It’s too bad when you go in to a Troma movie and know that this isn’t them at their best. While you can kind of blame it on lack of funding, “Volume 2” of the “Nuke Em High” movie series leaves a lot to be desired and never quite sticks the landing in regards to its slew of sub-plots and sidebars. Director Kaufman spends a lot of the first twenty minutes of the movie catching us up to what went down in volume 1 (with the help of narration by the late Stan Lee) and this gives the movie a chaotic pacing that’s tough to focus on.
With Tromaville High School now a war zone after Tromaganic Foodstuffs transforms the students into mutated cretins, C.E.O. Herzkauf (Lloyd Kaufman) craves more destruction. Frying his brain with smells from his fart harvester, Herzkauf maintains power as the mutations travel across America, creating mass panic. Coming to the rescue are Chrissy (Asta Paredes) and Lauren (Catherine Corcoran), two lesbians who rise up to fight Herzkauf while raising a mutated baby born from Lauren’s “duck rape.” The father of the child, Kevin, waddles his way into toxic sludge, growing into a dangerous monster bent on destroying Tromaville with Herzkauf.
“Volume 1” was chaotic, but also very composed and pretty damn funny. Despite the very clever references to a bunch of classic movies, “Volume 2” spends a ton of time cluing us in on what happened before, and then trying its hardest to shift in to sequel mode. That’s a tough task considering the movie is barely eighty minutes in length. Kaufman pads the movie quite much with weird animated sequences, and segues in to a mock morning talk show and a walk on role from the late Lemmy Kilmister as the president of the United States. Kaufman puts himself front and center too as a crucial element of the sequel’s big storyline involving our heroines, the lesbian lovers Chrissy and Lauren.
That said, the special effects are still on point with some gross out sequences, slime galore, and even Kaufman never being afraid to get in to some good old fashioned make up and ooze for the sake of his movie. And if anything, when the movie is losing steam, Kaufman resorts to flashing as much T&A as humanly possible, and it’s the classic Troma fail safe that always works. More Meg Carreiro, please! I also love the obligatory Toxie references, including the nods to “Toxic Crusaders” which was disowned by Troma fans for many years up until recently. “Return to Return to…” is sadly a disappointing second part to the series revival, even if does the best it can with the little it has.
The two disc Blu-Ray comes packed with the patented intro featuring “Lil’ Lloydy,” the great, great grandson of Lloyd Kaufman, who explains the delayed release of “Return to Return to Nuke ‘Em High AKA Vol 2.” There are the short films “Mr. Topps,” “Merry Christmas to my Wife’s Butt,” and “Radiation March,” and finally the original trailer. Disc 2 features the feature length “2 Girls, 1 Duck,” a documentary focusing on the making of both installments of the “Return to Nuke ‘Em High” sequels. We center on Kaufman and his strangely loyal crew as they try to pull off their splatter epic with very little money, time, and patience. There’s looks at the tension on the set, and Kaufman rage issues while directing; it’s a documentary that pays off much more than “Return to Return to…” There’s the five minutes “Make Your Own Damn Shower,” a brief look at the creation of the shower monster scene, featuring adult film star Ophelia Rain.
“Make Your Own Damn Greenscreen Bentley” is a six minutes visit with co-producer John Brennan, who showcases the construction of a green screen set-up located in front of Troma headquarters. The eleven minutes “TroMoMA: Vol. 1 Honored at the MoMA NY” joins Kaufman and his Troma gang as they show “Return to Nuke ‘Em High: Vol. 1” to a small crowd at the prestigious art center. “Bust a Nut with Troma Now” is a commercial for the company’s streaming site, while there are tributes to the late Stan Lee, Lemmy, and Joe Fleishaker. Finally, there’s the thirteen minutes “From Festival to Fascism: Cannes 2017,” which examines Troma’s visit to the film festival, where the team and their “street theater” were rudely (and unfairly) shut down by French cops, who showed little patience for Kaufman’s protests. A Cannes participant since 1971, Kaufman goes nuclear on the festival. Also included is time at the San Diego Comic-Con, where Kaufman and Troma associates describe the Cannes incident.