REVIEW: Return to Nuke’ Em High Volume 1 (2013)

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2013, Anchor Bay Films/Troma Entertainment

Director:
Lloyd Kaufman
Producers:
Justin Martell
Lloyd Kaufman
Michael Herz
Writers:
Travis Campbell
Derek Dressler
Lloyd Kaufman
Cinematography:
Justin Duval
Editing:
Travis Campbell

Cast:
Catherine Corcoran (Lauren),
Asta Paredes (Chrissy)
Clay von Carlowitz (Eugene)
Stefan Dezil (Slater)
Zac Amico (Zac)
Gabriella Fuhr (Kelly)
Vito Trigo (Leonardo)
Mike Baez (Donatello)
Mark Quinnette (Michelangelo)
Jim Shepperd (Raphael)
Reiki Tsuno (Rembrandt)
Tara E. Miller (Rachel)
Debbie Rochon (Coach Kotter)
Lloyd Kaufman (Lee Harvey Herzkauf)
Rick Collins (Rick Simms)
Dan Snow (Cigar Face)
Lisa Gaye (Professor Holt)
Leesa Rowland (Victoria Smith)
Brick Bronsky (Adalai Smith)
Robert Prichard (Cop #1)
Lemmy Kilmister (The President)

Twenty years after we last visited what was the nuclear power plant that was located next to Tromaville High School and later, the Tromaville Institute of Technology, it is time to return to “Nuke ‘Em High” in the first of a two-part modernized reboot-sequel of the original 1986 cult classic!

The nuclear power plant has been destroyed and in its place is the Tromorganics Foodstuffs Inc. factory, run by Lee Harvey Herzkauf. Herzkauf doesn’t think that there is any contamination leftover and passes off his food as organic. After an accident leaves a couple dead in the janitor’s closet at the rebuilt Tromaville High School, one student looks to stop the chaos once and for all.

Chrissy Goldberg, an environmentalist who is rough and tough, longs to find love. At first, she thinks longtime boyfriend Eugene is the one, but soon learns that isn’t the case. When new student and rich girl Lauren arrives, the two start off as rivals, but soon learn there is something more than that…well, you pretty much get the picture.

Meanwhile, on Taco Tuesday, some gluten-free non chemically polluted tacos provided by Tromorganics cause one student to explode and disintegrate. However, that’s about the become the least of Tromaville High’s worries as the glee club, known as the Troma Poofs, find themselves transforming into a violent gang known as the Cretins. When more students become victimized, including Chrissy and Lauren, what will happen when they undergo their own change and soon find themselves against well…everyone?

A few years in the making, the long awaited fourth installment of the Nuke ‘Em High films has finally arrived and if you know anything about Troma films, you will expect over the top gore and sex and nuttiness. What is interesting about this film, which is the first of what is a two-parter, is that Troma for the first time, combines actual CGI with their practical visual effects. Compared to Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger Part IV (2000), the over the top comes in the opening gore sequence, but as the film progresses, it’s a tad lighter, much in the vein of the original Nuke ‘Em High, and it is clear that this is one of Troma’s best newer films.

To reboot the film, Lloyd Kaufman and co-writers Travis Campbell (who also edited the film) and Derek Dressler had to modernize with some of today’s social issues as well as bring plenty of references to other materials. In the original film, the young couple were named Chrissy and Warren. Here, we have Chrissy and Lauren. Yes folks, they are a bisexual/lesbian couple who don’t really show any physicality until the beginning of the third act. Same-sex couple as the lead characters? Check. While the cast was predominately Caucasian, there is an African-American supporting actor and one of the new Cretins is Asian. So diversity in the cast? Check. The character of Slater also mentions the issues with piracy and terrorism as well as social networking while Lauren mentions what it might be like should she come out of the closet with Chrissy. In any case, the topics of today mentioned at one point or another, having some reminiscence of a Kevin Smith movie? Check. Oh and in the original film, the Cretins were the honor society. Here, they are the glee club and yes, one is in a wheelchair. So…take famous show about glee club and Troma-tize it? Check.

Which brings us to special Tromeos…or should I say cameos. Like in Citizen Toxie, Marvel Comics founder Stan Lee (credited again as Peter Parker) narrates the opening of the film. Dragging the Tromorganics sign are Rick Collins (who played marijuana grower Ronny in the original) and reprising his signature role of Cigar Face, Dan Snow (It’s Troma…they can do what they want!). Playing a cop who meets his fate from the new Cretins is none other than the original Cretin leader himself, Robert “Spike” Prichard. Prichard’s only line is a play on a line from the original film that has a comeback response that proves to be true.

In a scene where Lloyd Kaufman’s Herzkauf is berating a group of locals, the locals are played by the stars of the original Nuke ‘Em High sequels, Subhumanoid Meltdown and The Good, The Bad, and the Subhumanoid. Brick Bronsky, Lisa Gaye, and Leesa Rowland reprise their roles from the third installment of the series. There is also Julian Walker, who was slated to take over the mantle of Troma’s mutant hero in the proposed The Toxic Twins: Toxic Avenger 5. As of now, there was some stuff shot, but it was not completed, perhaps because one, the original Toxie is being remade soon (as recently announced with Conrad Vernon to direct) and two, Kaufman decided to do this film.

A reference to the Stephen King classic CARRIE reveals a cliffhanger that will lead into…Return to Return to Nuke ‘Em High (aka Volume 2), coming out real soon….in the meantime, if you are a Troma fan, then see this, even if you haven’t seen the original…this is truly one of the best Tromatic experiences this reviewer has had…looking forward to seeing Volume 2!

WFG RATING: A- (as a true Troma believer!)

DVD/BLU-RAY

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One thought on “REVIEW: Return to Nuke’ Em High Volume 1 (2013)

  1. In return to nuke em high volume 1-when Lauren and Chrissy turn in to beautiful powerful mutants what kind are they and nuclear waste true people into-powerful mutants and Chrissy and Lauren are lesbians

    Like

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