When a producer at Starz Media asked Troma Films founder Lloyd Kaufman to remake his 1986 cult classic Class of Nuke 'Em High, a film about a monster that terrorizes a New Jersey high school, Kaufman readily agreed and produced not one but two volumes. He'll present Return to Nuke 'Em High Volume 1 at 9:30 p.m. and midnight on Saturday, April 5, at the Cedar Lee Theatre.
"[Director] Quentin Tarantino is a big fan of Troma and he suggested we make something monumental," Kaufman says in a phone interview. "We were inspired by his two volumes of Kill Bill. I had total freedom and the gentleman at Starz permitted me to direct with no censorship. The only provision was that we had a low budget."
Kaufman has been making graphic indie movies since the late '60s. While he never went to film school, he worked a bit on big-budget films shortly after starting out. But he quickly became disillusioned with Hollywood moviemaking and subsequently put all his focus on Troma, delivering low budget horror films that often offer commentary on current events.
"I think the movies that Michael Hurst and I have produced and directed that have that flavor of Beach Blanket Bingo also have one foot firmly planted in very important sociological or historical issues of the day," Kaufman explains. "[Director] Samuel Fuller was a good buddy of mine and he got the best stories from the newspapers. I do also."
In Return to Nuke 'Em High, the glee club has transformed into a vicious gang, and the cafeteria becomes the locus of numerous scenes of debauchery.
"Michelle Obama came up with this theme of the food being stuffed down the throats of school kids that that was making them obese geese," says Kaufman. "In fact, there is a trained duck in Return to Nuke 'Em High. I do believe that this movie is our Sistine Chapel. It's a monumental achievement."