It’s hard to imagine a more perfect opening night film for Fantastic Fest 2023 than the reimagined, reinvigorated The Toxic Avenger. The film sits on the perfect intersection of resurrecting an 80s cult classic, with plenty of slime and heart for a rabid Fantastic Fest crowd. We spoke with The Toxic Avenger director Macon Blair about the ooey-gooey center of the film, its place as a bold new entry in the superhero genre, and what audiences can expect from the film.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
BUT WHY THO: ‘THE TOXIC AVENGER’ is already a fantastic film, in and of itself, and so it’s especially exciting to premiere your reimagined The Toxic Avenger here at Fantastic Fest. It’s probably one of my favorite genre fests. How does that energy feel right now?
MACON BLAIR: The crowd here is my reason. The programming of the fest is great, the history is great, but the crowds are what activates the whole thing. And we knew that this was a movie that would play really well with an enthusiastic group of people. This is the place for that, so we felt like we were in really good hands to premiere the film here.
BUT WHY THO: Absolutely. The superhero genre looms large in pop culture and has for the past decade, maybe longer. What is The Toxic Avenger going to bring that’s new, that’s different, that’s exciting to what can be considered an oversaturated genre.
MACON BLAIR: Bad taste. Disgusting stuff. Irresponsible choices. Actually, it’s a very sweet movie. Underneath all the goopiness, it’s a very warm-hearted film. It actually goes in the opposite direction of a lot of superhero films. Not because we were trying to create the ‘anti-Marvel’ movie, but because it’s what the property demands. It’s a dude in a tutu with a mop, half of his face is melted. It’s weird to start with, before you even start making choices of what you’re gonna do with it. So, it just sort of naturally evolved. It’s not an alternative, it exists in that same world. But it’s something a little different.
BUT WHY THO: So, let’s get into the gnarly and the ooey-gooey goopy – all the nasty. I like nasty.
MACON BLAIR: The nasty! There’s a deliberately juvenile sense of humor. Things like Airplane and Naked Gun – movies like that. They’re very silly, and that’s part of the appeal. We tried to lean into that instead of pretending we were too cool for that. We totally embrace the nasty. I hope that’s what comes across in the screening.
BUT WHY THO: You touched just then on the comedy influences we can expect in the film. But I know that your pedigree has a little bit of horror in there. Do we get to see any of the horror side of that nastiness, since it is a film about a guy with a melted face?
MACON BLAIR: Yeah! We definitely wanted to lean into the practical effects. The goop. The slime. The blood. It’s sort of what people expect, and I felt that if we didn’t have some of that audiences would feel short-changed.
BUT WHY THO: They’d revolt!
MACON BLAIR: Yes! And we don’t want that. There will be no getting chased out of the theater or having people throw fruit at me! We tried to give folks what they are expecting – that nasty quality – but never in the spirit of cruelty. It’s always playful and silly.
BUT WHY THO: Blood and guts are fun!
MACON BLAIR: I’m glad you said so!
The Toxic Avenger enjoyed a raucous World Premiere at Fantastic Fest 2023 in Austin, TX. The official release date for the film is still unknown.