Troma Entertainment, founded by Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz, have been producing and distributing low-budget independent films for over 40 years now. The films they put out are known for containing graphic violence, nudity, and social commentary. Troma is best known for the creation of The Toxic Avenger (also the company’s mascot), which has spawned 3 sequels, an animated children’s show, an upcoming remake, and MERCHANDISING! MERCHANDIZING!!! (Where the REAL money from the movie is made!) Not only are they really good at what they do, they have made Troma a somewhat household name (if you live in a fucked up household like mine) and are the longest running independent film studio. I’ve been a big fan of Troma for many years now and was able to catch a screening of their latest Lloyd Kaufman directed Tromasterpiece, Return to Nuke ‘Em High Vol. 1.
RTNEH is a two part Tromatic extravaganza that revisits the world of Tromaville High from the original Class of Nuke ‘Em High (and its two lesser sequels). This time around, Tromorganic Foodstuffs, Inc. replaces the old nuclear power plant as the catalyst for turning students into murderous mutants (the school Glee club turns into a gang called The Cretins). Our main characters are Chrissy and Lauren, played wonderfully by Asta Paredes and Catherine Corcoran, two budding lesbians who clash and then start to fall for each other amidst all the death, destruction, and green slime tossed on the screen. Given the norm of Troma leads usually hamming up their performances to the nth degree, it was refreshing to see these two very capable actors lead the picture. Don’t worry though, there are plenty of cheesy performances from their schoolmates and even a Shakespearean level commitment from new Troma star Kevin the Wonder Duck.
This film has everything you’d expect and want from a Troma film…and by the bucketful. The practical effects used for the gore are over the top, excessive, and a joy to watch. There is also plenty of nudity to widen your eyes including a sex scene between Chrissy and Lauren that plays like a Tromatized scene from Blue is the Warmest Color. I say that because their relationship is actually believable and rather touching, not just because of the ladies doin’ each other stuff. It also includes the usual bunch of Troma cameos including Kaufman himself as the head of Tromaorganic Foodstuffs and a certain familiar voiced narrator of the story (Excelsior!). This movie is fast paced, expertly executed, and pretty fucking hilarious.
The only real negative thing I can say about the movie is that the secondary characters aren’t as memorable as they usually are in Troma films. Thinking back on the film, I can’t remember more than one of the Cretins and maybe one of the two leads friends. This could be changed after Vol. 2, as these other characters could be fleshed out and given more to do. It’s a pretty small gripe compared to everything that went so right about the movie. The music rocks and the film looks really slick and beautiful compared to some of the more recent Troma films. Also, I have to admit that the hammy performances were kept to a minimum (maybe that’s why I’m having a hard time remembering some of the characters), compared to Kaufman’s last film, Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (which I do love, by the way).
Clocking in at 85 minutes, the film cuts off with one hell of a cliffhanger and the dreaded words “To Be Continued…” I was honestly surprised when this happened, as it didn’t feel like the whole hour and a half had passed. It purposefully and immediately left me wanting more. I also got to enjoy a lengthy Q&A with Lloyd Kaufman after the film and have him sign my VHS copy of Class of Nuke ‘Em High. I feel that Vol. 1 was mostly set up and that Vol. 2 will up the ante with balls to the wall insanity on all fronts. Return to Nuke ‘Em High Vol. 1 is now out on DVD/Blu-Ray and Vol. 2 will be coming out a little later this year, sadly no official word on when yet. Do yourself a favor and check it out. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
8/10 Severed Limbs…Dripping With Sauce