Friday, September 28, 2012

Class of Nuke 'Em High (1986)

Title: Class of Nuke ‘Em High (1986)

Directors: Richard W. Haines, Lloyd Kaufman


Class of Nuke ‘Em High is a film that exists in the same universe as the Toxic Avenger films, it takes place in the fictional town of Tromaville, which by the way is right next to a nuclear power plant. Nobody seems to give a rats ass about this, as they go about their every day lives with the nuclear plant looming in the background. The nuclear plant isn’t the safest one either, it is run by this self absorbed fat bastard who doesn’t give a damn if the plant is leaking nuclear waste into the soil, as long as there’s no big media event. He tells his employees to cover it all up, as if nothing had ever happened. When questioned by the media, he tells them that everything is all right, everything is under control; which of course is total bull crap. At the same time, the students of Tromaville High are acting mighty peculiar! Once they were grade A students, and now they are a gang of hoodlums who call themselves ‘The Cretins’, what gives? What is happening to the kids of Tromaville High? 

Well, what’s happening is that The Cretins are buying weed from this guy who works at the nuclear power plant; weirdest part of the story is that the guy grows his weed right next to the power plant itself! So The Cretins are buying nuclear powered weed and selling it the rest of the students at Tromaville High, they like to call it an ‘Atomic High’. Problem is that this toxic weed has major repercussions for whoever smokes it! And so, this is the premise of the film, what happens to those who smoke the nuclear weed. So in a way, this is a stoner flick, because characters are constantly smoking weed getting high and making out, but at the same time it serves as a cautionary tale? Don't smoke weed cause its bad for ya? 

Class of Nuke 'Em High is similar to Kaufman’s own Toxic Avenger because it shares ideas and premises. For example, the film is all about this nerdy goody little two shoes type of guy who on a dare smokes some of the toxic weed with his girlfriend, days later he turns into a Toxic Avenger type of character who goes around teaching bad guys a lesson. In this film toxic waste has various results on people.  For example it can a) turn people into super powered monsters or b) melt away the skin from your body and turn you into a green puddle of puss, take your pic. So in a way, this is a reworking of the ideas presented on The Toxic Avenger (1984), but it has it’s own twisted vibe going for it. I mean, the whole element of it taking place in a high school is what sets it apart. This film was made during the 80’s, so the students portrayed on this film go to the extremes with their fashion and behaviour. They go from cartoony looking nerds, to nightmarish punk rockers straight out of Blade Runner or Mad Max. Yes sir, heavy metal was king back in those days, and so, a lot of the teenagers on this film are dressed in the heavy metal/punk fashion, which the film exploits to full extent.

I enjoyed the films rebellious nature. Toxic Waste changes the students of Tromaville Highschool and turns them into violent psychopaths hellbent on destroying everything in their town and their school. They are the anarchic youth, the punk rockers, the rebels, the wastoids, smoking their lives away. In many ways, the film can be seen as a way of criticizing the state of American education, students cant connect with the drivel they are taught so they rebel. The school personel is constantly portrayed as incompetent or gloriously outdated;  not in touch at all with the youth they attempt to teach. There is this one scene that stood out for me in which The Cretins are taken to the principals office but they dont care, they defy authority and start singing the American National Anthem. It felt as if they were saying we are todays youth, this is the new America, deal with it! The film can also be seen as a direct result of peoples fears during the 80's of a nuclear meltdown. For a while there during the 80's it felt like the 50's all over again with everyone being ultra paranoid about being blow away by nuclear weapons. Films such as Class of Nuke 'Em High are a result of that nuclear fear, same way Godzilla (1954) was back in it's day.

Aside from all of this, the film offers up some really cool gory moments. It's that kind of 80's movie that was filled with gooey, gory images, something we don't see a hell of a lot of anymore. The students of Tromaville High turn into deformed humanoids, others melt away when they drink from the polluted water of the water fountain. There's this monster that stalks the schools hallways that was a pretty cool achievement for such a low budget film. Weirdest part of the tale is that it's a mutated sperm! This element of the story immediately brought to mind the  'Wadzilla' story from the recent horror anthology film Chillerama (2011), which featured a story about a giant mutated sperm destroying New York City. In Class of Nuke 'Em High we get a mutated sperm monster terrorizing the students! So rest assured, there's gooey fun  to be had with this flick. This was actually one of the coolest Troma films I've seen to date in terms of comedy and over all silliness, it's offensive, but not nearly as offensive as other Troma films I've seen. It's still very much an ultra cheap production and cheesy to the max, but that's exactly what I enjoyed about it. The acting is beyond terrible no doubts about it, but I enjoyed how the characters in the film behave like these exagerated cartoon characters, they were entertaining in that way. So in conclusion, this is very much a Troma movie, it takes place in Tromaville and has toxic waste infused into it's story line and it has  every bit the craziness and irreverence you'd expect from a film co-directed by Lloyd Kaufman. Two sequels followed: Class of Nuke 'Em High 2: Subhumanoid Meltdown (1991) and Class of Nuke 'Em High 3: The Good, The Bad and the Subhumanoid (1994), I don't know if they are any good, but I will most likely check them out at some point, the second one looks fun. Also, as I write this review Kaufman himself is putting the last finishing  touches on Return to the Class of Nuke 'Em High, I'm looking forward to that one simply because it's Kaufman himself directing. So, I recommend this one if you want to take a ride to Tromaville High, where the gags, the gore and the silliness never end.

Rating 2 1/2 out of 5


Jack Thursby said...

Yeah, I watched this a long time and usually I have a great recollection of what happens in films but I'm drawing a complete blank on this. I remember someone's ears being pulled off and then a guy jumps out a window but that's it.

Franco Macabro said...

He he...same with me, I hadn't seen it in yeeears, and also drew a blank with it which is why I decided to give it the old re-watch. The thing with these Troma movies is that so many gags happen one after another, and they are all so crazy that it's kind of hard to remember them all.

I liked the heavy metal/punk vibe...the film has a lot of anarchy to it. It reminded me of how kids were back in those days...I know I saw my fare share of metal heads!

Betosky82 said...

this is a perfect movie as far as I'm concerned. And the Smithereens songs in there are awesome.

Franco Macabro said...

True, The Smithereens actually appear on the party scene as themselves while singing their song "Much Too Much", agree with ya, this movie was fun times, hopefully part two wont suck too much, I hear part three is nearly unwatchable, so I'm not looking forward to seeeing that one.


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