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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

RETURN TO NUKE 'EM HIGH, VOLUME 1 -- DVD review by porfle



Chances are that, sooner or later, many people who watch Troma Entertainment's latest cinematic outrage, RETURN TO NUKE 'EM HIGH, VOLUME 1 (2013), will reach a particular point in the action where they hold up their hand and say, "Okay, that's just going TOO far."  For some, that point will begin during the pre-titles sequence and last for about an hour and a half. 

For others, it may not happen until the disintegrating penis scene, the tossing-a-dog-over-Niagara-Falls scene, the "duck rape" scene, or the corrosive green slime lactation scene.  For me, incidentally, it was when two guys are arguing about music and one of them keeps insisting "Justin Bieber is the best!  The BEST!!!"

But first, there's a nostalgic opening montage of mayhem from previous Troma "Nuke 'Em High" films (with relatively much lower production values than this one) and a surprise narrator.  A tone of breezy irreverence sets in early and doesn't let up--in fact, it increases with each new and more imaginative atrocity,  beginning with an obligatory teen sex scene in the high school janitor's room that degenerates into horrific extreme gore in which both teens dissolve into heaps of gooey detritus.  (The girl's dramatic last words, "What kind of a god...?" become a running gag.) 

This scene is so colorfully, so gleefully over the top that we know "Okay, we don't have to worry about any kind of censorship, limits, boundaries, or taste--WHATSOEVER--for the next hour and a half."


The cause of this boundless horror is the former nuclear power plant site next to the school, which is now a sleazy "health food" factory called Tromorganic whose product is so rancid that even fast food joints won't carry it, and whose CEO (Troma chief Lloyd Kaufman himself, hilarious as the profoundly unscrupulous Mr. Herzkauf) has a deal with the school principal for his chemically contaminated vittles to be served to the unwitting students.

This will be the cause of serious trouble later on when bully magnets The Troma Poofs, a glee club composed of the school's biggest nerds, eat Tromorganic tacos and start morphing into sadistic monsters known as The Cretins who then terrorize their former antagonists along with whomever else gets in their way.  Much of the resulting mayhem may remind viewers of Peter Jackson's blood-and-guts-drenched horror comedy DEAD ALIVE not only in the high level of gore but in how downright bizarre much of it is. 

Comedy-wise, RETURN TO NUKE 'EM HIGH, VOLUME 1 makes NOT ANOTHER TEEN MOVIE look like GIDGET GOES HAWAIIAN.  Director Kaufman stages crowd shots that are as densely packed with sight gags and elaborate set design as early MAD magazine panels, with Tromaville High so fully realized that it comes off like the legendary "National Lampoon High School Yearbook Parody" on acid. 


Against this backdrop comes the new girl, Lauren (Catherine Corcoran), whose pampered life is envied by the lower-class orphan Chrissy (Asta Paredes), an activist-blogger with her sights set on bringing down Tromorganic.  They meet-hostile at first, but somehow we know (since everyone's a familiar stereotype and every situation is a takeoff of the usual teen movie plot developments) that after a couple of highly stimulating catfights the girls will become friends. 

What we don't know, but I'm giving away now, is that despite the constant urging of her ultra-horny boyfriend Eugene (Clay von Carlowitz) to have sex with him, Chrissy is actually a budding lesbian, and that, even though obese, ultra-horny geek Zac (Zac Amico,  who's like a cross between Harry Knowles and Harry Knowles) begs her to go to the prom with him, Lauren is, in fact, also a budding lesbian and the two former enemies are now falling in love with each other.  (Wow!  This movie has everything!) 

Surprisingly, after the action has been barrelling along non-stop since the fade-in,  it's the lesbian sex scene which finally brings everything to a grinding halt (so to speak), but most viewers who have stuck it out this far (so to speak) won't be complaining.


Dialogue includes memorable lines such as "F*** me with your fish dick, Gil!",  which, unless I'm mistaken,  is an original.  There's also a series of those obligatory freeze-frame introductory thingies for each character that are so funny ("Caught masturbating to the Food Network") ("Black guy")  I didn't even care that I was never going to remember half of these nimrods or their quirky traits.  The script by Kaufman and four co-writers doesn't just deliver a gag and bow out gracefully but pounds us over the head with gleefully horrible variations of it until I can imagine a live audience screaming with laughter and literally rolling in the aisles.  Okay, figuratively.

All of the lead actors are fine, with Kaufman playing Lee Harvey Herzkauf with such unreserved wackiness that he makes Mel Brooks look like Emo Phillips.  Herzkauf's cohort in sleaze, Principal Westly (played by someone named Babette Bombshell) is like a fatter David Frye doing a more extreme version of his famous Nixon impression.  (As it turns out, he's the only person who has actually read Chrissie's anti-Tromorganic blog.)  Familiar faces such as Debbie Rochon and Lemmy pop up in welcome cameos, along with the aforementioned surprise narrator.  The gore effects, needless to say, are extreme and plentiful, as is the requisite boobage. 

The DVD from Anchor Bay is in 1.78:1 widescreen with stereo sound and subtitles in English and Spanish.  There are two commentary tracks, one with the main cast and the other featuring Kaufman and several fellow writer/producers.  Other extras include the featurettes "Casting Conundrum", "Pre-Production Hell With Mein Kauf (Man)", "Special (Ed) Effects", "Cell-U-Lloyd Kaufman: 40 Years of TROMAtising the World", a music video from the film's consistently awesome soundtrack, and a preview trailer for Vol. 2. 

RETURN TO NUKE 'EM HIGH, VOLUME 1 is the kind of resolutely "wild" and "crazy" comedy that can become tiresome, lame, and/or overwrought real quick if the people making it don't know what they're doing.  Wonder of wonders, the people making this one actually knew what they were doing!  Needless to say,  decent folk are hereby warned to stay far, far away from this movie.  As for me,  the only thing I found disappointing about it was the abrupt ending--when Kaufman says "VOL. 1" he really means it.

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2 comments:

Ronald Jablonski said...

Going too far??? Do you even watch Troma movies? This movie was good, you are Lame end of story.

porfle said...

Er, I think you probably would've gotten more out of the review if you'd read past the first paragraph!