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<I>Toxic</I> DVD Shows Ups, Downs of Indie Films

1 Mar, 2003 By: Fred Topel

Fans of low-budget movies know The Toxic Avenger. He's the 90-pound weakling who fell into a vat of toxic waste and became a superhero.What started as a satirical statement about toxic pollution became a phenomenon that kept indie studio Troma Entertainment in business for decades.

Twenty years after the original release, Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger Part IV comes to DVD March 18, and director Lloyd Kaufman promises a special edition worthy of the Toxic legacy.

The two-disc set has deleted scenes; three commentary tracks from the director, actors and crew; “around the world” footage; and a more than two-hour documentary dubbed as a real look at filmmaking. Satirizing the famous Hearts of Darkness making-of documentary on Apocalyse Now, this one is called Apocalypse Soon. “With [our last film,] Terror Firmer, on the two-disc set, we had [the documentary] Farts of Darkness: The Making of Terror Firmer,” Kaufman said. “The Apocalypse Soon documentary is better than the Terror Firmer documentary.

“I think it's probably the best documentary about the making of a movie that has ever been done,” he continued. “It shows the truth, it shows how hard it is. We had three crews from the time that I started to develop the story, while we were writing the script, preproduction, money, etc. We had cameras everywhere. The investors, casting, auditions, making the movie, fighting, just the torture, the pain and suffering of what goes into the making of a good low-budget independent movie. There's no varnishing of the facts. I come off as an asshole quite a bit, but that was the truth. In order to make a good movie, you cannot put up with BS, and sometimes you have to behave like an ass.”

The deleted scenes include actors who were cut out of the film entirely. “There will be scenes with Taylor Mead, who was one of Andy Warhol's stars of Lonesome Cowboys. There's probably 40 minutes of deleted scenes that are quite interesting.”

As the low-budget film toured the world, Kaufman brought along The Toxic Avenger (a guy in prosthetic makeup) to preview the film to each audience. Each appearance is documented on the DVD.

“We're going to have a ‘Where in the World is Toxie?' We've done a map of the world, and if you want to see Toxie in China, we have footage of Toxie in Peking, Beijing, wherever. It's an interactive map. We filmed Toxie all over the world at festivals. It's educational. You're going to learn a little bit about each country.”

For low-budget studios like Troma, DVD helps get their films to markets that would not show the film theatrically.

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