Featuring: Asta Paredes , Catherine Corcoran , Vito Trigo… you’ve never heard of either of them and you may never hear of them again… until Return to Nuke ‘Em High Vol. 2 anyway.
Director: Lloyd “Class of Nuke ‘Em High” Kaufman
Writers: Travis “Mr. Bricks: A Heavy Metal Murder Musical” Campbell , Lloyd “Class of Nuke ‘Em High” Kaufman , Derek “Johnny Test” Dressler , Casey Clapp , Aaron Hamel
Sequel to: Class of Nuke ‘Em High / Class of Nuke Em High Part II: Subhumanoid Meltdown / Class of Nuke Em High 3: the Good, the Bad, and the Subhumanoid
Sequel: Return to Nuke Em High Volume 2
What’s up with Troma these days? The last big production I remember them having was Poultrygeist, and though I really enjoyed it in fine traditional Tromatic fashion, that was way back in 2006! When I was in junior high and started watching these perverse, violent, cornball, cheap-o, safe sex, anti-pollution, feature length public service announcements, it seemed like they were churning out new movies every other year! Then again, I started late in my anthropological studies of the historic civilization of Tromaville, New Jersey’s bastion of bacchanalia, so maybe my being able to indulge in so much catching up via my local Video Pharaoh rental store just made it seem like an endless smorgasbord of sluts, guts, and butts. Either way, at this time of year, when students the nation over are chomping at the bit to dive head first into summer break like it’s a swimming pool full of beer and ecstasy, what better time to head back to the infamous campus of Tromaville High School?
Originally established as the second keystone of the radioactive waste dump house that Toxie built, the first Class of Nuke ‘Em High was very much a classic handcrafted creation of the underground, punk rock, anti-establishment, yuppie smashing, movie terrorists of the ’80s. It had tits and violence and mutants and marauding street thugs and immature dick & fart humor in perfect excess, all brought together by honor roll graduate of the Roger Corman School of Guerilla B-Movie Making, Lloyd “Turn Your Head and” Kaufman! Nuke Em High sang a song my teenage hormones could not resist. The sequels were…bad. Not in the fun way, though. ’90s Troma just wasn’t the same as ’80s Troma. They were definitely Troma productions, but aside from Tromeo & Juliet and Terror Firmer, it really wasn’t a great decade.
Much like Poultrygeist, Return to Nuke ‘Em High embraces the condemnation of the modern additives-centric food industry rather than the classic Troma trope of spraying diarrhea over the environment ravaging nuclear power estate. Now, I know you’re asking, “But Uncle Anubis, if it’s not about giving the ol’ fuck-you-finger to dangerous atomic power barons, then how in the name of Set’s nipples is it a Nuke ‘Em High movie?!”. Well, if you’d shut your shit vacuum and gimme a minute, I’d caress your cheek with my plot hand and whisper sweet expository nothings (not to be confused with suppository somethings) into your crusty ear canal like the dumb movie Don Juan that I am. So, yooooou juuuuust reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally waaaaaaaaaaaanna knoooooooooow what’s going on… at Nuke ‘Em High? Here goes – It’s been almost 20 years since the Tromaville Nuclear Power Plant had its second catastrophic destruction (at the fuzzy feet and nuts of a giant radioactive squirrel monster), taking with it the Tromaville Technical Institute it had built as penance for destroying Tromaville High School in its maiden meltdown during the climax of the original movie. Rather than tempt fate a third time by building another set of those big billowing concrete cooling towers, New Jersey’s very own Three Mile Island (to be honest, the whole state’s pretty much a Chernobylian disaster even without Tromaville) instead becomes the site of Tromorganic Foodstuffs Inc., while the old school grounds are the site of a wholly rebuilt Tromaville High! All of this is laid out for us in the film’s opening by none other than the deification of fanboy culture, Stan “the Man” Lee! Genuine geeks known Stan as the architect of Marvel Comics, and four-color know-nothings will just recognize him as “That old Jew who shows up in all those comic book movies!”. Stan gives the Nuke ‘Em flicks his own special brand of loquacious recap…well, the first movie. His treatments of Episodes 2 and 3 are less recaps and more summations of how we all felt about them. Also, Stan likes boobs. Dirty old man.
Oh, and don’t be alarmed if Tromaville looks a lot like Buffalo, NY. Apparently New Jersey would rather have its image ruined to the rest of the world with the true life horrors of Jersey Shore and Chris Christie rather than risk potential tourists mistaking salacious sociopolitical satire as a documentary. Trust me, Tromaville’s New Jersey is Candyland compared to the real thing. At least their Molasses Swamp isn’t full of bodies and their Princess Lolly isn’t a walking, slurring breeding ground for pubic lice and fetal alcohol syndrome.
