“RETURN TO NUKE ’EM HIGH VOLUME 1” (Film Review)
There’s a saying that’s commonly used to negate all consequence of bad behavior in the name of acting upon instinct: “Boys will be boys.” In the world of genre entertainment, that same phrase should be applied to Troma, as Troma has, is and always will be Troma. Transcending limitations of taste and logic, the company has returned to present one of its funniest and craziest films of all time, RETURN TO NUKE ’EM HIGH VOLUME 1.
I say that with full consideration of Troma’s prolific filmography. Oozing with sludge, non sequiturs and cartoonish mischief, RETURN TO NUKE ’EM HIGH VOLUME 1 sees Lloyd Kaufman and co. returning to their uncompromising, vile roots, offering a film so old-school and reckless in its presentation that it’s hard not to embrace it.
Typically, the enjoyment of a Troma film goes as far as your threshold for offensive and corny humor, peppered with satire and a winking self-awareness. However, RETURN TO NUKE ’EM HIGH VOLUME 1 is a triumph, going so bold with its cheese and savagery that it’s practically visionary. Of course, traditionally speaking, the film is so incoherent and over-the-top that more humorless and strait-laced audience members may decry the film as stupid or incompetent. However, Troma’s intention is directly in line with its unhinged, absurd world, and with its array of caricatures and disgusting violence, its gleeful anarchy is shockingly refreshing and true to the form.
Practical FX, surrealistic sequences, hysterical cameos and biting wit permeate RETURN TO NUKE ’EM HIGH VOLUME 1, which ostensibly follows two young women whose burgeoning lesbian relationship is burdened with toxic mutations, classist melodrama and a gang of murderous punks known as Cretins. This is only the beginning of a truly scatterbrained narrative, which often switches focus to the evil corporate conspiracy behind the madness or its multitude of extraneous characters. But make no mistake, every piece of the crazy puzzle that is RETURN TO NUKE ’EM HIGH VOLUME 1 is there for a reason, all leading to a possibly even more shocking place in the next installment.
RETURN TO NUKE ’EM HIGH VOLUME 1 returns Troma mastermind Kaufman to the directors chair, shooting every frame of independently produced weirdness with utter disregard for ratings or audience expectations. His helming is so manic and offbeat yet so defined that the many gross-out bits hit the audience’s senses almost as hard as its moments of self-criticism, creating an atmosphere of hilarious, absent-minded beauty that’s admirable in its craftsmanship. Furthermore, the varied and memorable musical score by Kurt Dirt is nothing short of fittingly silly, and Justin Duval’s cinematography glorifies the wonderful work of the film’s FX team.
The always animated and unabashed cast of RETURN TO NUKE ’EM HIGH VOLUME 1 does a great job bringing the hyperreal and jaw-dropping world of Tromaville to life, possibly even better than the cast of Troma’s last major release, POULTRYGEIST. Asta Paredes and Catherine Corcoran go to the edge of sanity with unflinching resolve as Chrissy and Lauren, the rivals-turned-lesbian-lovers who largely drive the narrative. Babette Bombshell, Clay von Carlowitz, Vito Trigo and Stefan Dezil offer memorable takes on the immoral and often times overly enthusiastic denizens of Tromaville, and of course, there’s the obligatory and fantastic cameo by Kaufman—but to ruin any more of the ridiculous and varied guest appearances would be journalistic treason of the highest order.
Even though it’s insane, nonsensical and silly on a fundamental level, RETURN TO NUKE ’EM HIGH VOLUME 1 is undeniably funny, brave and so unlike anything else being put out today that it practically demands respect. Kaufman has made another film in the vein of Troma’s classic output that is simultaneously juvenile and brilliant, firmly lodged in a place of sublime and subversive anarchy. It’s a tour de force of the company’s independent aesthetics in the 21st century, and for those who can appreciate a reprehensible trip into brutal violence, self-deprecating satire, gruesome FX and sexually taboo excess, it’s a welcome return indeed. For this writer, the wait for RETURN TO NUKE ’EM HIGH VOLUME 2 will not be short enough.