Man, Tromaville High School just can’t catch any breaks it seems. Cretins, subhumanoids, monsters – the classes of “Nuke ‘Em High” have seen their share of death and destruction, but it’s been about twenty years since we last heard from them. Seems like the perfect time for writer/director Lloyd Kaufman to go all radioactive again to torture a fresh class of Tromaville’s best and brightest if you ask me – and Troma! Yes, we all know the antics that come along with a Troma feature, and Return To Nuke ‘Em High Volume 1 may be one of the most Troma-y movies Troma has ever made. The Class Of Nuke ‘Em High was built on a sturdy foundation of social satire, raw sexuality, goo-oozing gore, and slapstick, spoof-ish comedy, and Lloyd Kaufman’s latest return doesn’t abandon a single ideal. Nudity, hyper-aggressive violence, evil glee clubs, duck rape, radioactive tacos, President Lemmy? Welcome back to Tromaville High kiddies – now sit down, shut the fuck up, and let professor Kaufman show you how to make a righteous B-Movie.
That’s right! Return To Nuke ‘Em High Volume 1 takes us back to Tromaville High School, long after the initial nuclear fallout plagued a whole mess of past students. The nuclear power plant that used to provide background scenery is now gone, and in its place is the newly built Tromorganic Foodstuffs Inc. – a “Green” food processing plant run by Lee Harvey Herzkauf (Lloyd Kaufman). Looking to make a mint on the “going green” fad, Herkauf uses Tromaville High School as a test project for his new food creations, seeing how the students react. Chrissy (Asta Paredes) doesn’t buy into the Tromorganic product though, using her blog to fight back against the unnatural foods being produced on once (and probably still) nuclear land. It’s not long before Chrissy is proved right, as the local glee club turns into a brand new batch of Cretins after indulging in a Tromorganic “Taco Tuesday.” Welcome back into the chaos that is Nuke ‘Em High.
If you think that years later Troma is going to give up their signature style, think again. There’s nothing comparable to a Troma film, and Lloyd Kaufman is back to his old tricks with his fourth effort in this gratuitous franchise. Return To Nuke ‘Em High Volume 1 is not only a satirical assessment of our current society, but it’s a love-letter from Lloyd to his fans. For years the Troma name has amassed a fanbase of cult-like proportions, and for years Lloyd has found inventive ways to become bolder, more ambitious, and more gleefully entertaining. Tromaville High School has never felt so fresh and inviting, ripe with students just begging to be dismembered, pulverized, brutalized, and graphically maimed – which there’s plenty of. Kaufman’s newest high school romp is some of Troma’s best work, right on par with a personal favorite of mine called Poultrygeist: Night Of The Chicken Dead.
In usual Troma manner, there are some overly offensive lines included in the script, drawing attention to national tragedies such as the alarming number of school shootings and the movie theater shootings in Aurora. It’s not that I was taken aback or disgusted by their inclusion, because I’ve come to expect such scripting by now, but some of the references did seem a bit unnecessary, toeing a dangerous line with zero grace. Troma does what Troma wants though – and that’s why we love them.
Kaufman plucks a wonderful cast of unfamiliar faces to revamp the halls of Tromaville High, headlined by actresses Catherine Corcoran and Asta Paredes. God bless these two female professionals for diving into the Troma world full-force, putting themselves in compromising situations every other minute it seemed – and doing so in the realm of B-Movie cheesiness. Clay von Carlowitz really understands Troma’s goofy atmosphere, portraying a male bro character who flexes consistently and refers to himself in the third person – a hilarious college douchebag stereotype. Even more hilarious are Return To Nuke ‘Em High Volume 1’s cameos though, showcasing the likes of Lemmy, Stan Lee, Mark Neveldine, and even the freakin’ World Champion himself – Judah Friedlander. These names are just a testament to the mark Troma has made in Hollywood – validating their ferociously demented existence.
Return To Nuke ‘Em High Volume 1 won’t win over any new Troma fans, but current Nuke ‘Em High fans will be giddy with excitement within the first few minutes. Actually, scratch that – within the first few seconds. There will undoubtably be audiences proclaiming Kaufman simply is exploiting sex for perversion, violence for sickness, and dialogue for shock, but believe it or not, everything Kaufman does is calculated. Lloyd’s delivery goes to undoubted extremes, but that’s everything Troma has been built on, and Return To Nuke ‘Em High Volume 1 delivers that calculated assault of insanity in droves. B-Movies aren’t supposed to be serious! They’re supposed to be outlandish, unapologetic fun – which makes Lloyd Kaufman the Shakespeare of B-Movie cinema.
The worst part of Lloyd Kaufman's Return to Nuke 'Em High Volume 1? Not having Volume 2 follow directly after.