Class of Nuke ‘Em High Series Review
Halloween is upon us so another series to review.
The last series I reviewed was for the Dollman / Demonic Toys Series in 2019.
Now I could blame the US sponsored Chinese gift they gave the world in 2020 for me not doing one last year but really, all that did was give me even more time to review something from my bulbus catalogue.
It isn’t to blame for me not getting off my arse and not doing it because I don’t need to get of my backside to do any review. I have everything within arms length.
I’m simply that lazy.
Regardless, this year I am taking a look at Troma’s classic the Class of Nuke ‘Em High series including the two newer entries I haven’t yet seen.
Class of Nuke ‘Em High (1986)
“Fuck the Fellini festival!”
One of the most memorable Troma Series, second only to the Toxic Avenger, Class of Nuke ‘Em High is set in Tromaville High School which happens to be next to a nuclear power station run by the unscrupulous and cheap Mr. Paley.
The plant has been leaking nuclear waste in the school’s water supply for a while causing pupils there to be infected in a way that tends to express itself with the usual green sludge vomiting, pustule popping that we expect from classic Troma.
Meanwhile Chrissy and Warren are two of the more better behaved pupils in a school severely lacking them that fall foul of the toxic waste and the school’s gang The Cretins.
I remember seeing this on channel 4 in the 80s. The BBC probably had finished showing something good at the time and I was looking for something else to watch (Back then Beeb channels were worth watching who made decent, long lasting content unlike today) so flicking through the other three channels and this had just started.
The anarchy on display. the ugly chaotic mess of the Tromaville universe. It was like watching an American version of The Young Ones.
Nuke ‘Em feels like a series of vignettes loosely linked together, sometimes to create a bigger film and that is one of its strengths. When that scene changes you don’t know what will happen next, what direction it will go in and if you think you’ve figured it out it probably won’t end as you expect.
The creative freedom here to do whatever you want in this offensive, un-PC film is sadly missed today. No holding back with the ability to throw in whatever felt funny or disgusting and not have to tick any boxes or ask if it is ok.
Add to this the hammy, over-acting, the rock soundtrack, plenty of screaming and vomit-inducing (literally) makeup that creates its own world more effectively than many larger budgeted movies.
If The Toxic Avenger isn’t your introduction to the Troma-verse then this should be.
Class of Nuke ‘Em High 2:
Subhumanoid Meltdown (1991)
“Just because Victoria had lips on her belly didn’t stop me from loving her.”
Following the events of the first film, Tromaville’s nuclear power reactor has been rebuilt by the Nukamama Corporation and within it they have rebuilt the destroyed Tromaville High as a college named Tromaville Institute of Technology or ‘T.I.T‘.
The advantage of this is they can use the students for free labour.
Starting with a giant squirrel attacking the power station we are introduced to our hero Roger Smith played by Brick Bronsky who sadly passed away earlier this year.
Roger wants to be a reporter and also wants love. Unfortunately for him he is repulsive to everyone around him. His reporting eye (and his participation in a sex experiment by Beehive sporting scientist Professor Holt) leads him to uncover the true intentions of the Nukamama Corp and their Subhumanoid experiments.
The Subhumanoids are grown to look like normal people apart from the mouth where their bellybutton should be and W programmed to be mindless, docile slaves but when the host body dissolves and the Subhumanoids true form emerges. Flying green slimy heads which makes me think that with Boglins now back perhaps Troma should make a licensing deal with Tri Action Toys.
Subhumanoid Meltdown does keep a lot of that anarchic feel from the first film extremely well and even though this time it does focus on the story more which means you don’t see as much of the crazy goings on, the ending has more than enough classic Troma for you to enjoy.
The gang getting in Rogers way are the Squirrels who lack enough screen time to be troublesome, disgusting presence The Cretins were and apart from their rotund leader Yolk, they feel like background characters far too often.
One disgusting presence that thankfully isn’t lacking is all the puss, puke, popping pustules. The gross-out humour and melting bodies are still here with all their practical make-up effects with them. The melting bodies are still here and looking as great as ever.
