As John Hughes ruled the 1980’s with six films about teens, this was the first time that he moved from some level of realism to complete fantasy. Named after the 1950’s EC Comics title — producer Joel Silver even paid for the rights to the name — Weird Science seems on the surface that it’s going to be teenage softcore fantasy fulfillment. That’s the bright spot of the film. Lisa may have been created on the computer to be the perfect woman, but the perfect woman would have a mind of her own.
Gary Wallace (Hughes’ avatar in three films, Anthony Michael Hall) and Wyatt Donnelly (who grew up to be a nerd in the best of ways as a professor and published Dungeons and Dragons author) are the geekiest of the geeks at Shermer High — the fictional school that all Hughes’ films emanate from. Their latest humiliation was being pantsed in front of their dream girls Deb (Suzanne Snyder, Killer Klowns from Outer Space) and Hilly (Judie Aronson, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter) by their boyfriends Ian (an incredibly young Robert Downey Jr.) and Max (Robert Rusler, Sometimes They Come Back).
Inspired by Universal’s Frankenstein, the boys decide to use magic, electricity and a computer to create the perfect woman. A power surge ensures and creates Lisa (Kelly LeBrock, who really was the it girl of my teen years), who has limitless powers and the desire to take our boys and turn them into men. The thing is, she isn’t some bimbotastic plastic love doll created simply for their pleasure. That would render this whole movie incredibly stupid. No, she’s here to make their lives better.
There are so many obstacles in her way: Chet (an incredible Bill Paxton) who makes his brother’s life a living hell; the boy’s parents and yep, Max and Ian. It all comes to head at a party where a nuclear missile and mutant bikers — yes, that’s really Michael Berryman and Vernon Wells — are part of the chaos. It all ends well — Chet ends up getting turned into some form of feces monster while Gary and Wyatt get the girls. And Lisa? She ends up becoming a gym teacher.
My only issue with the film is the scene where the boys go to downtown Chicago and hang with a crowd of older black men, talking about the “eighth-grade bitch that broke his heart.” I realize that this movie was made in 1985, but even then, it completely took me out of the movie. I still have no idea why it remains. This Medium article only confirms that my feelings were true.
Weird Science was memorable enough to lead to a 1994 to 1998 TV series version. A remake was announced, but that thankfully never made it to the screen.
Arrow Video is now bringing Weird Science to blu ray with a great new release. It features a 4K scan of the original negative, with a high def 1080 p presentation of both the theatrical version of the film and an exclusive extended version with two lost scenes also remastered. Plus, there are interviews with special makeup creator Craig Reardon, composer Ira Newborn, supporting actor John Kapelos and casting director Jackie Burch. There’s also It’s Alive: Resurrecting Weird Science, which was also on the 2008 DVD release of the film that has interviews with the cast, crew and admirers, including star Anthony Michael Hall.
DISCLAIMER: We were sent this film by Arrow Video, but that has no impact on our review.