Are you ready to get weird? Toxic Schlock, is an irreverent horror comedy film that just hit Troma Now! and you should absolutely check it out.
Made by U.K.-based production groups Trash Arts and Vestra Pictures, and distributed by Troma, Toxic Schlock is the latest new horror movie to land on Troma’s streaming service, Troma Now! Written and directed by Sam Mason-Bell and Tony Newton, Toxic Schlock takes place in a British seaside town where locals are afraid to go out at night. You see, the area’s plagued by a serial killer known as the Seaside Strangler. Against this backdrop, a group of political activists try to keep a low profile. Meanwhile, the dead don’t seem to want to stay dead. With that setup, Toxic Schlock delivers on the premise of its title.
What do I mean by that? First off, let’s look at “Toxic.” This movie features slime and zombies, both toxic, and by a broader definition you could say most of the relationships in the film are toxic. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the Gimp (played by co-writer and co-director Sam Mason-Bell) lives his days in captivity (or should I say bondage?), only getting to walk free when his parent allows it. Which brings me to the “Schlock”. This film has schlock for days! The Gimp stays in a leather dog suit, the rest of his family is a middle-aged transvestite and an adult with the mind of a child. The Seaside Strangler is often seen nude, and there’s plenty of gore to go around. That’s not even to mention the voice of Troma’s Lloyd Kaufman as an emergency broadcaster!
“Toxic Schlock knows what it wants to be: a low-budget horror comedy with offensive humor and plenty of messy effects”
Toxic Schlock reminded me of Pink Flamingos, which is basically the highest praise I can give a movie with “schlock” in the name. The film is gloriously tasteless. Without spoiling anything, there was a scene that made me look away from the screen, and it had nothing to do with the gore. Toxic Schlock doesn’t push boundaries, so much as it starts at the line of decency and sprints away from it. I have a ton of respect for the crew behind this movie for just making it! It’s a bold statement piece, and the movie never shies away from showing every nasty detail. Occasionally, some of the dialogue-heavy scenes will outstay their welcome a little, but it’s never too long before the Seaside Strangler shows up, butt-ass naked, to claim another victim.
The Seaside Strangler bits punctuate the interpersonal drama of the crazy family at the heart of the film, and the comparatively normal activists that are staying with them. The Strangler is a looming menace, more of an atmospheric part of the scenery than a direct threat to the protagonists. This isn’t to say he isn’t dangerous, they don’t call him the Seaside Strangler for nothing, but the main characters of the film exist within their own awful bubble. Much of the film takes place within that bubble, and the characters’ claustrophobia becomes the audience’s the longer they’re stuck together in it.
There are some times when the film’s low budget is apparent, but more often than not the filmmakers use that towards serving the aesthetic of the project. One of the main characters doesn’t deliver lines in the way a classically-trained actor would, but that does more to highlight the outsider nature of the film than drag it down. Likewise, some of the special effects (particularly toward the climax of the film) are unrealistic, but that works in the context of the whole piece. Toxic Schlock knows what it wants to be: a low-budget horror comedy with offensive humor and plenty of messy effects. To that end, it does exactly what it came to do. Toxic Schlock is exactly what it says on the box, and I appreciate that. Metaphors are great and all, but I like it when a thing does what it says it does.
What it all boils down to: who should see this movie? Like so many other subversive, intentional-poor-taste art films, it’d be crazy to recommend this movie to everyone. I liked the movie, but I’m certainly not going to recommend my great-aunt (and not just because I don’t want to have to explain what a streaming service is). The audience for this movie needs to go in with an open mind, and maybe an empty stomach. The humor and gore absolutely won’t be for everyone, but fans of early John Waters are in for a treat. Toxic Schlock doesn’t set out to be a Disney movie- it’s Troma through and through. If that’s the kind of thing you’re into, then I’d absolutely recommend it. If that’s not what you’re into, that’s perfectly ok! Just know that you’re gonna have a rough time with this movie.
“Toxic Schlock is exactly what it says on the box […] Metaphors are great and all, but I like it when a thing does what it says it does”
If Toxic Schlock sounds like the kind of extreme entertainment you’re looking for, you’re in luck! It’s available for streaming on Troma Now!, the streaming service with more Nuke’em High movies than any other. If you don’t already subscribe to Troma Now!, you can pick up a free 30-day trial. 30 days gives you a lot of opportunity to watch and rewatch Toxic Schlock! Troma’s YouTube channel has a lot of the company’s older releases, including all four Toxic Avenger movies (and the Toxic Crusaders cartoon!), but Troma Now! is the best place to check out their new releases.