Back in the late 1980s, the bargain-bin schlock of US indie movie outfit Troma was a staple of my VHS viewing pleasure. Boasting lurid titles like The Toxic Avenger, Class of Nuke ‘Em High and Surf Nazis Must Die, and seasoned with copious amounts of cartoon violence, naff sex scenes, terrible acting and cheap special effects, Troma’s new wave of exploitation had a look and feel that was all its own.
While they make not look as slick as today’s modern-day equivalents (especially Asylum’s knock-off sci-fi adventures and budget creature features – the recent Nazis at the Centre of the Earth being my current one to watch), these low rent capers certainly knew how put a new spin on tried old genres, and that uniqueness has kept them from disappearing forever.
Heading into a home cinema near you come a trio of Troma treasures that have been dusted down, spruced up and served with a smorgasbord of extras that will be a trip down memory lane for those who rented them first time round and, for newbies, a real insight into one of cinema’s true mavericks.
Class of Nuke ‘Em High – Troma’s highest-selling VHS release – puts an atomic spin on The Class of 1984 as a gang of school kids turn into rampaging freaks after smoking irradiated marijuana. The extras in this release include a not-to-be missed public service announcement featuring Motörhead’s Lemmy and South Park’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Watch it here, below.
The gritty masterpiece Combat Shock – which shares the same DNA as Taxi Driver and the 1980 actioner The Exterminator - follows the downward spiral of an Agent Orange exposed Vietnam vet living on the means streets of Staten Island, and features two versions of director Buddy Giovinazzo’s film, plus a great documentary about the film’s lasting impact.
Finally, Troma’s homage to blaxploitation, Surf Nazis Must Die, follows the mother of a murdered black teenager as she takes her revenge against the lawless gangs who have invaded the Californian coastline. The best part about this release isn’t the hilarious fashions (straight out of Elton John’s I’m Still Standing music video), but the fab soundtrack, and the six lost scenes on the extras.
So who’s ready for a Troma-fest?