The Film (4/5)
Class of Nuke ‘Em High was the first Troma film I had ever seen. There was a time in the mid 90’s that a local Pay-Per-View channel was offering a double feature of two Nuke ‘Em High films (I can’t remember if it was the first and second, or the second and third). At that moment my parents wouldn’t let me rent stuff off PPV, but the local video store had a copy of the first film when I went looking the next weekend. I had never seen a film like Nuke ‘Em High before, it was the first comedy/horror/sci-fi film I can remember at least a year before Evil Dead II and Dead Alive blew the doors open on that particlar genre cross-section for me.
Class of Nuke ‘Em High is a film that helped define Troma, not just a company, but as a genre unto itself. It features the trademark sex, violence, and absurdist humor that Troma set the standard with in The Toxic Avenger, and which would be a significant part of every Troma movie since. It also features Kaufman’s usual political subtext, this time showcasing the dangers of nuclear power, and the effects of pollution on our society.
The film is set In and around Tromaville High School. The Tromaville Nuclear Power Plant is only a ¼ of a mile away from the High School campus, and due to the exposure to the nearby radiation, the student body begins to act strangely. The film focuses on a group of friends spearheaded by goody two shoes couple Warren and Chrissy.
One night at a local college party Warren and Chrissy take a hit off a joint of “atomic weed.” This marijuana crop was grown on the property of the nuclear power plant, and was sold to a friend of there's to get the pair to lighten up. Well, lighten up they did, moments after they smoke the weed they go upstairs and have sex. The next morning the effects of the weed begin to take hold. Warren becomes an angry Hulk-like being, and Chrissy becomes pregnant with a mutant monster, who she gives birth to in the toilet. The monster escapes, and begins wreaking havoc in the school.
I have owned Class of Nuke 'Em High in every available release format, and can honestly say that this is the best the film has ever looked. The video and DVD were sourced from the same full frame transfer, while the Blu-ray is a newly remastered 1:85:1 1080p anamorphic widescreen transfer. The transfer is not reference quality, but it is an insane jump from the prior releases. The level of detail, and colors are greatly increased, and it has a film like quality that did not appear on other releases. There is also a significant amount of print damage and scratching, but with a film of it's budget, and age it looks really great.
The audio is not quite the same jump in quality as the video. Troma have presented Class of Nuke 'Em High with a 2.0 Stereo transfer, and while I am disappointed in the lack of an upgrade the audio in general is fine. The dialogue is clear and audible, as are the effects and music.
Troma has put together a pretty nice package for the Class of Nuke 'Em High Blu-ray. A few things are recycled from prior releases, and there are some new things. The most standout extra is a commentary from Troma head honcho, and Class of Nuke 'Em High co-director Lloyd Kaufman. As always Kaufman is a mix of entertaining and informative, and has many interesting anecdotes about the films production, locations, and co-directing with Richard Haines.
This is followed by a series of deleted scenes, interviews with former Troma actors Jennifer and Robert Pritchard who met on Troma's prior film The Toxic Avenger, and would eventually get married. There is also a short piece on the films cameraman, the films theatrical trailer, and also trailers for other Troma productions. It is rounded out by an archival interview with Lloyd Kaufman, a segment called Troma T&A where a Tromette takes her top off for the camera, a PSA, and oh, the Radiation March. I bet you're surprised to see that one on here.
Class of Nuke 'Em High is a fun sleazy gory mess of a film. It is not for everyone, but if the above sentence appeals to you, and you haven't seen it, then you should be picking up a copy right about now. The video transfer of the film is fantastic for what it is, if you like me, grew up with shoddy full frame transfers of the film (although L.K. Does say he prefers shooting full frame), then this will be nothing less than a revelation.
The extras are primarily recycled and archived extras from prior Class of Nuke 'Em High releases, but they are no less interesting here. The audio is the only slight low point on the disc. For Troma and B-Movie fans this is highly recommended.