Saturday, November 1, 2008

Class of Nuke 'em High (1986)

Directed by:
Richard W. Haines
Michael Herz
Lloyd Kaufman

Another loud, obnoxious, rude, crude, in-your-face horror-gore-comedy from Lloyd Kaufman and the other fine folks at Troma. Unlike their 1984 cult hit THE TOXIC AVENGER, much of the humor misses the mark and annoys more than it amuses. At Tromaville High, a New Jersey school built near a nuclear power plant, the entire student body start going through strange physical changes. No, I'm not talking about puberty, just your garden variety biochemical mutations thanks to a leak at the plant. Green gunk gets into the water supply and those whose ingest it turn into sadistic, vulgar and destructive "cretins" who adopt a punk aesthetic, dress in leather, ride through the hallways on their motorcycles, screech, scream, sing, talk back to their teachers and start destroying school property. Yep, they're all about anarchy and being anti-establishment, amongst other things. They also sexually assault, beat, maim and kill students and teachers without blinking an eye. Thrown into the mix are "good" All-American kids Chrissy (Janelle Brady) and Warren (Gilbert Brenton). After being coerced into toking on some toxic reefer at a party, virginal Chrissy becomes 9-months-pregnant virtually overnight with a mutant baby, while Warren starts blacking out, mutating and going around town killing criminals and bad guys. Eventually, Chrissy gives birth in the school's restroom by throwing up a tadpole that quickly transforms into a giant spiked lizard monster. Said monster hangs around in the basement in time for the big finale.

It's basically just juvenile crap, but it's fast-moving and energetic juvenile crap that moves from one mean-spirited set-piece to another so fast you don't have much time to get bored. Horribly overacted by much of the cast, of course, but the special effects are pretty good and it doesn't skimp on gore. The best effect is a hand forced down someone's throat and the creature design on Chrissy's "baby" is well done. There's a great theme song, too, and The Smithereens even appear to play at an indoor beach party.

Also in the cast are Robert Prichard as the lead punk and Pat Ryan as the obese power plant president. Followed by a pair of substandard subhumanoid sequels; CLASS OF NUKE 'EM HIGH 2: SUBHUMANOID MELTDOWN (1991) and CLASS OF NUKE 'EM HIGH 3: THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE SUBHUMANOID (1992), which were filmed back-to-back.


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