As a general rule, I have precisely zero faith in humanity. Evidence for why this would be the case abounds, of course : the election of Donald Trump. Keeping wild animals caged in zoos for our entertainment. The wholesale destruction of our environment. The enduring popularity of Billy Joel. Yup, friends, there’s just no doubt — people don’t know what the fuck they’re doing.
But then along comes some (usually out- of- left- field and entirely unassuming) reminder that maybe — just maybe — all is not lost, after all. Maybe somebody out there “gets it” and knows what needs to be done in order to, if not save us, at least keep us good and entertained while the whole shithouse goes up in flames. Enter Leicester, UK-based brothers Carl and Marc (no relation to you-know-who) Hamill, masterminds behind the 2015 mini-masterpiece Toxic Apocalypse (or, as it was known upon its initial DTV release in its country of origin, The Wrong Floor). With only five thousand pounds to their names and a cast composed largely of friends and relatives, these two have single- (okay, double-) handedly restored my faith in our still-certainly-doomed-at-some-point species. Yup, it’s true — this flick (now streaming for free on Amazon Prime) is just that much fun.
Read the following brief synopsis and tell me that it doesn’t sound like all kinds of awesome to you : Danny Green (played by our guy Carl) is searching for his recently-disappeared father, a scientific genius employed by the nefarious EKAF Corporation, a typically sleazy big-business outfit that’s promising the world a “free energy” breakthrough but is, in fact, surreptitiously supplying the criminal underworld with the suddenly-popular street drug known as “Haze,” which has the unfortunate side effect of turning a number of its users into bloodthirsty homicidal maniacs. Rumors of the company’s involvement in the “Haze” racket abound, but thanks to corrupt cops and government officials, nothing has ever been proven — until now. After hitting one brick wall after another trying to get dirt on EKAF, Danny has decided to take the direct approach by getting hired on as a low-level security guard in the hope of catching the bastards red-handed. Along the way he manages to make an ally in the form of the plant’s fetching receptionist, Clarissa (Heather Percival) and the two quickly discover that “mad scientist”-type Dr. Logan (M.J. Simpson) is in league with a couple of local thugs (played by Chris Postlethwaite and Tom Robinson) who provide him with homeless people to experiment on. From there the trail leads to crime boss Marcais (Ron Hamill — yes, there’s another one of ’em), who controls “Haze” distribution in town, policeman-on-the-take Blackwood (David Hardware), and eventually back to EKAF itself, where most of the research staff seem well aware that rather than working on a renewable fuel resource, their efforts are actually being used to refine an even more potent (and deadlier) new version of “Haze.” It’s only a matter of time before Danny’s true intentions are discovered, of course, but what does he really have to worry about — other than a lab full of doped-up crazed killers, the rest of the plant’s security staff, and Marcais’ vicious street muscle — all of whom are closing in on him at once? After all, he’s got the truth on his side! Unfortunately, he doesn’t really have much of a plan, but that’ll work itself out — won’t it?
Obviously, writer/director Marc and script editor/star Carl have done their genre homework — Toxic Apocalypse plays out like the kind of film that could only be made by a couple of guys who have spent way too many hours watching The Stuff, Street Trash, and Troma flicks like The Toxic Avenger. It has its tongue well and firmly in cheek from start to finish, and is blissfully unafraid to sacrifice logic, continuity, and even common sense on the altar of balls-out, ultraviolent hijinks. No one’s safe in this movie, anything can happen at any time, and none of it really matters, anyway, so why not be as absurd as your (admittedly limited) resources will allow you to be? If you’re tired of “micro-budget” productions that take themselves way too goddamn seriously, congratulations — your antidote to pretentious navel-gazing has arrived, and it doesn’t care whose delicate sensibilities it offends.
Do you have to to make the usual allowances for a zero-budgeter with this one? Sure you do, to an extent, but these guys are so effing smart that they’ve even figured out a way to have fun with their own limitations — for instance, look for actress Claire Ball as a scientist, a hooker, a protester, an old lady, and a laser tag player. By and large the all-practical FX work is solid, the acting ranges from competent to actually pretty damn good, and the direction is surprisingly (and refreshingly) creative. At the risk of sounding like too much of a pathetic fan-boy, I honestly can’t think of anything to bitch about here.
And on that note, I think I’m done taking up any more of your valuable time. There are a million and one better things you could be doing other than reading this review — and watching Toxic Apocalypse immediately should be at the top of the list.