Class of Nuke ‘Em High was never one of my fav Troma films. I liked it well enough, but it didn’t fit into my topmost favs (even just of Troma films). I saw part 2 (Subhumanoid Melrdown) which wasn’t too good, and I never saw part 3 (The Good, The Bad, and The Subhumanoid), which I heard was bad.
I was pretty excited to see that they were making a new one, tho- I enjoyed their last film (Poultygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead) which came out 8 years ago, and I was ready for some new Troma guts and insanity.
I used to be a huge Troma fan- I loved their movies like the Toxic Avenger, Troma’s War and Tromeo and Juliet as well as movies they sponsored (Street Trash and Redneck Zombies being two of my most favs). The mix of slapstick and gore and over-the-top craziness really appealed to me. Not everything they did was fantastic, but enough of it was (and even the stuff that wasn’t could at least not be called boring) that I’ve always been excited to see a new film by them.
I got to meet Lloyd Kaufman (producer, director, and actor of movies such as those listed above as well as countless others from Big Ass Spider! to, errr, Rocky) at a horror convention in 2009, and he was really cool and friendly, so that’s always a plus (truthfully, I’ve rarely met a horror personality who was a prick, but I’ve heard stories).
So I hate to say it, but I was a bit disappointed in Return To Nuke ‘Em High Volume 1.
The story starts out with narration explaining the back story (pretty much the story of Class of Nuke ‘Em High with a slight mention of parts 2 and 3, narrated by Stan Lee no less!), in which the Tromaville nuclear power plant’s improperly disposed of waste mutated a bunch of students into subhumans. Now, many years later, an organic food processing plant was built on the ruins of the old nuclear power plant, and the owner (played by Lloyd Kaufman himself) is trying to get his food (which is also contaminated) into the local high school.
Meanwhile, at said school, new girl Lauren has moved into town. She is met with hostility by the school’s local activist blogger Chrissy (who doesn’t like her because she’s rich), but they soon find that they are attracted to each other.
Trouble arises when the Glee Club (who were previously nerds) eat some contaminated tacos and mutate into a dangerous gang of punk psychopaths called The Cretins, and begin terrorizing the city. Our two heroines must team up to defeat the Cretins and stop the food plant from doing the same thing to the whole country.
Features cameos by Lemmy, Debbie Rochon and Toxie as well as Rick Collins (who has been in all of the Nuke ‘Em High movies, as well as all the Toxic Avenger movies and a lot of other Troma films) as an ill fated science teacher showing off the laser from the first film.
The movie is not bad, and features all the sleaze, slapstick, gore, humor, and over-the-top insanity that Troma is known for. It’s just that in this one, it all feels a bit forced. Like they’re trying hard to capture something that should come naturally. Most of the actors overact horribly all of the time. In a Troma movie, bad acting and overacting is expected. All their past movies have had it in spades, but it just doesn’t hit the right notes in this one (you can’t act over-the-top in the red for every scene- there’s times that it needs to be toned down, or it just looks awkward and forced). It doesn’t always work in this one like it has in the past. Besides the acting, some of the humor and slapstick seems forced as well. You can’t really manufacture zaniness- it has to come naturally from the storyline. Absurdity works best when not shoehorned in hamfistedly. So tho this stuff works in this movie some of the time, other times it comes off more like those awful Aaron Seltzer/ Jason Friedberg parody movies (Epic Movie, Disaster Movie, Meet the Spartans, etc.)- trying too hard to be funny and zany, but not pulling it off.
The stuff that works, however, is great. There are several classic Troma type clever, messed up and over-the-top scenes and situations. I just wish the whole movie was like that. I think the problem is that it was rushed- it seems that way. If they could have taken just a little more time to flesh out some of the jokes, some of the slapstick and set ups. Had a few of their actors bring it down a notch in some scenes (tho other actors do very well- there is an extra on the DVD going over the casting of it, and they used 99% amateur actors they found at drama classes and Hollywood extras, so I guess you get what you pay for. Both of the leads do a good job, at least).