Back on task, our new Nuke ‘Em High alumni-on-the-verge-of-having-incredibly-horrible-lives consists of our orphaned lesbian activist heroine Chrissy (Asta Paredes), the well-to-do duck owner and new-to-school Lauren (Catherine Corcoran), Chrissy’s blue-balled borderline psychotic boyfriend beard Eugene (Clay von Carlowitz), token black guy Slater (Stefan Dezil), Slater’s girlfriend whose name I didn’t bother to learn, and their fat, whiny, Prince Albert-ed geek stereotype friend whose name I actively pushed out of my brain because he’s just way too annoying to waste any of the already limited storage space of my gray matter hard drive on remembering it. By his own definition, the guy’s a “jelly roll, jizz dwarf, snatch badger, ass troll” who loves Batman & Robin, so that’s all you really need to know about him. There are also some random victims, a sex ed teacher who doesn’t come to a very happy ending (Get it? Sex ed? Come? Happy ending?), the school priest/football coach Father Sandusky (because child molestation jokes), gym teacher Coach Kotter (Debbie Rochon, stopping by quick to remind my penis she still exists), the disgustingly sloppy Rush Limbaugh parody Principal Westly (Babette Bombshell, who takes the prize for weirdest name on their SAG card… and is a credit that I’m not entirely sure is correct), and the Poofs – Tromaville High’s glee club, who are an unsublte parody of the cast of “Glee”, and are destined to go the way of the original Nuke ‘Em High‘s very same extracurricular group… which, if you’ve never seen the original, then (1.) you’ll have no idea what I’m talking aboot, and (B.) shame on you. Either way, we’ll get to that part momentarily, so just keep your boots on, Flesh Gordon.
Back to Tromorganic, having been built on the power plant grounds they’ve found a sizable stockpile of that Troma Green (my favorite Crayola color) toxic slime to use as filler for their so-called organic health food. Well, everybody’s always pushing the whole “go green” agenda, and you don’t get much greener than Troma Brand Nuke Sludge! Besides, feed some to your pet terrapin and you’ll have your own posse of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles before you can say “Eat a bag of dicks, Michael Bay!”. No longer able to sell their products to American fast food chains due to a few lost-then-found human bits (or, as I call them, the special toy surprise in every bite), Tromorganics company head Warren Herzgauf (Lloyd Kaufman, having a hell of a time not spilling milk all over himself) has pulled some strings with political associates (including President of the USA – Lemmy!) to get their not-so-organic delights deemed the official cafeteria garbage of schools all across New Jersey!
See? The “Nuke ‘Em High” moniker still fits. There’s no risk of nuclear detonation, but there’s still going to be plenty of teens being exposed to radioactive elements. Meanwhile, Lloyd Kaufman gets to give the Cleveland How’s-Your-Mom to the pink slime “meat” production industry, the fast food industry that tries to get their products into schools, AND the politicians whose pockets are packed with both aforementioned industries’ jizz and coke encrusted hundred dollar bills. Lloyd Kaufman – still striking out at industrialized evil with bad little dark comedies that are only watched by the same few thousand audience members that have been watching them for years.
While she’s not trying to take down Tromorganic with the hard-hitting junior journalism of her personal blog (that has even fewer readers than I do!), Chrissy’s attentions are focused on avoiding the sexual advances of her boyfriend (who has no idea the clam buffet he’s trying to get a seat at is reserved for members of the pink mafia only) and bullying new girl Laura. Said bullying isn’t really about Chrissy working out the emotional trauma of being an orphan, or even about hating Laura’s money. It’s obvious from the first exchange of glances that our anti-heroine is doing the “playground flirt” and pushing the girl she’s got a crush on into a pile of dog poo. Will this homo squish mission end in true love for Miss Chris? Or will it result in unrequited failure to launch because Laura’s female socket only takes male plugs? All I’ll tell you is that a giant mutant wedding tackle comes between the two before it’s all said and done.
Come Taco Tuesday at Tromaville High, the student body fill their student bodies with all the tainted imitation meat they can stomach thanks to the generous donation of Tromorganics. However, the Poofs get special treatment, and are fed chemically contaminated guacamole (despite being specifically told it was NON-chemically contaminated!). While the shock guac turns the school’s biggest nerd into a one-man meltdown (on which Principal Westly blames the boy being diabetic) a la the drinking fountain casualty of Nuke ‘Em 1, the Poofs are mutated into the Cretins – a gang of hyped up ultra-violent outland mutant rejects from Mad Max… well, more like Warrior of the Lost World than Mad Max, but you get my gist. They’re basically the embodiment of how every tenant at your nearest nursing home describes “teens today”, while still thinking it’s 1983. However you want to describe them to the police sketch artist, just don’t call them Juggalos or you’ll end up airborne and immolated in the KabukiCar.
