In all honesty of the Troma films I had seen in the past, Class of Nuke ‘Em High wasn’t one of them. Which I find odd since it’s such a touchstone for Troma. My personal touchstone till now had been Poltrygeist and more recently Return to Nuke’Em High Vol. 1. But as I was barely able to form cognitive thought when Class of Nuke ‘Em High released in 1986, my late viewing of this B-Movie classic should be forgiven.
Class of Nuke ‘Em High takes place where all the best Troma films take place, Tromaville. More precisely Tromaville High School, which happens to be located next to a nuclear power plant. After an accident at the power plant, the high schools water becomes contaminated with radioactive waste. This is the least of the schools problems as the honor society members have turned into a punk gang known as the Cretins. The buy weed growing at the power plant from an employee. They decided to sell the weed at the exorbitant price of ten dollars a joint. One of the Cretins buyers is Eddie (Jame Nugent Vernon), who wants to use the joint to loosen up his friend Warrens (Gil Brenton) conservative girlfriend Chrissy (Janelle Brady). He gets the pair to smoke it at a party that night, which causes just the behavior in his friends he had hoped for. But the joint has an unforeseen side effects of hallucinations, illness, and pregnancy. Warren and Chrissy go to school the following day. Warren gets progressively sicker, while Chrissy who thought her pregnancy was a hallucination. Gives birth to a monster by throwing it up into a toilet before passing out. While Chrissy is at the hospital Warren kills two Cretins while under the after effects of the joint. The Cretins now kicked out of school, return to vandalize it and take Chrissy hostage. Warren goes after her unaware of the creature that has found its way into the school’s basement and into a barrel of toxic waste, causing the creature to mutate…
First off I’m going to take just a moment to talk up Lloyd Kaufman some more. I have yet to see a single film directed by this man that I didn’t enjoy the ever-loving shit out of from beginning to end. He has such a distinct style that you can tell his films by just looking at them. Much in the same way that Tim Burton has his own distinctive style.
That out of the way, lets move on to the acting. Which was corny and absolutely wonderful. Most of the actors hit the perfect notes to pull off such a strange film. The scary parts are… ok not scary, but still super fun and the comedy actually made me laugh. Which is uncommon for movies to do outside of Rom Coms. Janelle Brady and Gil Brenton do an amazing job and carry the film during the later acts. The Cretins were ok, but none of them stand out that much.
The special effects are what I’ve come to expect from Troma. Which says a lot given that this film came out early on, only two years after Troma released the Toxic Avenger. The monster effects were good given the limitations of budget. The slugish form of the creature was satisfyingly repulsive.
Final thoughts, I loved… for the most part. The film does drag a bit during the middle causing me to lose focus by the end of the film and I wish that they had taken more time to explain the Cretins. But I do understand that the not understanding is part of the charm. So Class of Nuke ‘Em High that has spawned three sequels and a fourth in post-production gets a respectable 8/10.