If you like your Avengers Toxic, then you’re in luck: “Sausage Party” co-director Conrad Vernon has signed to direct a big budget remake of the cult-classic “The Toxic Avenger.”
Co-directed by Troma Entertainment founders Lloyd Kaufman (as Samuel Well) and Michael Herz, the original “Toxic Avenger” was a 1984 shlock film shot on a shoestring budget. It tells the story of Melvin Ferd, the janitor at a gym in Tromaville, New Jersey, who is mocked and tormented by the club’s patrons. Chased around the facility while wearing a tutu, and tricked into kissing a sheep, Melvin is forced out of a second floor window, accidentally falling into a vat of toxic waste, which transforms him into the Toxic Avenger — or, “Toxie,” as he’s affectionately called by fans.
The schlockfest, which adheres to the Troma formula of campy comedy combined with gruesome horror, was not an immediate hit. However, it did catch on with audiences after a successful midnight run at New York City’s Bleecker Street Cinemas, becoming a cult classic that went on to spawn three sequels. Interestingly enough, the second and third films in the series were a bit of an accident, as they were initially shot as a single film. After looking at everything that was shot, Kaufman realized he had too much footage for just one movie, so edited the reel into two separate pictures that were both released in 1989.
“The Toxic Avenger” also spawned two cartoon series, and a 2009 off-Broadway musical that went on to tour the United States, and play in Toronto, Canada, Melbourne, Australia, and London, England.
The success of the stage adaptation inspired producers Richard Saperstein, Charlie Corwin and Oscar-winner Akiva Goldsman — who is also co-producing and co-writing the upcoming theatrical adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower” — to acquire the rights to the Troma property in 2010. They set out to make a family friendly version of “The Toxic Avenger,” which could serve as a “green superhero for these environmentally conscious times.”
“The Toxic Avenger” will be director Conrad Vernon’s first solo outing as a helmer, and his first live-action feature. An animation veteran who co-directed “Madagascar 3” and “Shrek 2,” Vernon is perhaps best known to audiences as the voice of the Gingerbread Man in that latter franchise.
On directing “Toxic Avenger,” Vernon said that “the opportunity to re-imagine a favorite cult-classic from my high school years is an honor.” He added, “Toxie is an underground icon. My favorite kind.”
Producer Saperstein called Vernon “a subversive comedic genius,” who is “the perfect director to bring this iconoclastic franchise back to life.”
In case you’re worried that the PG-13 version of “The Toxic Avenger” will be too tame for your liking, co-creators Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz of Troma Films are on-board as executive producers. And if that’s not enough to satisfy your need for subversive humor, “Archer” writers Mike Arnold and Chris Poole are handling the rewrite.
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