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Class of Nuke 'em High (1986)

This is my first introduction into the realm of 'Troma' films. As someone who thoroughly enjoys terrible straight-to-DVD-style movies, I figured this would be a walk in the park for me, I massively underestimated what I was getting myself in for. For context, 'Troma' is an American independent film production and distribution company founded by Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz in 1974. The company produces low-budget independent films, primarily of the horror-comedy genre. Many of them play on 1950s horror with elements of farce, parody, gore and splatter. And, although this seems like a fairly tame concept, 'Troma' is an experience like no other.

Before the opening credits even begin to roll in this film we are introduced to some of the most extremely B-Movie level gore effects, some shocking acting (something that feels intentional) and its own musical number companion piece to accompany it. From this moment, I knew this was going to be the most hyper-surrealist film I would have witnessed. Even the plot itself moves at 100mph and never lets up. Constantly moving from location to location and switching between character interactions. It is a task in itself just to keep up with everything that is going on, let alone try to adjust to the wildly jarring tone.

The make-up and practical effects are as to be expected. Looking very low quality and poorly constructed. Yet I couldn't help but appreciate the homemade element of it all, especially the earlier transitions of Warren and more so the creature design in the final act. There were a few instances where I genuinely couldn't work out how these effects were created, something that is not usually the case with a production of this standard.

Unfortunately, as fun as this film started, I was certainly clock-watching an hour into its run time. The story has all the promise of a wild and overly exaggerated concept, yet somehow loses itself along the way. Given the plot threads that this film sets up with Warren and Chrissy being affected and transformed from the "Atomic Weed", all of this set-up gets sidetracked and replaced by the rebellion of the outsider gang at school. Not only does the story take a drastic turn but I find it insulting as a viewer to have to endure so much story building only for it to ultimately have no resolution due to a convoluted plot that doesn't know what story it is trying to tell.

The inconsistent story development and the heavy use of dated derogatory terms certainly had me lose all interest in 'The Class of Nuke 'Em High' as the final act loomed closer. And given the ongoing gun school shooting crisis in America I can't see how a film such as this could be acceptable today. As someone who strongly believes that cinema and music is not an influential factor in people's mental health, I can still see how watching something like this today, may cause a sense of unease to people affected by the events happening too frequently in American culture.

Given the prior minimal knowledge I had of the 'Troma' sub-genre, I believe I was going to truly fall in love with a whole library of films that felt like they were custom-made for me as a viewer. Unfortunately, this entire film is just one big mess. And whilst there is much to be enjoyed here, it is greatly overshadowed by its ever-increasing flaws as the film progresses. I'm not done with 'Troma' yet, I'm just hopeful that I picked a bad place to start with this sub-genre.



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