Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Return to Nuke 'Em High: 
Volume 1 (2013)

review by AARON ALLEN

Directed by Lloyd Kaufman

Starring Asta Paredes, Catherine Corcoran, Vito Trigo, Clay von Carlowitz, Zac Amico


When you think of schlocky B-movies, boobs, blood, and bad taste, you think probably think of Troma Entertainment.

Now celebrating its 40th year, Troma Entertainment - the company that brought you such cult classics as The Toxic Avenger, Redneck Zombies, Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD, and Mother's Day -- is releasing its latest Tromasterpiece: RETURN TO NUKE 'EM HIGH: Volume 1.

Directed by Troma president Lloyd Kaufman, who returns to the director's chair for the first time since 2006's Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead, Return to Nuke 'Em High: Volume 1 is the first of two feature films that revisit the themes (and recycle a good portion of the plot) from 1986's Class of Nuke 'Em High. Updating/rebooting the Nuke 'Em High franchise for a new generation in which themes of GMOs, bullying, homosexuality, and corporate power have replaced the threat of nuclear radiation, Return to Nuke 'Em High: Volume 1 nevertheless serves up all the exploitative nudity, juvenile toilet humour, over-the-top gore, sex, mindless violence, goofy monsters, and questionable production values that Troma fans have been celebrating for four decades. It's a truly raunchy and radioactive return to the crazy world of Tromaville.

Welcome back to Tromaville High School where the corrupt administration is conspiring with the evil Tromorganic Foodstuffs corporation to feed kids tacos tainted by the toxic waste from the site of the original Tromaville Nuclear Power Plant. As a result, the student body begins to undergo horrible, violent, and illogical mutations. The nerdy glee club, for example, transforms into a pack of murderous, singing Cretins. It's up to two innocent lesbian lovers -- tough girl investigative blogger Chrissy and rich girl Lauren (Asta Paredes and Catherine Corcoran) -- as well as Kevin the Wonder Duck to save Tromaville High School before it completely devolves into a teenage wasteland of gore, monsters, and full frontal nudity.

Cretins: The Next Generation
Return to Nuke 'Em High: Volume 1 was truly made for the diehard Tromaniacs of the world. No one in their right minds would ever put a Troma Team release up there with fine art films, but Troma's slapstick laissez-faire attitude, devotion to the lowest common denominator, low budget practical effects, and hammy acting often yields as many charming oddities as it does cringe-worthy groaners. Return to Nuke 'Em High: Volume 1 is no exception: it embraces that same madcap Mad Magazine approach to humour, filling up the frame with absurd antics and scenes that play like a series of gross-out sketch comedy bits. At the same time, Return to Nuke 'Em High: Volume 1 breaks surprising new ground for the company in its depiction of the lesbian relationship between Chrissy and Lauren. Despite all odds, actors Asta Paredes and Catherine Corcoran craft a believable, intimate, and dare I say tender story of forbidden love within this preposterous tale of over-the-top grue, goo, and spew.

Lovers in a Radioactive Time
Even by Troma standards, however, Return to Nuke 'Em High: Volume 1 falls a bit short of other entries in its classic catalog. After all, it's no easy feat to live up to the original. Some of the attempts at politically incorrect humour feel dated before the movie's even been released, and by virtue of being split up into two films, there's a sense that some scenes in volume 1 are more filler than necessary. There's also an inescapable feeling that volume 1's somewhat abrupt ending means the wildest scenes of creature carnage and deformed depravity have been saved for the second film.

That Tromorganic employee looks familiar. He sure gets around.
Imperfections aside, there's a lot to love for fans of Troma's brand of b-movie cheese: monsters, chicks with dicks, spontaneous human combustion, toxic green vomit, boobs, senseless violence, drugs, hot lesbian sex, a carnivorous dick, duck rape, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Return to Nuke 'Em High: Volume 1 is a great party movie for lovers of wild independent cinema...from Troma, of course!

Come celebrate 40 years of Troma with us at Fright Night Theatre's Hamilton Premiere of RETURN TO NUKE 'EM HIGH: VOLUME 1. Doors @7pm. Movie @8pm. The Staircase (27 Dundurn St. N. Hamilton, ON). Tickets: $12 (cash only) at the door.

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