Thursday, May 19, 2016
'Zapped!' BD: Scott Baio '80s Comedy Demonstrating With Great Power Comes Great Irresponsibility
Olive Films, which aptly claims "Cinema Lives Here," continues its awesome track record in releasing the 1982 Scott Baio/Willie Aames teencom "Zapped!" on Blu-ray on May 24 2016. This film is as much of a guilty pleasure as remembered.
"Zapped!" also is notable for belonging to the same class of '80s teencoms as "My Demon Lover" and "Like Father Like Son," which respectively star Scott Valentine of "Family Ties" and Kirk Cameron of "Growing Pains," that promote '80s sitcom "Tiger Beat" cover boys.
One can only hope that the Baio gangster spoof "Bugsy Malone" is on the Olive radar regarding future Blu-ray releases.
Sofa spuds of the era know as well that the comedy team of Baio and Aames go on to star in the sitcom "Charles in Charge," which centers around Baio as a college-age live-in manny for three children.
Baio plays genius but otherwise everyteen high school senior Barney, whose scientific expertise earns him a private lab in his high school. Aames' Peyton can be considered the wealthy and horny Eddie Haskell to the Wallyish Barney.
One of the most telling scenes has Barney engaging in an apparently regular habit of sneaking out at night. However, this is only to get a hamburger with his dog. (It is uncertain if either Arnold's Drive-In or Sid's Pizza is his hang-out of choice.)
Other '80tastic casting exists in the form of Felice Schachter of the first season of "The Facts of Life" as class over-achiever/Barney love interest Bernadette and Heather Thomas of the Lee Majors action-adventure show "The Fall Guy" as Peyton love interest Jane. One spoiler is that the closing credits state that Thomas uses a body double for her topless scenes.
An even greater treat comes in having Johnny Slash of the '80s teencom "Square Pegs" and son of Captain James Tiberius Kirk of "Star Trek" portrayor Merritt Buttrick in a cameo role as a punk (totally different head than new wave, totally) delinquent student.
The catalyst for both the primary action in "Zapped!" and the related telekinetic powers that Barney develops is a lab accident involving an accelerated growth formula. The R-rating related aspect of this is that Barney is using the formula in a Peytoncentric effort to grow marijuana in the lab. One spoiler is that the relatively wholesome Barney does not even light up, let alone inhale.
The comic mayhem that ensues largely revolves around Barney using his new power to amuse himself and Peyton and to a lesser extent to extricate themselves from tough situations. Much of the conflict relates to Bernadette playing the Gallant to Peyton's Goofus.
The aforementioned hi-jinks include propelling bullies, repeatedly getting revenge on the hunky blond frat boy and his "brothers" who are hassling Peyton, and freaking out the neurotic mother of Barney. Chachi, Chachai, Chachi indeed.
The climatic scene (absolutely no pun intended) occurs at the senior prom at the end of the film. Like the classic thriller "Carrie" that partially inspires "Zapped!," Peyton unleashes the full extent of his power. The results are far more comedic (and much more appealing to the aforementioned horny teen boy viewers) that those in "Carrie."
All of this reminds us that a large percentage of the teen movies of the '80s provide good fun with enough of an edge to prevent them from being corny. They also evoke thoughts of the appeal of the young stars of the day relating to their cuteness (as opposed to handsomeness or beauty) and natural charm. They further do not need to resort to outrageous behavior to get a laugh.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Zapped!" is strongly encouraged to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.