Any movie that begins with inexplicable opening narration from Stan Lee is an automatic win in my book. From the opening exposition from Stan “The Man,” to clips from the previous “Nuke ‘Em High” series, “Return Vol. 1” is really a return to form for people that appreciated the punk rock trash “Class of Nuke Em High” series that had no limits in bad taste and grue. It’s an entirely new generation with an entirely new subtext, and Lloyd Kaufman embraces those themes head on and without fear of controversy.
There’s digs at hot button news stories with jokes about “Hoodies,” there’s the plot device of school shootings becoming so constant it’s as normal as a fire alarm at Tromaville High. There’s also the narrator’s admittance that commentary on toxic waste and nuclear radiation are no longer relevant. So, of course, Kaufman digs in to America’s new obsession with veganism and organic food, all the while mocking the generation that lives and breathes by its phones and pop culture. But never fear, while “Return” is intelligent and bold, it’s also the same old Troma trash we’ve grown to know and love for decades, with the focus on a two part epic. Comparing it to the “Kill Bill” series, Lloyd Kaufman sets up a rather interesting revenge tale that stems from the radioactive waste that begins to wreak havoc.
After a sex crazed couple break open a pipe, setting loose radioactive waste, the local organic food company’s supply of tacos are tainted. Just their luck, the tacos make their way to Tromaville High School where they’re eaten by the dorky Glee club. During an assembly the glee club transform in to growling, foaming, puss spewing monsters known only as “Cretins.” Soon enough they begin murdering people across the town and committing horrible crimes, you’ve only seen in a Troma movie! There’s an odd emphasis on a pet duck of one of the main characters who witnesses much of their violence and becomes the unwitting victim of “duck rape.” The cretins are funny and often weird villains for the reboot of the series.
They’re five very stereotypical monsters that don’t mind humming a few bars before offing their unfortunate victims. The inadvertent heroines of the film are two closeted lesbian students that garner their own radioactive powers after a night of hazy girl on girl, and seek out the cretins to put an end to their menace. Director Lloyd Kaufman really has his fun with this reboot, offering a ton of nods to the original film, while also mocking the modern generation of tech geeks and self-obsessed morons. There’s also a bunch of really memorable moments that will inspire a laugh or two including the gross skin melting sequence, and the oh so subtle cameos from Toxie himself. “Return to Nuke ‘Em High” is a hilarious and fast paced re-visiting to one of Troma’s best movie series, and I anxiously await the inevitable cretin war we’re sure to see in Volume 2.