There are certain names in just about any business that resonate down through the years. Jordan in basketball, Da Vinci in sculpture, Einstein in science. For direct to video horror, meanwhile, only Troma will do, and we’re getting a sweet slice of Troma-tic love thanks to our friends at Anchor Bay, who sent out a copy of “Return To Nuke ‘Em High Volume One” for us to review.
“Return to Nuke ‘Em High 1, Vol. 1” takes us back to Tromaville, what may well be the worst town in New Jersey. The town’s nuclear power plant, long a source of plot points for Troma films, has been bulldozed for a new organic foods company known as “Tromorganic Foodstuffs Inc.”
But as is commonly the case with anything from Tromaville, it’s secretly contaminated. And when the Tromorganic Foodstuffs Inc. foodstuffs find their way into the school lunch program, it’s not going to be a pretty sight. In fact, it’s going to turn the Troma Poofs Glee Club into a horde of rampaging mutant Cretins, and it will only go on from there. Can a handful of unaffected students–aided occasionally by a particularly bright duck–managed to escape the new horrors of Nuke ‘Em High? Or will the horrors of Nuke ‘Em High manage to escape into the wider field and terrorize New Jersey…and beyond?
To answer the inevitable first question, yes, that is Stan Lee giving the voice-over recap of the first three installments of “Nuke ‘Em High”, proving that perhaps the only man more willing to make cameos than Troma’s own Lloyd Kaufman is Stan “the Man” Lee himself. And yes, the aforementioned duck is actually involved; specifically, he’s Kevin the Wonder Duck. This is part and parcel of the Troma experience; for those who haven’t tried a Troma Team release before, be it a round of “Nuke ‘Em High” or a “Toxic Avenger” or even “Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD,” this is all standard fare. It’s going to get crazy around here, but there’s an upside to that; constant laughs.
Some of the laughs are genuine. Some of them are uncomfortable. Some of them are the only reasonable response to what’s being shown on screen because there’s no other reaction that would make sense. However, there’s also a downside in the less than conclusive ending. Even the original “Nuke ‘Em High” was a fully-contained piece, the sequels likewise. But this one’s ending is a little less than conclusive, and that’s not a welcome development.
Still, it’s hard to fault “Return To Nuke ‘Em High Volume One.” While it’s incomplete at best, what’s here is still pretty funny stuff with a good snippet of action thrown in for variety. It’s hard to complain about a movie that makes you laugh frequently for a host of different reasons, some good and some abjectly terrible. There’s no doubt that this one will prompt laughs like no tomorrow, and that’s certainly a plus.
Special features include a set of audio options including commentary tracks, your choice of English or Spanish subtitles, a featurette on the casting, a bit on the pre-production aspects, a featurette on the film’s effects, a retrospective on forty years of Troma filmmaking, a music video, and trailers for “Return to Nuke ‘Em High Volume Two” “Detention of the Dead,” “Sorority Party Massacre,” “Demented,” and “Battle of the Damned.”
“Return To Nuke ‘Em High Volume One” is funny, but would have been funnier had it been an entire movie. Still, what’s here is a riot and that’s pretty good by itself. I look forward to the second one, and hope it will manage to bring this to a satisfactory conclusion.