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Class Of Nuke 'Em High II: Subhumanoid Meltdown
Oh Troma, my Troma. Your films are wildly uneven, and the titles you distribute too. Lots of times I just don't get the joke. But when I do, I love it, and I love Troma, too. Breaking from tradition, I'll mention the extras first, in which Tromeister Lloyd Kaufman outlines his artistic and life philosophies, enough times that even a curmudgeon such as myself is moved. Put plainly; 'find what you are good at, and do it.'
Kaufman is very good at making goofy movies, he's been doing it for 40 years. When he's on, he's very, very good, (Tromeo And Juliet, The Toxic Avenger, etc.) when he's not so good, what you get is aimless buffoonery, with neither enough laughs, sex, or outrageous gore to register more than a few moments of joy. Class Of Nuke 'Em High II: Subhumanoid Meltdown, sadly, is one of those lesser efforts. Class trundles along with goofy brio, but stints on the outrage, delivering enough amiable splatstick comedy for a 60-minute movie, stretched out to 90 minutes.
The 1991 film finds Nuke 'Em High alumni attending college in Tromaville, hanging out in the nuclear factory/institute of technology, and generally acting like idiots.. Meanwhile, the evil professor has been genetically engineering 'subhumanoids,' emotionless servants with hot bodies and mouths in their stomachs. Jock/Nerd school reporter Roger Smith (buff but with unbearable body odor) falls in love with subhumanoid Victoria, only to learn she's fated to melt down into a sad cross between a Ghoulie and a hand-puppet, which I know is a redundancy. While the meltdowns are splashy and the puppets that emerge snarky, the offensiveness for which Troma is known registers only mildly on the meter. However, after a few spectacular meltdowns in the classroom, even Tromie the giant mutant squirrel goes on a frenzy and the movie screeches to a halt.
Subhumanoid Meltdown isn't a terrible Troma movie. With plenty of topless women and folks spewing green slime, it lives up to the reputation. However in this case the goofiness seems extra goofy, a little too goofy, and the cheap effects seem a little too cheap. This is especially true as their super-imposed, stop-motion deficiencies are highlighted by the Blu-ray transfer. Snarky mutant creatures gnawing on obviously fake human limbs just aren't as amusing if they don't seem even the tiniest bit real, man. But I think worse than semi-uninspired offensiveness is the lack of a human core in Meltdown. What makes movies like Toxic Avenger so great, is a genuine feeling of gee-whiz enthusiasm and heart. Toxie is a Nice Guy, sincere and likeable. While Class's Roger is just an earnest dud who wants to get laid, and his 'melon-heavy' love Victoria, well, she isn't really human, and what emotion she musters is hard to grasp.
Amongst the raging crowd scenes (a Troma staple) and spewing goo (also a Troma staple) is a crackpot movie looking for more chutzpah. Lloyd Kaufman is nothing if not a guy with chutzpah, and his views on finding your path in life are spot on. However, with Class Of Nuke 'Em High II: Subhumanoid Meltdown, that chutzpah seems to be on auto-pilot. Grossness isn't all that gross, the plot is a bit lackadaisical, there isn't much to really shock the Troma viewer's sensibilities, and the characters are a bit blah. While still much more honest than many Hollywood pictures, this one might suffice with a Rent It rating.
You can go to the head of the Class with this AVC encoded MPEG-4 HD image in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, mastered from original materials. The spanking new transfer reveals all the warts from the source. Film grain is nice, but varies quite a bit, and is sometimes quite pronounced, especially when elements like stop-motion animation are introduced. Relatively minor film damage also appears from time to time, but is not a big deal. Otherwise, the thing looks pretty good for its age and original production values. Colors are bold, details are often pretty good, and there aren't any digital glitches to get in the way.
A 2.0 Dolby Digital mix is your audio option, and it is serviceable, but nothing to write home about. Stereo separation is basic, dialog is understandable, and the songs are loud. The whole enchilada is a bit on the treble side of sonic life, but isn't distorted, and there isn't any real damage to the source audio for you to suffer through. Extras:
First off is a fun Commentary Track featuring the lovely, tall-haired Lisa Gaye (Professor Holt). A Music Video Trailer for Class packs much of the movie's fun into an easily digestible three minutes. Lisa Gaye also turns in a 4-minute Interview during which she lays down more thoughts about working on the Meltdown. 12-minutes of Troma at the Museum of Modern Art finds Kaufman and his imprint getting some long overdue recognition. A Q & A and goofy dance sequence (pure Troma) are among the highlights of this honor.. Radiation March is like a cute dance/PSA about the dangers of nuclear radiation, while The American Cinematheque Honors 40 Years of Troma unspools two minutes of Troma madness set to a Motorhead tune. The Lunachicks contribute the "Say What You Want" Music Video, and Mystery (the best rock band ever) turns in their "Return to Nuke 'Em High" Music Video. A 5-minute Interview with director James Gunn, hosted by Kaufman, finds Gunn waxing philosophical about the state of movie making today. Lastly, the usual collection of Troma Trailers settles the score.
Class Of Nuke 'Em High II: Subhumanoid Meltdown, finds the usual Troma chutzpah on autopilot. Expected grossness isn't all that gross, the plot is a bit lackadaisical, there isn't much to really shock the Troma viewer's sensibilities, and the characters are a bit blah. While still much more honest than many Hollywood pictures, and with way more nudity and melting, stomach-mouthed subhumanoids, this one might suffice with a Rent It rating.