Reviewed by Jorge Solis: With two up-and-coming leads who show no fear, Return To Nuke ‘Em High: Vol. 1 goes for broke with its gore, sex, and campiness. This is a gooey splatterfest reminiscent of ’80s horror comedies, such as Evil Dead 2 and Dead Alive. Diabolically hilarious and over-the-top campy, this latest Nuke ‘Em High installment aims to get a reaction, whether it be a shock or laugh, from its audience.
Chrissy (Asta Paredes), the bad girl at Tromaville High, moonlights as an environmental blogger warning others about the shady going-ons behind the Tromaorganic Foodstuffs Conglomerate. This evil food company has been secretly poisoning the school’s meal plans with toxic waste. When the glee club gets a nasty taste of some toxic tacos, they suddenly turn into a violent gang of psychotic mutants, known as The Cretins. While the Cretins are causing all sorts of vicious mayhem, there is a hidden romance brewing between Chrissy and the new girl in school, Lauren (Catherine Corcoran). Despite being polar opposites, Chrissy and Lauren have to work together to save their school from the Cretins.
Right off the bat, the opening scene delivers an eye-popping body horror sequence that mixes CGI and practical effects. The plot is surrounded by off-the-wall characters that seem to have jumped out of some zany cartoon. One of those hilarious characters is Eugene, played by Clay Von Carlowitz, who always refers to himself in the third person. Representing horny teenagers everywhere, Eugene is extremely loud, rambunctious, and narcissistic as he struggles to lose his virginity. You’re either going to laugh at the pratfalls and fart noises, or you’re going to roll your eyes watching the vomit-inducing visual gags.
At its best, what really makes the film work is the on-screen chemistry between Paredes and Corcoran. The main leads really hit their mark making the attraction between Lauren and Chrissy seem grounded and believable. Paredes is naturally funny as she delivers Chrissy’s snarky one-liners. Through Lauren, Corcoran holds her own with a role that asks her to be sincere one second and cynical the next. As the leads, Paredes and Corcoran carry the film with such confidence and genuine charisma, you can’t take your eyes off these two.
Writer/director Lloyd Kaufman keeps the satirical tone full of self-knowing humor throughout the movie. More than just breaking the fourth wall, the meta humor even tests the knowledge of hardcore Troma fans. And yes, the car crash that’s been in every other Troma movie is also in here too. When the film is on the verge of silliness, Kaufman breaks the pattern and throws in a clever joke about social media.
My only problem is that the cliff-hanger ending is flat-out abrupt. Because the film is split into two parts, you do end up thinking Kaufman is milking his franchise for all its worth.
The DVD/Blu-Ray of Return To Nuke ‘Em High: Vol. 1 comes out on March 18th. Loaded with special features, the disc also includes commentary from Corcoran, Paredes, and Carlowitz.