bags and gave them away to children on Halloween, I guess as some kind of sinister prank. I only found out about this because a friend of my mother’s called her up and told her, “Do you have any idea what’s going on? Lloyd Kaufman is dressed up in a Wicked Witch costume giving your son’s underwear out to children. Parents are outraged.” My mother was, of course, humiliated. So naturally, I went over there and I confronted him. I said, in effect, that this was extremely irresponsible behaviour and I wasn’t going to stand for it. Well, Lloyd poked me in the chest with his finger and got right up in my face and he snarled at me like a mad dog, ‘What the fuck are you gonna do about it, you little punk?’ And before I could answer he shoved me down the stairs. My earlobe got ripped and my glasses were broken. I could see I was outmatched so I just left before he could assault me a second time but I’ll never forget the sheer insanity I saw in his eyes that night. It’s only a matter of time before he does some real damage and I feel like someone should put a stop to it. Anyway, he and Michael Herz from Troma were very supportive in helping to get the film made.
This cast is pretty phenomenal, with Elijah Wood, Peter Dinklage and Kevin Bacon, did you expect to get such big names?
On my best day I would be shocked and stupefied to get to work with any single one of those folks (not to mention Jacob Tremblay, Taylour Paige, Julia Davis etc.), so getting to work with all of them feels like someone pulling a prank or something. The cast is an embarrassment of riches. It would be intimidating to think about if it weren’t so much fun.
Is this a period piece or is the Toxic Avenger a modern-day tale? A little bit of both.
Can we expect plenty of practical gooey effects? You may.
You also have a role in the film as Dennis, how did you craft this character in your script?
The script specifically said “this guy Dennis is the stupidest-looking sonofabitch in the universe, an absolute turkey, just the biggest mouthbreathing ding-dong ever to drool all over his own lunch” so I thought, Well hell, I can nail this part. I auditioned for it without even telling anyone I was directing the movie and I got hired on the spot.
Were you approached about the film or did you pitch a new Toxic Avenger movie?
I was approached to pitch my take. At first, I was hesitant but then I kept thinking about it and ended up suggesting a version of the character and the world to Legendary they wanted to hear more and we kind of developed it from there. The guiding principle was that the story could exist on its own terms but in spirit would feel connected to the original.
What is the plan in terms of release, are you looking at a hybrid model or theatrical release?
That decision is above my pay grade but my hope is simply that everyone who wants to see the movie has safe access to it, one way or another.
The Toxic Avenger is currently in post-production.