Return to Nuke `Em High Vol. 1, directed by cult movie legend Lloyd Kaufman, is a satirical sci-fi comedy event film with themes ripped straight from today's headlines: the contamination and degradation of the world's food supply, rampant bullying, love triumphing over prejudice. Nuke `Em is in the same vein as other classics such as Class of 1984, Rock `n' Roll High School, and Carrie, but seen through the unique vision of Lloyd Kaufman and the Troma Team. Welcome to Tromaville High School where, unfortunately, the glee club has mutated into a vicious gang of Cretins. Chrissy and Lauren, two innocent bloggers, must fight not only the Cretins, mutants and monsters but also the evil Tromorganic Foodstuffs Conglomerate. Will they save Tromaville High School and the world? Find out in this brand-new, unhinged classic from beloved Troma Films!
We have come to a point in our lives where Troma Entertainment has started remaking their own movies. And what better way to start this trend than with the 1980's schlock-fest 'Class of Nuke 'Em High', which spawned several sequels over the years. And the godfather of Schlock and gore, Lloyd Kaufman has not missed a beat, despite being 68 years old, he has returned to direct 'Return To Nuke 'Em High', which is a revamp of their second most popular series of movies.
If you enjoy watching heads explode with B-movie special effects, with lots of green goo, blood, and other bodily fluids spewing from every human orifice every couple of minutes, as well as Stan Lee, and Lemmy from Motorhead, then by all means rush out the door and pick up this film, as Uncle Kaufman himself says in the special features, "We're making art, people." And what fantastic art it is. Troma Entertainment has consistently put out several films a year since their start in the early 80s. And with this remake, nobody seems to have lost their touch with trying to make the grossest, most vile, and offensive movie ever made. But hey, it's Troma. What do you expect?
Filled with racial stereotypes, giant penises, graphic nudity, offensive jokes, and enough gore to fill three horror movies, 'Return to Nuke 'Em High' was one chaotic ride, which goes for the shock factor rather than telling a cohesive story. I know you're thinking that Troma films usually don't have a story, but this one in particular does, well at least in the first half, but then it tends to stray away from forward moving story-telling to just showing insane acts of depravity and nudity for no apparent reason until its ending, which leads to a sequel that comes out later this year. You might hear a familiar voice narrate the opening of this film, only to have your dreams come true.
Yes, it is the legend Stan Lee telling you the history of Nuke 'Em High, as he appears on screen and turns into a mutant monster. It only gets better from here. Tromaville High School has a new neighbor with Tromaganic Foodstuffs Inc. The CEO is Hezkauf (Kaufman, himself), who is using contaminated water to create organic food for the good people in the community. Little do they know that this contaminated water is highly toxic and is capable of much more than just making you sick. After a scene of the school janitor copulating with a student, after which his penis explodes and shoot an acid-like goo, which completely melts his female partner, we meet our main characters.
Chrissy (Asta Paredes) is a student who runs a blog called Pollution Nerdz who is hellbent on showing the atrocities going on at Tromaganic. Meanwhile, the new girl at school Lauren (Catherine Corcoran) is looking to fit in and immediately starts to have romantic and sexual feelings for Chrissy. During Taco Tuesday at Tromaville High School, which is provided by Tromaganic, the good students start to turn into homicidal maniac monsters. Particularly the lovely Troma Poofs, which is their glee club, who turn into diabolical Cretins who will rape and kill anyone in their way, but not before the perform a Barbershop Quartet-style like song. Luckily for the student body and town, Chrissy and Lauren mutate as a duo armed with a giant four foot penis and giant acid lactating breasts to destroy the evil and save the city.
About half way through the film, the story abandons moves on to see just how gross and chaotic it can be. Whether it be a pet duck who is shoved down someones throat, an exploding body, or blood and green gunk being spewed onto the camera lens, you'll be shocked and nervously laughing at what Kaufman can get his actors to do on screen for very little money. 'Return To Nuke 'Em High' is straight to the point and brutal in its visuals. Rather than have a build up of suspense to a decapitation or murder, each scene tries to outdo the previous with more outrageous gore and gratuitous nudity. And that's how you can tell you have a solid and highly entertaining Troma movie on your hands.