It wouldn’t be Troma otherwise.
A great follow up that should’ve done better when released.
I couldn’t find a trailer that is allowed outside youtube so here’s a song from the movie.
Don’t forget to read the credits.
Class of Nuke ‘Em High 3:
The Good the Bad
and the Subhumanoid (1994)
“Were all gonna die!
And that pisses me off!
Class of Nuke ‘Em High 3 starts by retelling the events of the last film, continuing the chaos of Tromie’s Godzilla-esque rampage through the power station/T.I.T then proceeding to fills us in with what has happened in the two following years. We see Brick Bronsky back as Roger who also plays his son, Adlai who looks (and dresses) identical to Roger in the last film.
Not only that but he plays Adlai’s evil twin Dick (there’s always an evil twin). Returning as well is Lisa Gaye once again playing Professor Holt giving the best performance as the best character in this film, maybe the series.
This retelling of events takes up over 20 minutes and is the best part of the film. It feels like the crazy, insane Troma world that has been established in the previous two movies but then the Good, the Bad and the Subhumanoid veers of into a different style where Adlai narrates everything happening.
This isn’t a bad idea but it is as if every scene has exposition. Too much exposition. The humour has largely changed with the gross, visual comedy and anarchic world mostly replaced with self-aware, absurd comedy in a crazy world that doesn’t stand out as much due to this being too story focused.
The humour is still very un-PC and will hopefully have enough under-20s offended so that is a plus but the world that is so much a part of the previous films that it is its own character doesn’t get to shine. It becomes just a setting for everything else going on and feels too restrained. The runtime then feels like it is 10-15 minutes too long to what it needs to be and Nuke ‘Em High 3 starts to slog.
The final confrontation isn’t as large nor wild as we have come to expect. Too much talking, not enough happening. The film even references the scaled down number of extras in a joke.
I do like part 3 but that is mostly down to and me being a Nuke ‘Em High fan and Brick and Lisa. This won’t bring in many new fans to Troma and unlike part 2 probably did about better than it should given the VHS sales reports.
All the trailers are age restricted like part 2 so here is the theme song and don’t forget to read the credits.
Return to Nuke ‘Em High (2013)
“Leave Ronald Reagan alone!”
What a disaster. It starts of with Stan Lee known here as Peter Parker explaining some of the history of Class of Nuke ‘Em High and then explains this is going to be a remake like no other.
So we are introduced to our new “heroes”.
Eugene – The dumb boyfriend who is only there to make main girl look good. He overacts far too much and is nowt but annoying. Fucking annoying. In the original trilogy you would have people overacting, being hyper and it worked. It was all part of the same insanity but here he stands out and the actor is trying so much it looks painful for him.
Zac – The fat one that always eats and is covered in food.
Slater – Black Guy – He’s black and it seems Troma doesn’t want to offend so he’s handled with kid gloves as the yanks say. That isn’t Troma.
Chrissy – The hero. She is the archetypal teen girl hero of every modern film. Everyone loves hero no matter how much of a cunt she is there’s no comeuppance.
Chrissy in the original might’ve not have had to much of an extreme personality compared to almost everyone else in the film bar Warren but she was the butt of the joke at times and fitted into the world around her.
Then there’s Rich Girl who is Chrissy’s love interest. She’s by far the best character in this movie. Probably the only one worth watching. She is more like the original Chrissy than the cheap modern remake.
In this one Lloyd Kaufman plays the president of Tromorganic Foodstuffs Conglomerate that is selling contaminated food. I think, all I remember is Lloyd constantly spilling milk on himself. Chrissy is a blogger (so she’s a cheap modern Roger) that is investigating Kaufman’s company.
Well, sometimes she is, most of the time she’s trying to supress her lesbian feelings. I thought Nuke ‘Em 3 started to drag its feet but that’s sod all compared to here. I know I complained about the world in Nuke ‘Em 3 not being as realised as earlier films and generally scaled down but it was Tromaville.
