SEPTEMBER 23, 2009
With the awesome title, I expected Class Of Nuke ‘Em High to be one of the more crass Troma entries, but unfortunately it seems to be their idea of a ‘commercial’ film. It still has that Troma feel (at times anyway), but it’s lacking the kitchen sink, un-PC attitude that makes something like Terror Firmer such a classic. But it’s still a Troma movie, so it’s also lacking the production value and decent acting that would allow it to keep pace with the competition. So no one wins.
It’s not a total loss though. When the goddamn monster finally shows up (with 15 minutes left) it’s a grand old time, with its tentacles grabbing people and tearing off heads and such. And whenever I started getting bored, there would be an out of nowhere lesbian kiss or random alley fight to get my attention back on track.
Speaking of that alley fight - why do the hero’s powers go away? He smokes a toxic joint and starts to deform and gain super strength, but then he’s fine again for the rest of the movie (if this was explained, it must have been when I got up to throw a pizza into the microwave). I was hoping he would “Hulk out” and take on the monster appropriately for the finale, but instead he shoots a laser at it, which causes the film to turn colors and the school to blow up.
It’s also strangely lacking action. The opening scene has a character drink toxic water from the bubbler (that’s what we call water fountains in New England), and he begins to foam at the mouth, then he goes crazy and dives out a window. I was thinking “Nice, now the other kids drink from it and the school is overrun with crazies!”, but no, the fountain is never brought up again, and it’s another half hour or so before anything else happens. And even then it never really gets chaotic like Poultrygeist or whatever - until the monster shows up the film doesn’t even have a real body count. Hell, we never even get the stock car flip/crash that usually makes its way into every Troma film.
As it was their "commercial" movie, it’s a bit more professional than some of the others. According to the IMDb, the budget was two million, which is about 10x as much as any of their recent features. The acting is still amateur, but the effects are good and they use quite a bit of the school for locations. It also has a reasonably decent score and a few songs on the soundtrack that you might actually recognize (The Smithereens, Biohazard). In short, it’s the closest I’ve seen to a legit Troma movie, but I don’t WANT a legit troma movie. Christ, I don’t even think the movie has any bodily fluids excessively spraying on someone’s face (unless you count alka-seltzer foam).
The DVD still has the usual Troma approach, albeit on the worst designed DVD I’ve ever seen. You think that Nightmare on Elm St bonus disc was a pain in the ass? None of the extra menus have a back button, the commentary is only accessible by switching the audio track while the movie is on, the chapter selection only shows up once the movie is done, and despite the two menus for Class-related extras and generic Troma ones, the Class menu is still largely Troma-centric. Apart from Lloyd’s commentary (which is more fun than the movie), the only extras pertaining to the movie are a handful of deleted scenes, which are presented out of order and without context, and a still gallery.
As for the Troma stuff, we get all the usual promos and trailers, but there’s a spot called “Tromaville Café” that is worth a look, if only for the sight of a young James Gunn horsing around with an equally young, hot as always Tiffany Shepis. There’s also an interactive tour of the Troma production building, which I didn’t have time to go through in its entirety but what I did watch was amusing. Oh, and they plug Lloyd’s book, possibly out of habit.
From what I understand, the sequels are better. I will check them out in time, but for this one, I think it was done in by their attempts to be a bit more commercial. It’s not without merit, but I think it works better as a curiosity for die-hard Troma fans than anything else.
What say you?