“Making a girl. Actually making a girl. Like Frankenstein… except cuter.”
It’s a cliché, but Weird Science is a film of its time, 1985 to be exact. Directed by John Hughes who helmed previous classics such as Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club, the film could be loosely described as a sex comedy based on the Frankenstein mythos.
The story revolves around two best friends in their mid-teens, Gary and Wyatt. Everything you need to know about these two is set up perfectly in the opening of the film in a scene which also reveals their protagonists.
Gary and Wyatt are standing at the entrance to the gym watching the girl’s gymnastics class. Gary is fantasising that he’s partying with all the girls and that the two best friends are immensely popular.
Unbeknownst to them, Max and Ian stand silently behind them listening and stifling laughs as Gary continues describing his fantasy which ends with him pointing out two girls in particular which in his vision, fall in love with him and Wyatt.
The two girls, in particular, are also the girlfriends of Ian and Max. The two boyfriends grab Gary and Wyatt’s gym shorts, yank them down whilst shouting, “Hey! Check us out!” and make their exit.
Gary and Wyatt stand embarrassed and humiliated before the girls. They pull up their shorts, Wyatt tries to apologise but is stopped by Gary who covers his mouth and they make a quick exit.
Cue the opening credits and the iconic title track performed by Oingo Boingo.
The film continues with Gary staying over at Wyatt’s house for the weekend as his parents are out of town. This wouldn’t normally be allowed but his military school brother, Chett, is also at home an overseeing them.
Whilst watching a classic edition of Frankenstein on TV, Gary gets the idea to recreate a girl. Not with dead flesh but simulating her on Wyatt’s computer.
Gary and Wyatt start the process but when the home computer reaches its limits, they connect via phone line to a supercomputer and access the extra power. (Incredibly 80’s!)
With some custom circuitry and a barbie doll all connected to the computer, they start the process and inadvertently end up with Kelly Le Brock standing in their bedroom doorway.
The mysterious woman, whom they soon name Lisa, is willing to do whatever they ask but being scared teenagers, they never take advantage.
In fact, the roles are reversed and Lisa tries to bring the boys out of their shells to find love on their own.
This will not be easy. Gary and Wyatt will have several adventures along the way culminating in a house party that becomes wildly out of control in ways you’ll never expect.
Gary (Anthony Michael Hall) and Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith)
Weird Science is a film I love dearly and watching this again on a new Blu Ray release from Arrow Video was a delight. I hadn’t seen the film in years and I genuinely forgot how funny the film is with plenty of laugh out loud moments.
I’m not an audio/visual expert by any means, but this new scan of the film performed in 4K looks brilliant. As with films of this age and budget, the picture quality was excellent with an expected layer of film grain.
Exclusive to this release is the ability to watch a seamlessly extended cut of the film with two new scenes only found in the extended tv version. Arrow Video was able to do this as the original 35mm film elements had just been rediscovered. If you prefer, these two scenes can also be watched separately from the film.
Whilst interesting to see (I’ve never seen the edited for television cut), the two scenes are, in my opinion, superfluous.
The first is right after the opening credits and has Gary and Wyatt “cooking” in the kitchen whilst discussing scary films including Frankenstein. These discussions add nothing to the film and just reinforce the Frankenstein idea right at the very start.
The second included scene involves a group of friends who all show up to the party on red mopeds with each one wearing a hat with a flashing red light. They all claim to be friends of Gary and Wyatt and Lisa lets them in.
This group of friends also show up elsewhere in the film, once at the mall (they all get slapped by Ian and Max) and during the house party just before everything starts to go weird. I’m still at a loss to who they are and why they have several appearances.
Max (Robert Rusler) and Ian (Robert Downey Jr.)
The disc contains a healthy array of extras which shows that Arrow Video like to put the effort into finding additional material. (See my Waterworld review)
The largest of the extras is a second copy of the film presented in its television prepared square ratio with anything offensive edited out or overdubbed. As a fan of the film, this version makes for painful viewing. It was fun for the first few minutes hearing sound-a-likes overdub with tame meaningless swear words but it soon becomes cringeworthy.
If you don’t fancy sitting through that, Arrow Video have kindly offered a split-screen comparison of just under twenty minutes of some of the best edits and overdubs.
An audio-only interview with Weird Science’s casting director Jackie Burch tells of how she found the cast of the film including where she found Robert Downey (before he started using Jnr.) whom she later met again on one of the Iron Man films but sadly he did not remember her.
Supporting actor John Kapelos recalls his involvement with the film as this was also the third time he had worked with director John Hughes.
Special makeup creator Craig Reardon is interviewed and reveals the story behind the Chett monster from near the end of the film. They were apparently worried it might end up looking like a tiny Jabba the Hutt originally and he reveals that he destroyed his original sculpture and rebuilt it with Bill Paxton’s crew cut to give the monster its iconic look.
From this interview, we also learn about the fate of Ian and Max who simply disappear from the end of the film without any consequences for their actions. Scripted and shot scenes had the two boys given the heads of a pig and a donkey by Lisa’s powers. Unfortunately, there is no footage but several photos are shown.
The disc also features interviews with the film’s editor Chris Lebenzon and Ira Newborn, the composer who reveals that some of his favourite pieces of music can be found in Weird Science.
A short archival featurette from several years ago can be found which features interviews with famous fans and also Gary himself, Anthony Michael Hall.
The disc is rounded out with trailers, radio ads, posters and photographs.
As a fan of Weird Science this is definitely a disc worth picking up as there is nothing else like it available, a worthy special edition indeed.
Arrow Video continues to impress.