Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tromatic: Class of Nuke 'Em High

I really regret this decision.  About a month and a half ago, I decided that I was going to watch this series.  Why?  Well, the whole thing is- at this time- available on Instant Viewing via Netflix.  More importantly, I already forced myself to sit through nearly all of the first movie, so why let that go to waste?  In hindsight, that's really stupid logic, but just go with it!  This first film comes to you from the early days of Troma Entertainment, back when they were making low-budget drivel full of gross-out effects and people making goofy faces.  Wait- that's Troma now!  That ironic point about the company's stagnant product aside, this movie is...well, really weird.  If you have been lucky enough to avoid this film series, it is about a school that is built precariously-close to a nuclear power plant.  When things go wrong- it's never an 'if'- bad things happen to the students there.  That's pretty much the whole premise of all three films, so expect a lot of creative wordplay on my end to make this all seem fresh.  For the first's exactly what I just said.  Is my previous-ban on Troma a good thing or a regret?  Find out in my review of...
The film begins- like many Troma films- by talking about Tromaville.  As one of the cities of the future (of the 1980s), it has a nuclear power plant in its city.  Not only that, but it's within less than a mile of the local high school  For all of you kids reading at home, this is why we have zoning laws!  Anyhow, a leak occurs and manages to get into the school's water supply.  Oddly, this only affects one guy- a local nerd- when he goes to the water fountain.  His class is full of gang members, tough gals and the usual cliched fare.  Lumped in amongst them, of course, are our two heroes- a young couple that appear to live in Conneticut, as opposed to New Jersey.  He goes a little crazy, has green ooze fall out of his mouth and he even attacks a bully before jumping through a window to his death Helen Hunt-style.  His classmates wonder aloud at why he had a 'mental break' and 'snapped,' never once making a connection between that and the Ecto Cooler-looking stuff coming out of his mouth.  Getting away from that never-to-be-addressed-again moment, the filmmakers introduce us to the key plot points with their usual subtlety.  There's a gang of weirdos causing trouble, the leak is causing mutations and our heroine won't put out.  Get it?  Got it?  Good.
Like most Troma films, this movie is much less about the plot moving forward and more about random shit happening.  The gang runs around and does stupid stuff, occasionally addressing their plot (they sell drugs that are irradiated).  This group is full of misfits, although they're the kind that try way too hard to seem like it.  Take for example the guy who dresses up in full black-face and swings a bone around like some sort of 1920's Tarzan villain.  There's always the guy who dresses up like a for the fake breasts he wears under his polo shirt.  Over at the nuclear power plant, the men in HAZMAT suits talk about the leak, but the fat boss (a Troma regular) tells them not to talk about it.  Yeah, that's about it for their part.  In the main plot, our hero takes his lady to a party being held off campus.  Said party is accompanied by The Smithereens- at least, that's what the summary from Part 2 tells me.  One of the guy's friends buys an irradiated 'doobie' from the gang and gives it to the couple.  This causes the girl to loosen up and finally let him 'put the spurs to her.'  Of course, that's not the only effect.  It also turns the guy into a mutant for one scene, allowing him to beat up some gang members, and causes the girl to spit out a mutated tadpole.  Just say 'No,' kids!
What follows is lots of mayhem, death and what is supposed to be comedy.  I mean, I'm a fan of absurdist comedy and all (I love Drawn Together), but you have to at least tell a real joke!  So the gang gets too violent on school grounds after the death of one of their brethren and gets kicked out of school.  Attempted  murder leads to a suspension- oh the humanity!  They don't take this lying down and decide to just take over the school by force.  Considering that you've been an angry, well-armed gang the whole time, why did you wait so long?  In the main plots, the leak is getting worse, resulting in the tadpole thing that came out of our heroine to mutate into a giant monster.  Mind you, it's one of those 'stationary but scary' monster suits that perpetuated the 1980s (see The Fly 2 or Xtro 2), but it's still scary.  It all culminates in a battle between the monster and the gang, which is extremely one-sided.  Think the battle between the Cybermen and the Daleks- only really stupid.  Our heroes get stuck in the middle of it, but manage to escape by turning one of the school's lasers (thank you, out-of-control military spending!) and escape as the school melts down.  So much for the sequel!
Do I even need to say it?  This movie sucks.  Mind you, it sucks in that 'we're really trying to make you like us' way, as opposed to just being terrible.  Troma has this mind-set that all of their fans are either extremely-stupid or have ADHD, so they constantly make the jokes obvious and repetitive.  One joke is just driven into the ground after another!  Did I mention that the jokes are repetitive yet?  On top of that, the acting is more over-the-top than a 1990s Adam Sandler film- if he was injected with cocaine and sugar before each take.  Unlike a lot of Troma films, this doesn't actually make fun of its budget limitations or lack of sets.  No, this one plays it about as straight as a Troma film can be played, at least in that department.  The movie tries to be funny, but just comes off as annoying.  It's like having a 10 year-old tell you a stupid joke and tug at your shirt until you laugh, all the while yelling 'Do you get it?  Do you get it?'  Yes Troma, I do get it.  It's not funny, but I get it.  On top of everything else, the plot is not focused and can't seem to remember itself.  Why does our hero transform into a mutant only once?  Is it just a temporary case of extreme radiation poisoning?!?  If you like Troma, you'll have ignored everything I just said and be out buying the Blu-Ray (what's the point?!?) release of this movie.  Have fun- just don't invite me.
Up next, the film's first sequel comes dripping down the pipe.  Will it correct the trend or actually be more persistently-annoying?  Stay tuned...


  1. I clicked the box that states I have read and understood the terms and conditions of this contract, and I am now proceeding to watch this film anyways. Its on Instant View, how can I not?? Its been on the que for weeks, it would have been a waste of perfectly good virtual space on my virtual movie list. Can you answer one thing though: Is the humor repetitive? =D

  2. Yes.

    Seriously, if you have to watch one of the films, watch the first one. Nothing good will come from watching the others, I assure you.