Review : Class Of Nuke ‘Em High (1986)

Class Of Nuke ‘Em High, directed by Lloyd Kaufman (and a number of Troma directors) and released in 1986, is one of Troma’s better known features. Troma Entertainment is an independent production and distribution company (founded by Lloyd Kaufman in 1974) which specializes in low-budget trash films. Troma films are not for everyone and it is quite understandable why the majority of film viewers might not enjoy such films. But if you typically enjoy B-movies, low-budget productions or unique trashy experiences, then Troma is definitely up your alley.

The action of Class Of Nuke ‘Em High takes place, like the majority of Troma films, in Tromaville. The local high school is a melting pot of nerds, jocks and punk delinquents. One day, a chemical leak occurs at the nuclear plant located near the school. Students are soon exposed to the radioactive matters which results in mutations, hallucinations, monsters and overall craziness.

Class Of Nuke ‘Em High is not as mindless as it first appears (like it is the case with other Troma films). Released in 1986, only a few months after the Chernobyl catastrophe, the message of the film was extremely relevant at the time (and remains so today). Similarly to The Toxic Avenger, Class Of Nuke ‘Em High deals with the danger of nuclear plants and humanity’s tendency to destroy the environment while delivering a social commentary on youth. This may be surprising to some but Troma manages to deliver trashy films with substance !

Of course, the film’s extremely low budget is very apparent throughout but what it lacks in production value, it makes up for it in ingenuity and creativity. Class Of Nuke ‘Em High is filled with fun ideas though some may not be implemented in the best way. The most impressive aspect of the film is the practical effects. All the gore and gross effects are brilliantly manufactured and look fantastic on screen. From the mutations to the big monster, everything looks great ! However, the same cannot be said of the costume designs.

The biggest weakness of Class Of Nuke ‘Em High is the acting, especially from the supporting cast. When watching a B-movie, you accept the fact that the acting will not be A-level. However, in most Troma films, the acting is hilariously horrendous. However, I was very surprised as Gilbert Brenton (who portrays Warren, the main character) actually gives a good performance. He is definitely the highlight of the film, acting-wise.

Class Of Nuke ‘Em High is extremely entertaining and fun. It definitely has so-bad-it’s-good qualities while being genuinely good at times. Troma features may not be everyone’s cup of tea but I do recommend Class Of Nuke ‘Em High. I personally loved it and was not bored for one second.

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Review : Jack Frost (1997)

Jack Frost, directed by Michael Cooney and released direct-to-video in 1997 is not to be confused with the family movie of the same name which came out the following year. This must have been the cause of funny situations and unintentional first horror experiences for some 90ยดs kids !

Jack Frost is a serial killer whose killing spree was put to and end by a small town sheriff. On the night of his execution, an accident involving the police van and a truck full of chemicals results in the death of Jack Frost…and his mutation into a snowman. He sees this as an opportunity to wreak havoc and get revenge on the sheriff.

Does the synopsis sound stupid ? Well, it’s even sillier than you imagine ! Fortunately, the film doesn’t take itself seriously and one wonders if the mediocrity of the final product was intentional. Jack Frost is a very poorly made film but it is at least entertaining. This was my second viewing and, to my surprise, I enjoyed it more than the first time I watched the film last year. However, there will always be one detail that disappoints me greatly : the film cover looks amazing, the creature featured on it looks great. Unfortunately, Jack Frost looks nothing like what the cover promises. Of course, B-movie covers always look better than what you end up getting but in this case, it is too different not to be mentioned.

So, let’s focus a bit on Jack Frost himself, who is actually the worst aspect of the film. The costume looks horrendous, from the material used to its animation. There are a few scenes where you can actually see the man underneath the suit (how could they have missed that during editing shows either the low skills or lack of interest involved). But what is even worse is that Jack Frost doesn’t look remotely scary and the limitation of his movements makes you wonder why the characters are having a difficult time defeating the snowman.

The acting is, as expected, quite mediocre. The film is a festival of one-punch lines and attempted jokes and the bad acting actually adds to the comedy. Most of the jokes are bad and not very funny which is guaranteed to make you laugh so…I guess it all works out ! There is however one aspect that I really enjoyed : the kills. While most are shown off-camera (probably for lack of budget) and others have poor effects, there is at least a real effort to make them fun and original. Jack uses a good variety of weapons from axes to Christmas lights (the latter resulting in the best kill of the movie).

Jack Frost suffers from bad writing, bad acting, bad effects and yet, its entertainment value is through the roof ! This is the kind of bad film which will make you laugh so much, you will end up liking it for its mediocrity.

Review : Black Sheep (2006)

Black Sheep is an independent horror comedy from New Zealand, directed by Jonathan King and released in 2006. In New Zealand, Harry and Angus, two brothers, are growing up in a farm until their father’s accidental death. A traumatic experience has also left Harry with an irrational fear of sheep. Fifteen years later, Angus is running the family farm while Harry is living in the city, still dealing with his phobia. He comes back to the farm to sell his share to his brother and soon finds out about experiments being conducted to breed genetically engineered sheep. Animal activits, while trying to expose Angus’ projects, accidentally release a sheep embryo who bites one of them and starts spreading an infection which rapidly turns the harmless sheep into ruthless predators hungry for human flesh. Harry’s worst nightmare becomes a reality as he must face his fear and put an end to his brother’s plans.

 

Black Sheep is a great horror comedy which balances thrills and laughs really well. The film doesn’t take itself seriously and is a blast to watch. They manage to take an animal that has no scare factor to begin with and turn them into frightening bloodthirsty creatures.

The opening sequence gives a useful backstory which provides information crucial to the characters’ development without dragging for too long. Short and efficient. For an indie horror comedy, I found the plot, while unoriginal, well constructed. The special effects are also very good and there’s plenty of gore which should please any horror fan.

Black Sheep’s biggest quality is the acting. I especially loved how the actors manage to deliver silly and corny lines in a natural and serious manner thus adding to the comedy. Some lines could be cringe-worthy but they are so well integrated into the dialogue that they become extremely funny. The casting director did an excellent job as the cast delivers absurd lines of dialogue in the most entertaining way.

Black Sheep is an absolute watch. It is absurd, highly entertaining and to be recommended.