For those who don’t know what the KabukiCar is, it’s become Lloyd Kaufman’s version of Sam Raimi’s Oldsmobile. If you don’t know what Sam Raimi’s Oldsmobile is, get thee to a Googlery! In other words, just Google it. Bad enough this review’s a few weeks late without having to hold a bad movie seminar on Easter Eggs! Speaking of, the KabukiCar originated in Troma’s Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD (hence the name) and is a clip of a big deal car stunt where a blue sedan is sent flipping 30ft into the air before crashing to the ground and exploding. It’s probably the most expensive scene in Troma history, hence why Lloyd gets as much mileage out of it as he can by inserting it into every Troma production since. It’s a big *wink*wink*nudge*nudge* for Troma fans, like the frequent Toxie and Kabukiman cameos, and the Troma movie posters that every character in the Tromaverse decorate their walls with.
The rest of Return is basically watching the Cretins commit acts of mayhem and Chrissy trying to pickpocket Laura’s ham wallet until the inevitable cock block ending that makes us wait until the next movie before resolving anything. What? You didn’t think a movie with “Volume 1” in the title wasn’t going to make you pay more money to see its conclusion, did you?! Yep, just like Tarantino divided Kill Bill into two “Volumes”, Kaufman has done the same here. As an homage? As a cash grab? As a joke that’s about a decade past its “sell by” date? Only Lloyd knows for sure.
Wondering if this latest iteration lives up to the lofty standards set by previous Tromatic entries (the kinds of entries with snapping jaws and corrosive fluids that the Surgeon General suggests keeping your penisy parts away from) in regards to graphic violence, barely legal nudity, and dick & fart humor delivered by comically ugly and/or overweight people? Allow me to put your nerves at ease: in the opening scene, a young couple engage in explicit sexual activity in the school janitor’s office/apartment, until they’re accosted by a monster shaped like a big mutant cock, the guy gets his dong torn off, and the girl’s flesh melts off before the comically rotund janitor returns to show complete disinterest in something that he’s probably seen a few dozen times before. I’m sorry to say that I know exactly how he feels, too, because I’ve now seen Return to Nuke ‘Em High.
Just like that janitor’s seen it all before, his reaction is the setup for the big joke that Return really is. Despite Stan Lee’s opening narration laying the groundwork for this being a sequel, it’s actually a remake. The title itself is a big meta joke – we’re not just returning to the locale of the titular high school, we’re straight up returning to the original source material of the first movie. So many scenes are directly lifted from the original, you could tell me that 90% of the script was just Xeroxed copies from the Class of Nuke ‘Em High script with big red editor’s notes scribbled in and I wouldn’t doubt you. They didn’t even change the name of the female lead! I know I made the Tarantino comparison two short paragraphs ago, but Kaufman also feels like he’s aping Peter Jackson, because much like Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, Return to Nuke ‘Em High feels like it’s artificially hyper-extending the story it’s supposed to be adapting. Again, it’s probably all meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but for the people paying to be an audience to it, that may be a tongue covered with oozing green pustules that they don’t want anywhere near their cheeks, front or back.
I haven’t had this much controversy about the way something was cut since the argument I had with that hooker who wanted to charge me extra for oral because I’m uncircumcised! Wakka-wakka! *rimshot*
Alrighty, enough with that stuff. Let’s get to the meat substitute and DDT-free potatoes of today’s feature. For better or worse, it’s your basic Troma blueprint: intentionally cheesy in EVERY respect, liberal on the liberal social editorializing, pokes Hollywood right in the eyes, heavy on graphic oozing displays of gore, more than enough scenes of young people getting nekkid on each other, and feels overall like it was put together with model airplane glue by a bunch of movie school dropouts in need of Ritalin between sessions of huffing said glue. That’s by no means a condemnation, just a preparation for what you are about to receive, should you opt for this belly buster off the value menu. If you’ve seen Troma, you know what your eyeballs’ taste buds are in for. If you haven’t, here’s a free pro-tip: the secret sauce is just mayonnaise left out in the sun. This quote from the movie sums it up better than I ever could, “It’s cheaper than monkey shit and these kids can’t get enough of it in their gullet!”
Now, what did I like, specifically? Aside from having an inner child who will never stop enjoying gore and naked women, my more mature adult self enjoys the social commentary, while my bad movie geek persona enjoys picking out the fan nods and synching up which scenes are direct re-hashes. The dialogue is pushed more for gags and stacked with quotables, but if you’re expecting high drama from these guys, you need to go watch a few episodes of “Troma’s Edge TV” and temper your expectations. The music’s a definite plus for me. That classic Nuke ‘Em High theme still lays eggs in my ears every time I hear it. After watching this, I had trouble sleeping for a few days because every time I’d lay down and close my eyes I’d hear “IIIIIIIII…. juuuuuuuuuuust… reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally waaaaaaaannaaaaa knoooooooooow!” between my ears, making it impossible to shut my brain up long enough to embrace unconsciousness! Fortunately, a handful of sleeping pills and a hot water bottle full of blood from a narcoleptic baby finally put me down, so there’s no need for anger. The rest of the tunes are pretty catchy as well, so this is another Troma soundtrack that I think I’ll be seeking for the collection. Not as good as Tromeo & Juliet or Terror Firmer, but worth a spot on the shelf. That’s right, this old man-jackal still has physical media. Bite me.
