Comments Off on Zapped!

Zapped! (1982) is a teen sex comedy about a high school nerd named Barney (Scott Baio) whose mishap with an experiment gives him telekinetic powers. This power is used primarily to expose women’s breasts (particularly those of Heather Thomas) and to cheat at games. But despite these sleazy trappings Zapped! actually has a lot in common with The Absent-Minded Professor (1961) and The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1969).

Zapped! takes from The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes its hero while from The Absent-Minded Professor it takes its unlikely love story as well as its sporty set piece where Barney uses his powers to fix the baseball game. Barney, like Professor Brainard, reaches sexual maturity when his invention/powers manifest themselves. Zapped! also utilizes the bold lighting, shallow focus and flat compositions of that era of live-action Disney movie.

Zapped! may owe the bulk of its narrative to The Absent-Minded Professor but the finale is a deliberate comedic variation on Carrie (1976). The cathartic climax of Carrie is re-imagined as a “tits & ass” smorgasbord. At prom, Barney uses his telekinetic gifts to yank the clothes off all the girls with the exception of his date Bernadette (Felice Schachter). Zapped! ends as a montage of bare breasts jiggling and girls screaming.

However, the most memorable scene in Zapped! has nothing to do with Barney, breasts, sports or gambling. There is one truly inspired scene of zaniness that finds the salami obsessed coach (Scatman Crothers) high on pot and hallucinating. Crothers imagines he is biking with Albert Einstein when his wife appears in a chariot toting a rocket launcher and firing weenies at him. It’s a bizarre sequence that comes out of nowhere about half way through the movie.

In addition to the scene stealing Crothers, Zapped! also features an inspired comedic turn from Soap star Robert Mandan. Mandan plays the love sick principal who scours the personal column of the daily paper for replies to his ad. Mandan plays everything as pure camp and thus provides some of the only genuinely funny moments in the entire film.

All in all Zapped! is a pretty mediocre offering in the teen sex comedy genre. It has its moments but it doesn’t revolutionize the genre the way John Hughes would in just a few years. Zapped! could easily have been made in the late seventies as the early eighties it’s so formulaic. But at least its misogynist fantasy is less aggressive than other entries in this genre.