It was classic Troma unlike now where everything is a failed imitation. All I can say for modern Troma going of this is that it is a cheap shell of what it once was.
The transition to digital has been disastrous for low budget movies, the bad After Effects we’ll-fix-it-later on my Pentium 2 attitude to special effects or the webcam, youtube look that remove the filmic feel are on full display making this seem cheaper than it needs to be. Than it would be if made in the 80s.
Like disney Star Wars this is an empty, unpopulated universe with pale imitations trying to cash in on nostalgia by remaking far superior and popular originals that will be remembered far longer than the toxic sludge vomited on the screen.
The Cretins are back being the mutated Troma Poofs Glee Club and utterly useless. They cower and get their arses kicked when challenged, why? At only 85 minutes it is around the 15 minutes shorter length I said part 3 should have been but seems far longer.
Several of the cast from the series return for a cameo where they do nothing like Brick Bronsky and Lisa Gaye however it looks like they are setting something up for the sequel, problem is they filmed it with poor lighting and it looks like a cheaper camera than used elsewhere really adding to that 2010 youtube look.
By default of them appearing Brick and Lisa are still the best things in this one.
It does retain some of the non-PC humour but also preaches to you in places. It lays on the social commentary far too thick and you can see how Troma have self-censored. At least it has The Kabuki Flip.
Stan Lee was wrong. This is exactly like other remakes, modern remakes.
Just like them and don’t bother reading the credits this time.
Return to Nuke ‘Em High aka Vol 2 (2017)
“Presidents don’t get angry,
they get diplomatic”
The above quote is from Lemmy Kilmister who plays the U.S. President.
So this is a big step up. Starting with how you would expect Lloyd Kaufman to direct the Carrie (1976) shower scene, nudity, gallons of blood and gunge ending with a mutant duck baby, Return to Return to Nuke ‘Em High slowly starts to feel more like a throwback to classic Troma.
Some of the jokes are actually funny and disturbing especially when you see Lloyd’s Buffalo Bill impersonation plus the finale is what you expect from a this series. Violent, chaotic, slimy, and oddly coherent given what is happening. Zac leads the gross humour here and elevates what I thought was a pointless character badly acted into someone in competition with Lloyd for most memorable if for all the wrong reasons.
I have always wondered how they manage to get permission to film where they do considering what they do.
This is what the first Return to film should’ve been more like. If it is true that Quentin Tarantino suggested splitting these into two films then that should’ve been ignored.
Instead they should’ve cut a lot of the pointless, unfunny shite from the previous movie and had it be more like the superior original. Less of an emphasis on telling the story in a traditional film way (or pushing whatever message Lloyd is trying to) and instead quickly jump from scene to scene until the finale which helps reinforce the absurdity on screen.
This still has the filmed-on-an-expensive webcam look and distracting shitty After Effects mucking up the still rather good practical effects however eventually in places they do seem to compliment each other. The music is better and the Cretins are more of a threat but the poorly filmed scene featuring Brick Bronsy, Lisa Gaye etc from the previous encounter isn’t followed up on here with no mention of it at all.
Amongst the cameos that are in this include Mark Torgl who played the original Melvin from The Toxic Avenger which reminded me that when watching the first Return to I was wishing it was the Toxie series I had on instead.
Thankfully I finished this with a good feeling even if it does shit on the original movie’s heroes. It might not be the best Herz and Kaufman have to offer, or maybe it is the best they have from the last decade, but it does have enough of that old magic that made me a fan.
What started of great eventually fails to maintain its momentum but while the fourth entry (Return to Class of Nuke ‘Em High) is the lowest point of the series it did make me appreciate part 3 more. Perhaps I was too hard on a film I did enjoy but the series does reclaim some of its former glory with the final entry despite this it is still the second worst out of all.
All you need to watch is the original trilogy and won’t be missing much by avoiding the inferior remake.
It seems Troma disneyfied one of their biggest brands before the mouse did with Star Wars.