Return To Nuke ‘Em High – Volume 1 (Blu-ray Review)

Return-To-Nuke-Em-High-Vol 1Return To Nuke ‘Em High Volume 1 is the first part of the ceremonious return of Lloyd Kaufman directing one of his most iconic Troma series.  I was a pretty big fan of the original film (maybe my favorite Troma movie), it serves up Troma at its best.  Cheap, sleezy, goofy, fun and delivering plenty of outrageous gore and laughs.  For some reason, I’ve never ventured to its 2 sequels.  But, as this film starts with a recap that swears up and down this is cannon and not a remake, it looks like those 2 didn’t matter when it came to this film.  And while this film is indeed a 4th venture into the series, its very much a soft reboot as it does restart the story and share some similar events in its origin as its predecessor.

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Welcome back to Tromaville High!  Almost 30 years ago, this high school was the victim of some nuclear mutations and destruction due to a plant being right next door.  The plant has been apparently redone as an organic foods plant, but that’s only a cover as there’s still toxic problems.  When it bleeds into Taco Tuesday, the glee club gets transformed into the evil Cretins, wreaking havoc on the town and school.  It then becomes up to two blogging lovers Chrissy and Lauren to stand up against them and get things going back to however normal may be at Tromaville High.

Upfront, I was really surprised how this film turned out in a certain aspect.  Without crutching on trying to match an aesthetic, the Return To Nuke ‘Em High felt very much like a natural continuation of the original Troma Films of the 1980s.  It wasn’t 80s cheap video, but it was modern cheap video with the same type of effects, acting and tropes that made those original films so charming to its fans.

One of my biggest issues with the film is that it has an incredible obsession with having crazy ridiculous sex scenes.  The movie gets off to a rough 20 minutes that it luckily settles down from.  It isn’t that I don’t like some nudity or a good sex scene in my Troma film, but these scenes and their jokes and gags feel quite pointless and repetitive.  Through like 3 sex scenes and 2 masturbation ones with goofy ADR’d sound effects I was begging “Okay okay, let’s get on with it”.  I enjoyed Troma more for their violence, facepalming one-liners and silly characters.

To beat a dead horse with my reviews, I want to praise the hell out of this movie for relying heavily on practical effects.  There is some pretty obvious moments of CG, but it only looks like they used it where the footage may not have worked after the fact.  By going practical, the gore in this movie feels real, gross and plenty goofy.  And this movie is not afraid to get disgusting and messy.  Gorehounds will be in heaven, even if this is more comic book and comedic in its appearance.  I felt like I needed a nice shower to clean off after watching it.

Ultimately, I need to see Volume 2 before I could make a full judgment on this film as the cliffhanger it leaves off on doesn’t really leave you feeling complete.  And with this first volume I was on again and off again between enjoying myself and rolling my eyes.  But, make no mistake, this never didn’t feel desperate or not like a Troma movie.  People who are more hardcore with Troma (I’d say I’m more a casual fan, still studying some) may enjoy this much more than I did.  It did deliver a lot of Troma traditions and fan pleasing moments that should make the hardcores happy.

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1:78.1

Clarity/Detail: Detail is rather good, but most of the picture is a bit soft and lack at a lot of times.

Depth:  The picture isn’t exactly flat, but its not striking you with its dimensions either.  Its cheap, that’s the name of the game, and buyers probably aren’t expecting much.

Black Levels:  The black levels are pretty rich, but in some poorly lit scenes it gets pretty weak to a level it looks like film grain.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are bright and strong.  Your oozing Troma toxic waste’s green color jumps right off the screen.  The red blood is striking as wel.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are consistent, but the skin looks a bit too smooth most of the time.

Noise/Artifacts: This was shot on video, but during poorly lit scenes it looks a little grainy.

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Audio Format(s): English Stereo Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics:  It’s a bit disappointed the track isn’t uncompressed, but surprisingly this stereo track doesn’t sound very limited at all.  Audio is very crisp, clean and loud.

Low Frequency Extension: n/a

Surround Sound Presentation: n/a

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue was good and clear.  Surprisingly it didn’t sound compressed or muffled at all.

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The coolest thing about this release is that it comes in a nifty green case.  The extras are Troma friendly and want to paint Lloyd Kaufman as a monster (in a fun parody kind of way).  There’s also 2 commentaries, both featuring a mass amount of people passing the mic around.

Audio Commentary With Actors Zac Amico, Clay von Carlowitz, Catherine Corcoran, Stuart Kiczek And Asta Paredes

Audio Commentary With Writer/Producer/Director Lloyd Kaufman, Producer Justin H. Martell, Executive Producer Matt Manjourides, Associate Producer Regina Katz And Writer Travis Campbell

Casting Conundrum (HD, 7:07) – A montage of all the casting auditions for the movie followed by a montage of the call-backs (which has auditions fully nude and all in for the sex scenes)

Pre-Production Hell With Mein-Kauf(man) (HD, 9:44) – A production video diary that focuses on some of the conflicts and troubles with shooting the film.

Special(Ed) Effects (HD, 7:22) – Another video diary, focusing on the effects and more of Lloyd Kaufman getting crummy with his crew.  There’s also good footage of a lot of tests and rehearsals with the effects.

Cell-U-Lloyd Kaufman: 40 Years Of TROMAtising The World (HD, 2:11) – A sizzle reel highlighting almost 40 years of Troma’s existence.

“Architects Of Fear – Edison Device” Music Video (HD, 3:38)

Return To Nuke ‘Em High Volume 2 Trailer (HD, :59)

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Anchor Bay unleashes the first volume of Return To Nuke ‘Em High with a mediocre presentation and some tasty extras to stay afloat.  The movie was very hit and miss for me and took awhile to find its footing.  But, it didn’t turn me away from wanting to see the second (which looks a lot better).  If you’ve never seen a Troma film before, I don’t think this is gonna help you start.  And if you’ve never enjoyed Troma, this won’t convince you.  If you’re a horny young male, this is the kind of film that has lots of naked girls and sex that you can tell your parents you’re watching and they’ll have no idea that it entails that.  This one is recommended for pretty much very hardcore Troma fans and loyalists only.

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