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Return to Nuke 'Em High Volume 1 (2013)

Anchor Bay
Blu-ray Disc Released: 3/18/2014

All Ratings out of

Movie: No Stars



Review by Mike Long, Posted on 3/14/2014

While everyone has some sort of opinion about Disney, most movie studios are viewed as being pretty innocuous. Do you have strong feelings about Paramount? Universal (the studio, not the theme park...which is awesome!)? Probably not. However, one company which is incredibly divisive is Troma Entertainment. For nearly 40 years, this New York-based independent company has produced and distributed horror and cult films, specializing in over-the-top movies. Troma made its presence known in video stores in the 80s, with titles like The Toxic Avenger and Troma’s War. Some people love Troma movies, while others hate them, but very few people are in the middle. This sort of split view continues today as Troma is still going strong with Return to Nuke ’Em High Volume 1.

Return to Nuke 'Em High Volume 1 is a would-be sequel to the 1986 Troma "classic" Class of Nuke 'Em High. In that film, the students of Tromaville High School dealt with issues created by the neighboring nuclear plant. In this new film, the nuclear plant has given way to Tromorganic Foods. As for the school, it's the same mixture of preppies, nerds, and bullies. Chrissy (Asta Paredes) is concerned that Tromorganic is poisoning the students and has started a blog to combat them. Rich girl Lauren (Catherine Corcoran) is new to the school and she loves spending time with her pet duck. When the glee club eats green tacos and turns into a murderous gang known as Cretins, Chrissy and Lauren team up to fight the evil organization which is threatening the school.

What time is it where you live? Because where ever Lloyd Kaufman is, it's clearly still the 80s. The man behind Troma directed this movie, and also has a small role in it, and if his goal was to make a movie which looks as if it came from 30 years ago, then he has succeeded. Yes, this is a sequel to a movie from the 80s, but it ostensibly takes place in the present, and yet, apparently Kaufman doesn't realize that times have changed, specifically when it comes to what high school students look like. I wasn't expecting Return to Nuke 'Em High Volume 1 to be a documentary, but I'm fairly certain that we don't get a lot of guys with the 70s British punk look these days. If you showed me a still of the Cretins and told me that it was from a Troma movie from 1987, then I would have believed you.

Kaufman also apparently doesn't understand what people want in a movie. Again, you don't turn to Troma for a quality movie, but it's astounding what an awful, pointless movie Return to Nuke 'Em High Volume 1 is. The movie barely has a story and every character is a stereotype. The bulk of this doesn't make any sense -- even the worst movie should have the semblance of a plot. All that we get is a series of vignettes which are barely linked together. Why does Lauren have a duck? Why do only certain people get sick and mutate? Why do the particular mutations which arise here show up?

Let's face it, the people who are cueing up Return to Nuke 'Em High Volume 1 aren't looking for art -- they've come here to see repulsive things and the movie doesn't really deliver here either. But, that's not for a lack of trying. The movie opens with an incredibly graphic scene which deftly mixed disgusting and ridiculous. This scene will raise the hopes of gorehounds, and it looks as if it came from another movie. From there, we get a lot of green goop and some incredibly silly prosthetics.

I'll admit that I've never been a fan of Troma, but I can appreciate gross silliness like The Toxic Avenger. But, Return to Nuke 'Em High Volume 1 is just bad. There's nothing here to recommend and it literally took me six attempts to finish the movie. And worst of all? As the title implies, there's more to come. Finally, what the hell is Stan Lee doing here?

Return to Nuke 'Em High Volume 1 is working to keep the green food coloring industry going strong on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. In this age of digital cinema where most everything looks good, this movie has a very low-budget look. The colors are slightly washed-out and the image is somewhat soft at times. The grain is kept to a minimum and there are no notable defects from the source materials. Finally, the image is somewhat flat looking. The Disc carries a Dobly Digital 2.0 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and a constant 192 kbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. There are a few noticeable stereo effects, but otherwise the audio is fairly flat. The music does not drown out the dialogue.

The Return to Nuke 'Em High Volume 1 Blu-ray Disc sports a few extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from actors Zac Amico, Clay von Carlowitz, Catherine Corcoran, Stuart Kiczek, and Asta Pardes. This is followed by a second COMMENTARY with Writer/Producer/Director Lloyd Kaufman, Producer Justin A. Martell, Executive Producer Matt Manjourides, Associate Producer Regina Katz and Writer Travis Campbell. "Casting Conundrum" (7 minutes) opens with Kaufman describing the casting process and then moves into audition footage for a variety of actors...which gets pretty daring. "Pre-Production Hell with Mein-Kauf (man)" (10 minutes) takes us into the Troma on-site offices to see the crew preparing to shoot the film. We get some candid comments here concerning the lack of planning and we get to see things going wrong on-set. "Special (Ed) Effects" (7 minutes) shows some of the physical effects for the film being tested and created. We also get to see Kaufman scolding a crew member. "Cell-U-Lloyd Kaufman: 40 Years of Tromatising the World" (2 minutes) is a montage of clips from Troma movies. We get the MUSIC VIDEO for the song "Architects of Fear - Edison Device" (4 minutes). The final extra is a TRAILER for Return to Nuke 'Em High Volume 2.

Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long