Zapped! Blu-ray Review

Bzzt!

The ’80s post-Porky’s deluge was immediate, spurring on this tame, static high school sex fantasy. Zapped does have Weird Science beat by a few years, casting Scott Baio as the chemistry nerd who gains the power of telekinesis via his experiments.

Zapped slings a hodgepodge of ideas onto the screen, parading around Porky’s ample nudity and the us-versus-them ideology of Animal House. To an extent, Zapped features a cheesy innocence, down to objects-on-a-string special effects. Mostly, it’s an overlong and obvious cash-in.

Back-loaded with hormone spiking events, Zapped spends an hour meandering without purpose. While much of the comedy steers harmless, Baio begins undressing everyone with his eyes to a most literal sense. Zapped carries a strange Christian motif too. Baio’s parents call for an exorcism as happenings grow stranger, the prom décor denotes a heaven/hell theme, and crucifixes are prevalent. Producer, writer, director; someone in the chain wanted their religious rebellion known.

Zapped is in line with its marginal contemporaries, say Screw Balls.

Underneath sits dual romances: Baio’s Barney with the geeky Bernadette (Felicia Schachter) and Barney’s buddy Peyton (Willie Aames) turning creepy as he pursues Jane (Heather Thomas). Peyton wants the sly coolness of Animal House’s Robert Hoover/Eric Stratton and instead turns aggressively touchy-feely. Typical story hurdles pop up from the older boyfriend to bullies, all oddly non-confrontational considering the low-brow premise.

By the close chapter, the relationships become predictable and Zapped can lean on the highlights of Carrie for its chaos – possibly explaining the religious digs earlier. However, Barney isn’t tormented and he isn’t shy. His character faced limited turmoil. Barney’s actions reveal senseless nudity – entirely female – and his new girlfriend happily smiles as a bystander. Heather Thomas decided to resist, leading to a closing credit noting a body double was used. It’s clear why she refused. No doubt the scene sold tickets to the target demographic though.

As a relic of its decade, Zapped is in line with its marginal contemporaries, say Screw Balls. Premise alone adds points, even if Zapped never manifests anything of significance from it. Baio has understated moments and a shred of sincerity to his character – at least until it’s wasted at the end.

Zapped! Blu-ray screen shot 12

Video

Olive’s streak of successful catalog transfers continues, giving this B-level comedy strong parameters. Without extras, the 90-ish minute movie has the disc to itself, producing satisfying grain replication. Bitrates are high enough to push off any compression problems.

While the source print shows minor signs of aging – spots and dirt – resolution maintains detail. Best guess is a 2K scan, grabbing fidelity en masse. Close-ups render cleanly when needed. Sharpness is high enough to betray the film. Strings are clearly visible as Baio begins using his powers.

Color work stays true to the source, lightly faded with occasionally strong primaries. Contrast has weight and black levels are firm when needed. A late night exterior of a home happens in transition, crushing all shadow detail. That’s an anomaly.

Audio

Less consistent than the video, Olive’s DTS-HD presentation tends to jump and drop in volume. Much of this appears to be a fault of the source recording. If actors turn away from the boom mic, it’s audible. Dialog quality wavers scene-to-scene. Fidelity is, at best, dry. No amount of restoration would help.

The strictly mono track does have a handful of ’80s music, presented well. They serve as a high spots even if they lack weight.

Extras

No bonuses here. Olive doesn’t even provide a trailer.

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Summary

A bit creepy and mundane, Zapped exists because Porky’s did and for no other reason.

Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.