Shitty Movie Sundays: LA Crackdown

Troma alert! Troma alert! LA Crackdown, one of seven(!) films that prolific shitty filmmaker Joseph Merhi directed in 1988, went straight-to-video back when it was made, and has since found its way into the stable of the legendary shitty film company Troma. When one sees the Troma card before the title sequence, one knows that the following film will have few redeeming qualities. Troma are curators of the dark recesses of film, preserving some of the worst films America has made for future generations. LA Crackdown fits well with Troma’s stated mission of “disrupting media,” seemingly by subjecting viewers to crimes against narrative consistency, and an endless stream of dead reads. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: LA Crackdown”

October Horrorshow, Spring Edition: Class of Nuke ‘Em High

Class of Nuke Em HighWhat a shitty movie. From Troma Entertainment, a production company well-versed in churning out b-movie fare (most famously the Toxic Avenger series of films and its spinoffs), Class of Nuke ‘Em High is self-aware schlock. From the opening scene to the end, the filmmakers never miss a chance to remind the viewer that what they are watching is not meant to be taken seriously. But the way they choose to draw attention to this fact, with overwrought characters and performances, only serves to make the film feel forced. It revels in cheapness, and this would be a good thing, if only they weren’t trying so hard. At every step of the film, Troma seeks to establish its brand, reveling in its ineptness at putting together something that is watchable.

The film has a strong beginning. After an opening shot purposefully evocative of Troma’s production logo, the scene shifts to the fictional town of Tromaville, New Jersey, where an accident at a nuclear power plant has leaked radioactive goo into the high school next door. A hapless student is exposed to the contaminant when he drinks from a water fountain before class, and his transformation from stereotypical 80s film nerd to smoking corpse is hilarious. But in that scene is a first glimpse of the film’s downfall. Most of the ensemble cast is present, and all exist, like the poor victim, as caricatures of the diverse collection of jocks, losers, horndogs, and punks that populate the banal visions of high school typical of so many films from the 50s to today. The problem is, there isn’t a straight man among the bunch to balance things out. Continue reading “October Horrorshow, Spring Edition: Class of Nuke ‘Em High”