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Starring (both films):
Toby Radloff as Harold Kunkle
Virginia Scott as Helen Kunkle
Heidi Lohr as Sally/Thelma
Well, oppressed nerds of the world, this is your chance to vicariously strike back at your tormentors! 'Killer Nerd' (1991) and its sequel, 'Bride of Killer Nerd' (1992), are brought to us by Troma, prolific purveyors of the cheapest and silliest horror movies you're ever likely to find. (I've previously reviewed their 'Chopper Chicks in Zombietown' here, another real gem.) These offerings are as wonderfully cheap, funky and hilarious as ever.
In 'Killer Nerd', we meet Harold Kunkle, uber-nerd. He's really terminally nerdy, both in looks and in behaviour, in every negative stereotypical way imaginable. With his bad teeth, taped-together glasses, pimples, greasy hair and very poor dress sense, plus no social graces of any description, he gets teased by local teenagers and children, who chant 'Nerd! Nerd! Nerd! Nerd!' at him, and he gets nagged by his well-meaning mother with whom he lives. He has a humdrum job where he works with Sally, the girl of his dreams.
Sally is always very nice and amiable to him, so finally he musters up his courage and asks her for a date, but she turns him down (nicely). Dismayed, he goes home and watches TV, and sees an ad featuring a suave presenter, 'Slick Dick', promoting his set of tapes on how men can make themselves gorgeous and sexy and irresistible to women. Harold keenly sends off for the tapes and puts them into practice - we see him attend his local salon for a makeover and emerge with what's apparently supposed to be a snazzy trendy haircut ('Give me a rad 'do,' he requests in his whiny nasal voice) and outfit.
Pleased with his new look, he decides to go out clubbing to try out his new persona, and having received some attention from the ladies, starts feeling more confident and makes his way over to Sally's house. But that turns out badly, not just for Sally but also for various of those who had chanted 'Nerd! Nerd! Nerd!' once too often...
'Bride of Killer Nerd', the sequel, I think is the much better of the two films. It seems more developed - the first one could be a bit slow and patchy but this one is more lively and fun. In this film, Harold is now living alone - well, sort of alone; he shares his house with the ghosts of some of his victims in the previous movie. These ghosts all talk to him and berate him for killing them.
We follow him to work and see that once again, he's working at some humdrum job and being as nerdy as ever.
In the next scene, we see a classroom of high school teenagers including Thelma, a super-nerdy looking girl with huge glasses, bad teeth with braces, and her hair in big pigtails/bunches. We see her geekily correct the teacher on a small point during his lecture, while the other students laugh at her. So, I think it goes without saying that she looks like an ideal match for Harold. (Strangely, she's played by the same actress who played Sally in the previous movie.)
So, inevitably, Harold and Thelma meet, and they take an instant attraction to each other. Seeing that Thelma has a new boyfriend, some of her classmates decide to have a bit of fun by inviting the couple to a big party where the intention is to take the mickey out of them for everyone's amusement, sort of 'Carrie' (the movie) style. Well, as you may have guessed from the title of this film, at the party the humiliated Harold and Thelma snap and go all 'Natural Born Killers' on everyone's asses...
I liked 'Killer Nerd' but loved 'Bride of Killer Nerd' - as mentioned previously, I found that they had developed the concept more in the second film. There was more going on, more characters with bigger roles, and more character development for Harold. I also liked the addition of a soul mate for Harold, who so sweetly shares in his mundane interests at first and then turns into a monster killer nerd as bloodthirsty as Harold, relishing their havoc-wreaking together.
Both films are wonderfully cheesy. Troma is noted for making really cheap-looking films, and they probably are very low-budgeted, but rather than try to be as impressive as possible with what little budget they have, they really revel in their cheapness. Acting is terrible and amateurish, rather like a bad school play. Harold has just about the most annoying voice ever, too, and gets to recite such classic lines as "Roses are red, violets are placid, you screwed me over, have a face full of acid!"
Funnily enough, having felt that Toby Radloff played the Harold character really convincingly, I later read in various sources that he's actually just like the character in real life - minus the killing sprees, however (I hope).
Everyone looks like they got their clothes from a charity shop rather than a Wardrobe department, and the sets look like they just found some abandoned buildings in the bad part of town and used them. The direction looks totally amateurish (or like there wasn't any at all), the dialogue is terrible and the camerawork is more home-movie than blockbuster.
Special effects are pretty much limited to fake-looking blood and such props as a stuck-on 'hatchet through the head' joke novelty. The murders are pretty silly, a bit more inventive in the sequel than in the original movie, such as a Psycho-style shower murder and a pretty dodgy castration, though the original movie had a nifty scene of a couple of Harold's tormentors meeting their grisly ends via remote detonation of sticks of dynamite strapped to their heads - which simply blow their heads cleanly off with no damage to their bodies, very realistic, eh?
So, what's not to love? I love movies about nerds, and these are the best I've seen since 'Revenge of the Nerds' and 'The Gamers: Dorkness Rising' (which I've reviewed here too). I also love bad horror movies, so 'Killer Nerd' and its sequel combine the best of both genres. If you're a bad-movie connoisseur, give these fun movies a try.
3 stars for 'Killer Nerd' and 4 stars for 'Bride'.
Also on Ciao as thereddragon.