Return To... Return To Class of Nuke 'Em High Aka Vol.2:
Lloyd Kaufman concludes his two-part “opus” reimagining of Class of Nuke ‘Em High in what can only be described as a softcore spoof porn with big tits, small pierced dicks, the kinda penetration that’s not arousing, and loads and loads of blood and goo. In other words, it’s basically everything you’d expect from a Troma film, but it can’t manage to hit the mark of its more iconic fare.
Following the events of Volume 1, the mutated glee club continue their violent rampage in Tromaville. Chrissy (Asta Paredes) and Lauren (Catherine Corcoran), two innocent lesbian lovers, must fight not only the Cretins, mutants, and monsters, but also the evil Tromorganic Foodstuffs Conglomerate, lead Lee Harvey Herzkauf (Lloyd Kaufman). Can they, and Kevin the Wonder Duck, save Tromaville High School and the world?
Volume 2 is even more ballistically ADD and painfully self-aware than the last film, with even less narrative coherence or consistency. It shifts POV at the drop of a hat, staggering the viewer with its frontal assault, and it bounces between its many storylines, which includes a zany Troma morning talkshow, that work a few times before mutating into a cumbersome slog. I don’t know how Lloyd did it, but Volume 2 is somehow even more unhinged and unfocused than Volume 1, making it nothing more than a clothesline to hang various gags, which occasionally land with the dumb, blunt force that Kaufman is known for. At times, it’s almost impossible to keep up with the blistering pace, but who needs story when there are monsters and mutated ducks and gore?!
Unfortunately, Kaufman has stepped into a more digital world, and the film looses some charm without the aide of the cool DIY practical effects or the warmth of 35 mm, which have been notorious hallmarks of Troma cinema. The fact that it took two films to tell this simple story is pretty insane as well. Between both Volumes, there’s probably a decent 90-minute cut in there, after the numerous unnecessary fatty bits are trimmed; however, on the inverse, the peripheral elements embedded in both volumes tend to be its stronger bits.
Amidst its scatterbrained chaos, there are some good moments and some stupid dumb laughs to be had — there is one scene between Kaufman and his actual wife, Patricia “Pat” (AKA The Commissioner) Kaufman, about toning down the nudity that is the funniest thing I’ve seen all year. It’s loaded with cameos — some you’ll catch (like Impactical Jokers’ James Murray) and others you might not (Cinemassacre critic James Rolfe) — and there’s some really excellently funny in-jokes for the Tromaheads, like a hilarious ret-con bit to the original that lands with surprising effect.
As one may expect, a majority of it is astonishingly bad (in a charming trash sense), but there were moments where I found myself completely transfixed by its idiotic lunacy. Kaufman takes a page out of Groucho Marx’s playbook, throwing jokes, puns, gags, and obscenities out at a rapid machine gun rate, increasing the likelihood of making a comedic connection; however, the grouping is anything but consistent, and there’s more instances of misfire than there are bull’s eyes. Troma’s always included political messaging in their films, and Volume 2 is no different. Kaufman takes potshots at both ends of the political spectrum, but just like its approach to comedy, it’s lacking in focus or control.
Troma has set a very moderate low bar, which has become their gold standard to clear, and Volume 2 can’t quite get over the ledge. Although, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a good time — though this may be due to seeing the film with a slew of Troma cultists with Kaufman in attendance. You might lose some brain cells, but then again, you’ll enjoy it more that way. No matter the quality of the film, I’ll always support Troma in their efforts to make fun, self-aware schlocky trash cinema.
Recommendation: I’d recommend this to a Troma fan, but would not recommend this as a jumping in point for a Troma noob.
Rating: 1.5 Buffalo Bill references outta 5.
What do you think? Was Kaufman’s scattershot effective or did it go too far? We want to know. Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and as always, remember to viddy well!