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1986, dir. Lloyd Kaufman & Richard W. Haines
82 min. Not Rated.
Starring: Gil Brenton, Janelle Brady, Robert Prichard, a radioactive mutant.

Review by Noel Wood

Following up on the success of the original TOXIC AVENGER, Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz moved on to an altogether new Troma tale, 1996's CLASS OF NUKE 'EM HIGH. In order to follow up on this success, they decided not to stray too far from the formula that made Toxie work so well. Crass humor? Check. Ridiculous gross-out gags? Check. Gratuitous breast shots? Check. A plotline involving the adverse effects of nuclear waste? Check.

In many ways, CLASS OF NUKE 'EM HIGH is a similair movie to THE TOXIC AVENGER, but its main difference is that it doesn't center itself around a solid singular hero. Tromaville high school is our setting here, and the story centers around several of its attendees. Tromaville high is complete with ridiculous stereotypes and students who appear to have a median age of 25. In other words, it's more or less your typical all-American high school of the mid-1980's (if the movies are your indicator,) except for the fact that it's right next door to a nuclear power plant.

The nuclear plant's head honcho, Mr. Finley (who looks suspiciously like the mayor that the Toxic Avenger gutted previously) assures the citizens of Tromaville that the plant is completely safe, but the students of Tromaville high are starting to wonder just how truthful that assertion is. After all, the school's honor society have somehow been transformed into a horde of gutter punks who call themselves "The Cretins" and unassuming scrawny little nerds are vomiting up green stuff and hurling themselves headfirst out of closed windows (which seems to happen more often in Troma movies than anywhere else on Earth.)

The Cretins are bound and determined to reap what benefits they can from the Nuclear infestation, as they peddle their own special breed of "atomic pot" grown right on the plant's grounds. Sure, it goes for a little more, but this stuff will fuck you up! Nobody learns that lesson better than Warren and Chrissy, who reluctantly take a few tokes of the magic herb and find themselves in a whole world of bizarre activities. First off, Chrissy's been notoriously prudish, but a few puffs later and she's ready to give Warren a little piece of the action. After a wild night of fornication, they're both having bizarre dreams: Warren's involves him growing a gigantic penis, while Chrissy's involve her belly swelling and tentacles coming out of her navel.

Warren finds out the story behind the superpowered weed, and vows to extract revenge upon the Cretins. The problem, however, is that Warren is a dorky little nobody and the Cretins are some evil bastards. But thanks to the ongoing effects of nuclear radiation, Warren starts taking on a vindictive alter ego. Before you can say "Mr. Hyde", Warren has disposed of a couple of the Cretins' baddest dudes. But Chrissy is also experiencing some odd aftereffects from the pot as well, as she gets pregnant and then spits up a creepy little monster into the toilet. Of course, someone flushes it down the toilet, and we all know what happens to things that get flushed, right?

The Cretins decide to extract revenge on Warren for offing some of their boys, so they concoct a plan to lure him into certain doom using Chrissy as bait. However, there are more intimidating things in the school at this point, including Chrissy's own mutant-spawn, which has reached full gestation and is now a gigantic radioactive killer monster living in the school's bowels. You can pretty much guess the rest of the plot from here.

The Troma team certainly tried to duplicate the formula that worked so well in THE TOXIC AVENGER, keeping the same basic sense of humor mixed with some good ol' cartoonish violence. They even went so far as to round up several of the actors that appeared alongside Toxie. Our old pals Slug and Bozo are even back in CLASS OF NUKE 'EM HIGH, appearing as Spike and Pete, members of the villainous Cretins. While a lot of it works, there's just something missing from this one. More than likely, the missing element is a good central character like Toxie.

But CLASS OF NUKE 'EM HIGH brings some new elements to the table as well, including a huge step-up in special effects. When our first nerd of nerds dies a horrific radioactive death, his mutation is much more convincing and gruesome than the one that Melvin suffered while transforming into Toxie. There are a few really cool fight sequences, including a scene where Warren punches a Cretin all the way down his throat. And finally, the grandaddy of them all is the actual nuclear mutant, which is the best special effect I've seen in a Troma movie to date. This thing could actually be in a big-budget studio flick.

So while it's not quite as charming as THE TOXIC AVENGER, this b-movie staple (which also spawned two sequels) is certainly a must-have in any respectable Troma collection. It's got all of the elements that make Troma what it is, and I could think of a lot of worse ways one could spend 82 minutes.

Rating: Four out of five Toxies.


All Material Copyright 1998-2006 Movie Criticism for the Retarded.

For questions, comments, or the occasional stalking letter, send mail to Noel Wood. Please give proper credit when using any materials found within this site.

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