HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box

Saturday, May 21, 2016

ZAPPED! -- DVD Review by Porfle

The weird thing about a movie like ZAPPED! is that if I'd seen it in 1982 when it came out, I would've immediately dismissed it as lightweight teenybopper trash.  Now, however, the glorious gift of hindsight reveals what it truly is--a priceless treasure trove of nostalgic "I Love the 80s" wonderfulness.

Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a tad.  But seen today, this goofy little candy-coated cross between PORKY'S and CARRIE (with a dash of MERLIN JONES and ZOTZ! thrown in) is the sort of perversely entertaining time capsule that reminds me why I now look back on that much-maligned decade with such fondness.

ZAPPED! was the genesis of that dynamic duo of Scott "Chachi" Baio and Willie "Eight is Enough" Aames, who would go on to five full seasons in the 1984-1990 hit sitcom "Charles in Charge."

Here, they're a couple of typical high school seniors--one a science nerd, the other a wannabe playa--who have one heck of a senior year when lab-rat Barney (Baio) accidentally "zaps" himself with a formula for instant telekinesis and pal Peyton (Aames) starts coming up with all sorts of schemes to take advantage of it. 

It's the classic high school boy's fantasy come true, with Barney using his new power to make tight cheerleader sweaters pop open (which reminds me, Heather Thomas is also on hand as head cheerleader Jane) and to "pants" rival high schoolers and make them fly around the campus with their butts hanging out.  He also creates havoc during an intermural baseball game with amusing results.

Aames is a likable enough Lothario and Baio makes for an adequately identifiable nerd-hero, with Felice Schachter as fellow egghead Bernadette providing Barney's awkward love interest.  (Schachter's winsome good looks, of course, are "hidden" behind glasses and braces.)

While surprisingly smutty for a Baio/Aames vehicle, ZAPPED! somehow manages to retain a kind of curdled wholesomeness despite ample boobage (a body double stands in for Thomas), copious marijuana references, and even a sex scene with Barney and Bernadette that pretty much blows "abstinence" out of the water.
With Barney's mental misadventures fueling most of the plot, things come to a head during (you guessed it) the senior prom.  There's no pig's blood involved this time, but when a bump on the head gives free rein to Barney's mind powers, the occasion turns into the sort of blouse-bursting bacchanal we all dreamed about back in the day. 

Still, it's all just relatively harmless fun, aided in no small measure by a highly capable supporting cast of adults including Robert Mandan ("Soap") and perennial cutie Sue Ane Langdon as the prototypes for Principal Skinner and Ms. Krabappel, and Roger Bowen (MASH) and Marya Small (AMERICAN POP) as Barney's hilariously out-of-it parents.

Scatman Crothers (THE SHINING) and LaWanda Page ("Sanford and Son") also turn up as the school's coach and his clock-stopping wife.  The "teen" cast also includes STAR TREK: THE WRATH OF KHAN's Merritt Butrick and comedy legend Eddie Deezen as "Sheldon."

A couple of fantasy setpieces stand out: in one, Barney imagines the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise encountering his dog (with the ship consisting of an interesting hybrid of Enterprise and Millennium Falcon model kits), and in the other, a weed-addled Crothers hallucinates himself and Albert Einstein being chased by a bazooka-wielding Page.  Elsewhere, hilarity ensues when Barney's mom thinks he's possessed and enlists a couple of inept priests to exorcise him. 

The DVD from Olive Films is in widescreen with Dolby 2.0 sound.  No subtitles or extras.

With its cheesy rock songs, chintzy production values, and an overall air of goofiness, ZAPPED! is the sort of movie whose once-negative qualities somehow work entirely in its favor when viewed today.  I'm glad I saw it now instead of then--the 80s seem so much better when observed from a safe distance.
Twitter: @OliveFilms
Release date: May 24, 2016


No comments: