Dante’s Weekend Double – A Journey Through Grindhouse Past With ‘The Faculty’ And ‘The Class Of Nuke ‘Em High’

Nukem High Faculty
Elijah Wood stars in The Faculty (1998) opposite Faculty from Class of Nuke Em High (1986), Troma/Dimension Films

It has been 30 years since the few remaining Grindhouse theaters drew their final breath and disappeared from the back alleys of large cities that had been keeping them on life support ever since the video market rendered them obsolete in the mid-1980s.

Machete Kills The Grindhouse
Danny Trejo is Machete in a trailer playing at the Grindhouse (2007), Dimension Films

Then with the advent of streaming, that avenue itself soon followed the dank poverty-row theater experience into oblivion. The world had again moved on.

Yet despite all of this, or perhaps in spite, the Grindhouse spirit has endured and can be seen haunting all forms of media whether it be a blood-soaked indie film like Hobo With A Shotgun, a shoot-em-up video game of revenge (exemplified in Red Dead Revolver), a comic book series from Dark Horse, or even a well-intended TV series (see Blood Drive).

The theaters may be gone, but audiences still clamor for controversy, for the cheap thrills that can only be found within the smoky, and sticky world of exploitation, and low-budget mayhem.

Here at Bounding Into Comics, we honor this movement of splattering subgenres by presenting you, the amazing reader, with a double feature selection to check out during your weekend. One is a relatively well-known movie while the other is less known, and a lot less appropriate.

I will be your guide on this journey through the seedy underbelly of cinema. Sit back, settle in, keep a barf bag close, and welcome to the Grindhouse.

The Faculty (Dimension Films/Los Hooligans Productions)

faculty dimension films
Class is in session in The Faculty (1998), Dimension Films

Class is now in session, and the first assignment is a cult Sci-Fi/Horror classic from 1998. It stars Elijah Wood as Casey Conor, a bullied high school student, and a proud photographer for the school paper. Casey discovers that aliens have invaded the small Ohio town, and are taking over the bodies of his teachers – eventually spreading to the student body.

To stop the extracurricular extraterrestrials, he enlists the help of the school paper’s editor-in-chief, head cheerleader, and the object of his unrequited affection, Delilah (Jordana Brewster).

Along with them is her jock boyfriend (played by a 23-year-old Shawn Hatosy), a 90s Goth poser (Clea DuVall), a delinquent super senior (Josh Harnett), and an ostensibly naïve transfer student (Laura Harris) who coincidentally shows up to the school at the exact same time weird things start happening.

It is like The Breakfast Club meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers in this fun ride by director, and fellow Grindhouse enthusiast, Robert Rodriguez. It’s a great mixture of genres, and awesome practical effects mixed in with early CGI that has aged better than most from that period.

It’s also one of those rare high school movies that doesn’t try too hard to be hip or didn’t load up its cast with baby-faced twentysomethings pretending to be teenagers.

Run Clea Run
High chance of showers for Clea Duvall in The Faculty (1998), Dimension Films

A meta-story about science fiction tropes that’s funny without becoming campy, it’s also cool without becoming too serious. Shot with style, and enthusiasm, this movie will most certainly appeal to anyone who has ever read the My Teacher Is an Alien book series from the late 80s/early 90s.

Keep a lookout for appearances by Salma Hayek, Robert Patrick, Jon Stewart, and Daniel von Bargen. The Faculty currently inhabits the TUBI app.         

Class Of Nuke ‘Em High (Troma Entertainment)

Nuked Studenten
Standard student bodies in the Class of Nuke ‘Em High (1986), Troma Entertainment

If there was ever a film company that champions the art of subversive, gory, and low-budget sleaze, it’s the wonderful people at Troma. For the past half-century, they have delighted audiences with their unique brand of comically disturbing with this 1986 mutation being one of the best in their catalog.

There was an accident at a nuclear power plant in the town of Tromaville, New Jersey. Radiation leaked into the neighboring high school and started affecting the students in varying ways.

Nuclear gen
Signs of the times in Class of Nuke ‘Em High (1986), Troma Entertainment

These number from violent deaths to an amorous couple smoking marijuana laced with radiation, and reproducing hideous monster offspring; and we haven’t gotten to the Cretins. This gang of scholars-turned-maniacs terrorize the school and the students in graphically over-the-top ways.

This came out at a time when the company was releasing a string of movies that would also go on to become cult classics. Some will eventually find their way into this segment, and in due time.

If anyone has come here looking for stuff more tasteful than trashful, then I ask you to leave and never return. Art is not safe, nor is consuming it as it can seep into the viewer, and change them into something else.

The fumes of toxic waste from Class Of Nuke ‘Em High can be seen emitting from TUBI.  

Until next time, stay twisted!

NEXT: ‘Feral’ Review – “Cat Scratch Fever” From Image Comics

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