Dante’s Weekend Double: “July’s Youth In Revolt” Kicks Off With ‘Eden Lake’ And ‘The Toxic Avenger’

Meet Melvin (1)
Mark Torgl as Melvin Ferd Junko in The Toxic Avenger (1984) and a bloody Michael Fassbender in Eden Lake (2008)

Summer: It is that special time of year when kids are released from the seemingly endless perdition of public (or private) academia, and are free to roam the lands in search of ways to entertain themselves while the looming shadow of another school year draws ever closer.

90 pound weakling
Melvin Ferd Junko III (Mark Torgl) thinks being 98 lbs. is a flex in The Toxic Avenger (1984), Troma

Some will sign up for little league sports, get summer jobs, go on vacation with family, till the land (shout-out to all my rural folk), and those who have absolutely nothing better to do with their lives than to sit inside their rooms all day reading online articles [wink].  

However, other youngsters want no part of that innocuous fluff. These kids have had enough of society and what it deems as the standard for ‘normal behavior’, and they are ready to wreak havoc on the world of adulting.

Drop your tacos
The adulting Leroy (Patrick Kilpatrick) wants everyone to drop their tacos or else in The Toxic Avenger (1984), Troma

As such, this month, Bounding Into Comics presents eight jewels of juvenile delinquency that plead a strong case for both corporal punishment and planned parenthood. This is July’s Youth in Revolt!

Eden Lake (Optimum Releasing)

The revolt begins in Jolly ol’ England with this rather nasty tale of suspense from 2008 by director James Watkins (The Woman in Black) that stars Michael Fassbender (you know, from X-Men: First Reboot, 300, and Inglourious Basterds), and Kelly Reilly (True Detective, Yellowstone).

It’s about a bloke and his bird going on holiday to the countryside when they’re run afoul by a gang of young ruffians. These hoodlums terrorize the terrified couple with their exceptionally terrible manners, and the weekend getaway in the woods takes on a whole new meaning.

This movie gets a little rough. Not in an “I Spit On Your Grave” type of way [shudders], but more along the lines of Bully for those who have also had the ‘joy’ of watching that downer. It’s a dark story that feels very realistic, and even more so by the amazing performances all around.

Fassbender completely sells it as the proper English chap who doesn’t handle confrontations very well and doesn’t find his nerve until it’s too late (nothing personal, gents). Kelly Reilly completely disappears into her role, and anyone with a shred of empathy can’t help but feel some trepidation as the situation goes from worse to downright appalling.

Jack O’Connell (Harry Brown, Ferrari) plays the psychopathic gang leader, Brett, and his performance is quite possibly the best. He and his Droogs would’ve given Alex DeLarge a run for his money with “chain” or “Nozh” or “Britva” anytime.

It’s also worth mentioning the character of Adam (James Gandhi). This poor fella is the only kid in the movie who doesn’t need a belt strap across the bum, and he tries to help the couple find safety.

All that’s left to be said is that it wouldn’t be surprising if Adam reminds anyone of a certain iconic background character from Mortal Kombat II at some point in the movie.

Eden Lake talks about the social behavior among modern youths, and the lack of parenting in households, but at the same time, it does paint a bad picture of working-class Brits (JUST SAYIN’).

Bounding Into Comics is not responsible for laughter during inappropriate moments of this film.

This isn’t a movie for people who can’t handle unhappy endings, and it will linger in the mind for days afterward… but isn’t that the fun part?  Check out Eden Lake over on the trusty TUBI app.

The Toxic Avenger (Troma Entertainment)

This next feature is definitely not a palate cleanser. It is the magnificent superhero splatterfest from the equally magnificent year of 1984, The Toxic Avenger. Directed by Troma founders (Michael Herz & “Uncle” Lloyd Kaufman), this great film tells the story of one Melvin Ferd Junko III.

Melvin is a 98 lb weakling janitor at a health club in the infamous city of Tromaville, New Jersey. Instead of working out, he just creeps around the place all day with his mop while getting bullied by a group of murderous young thugs with serious emotional issues, and extremely bad dialogue.

One day the group pulls a prank on Melvin that sends him (and his pink tutu) flying out of a window, and into a barrel of Tromaville’s finest toxic waste. That’s when this 98 lbs of solid nerd becomes The Toxic Avenger…and obviously another actor.

Melvin turns into a hulking mass of mutated monstrosity that runs around town fighting corruption, and punishing evildoers wherever he sees them in wonderfully graphic ways that will threaten to bring practical, non-CGI tears of joy to every howling gore hound out there.

Toxie also gets to exact revenge on the punks who changed his life forever, and he even hooks up with a hot blonde blind girl [say that five times fast] named Sara after horribly killing the scumbags who murdered her seeing eye dog in a Mexican restaurant robbery/attempted grape. [That’s right, I said “grape.”]

Toxic tortillas
Toxic Avenger (Mitch Cohen) tests his metal against a punk, BRO, in a Mexican kitchen in The Toxic Avenger (1984), Troma

This is trash cinema at its best. There is no analyzing this movie, or looking for the deeper meaning like some David Lynch affair. It’s silly, gross, over-the-top, politically incorrect, and hilarious. Not only is it an enjoyable watch, but the actors themselves give the impression that it was fun to make.

The Toxic Avenger was the first of many Troma movies that would explode on the VHS market, and become cult classics. It also spawned three sequels, a 90s cartoon [FOR CHILDREN], and a 2023 remake that has not seen a domestic release date as of the time of this publication. One can hope that it’s sometime soon.

Until then, give your gag reflex some practice with the original on Pluto and also Tubi if anyone feels like watching it “con subtítulos en español.”

NEXT: Dante’s Weekend Double: “Justice For Juneteenth” Concludes With Twisted ‘Tales From The Hood’ And The Epic Rise And Fall Of ‘Black Caesar’

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