Class of Nuke ‘Em High (1986)

This review is for my series on the films produced by Troma Entertainment. Hope you like this.

by Jaime Grijalba.

Troma is crazy. We all know that. The thing is that we forget sometimes just how crazy they are, like with this movie. This is maybe one of the best Troma films they made during their 80’s popularity boost after ‘The Toxic Avenger’ (1984). Actually taking the film idea and script from another director, Lloyd Kaufman instilled an original bare bones creature film into something else, a picture of a rotten generation, almost a social critique.

The movie starts with the malfunction of the nuclear energy plant, the one that moves the plot forward and introduces the first foreign elements and it doesn’t actually contaminate the atmosphere or the biosphere of Tromaville, as it was already a pretty hopeless place with all the delincuency and events that are going on everyday (on the hands of the thugs and bullies of the school most of the time), but those elements infect the most pure particules that still roam around.

The most clear element is when there’s a joint made out of radioactive weed that actually is passed around to a couple of virgin good-doers that instantly aren’t virgin anymore. The sex scene might be one of the funniest and sexy things that Troma has ever filmed, and as you know, the producers and directors at Troma know how to choose their gynos, there’s almost a canon, or an aesthetic particular to the women that are filmed, and that gives the movies some kind of union among them.

So, anyway, the weed makes them into sexual beasts that demonstrate, in a way, the true love and the final fruition of those feelings in an orgy of pleasure where all the participants are the fumes and evolutions that the new energy imposes in their bodies. Then, their strength changes, and they become one of the few agents that start to become a force against the evil of the bullies and thugs, the scum of Tromaville.

But in a sense, maybe the most impressive element of this film is the characterization of those bullies, mixing and blending different styles of the time, the sluts, the punks and the nazis all go together in a mixture of rotten putrid cultural trash space. The art, wardrobe and makeup/hair of this movie is phenomenal, and what elevates this movie beyond to what it could’ve possibly been in the midst of its cultural phenomenon as a Troma flick.

For a moment the movie becomes loose of the elements of a normal plot and just exacerbates the great strong point that it has, the presence and personality of the supporting characters, and in a way the protagonists become difusse, as their transformations make them too similar to those that they are battling. For that, the movie lacks something in the middle stretch, and when it tries to introduce the final “monster” of the movie, a mutation birthed out of the suspicious nuclear activities, it feels weak.

That doesn’t mean that the monster isn’t actually one of the most decent special effects that Troma has ever done (maybe I’ve repeated that phrase too much, but this movie is a surprise under Troma standards), a puppet or animatronic that feels alive and with a personality, and it could be on par with any other 80’s creature of the same time, if not even better than other low budgeted movies.

In the end, maybe one of the best and most accesible films of the Troma catalogue, a film that spawned two sequels and a remake/homage that premiered in Cannes in 2013. Might the future of Troma be bright!



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