Troma was once a name synonymous with independence. They were the sanctuary of safety away from the fucked up studio system. Well…things change. The Troma you knew as a kid isn’t exactly the same Troma. Depending on your opinion, a few years ago the “sell out” phrase was tossed about due to Lloyd Kaufman’s decision to ink a deal that would allow The Toxic Avenger to be remade by a (gasp!) studio. The reaction wasn’t the warmest you’d find. Cut to a few years later, Arnold Schwarzenegger reportedly signs on to be in the remake and Steve Pink is set to direct. A pretty far leap from the Home of Independent Cinema. With the money acquired through such deals, Troma continues to make Troma movies. Or that’s how it seems, anyway. Using distribution other than their own, these movies are reaching a wider customer base and spreading the Troma name to places it may not have otherwise reached. Whether this is considered “selling out” isn’t for me to say. What IS for me to say is that Troma has gone back to one of my favorite of all their wells: Nuke ‘Em High. The results are…well, they’re what you’d expect them to be.
Tromaville has changed. No longer is the threat of nuclear war en vogue. In fact, that dastardly nuclear power plant that fucked things up so badly before has been leveled and its place an organic food plant was…erected. As you’d expect, this organic food company isn’t to be trusted. They’re crooked, as is every corporation. They’ve sold their dirty product to the high school who’ve made them their lunch of choice. This results in the unfortunate contamination of many of the students of Nuke ‘Em High. Lots of people are dying and there will be lots more to follow. The Cretins are reborn and the turf war has begun…
The new era Troma film is a lot like the olden timey Troma film. They’ve ramped up the sexual content significantly over the past few years, but the same spirit is in tact. At its core, this return is a glimpse of what effects the modern age has had on Troma’s storytelling. The jokes come hard and fast. Practical effects are still the weapon of choice. The enemy is the same, he’s just wearing a different mask. His mask now is in the form of the bullshit organic tag. It’s the young person who’s social media obsessed, or the *ahem* self-important blogger, or the desperately PC square who cannot take a joke…basically, Troma is still the pervert uncle it always was. They’re casting young unknowns who are willing to be crazy. The background is filled with the same types of characters. Troma is still Troma, it’s just a little more slick than it used to be.
What you’re going to get out of Return To Nuke ‘Em High V.1 is your old friend with a brand new tit job. The main cast is pretty consistent. They pad the cast with your post-modern Troma cameos (Lemmy aka God, Judah Friendlander) to keep your mouth wet, but honestly, the core cast members are pretty good. Knowing they have to overact seems to have to freed them up to be ridiculous. Take for example The Cretins (your antagonist). They keep that same ridiculous “movie version of post-apocalyptic punk rock gang members” look, but they were transformed from being the loser GLEE Club (there’s that post-modern Troma I was talking about) into bloodthirsty lunatics. The 2 leads (played by Catherine Corcoran and Asta Parades) are respectful to the franchise’s history but add their own stamp to it. They’re sexy when they have to be sexy, but they don’t shy away from the fart jokes either. Which is good because they’re fucking everywhere! Remember, it’s still Troma. Overall, the movie delivered far more than I’d anticipated. My main problem with it is that it’s a Vol. 1. It has no reason to be made into two movies aside from money. The run time is 85 minutes. There are multiple sequences that aren’t necessary. I don’t know how long the sequel will be, but I can’t help but think you could’ve narrowed this down to 120 minutes and had one movie. Time will tell but watching this movie, enjoying it, then have the “To Be Continued…” card pop up causes one to to re-examine it in a much more aggressive way to seek out flaws. You’re looking for a justifiable reason why it HAD to be 2 movies. I have an idea where the second one is headed (and I know that money has to be a factor), it’s just disappointing to have something cut off in that manner without a proper ending. You feel incomplete. You’re irritated with waiting for the next chapter…but you will see jt. And that, my friends, is where you currently find me. Lots of dry humping but nothing more. If you’re a Troma lover then expect to love this. Just expect to leave be left with a sense of “WTF?!!” when the credits roll.