Monday, April 26, 2010

Class of Nuke 'Em High (1986)

Whenever I find myself in a heated discussion about the state of modern cinema with a group of pompous Kinkajou lickers, the topic inevitably turns to high school movies and what can be added in order to make them palatable to the movie-going public. Now, up until this point, the discourse is unruly and at times quite violent. (I once saw a man in a Current 93 t-shirt asphyxiated with his own beret because he thought the films of Abbas Kiarostami were too pedantic.) However, the barometric pressure of the entire conversation changes when the issue of improving teen flicks is finally brought up. Implausible as it may sound, but everyone suddenly stands up, looks gingerly around the room, and without provocation, yells out: "Radiation and red pantyhose!" The Federation of Pompous Kinkajou Lickers (F.O.P.K.I.L.) has been congregating since the late 1970s to talk about Kinkajous and cinema, and this seemingly nonsensical outburst has been the only thing they've collectively agreed on during their heady thirty year existence. Well, their nonsensical outburst is going to definitely make a lot more sense when I tell them that there's a film out there that features radiation and red pantyhose simultaneously. The amount of joy I expect to see on their fur-covered faces when I make them aware of Class of Nuke 'Em High is gonna be out of this world. Sure, it may not gel with their arty sensibilities; it's transgressive, gory, half-witted and uncouth. But it gives them the nectar they crave so badly, which is lot's of radiation and plenty of red pantyhose.

Yikes! Just the mere thought of those two exalted items gets my award-winning undercarriage all moist and sticky–and I'm not even really a member of their weird ass federation.

Moving reluctantly to the subject of the actual film itself, Class of Nuke 'Em High is a painstakingly honest depiction of what it must have been like to attend a high school that's located across the street from a poorly run nuclear power plant.

The honour role has been turned into a gang of rambunctious ne'er-do-wells who call themselves The Cretins, students are spewing radioactive ooze from every orifice imaginable, and the parasitic love child of a pair shy lovers is festering in the school's fallout shelter.

You could say things are pretty normal at Tromaville High.

The film, directed by Richard W. Haines, Michael Herz, and Lloyd Kaufman (as Samuel Weil), is one of the few to mix high school and nuclear contamination successfully. Whereas less ambitious filmmakers seem to focus on one or the other, the Troma team who slapped this puppy together embrace the labyrinthian complexities that come with making a multi-layered work of transcendental aloofness with the surgical precision of a mentally challenged ragpicker.

Young love may be blossoming at Tromaville High, but so is anarchy. The school has become increasingly ungovernable thanks to The Cretins, a gang of eccentrically attired thugs who give out random beatings and sell orange-coloured marijuana. This widespread epidemic of wanton violence and erratic behaviour might have something to do with a recent radioactive leak over at the nuclear power plant, because The Cretins were apparently model students up until a week ago. And from my experience, it takes at least three weeks to go from being a nonthreatening nerd to a spiky-haired miscreant.

Grown on the grounds of the nuclear power plant, the funky weed The Cretins push somehow ends up swimming around in the lungs of a couple of squares named Warren (Gil Brenton) and Crissy (Janelle Brady). Forced to attend an indoor beach party on the campus of a local university, the strange drug causes the normally bashful pair to fornicate almost immediately.

The sight of the luscious Janelle vigorously molesting every inch of her supple frame was a thing of pre-coital beauty. Two words: Puffy nipples.

The aftermath of their copulation, on the other hand, wasn't so beautiful. Well, Janelle's Crissy managed to maintain her allure despite the fact that something awful has happened to her. You see, Warren and Crissy's organic structures have been radically altered by the "atomic high" they received from the orange ganja. While Warren finds himself with a mild case of secreting green liquid, Crissy ends up, like all women, with the bigger of the two problems: an unwanted visitor gestating inside her lady womb.

Janelle Brady possesses one of the finest scream faces I have ever seen.

If there was any non-red pantyhose-related scene I would have liked to have extended, it'd definitely be the indoor beach party sequence. The sheer of number visually pleasing things going on during this crazy shindig was off the charts in terms of abnormal awesomeness. A seemingly endless amount of bikini clad Troma babes cavorting wildly in a veiled attempt to achieve spiritual harmony. Hell, even the garden gloves worn by Gary Rosenblatt were somehow able to elicit an emotion that was positive in nature (I have a pair just like 'em).

Referring to The Cretins as "spiky-haired miscreants" is actually a gross understatement, as these guys and gals take outlandish fashion to dizzying new heights. I don't know which was weirder, the Cretin with the extremely large nose rings and strap-on dildo (which he strokes when others kiss) or the fella with breasts wearing black lipstick and a light blue sweater vest. Either way, the amount of effort put into the clothes, hair and make-up of The Cretins was greatly appreciated.

Her attractive gams constantly sheathed a much ballyhooed pair of red pantyhose, the image of Théo Cohan stomping nerds, urinating while standing up and being frisked by a bone confiscating teacher is forever seared into my bloodstream. Giving Muffey an off-kilter edge that caused her to standout amidst the ranks of The Cretins, the aggressively gorgeous Théo sneers and leers her way into the hearts of discerning movie watchers the world over. She even utters one of the film's more memorable lines: "God bless America, limp dick!"

A couple of other female Cretins show up from time to time to challenge Muffey's status as the Queen of Crimson Hosiery, but she brushes them aside with hardly any effort. One played by Lauren Heather McMahon seems to appear out of nowhere during the chaos-heavy finale as a character named Taru, while the other is Miss Stein (Jennifer Prichard), the school's German teacher who becomes a Cretin after their leader, Spike (Robert Prichard) kisses her passionately outside her classroom (I liked her leopard print stockings over top fishnets combination).

My first foray into the demented world of Troma, Class of Nuke 'Em High is a rough, shabbily produced affair that will no doubt test the patience of those accustomed to competent filmmaking. In other words: Bring on Class of Nuke 'Em High 2: Subhumanoid Meltdown and Class of Nuke 'Em High 3: The Good, the Bad and the Subhumanoid; because I will totally watch 'em with my eyes!



  1. Truly a classic Troma film! I love the appearance by The Smithereens too. Every time I hear "Much Too Much", I think of Class of Nuke 'Em High!

  2. I watched this on Netflix two weeks ago .
    Still fun to watch after all these years.

  3. Great review. I haven't seen this flick since I was 13 years old. Time to revisit CNEH.

  4. It is a pure crime that I know of this film yet have never seen this film. I flog myself with a wet noodle.