It’s hard to know where to start when it comes to reviewing a Troma film. If you’re not a fan of the films they put out, or just don’t understand them then it’s easy to just say “Oh, its toilet humour”, or “It’s too offensive and puerile”.
But the genius of Troma is that any of these criticisms can be responded to with a single sentence: “It’s a Troma movie”, and for fans of the company that’s always enough. It just wouldn’t be a Troma movie without blood, boobs and bad jokes.
Return to Nuke ‘Em High brings us back to Tromaville under the direction of Lloyd Kaufman for the first time since 2006’s amazing Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead and back to the Nuke ‘Em High films for the first time since Class of Nuke ‘Em High 3: the Good, the Bad and the Subhumanoid back in 1994.
The original films (mainly the original from 1986) are covered at the start of the film, providing a recap for franchise first comers and a memory jog for fans, with a special guest narrator!
The plot is pretty much the same as the original, but updated and expanded. The nuclear plant contaminating the schools food supply is now the Tromorganic Foodstuffs Conglomerate. Instead of just being introduced to the Cretins, we get an origin story. The love interest plot in the story now revolves around two girls; Chrissy (Asta Paredes) and Lauren (Catherine Corcoran.) And on top of all that we also now have an amazing duck called Kevin!
What follows for the next 80 minutes is exactly what you want from a Troma film, absolute chaos, but with the social messages throughout you’d come to expect from a film with Lloyd Kaufman at the helm (and worry not, Uncle Lloyd also makes a cameo appearance in the film, along with several other familiar faces!)
Of course though, this is only the first volume of this two-part saga. On the advice of Quentin Tarantino, the film has been split in half and ends with a cliffhanger that will leave you wanting more!
It was always going to be hard for me to dislike this film, I’m a huge Troma fan and as long time listeners to the podcast know, we had Lloyd Kaufman on the show back in Episode 29 which was an absolute honour.
And with that in mind I can’t help but love this film. It’s exactly what I as a Troma fan wanted, and I can’t bestow more praise on it than that!
For me, Troma never change their stripes but at the same time continue to adapt to the world around them without selling out. In a time when we are faced with another bloody Transformers film this Summer, and an endless glut of unoriginal garbage polluting our cinemas, I’m glad they are still around to provide an entertaining alternative. Long may they continue!
Extras for the DVD and Blu-Ray releases of Return to Nuke ‘Em High were unavailable at time of writing, but both will contain…
• Audio commentary by Kaufman, producer Justin A. Martell, executive producer Matt Manjourides, associate producer Regina Katz and co-writer Travis Campbell
• Audio commentary by actors Paredes, Corcoran, Zac Amico, Clay von Carlowitz and Stuart Kiczek
• “Casting Conundrum” featurette
• “Pre-Production Hell with Mein-Kauf (Man)” featurette
• “Special (Ed) Effects” featurette
• “Cell-U-Lloyd Kaufman: 40 Years of TROMAtising The World” featurette
• “Architects of Fear: Edison Device” Music Video
• RETURN TO NUKE ’EM HIGH VOLUME 2 trailer
Return to Nuke ‘Em High is released in the US on March 18th and in the UK on July 14th through Anchor Bay Films.
Review by 80’s Picturehouse co-host Thom. Many thanks to Anchor Bay for the review disc.
Image ©2014 Fangoria