Color, 1991, 90m.
Directed by Eric Louzil
Starring Brick Bronsky, Lisa Gaye, Leesa Rowland, Michael Kurtz, Scott Resnick
Troma (Blu-ray & DVD) (US R0 HD/NTSC) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)
Though Troma was quick to jump on the sequel bandwagon for its foremost nuclear-themed horror comedy, The Toxic Avenger, it took a bit longer for the successor to 1986's Class of Nuke 'Em High. The full screen title actually reads Class of Nuke 'Em High Part II: Subhumanoid Meltdown, which was released five years later, and the whole high school angle is tossed out the window this time as the mayhem centers around the building erected in the demolished school's place, the Tromaville Institute of Technology.
Intrepid beefcake reporter Roger (Bronsky) is having a field day covering the violent outbreaks on the campus (including lots of flash forwards during the very messy opening sequence) and decides to enroll in a covert experiment where the biology professor (Gaye) is creating "subhumanoid" residents with a penchant for dissolving into muck. There's also a mean-spirited gang called the Squirrels roaming the area, and when Roger falls for one of the sexier scientific creations named Victoria (Rowland), the stage is set for a cataclysmic showdown with a giant, atomic-generated squirrel named Tromie turning out to be the most unexpected ingredient.
Barely coherent as any kind of linear narrative, Class of Nuke 'Em High 2 is a prime example of the party atmosphere in the Troma universe circa the grunge era (with its other big franchise even making a bizarre left-field appearance in the third act). Bronsky, a veteran of Troma's Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D., is a truly odd choice for a journalistic hero, but he returned to reprise his role (with a few extra ones thrown in to boot) in two of the sequels, 1994's Class of Nuke 'Em High Part 3: The Good, the Bad and the Subhumanoid and (briefly) 2013's Return to Nuke 'Em High Volume 1. The rubbery special effects are fun (with a latex mouth navel reminiscent of the then-recent Dr. Caligari), and as usual there's a lot of gross-out bodily fluid humor and anti-corporate jabs along the way. The music's a lot of fun, too. Basically if you love vintage Troma and don't mind a few narrative speed bumps, this one delivers the goods and does a decent job as a follow up to the beloved original.
Troma's 2015 Blu-ray marks a nice upgrade over the old full frame 2004 DVD (which is included in the package as a two-disc combo), featuring a colorful widescreen transfer that definitely ranks near the upper tier of their HD presentations. Some print damage rears its head now and then as usual, but there's nothing to get really worked up about. As usual the audio is lossy Dolby Digital, and while it's fun to imagine that theme song blasting out in a room-shaking DTS 7.1 mix, what we have here sounds pretty true to the source. Extra features include a Gaye audio commentary (in which she seems pretty bemused by the whole thing), a music video for that aforementioned theme song, a brief 4-minute vintage interview with Gaye about the production, an irrelevant but amusing 11-minute "TroMoMa" look at Lloyd Kaufman at the Museum of Modern Art for a screening of Return to Nuke 'Em High: Volume 1 (which has to be seen to be believed), the usual "Radiation March" and the American Cinematheque promo seen on the Toxic Avenger 2 Blu-ray, and two more music videos from the Lunachicks and Mystery, and a new 5-minute interview with Troma vet James Gunn (director of Slither and Guardians of the Galaxy) about his roots, which apparently still run deep since Kaufman had a cameo in his big Marvel hit. Whether the next Guardians film will feature a nod to the Nuke 'Em High franchise remains to be seen.
Reviewed on April 30, 2015.