'Return to Nuke 'Em High' comes with a 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. It's still very strange to me to see a Troma movie in glossy high definition. It almost feels wrong to do so without having to adjust the tracking on a VHS and watch a shoddy quality image to go with an insane, vulgar picture. But we live in the age of Blu-ray and Troma has followed the standard. Needless to say, this is the best Troma will look on your television at home. The detail is mostly sharp, which allows you to see every ounce of goo and gore throughout the film. You'll even be able to distinguish individual hairs, not on the actor's faces, but on another part of their body.
The colors have a cartoonish feel to them and pop brightly off-screen. Some of the colors look a bit over-saturated at times, which makes the film feel even more zany. The skin tones look natural at times and brighter in other spots. But the black levels always seem to be very deep and inky. It looked like there were two different types of cameras used for the shoot, which is noticeable throughout, as the image looks different on-screen. And I'm not talking about the stock footage of the famous car crash they show in every movie. There is some banding, aliasing, and motion blur along with some video noise here, but what do you really expect from a Troma movie, right? It's all part of the experience.
This Troma release comes with a 2.0 Dolby Digital audio mix, which is unfortunate, because this film could have heavily benefited from an epic 5.1 audio track. All of the slurps, licks, farts, and gore could have been profoundly loud and echoed through the surrounds, leaving you with shivers, but instead we get a lackluster 2.0 mix that does an average job. This is not to say the sound effects aren't there or loud. It's just they aren't very well balanced or full sounding.
Dialogue is crystal clear and easy to understand, despite a lot of screaming, and is free of any pops, cracks, and hissing. The cheesy score and heavy metal music is fun, but sounds underplayed quite a bit. I feel like this film along with every Troma movie deserves to have a full sounding audio presentation that is turned to as loud as it goes to get the full insane effect that these type of schlocky movies have on you.
Commentary #1 - Actors Zac Amico, Clay von Carlowitz, Catherine Corcoran, Stuart Kiczek, and Asta Paredes give a very lively and hilarious commentary here. They pack the 85 minute movie with fun stories from the set, and make fun of themselves and the overall project throughout. I wouldn't look here for any technical talk.
Commentary #2 - This commentary has director Lloyd Kaufman, producer Justin A. Martell, executive producer Matt Manjourides, associate producer Regina Katz, and writer Travis Campbell discussing everything that went into making the film. Kaufman does an excellent job bringing up anecdotes and creative decisions with his crew here. If you wanted to know how this movie was made, then give this a listen. Great stuff.
'Casting Conundrum' (SD, 7 mins.) You can finally find out how Troma finds and cast its actors. It's a multi-step process that includes improv, script reading, defecating in a paper bag, and lots of nudity. I want to be a casting director for Troma when I grow up.
'Pre-Production Hell with Mein-Kauf(Man)' (SD, 10 mins.) - Here we see Kaufman leading his team of misfits who work for near nothing to make this crazy film. They try to get shooting locations secure, actors cast, and special effects to work as Kaufman yells at his crew to get things done the right way.
'Special (Ed) Effects' (SD, 8 mins.) - If you love the B- movie special effects of all of Troma's blood, guts, and decapitations, then take a look at how they make the gore happen. And you just might see Kaufman yelling at his crew again for not remembering to bring important things to set.
'Cell-U-Lloyd Kaufman: 40 Years of Tromatising the World' (SD, 3 mins.) All of Troma's career presented in a flashy three minute segment. I almost had a seizure here.
'Edison Device' (SD, 4 mins.) Here is the music video for 'Edison Device ' by 'Architects of Fear' with clips from the movie mixed in.
A Teaser Trailer for 'Return to Nuke 'Em High: Volume 2' (HD, 1 min.) If you are clamoring to see Volume 2, then feast your eyes on this trailer full of gore and nudity.
Yes, Troma has officially started remaking their own movies. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. With a new reboot of 'The Toxic Avenger' coming our way, it was only right to see a reboot of 'Nuke 'Em High'. and Troma proves here they still have the balls to make a gory and sexually explicit film that doesn't shy away from showing anything and everything on-screen. You will get to see some vintage characters in the background, Stan Lee narrating the film, a starring credit for Kevin the Wonder-Duck, and of course Lemmy from Motorhead plays the President of the United States in his concert get up. If you're a Troma fan, then you're going to want this in your collection, and if you're new to Troma, take a deep breath, count to three and purchase your first Troma movie with this one. You'll be glad you did.