As far as the “played for shocks” stuff goes, I might as well be wearing a rubber gimp suit because I’m pretty impervious to shock at this point in my desensitized life. Example: there’s a part in the movie that the easiest descriptor of which would be the “duck rape” scene. If you thought the tree rape scene from Evil Dead was disturbing, well…yeah, it’s still pretty disturbing. Especially if the first time you saw it was with your parents, much like I experienced on Halloween night when I was 14. Lots of weird looks and questions of, “David, why did you pick this movie to watch with your family?”. It’s way more disturbing than the duck rape scene. The duck rape scene’s not nearly as traumatizing as your own mind might have already made it out to be. I run the risk of sounding like pure sleaze by saying this, but I really expected more from Troma when they promised me duck rape. I think I was more upset that I had to look at Judah Friedlander in his brief cameo than I was by the duck rape. I think I’m more upset that I keep typing “duck rape” than I am by the actual scene of duck rape! Blart. It’s like you’re barely trying anymore, guys.
Speaking of Friedlander (and his stupid trucker hat schtick), I don’t know if there were a lot of other notable cameos I missed beyond that and Lemmy’s quick minute as the President. The store owners from “Oddities” also get about 3 seconds of screen time (oddly enough, also during the duck rape scene), but I would’ve been far more hyped if it were the Maxx and the Head from MTV’s animated ’90s series “Oddities” instead of SyFy’s “weird shit curio shop” show. I’ve been to that store, by the way. Looks like Michael Jackson’s basement…not that I would have any reason to have been in Michael Jackson’s basement…uhm…moving on!
Speaking of cameos, long time Troma faithful will be happy to see a cameo by the Toxic Avenger’s long-time semi-nemesis Cigar Face (Dan Snow)! Be warned, he may give you six new assholes after he tells you the origin of his name.That one was for the HUGE fellow nerds reading this. For the rest of you? Pecker snot. Why? I didn’t want you to feel left out.
Last call – though entertaining in its own right, Return to Nuke ‘Em High is less than the sum of its parts. If it weren’t just a bloated re-packaging of the original and gave us something new instead, I probably would’ve liked it more. For those hoping for a new revolution from the little bad movies studio that could, Troma’s just giving us Malibu Stacey with a new hat, while I’m content to just keep playing with Malibu Stacy Classic. Now, pardon my sudden departure as I go off to have a Cigar Face t-shirt made up. Later, spectators!
Moral of the Story: Propagation is health, being gay is worse than being black, and duck rape is life affirming. But, you can stop waiting for MySpace to come back, because the crack of doom is coming soon.
Proof that if you sell people 40 different versions of Army of Darkness on DVD, you’ve make enough money to finance your own movie releases!
Stan’s finally absorbed enough radiation from his microwave to prove Comic Guy wrong – he CAN turn into the Hulk!… or at least Bill Bixby.
This is what happens when someone gives you “the Shocker” during your period. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, “the Toxic Shocker”.
How Santa spends the other 364 days of his year.
Because President Lemmy doesn’t NEED a last name!
A tale as old as time, destined to end in tragedy (i.e. duck rape): beauty and the fowl.
Lloyd Kaufman’s doing the next Fantastic Four movie! Couldn’t be worse than Roger Corman’s… or the Fox ones, now that I think about it.
“Listen up, my conservative soldiers! This is your brave leader Rush, reminding you that explaining your position is never an option! ALWAYS DEFLECT, DEFLECT, DEFLECT! Just shout “OBAMA IS A SECRET COMMUNIST KENYAN MUSLIM NAZI!” as loud as you can and you’ll never lose an argument!… and if my ‘doctor’ is listening, I need a ‘prescription refill’. Gracias.”
It’s sad how the biggest shitheads always have the coolest t-shirts… and yes, I own a LOT of cool t-shirts.
A little something for the ladies! Incidentally, that’s exactly what’s printed on the front of my boxers.
…THE CAST OF CITY LIMITS!
Stephen Hawking: the college years.
Surfboards adorned with swastikas?! Surf Nazis Must Die 2: Fourth Reich Boogaloo confirmed!
The answer to “Whatever happened to Michael Hayes?”… that one was strictly for my wrestling nerds.
Anubis will return next time in
“Mommy’s Little Monster”
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