Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.
Cinema Monolith: 2/10
Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide: *½ out of 4
Released on July 23, 1982
Directed by Robert J. Rosenthal
Written by Bruce Rubin and Robert J. Rosenthal
Cast: Scott Baio, Willie Aames, Felice Schachter, Robert Mandan, Scatman Crothers, Heather Thomas, Sue Ane Langdon, Eddie Deezen, Roger Bowen, Merritt Butrick, Irwin Keyes, Corinne Bohrer
Back in the early 1980s, when teen sex comedies were at their peak, the style and tone of these films could be broken down into three distinct categories: the well-made, A-list films like Risky Business and Fast Times at Ridgemont High, that had story, production value, and star power; the fair-to-middling studio releases such as Bachelor Party and The Last American Virgin, which offered laughs, music, and hot babes; and the low-end and low-brow offerings like Hardbodies and Fraternity Vacation, which were moronic as hell but, if anything, gave you a fair share of nudity and ridiculous hijinks.
And then there was Zapped!, which offered absolutely nothing at all, and was a prime example of cinematic inertia at work (or in this case, at rest). Basically a ’80s teen melding of The Nutty Professor and, believe it or not, the Stephen King horror classic Carrie, Zapped! starred ’70s teen icons Scott Baio and Willie Aames as likeable high schoolers who inadvertently create a liquid mixture that ‘zaps’ science nerd Baio with telekinetic powers, which he uses not to seek evil revenge on those who wronged him, or to maniacally take over the world, but to make objects levitate and to rip open the shirts of buxom girls, including Heather Thomas’ boob double.
From there it was just one forgettable misadventure after another, with Baio and geekish school reporter Felice Schachter sharing some of the most dismal romantic interludes ever committed to film. The pell-mell prom night ending was, as mentioned, straight out of Carrie—with more comedy and (sadly) less pig blood—and led to an excessively lame-brained wrap-up, which left you wondering why the sequel Zapped Again! was ever made, and why it took eight years to do so.
But if you think I’m being too hard on this film, please bear with me for a moment: though Baio and Aames were pleasant and convincing as best friends, and their characters were almost embarrassingly harmless, you still had to contend with the flat-line writing and directing of a guy who never wrote or directed again, and the mediocre work of the cinematographer I once worked with on a European cologne commercial, who from Zapped! went on to photograph such horror classics as It’s Alive III and Cindy Lauper Live in Paris.
Still not convinced? Then feast your disbelieving eyes on the excruciating, atrociously-rendered high school baseball scene, which if you’re a student of the game will put you into immediate toxic shock. Yes, it’s that far beyond the fringe, and deserves a full-length review and case study of its own; combine that with everything I’ve mentioned above, and you’ve got yourself one stinker of a teen sex comedy. Although I must admit, the scuba diving mouse was kinda cool. (2/10)
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