Weird Science was kind of an anomaly in John Hughes output. Up to that point he had directed two films exploring the awkward teen years, relationships, and the pressures of high school Sixteen Candles and the thoughtful The Breakfast Club. Both of them were rather well grounded in reality, but for this third film he took a bit of a turn into the absurd. He remained with the teen genre, but decided to make it a little crazier, just a bit edgier, and bring in elements of sci-fi and the then cutting-edge computer technology into the story.
Two nerdy high school friends Gary (Anthony Michael Hall) and Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) who can’t make friends or get a girlfriend decide to use their PC to create the perfect woman to their exact specifications. Out steps the gorgeous Lisa (Kelly Lebrock), who then takes them on a wild journey outside of their shells to find themselves, including to a smoky adult bar, and throwing a crazy party at Wyatt’s house where Mad Max characters literally show up.
Weird Science goes from the crazy to the insane and makes no excuses about it. There’s much that takes place in this 1985 film that probably would never get made today. The idea of two guys just making a woman to be their sex doll sounds creepy enough, but then you also have the scene with Anthony Michael Hall talking “black” in the dive bar. Was it funny? Yes. Would it get past the PC police today? Probably not. We also have to look at the film in a broader context. Kelly Lebrock’s role was as a ‘sex goddess’ created by two creepy nerds – who also happened to be underage and she was meant to be in her twenties at the time. Also, Lisa encourages the boys to expand their horizons, so the strange premise that draws us into the film is really a misdirection. She ends up being their mentor rather than their sex slave.
Hughes’ film is action packed from beginning to end and filled with memorable moments and classic one-liners. Who can forget Wyatt and Gary with the bras on their heads? Or the classic “gimme da’ keys” line? The cast is perfect as well. The late Bill Paxton as the terrifying older brother Chet has to be one of the most memorable characters from the 1980s. Robert Downey, Jr. also appears and plays a marvelously hateable high school in-crowd cool guy.
This new restoration of Weird Science from a 4K scan of the original camera negative arrives on Blu-ray in an AVC 1080p encodement framed at 1.85:1. The image looks absolutely gorgeous. I don’t believe I have ever seen this film look so good. I never actually got to see this in theaters back in the eighties, only on HBO on my family’s old 19” CRT television when it finally hit there and eventually on VHS and DVD. This new reissue looks so filmic and authentic, clean, but also preserves all the film grain and keeps the image crisp and detailed, with rich color and excellent dynamic range.
Arrow provides two options for Weird Science – a stereo mix in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and a 5.1 remix in DTS-HD Master Audio that’s only available with the original Theatrical Version of the film. The 5.1 mix is surprisingly good, with sound balanced well through the channels, lush atmospherics and good solid effects that make their way into the surround channels. Low end and midrange are nicely punchy and dialogue comes through clearly. The stereo audio is also good with a good spread of sound and dynamics, although the high end is just a little bit grating.
Weird Science is packed to the brim with bonus materials including lots of new interviews that provide a great amount of insight into the film.
- Edited-for-TV Version
- Additional Scenes – Watch the additional scenes from the Extended Version in isolation
- Casting Weird Science with Jackie Burch (1080p) –All-new interview with casting director Jackie Burch, explaining how the film’s ensemble cast was assembled.
- Dino the Greek with John Kapelos (1080p) – Newly filmed interview with actor John Kapelos in his experience playing Dino in the film.
- Chet Happens with Craig Reardon (1080p) – Newly filmed interview with special makeup effects creator Craig Reardon on how the infamous ‘Chet-blob’ effects were achieved.
- Fantasy and Microchips with Chris Lebenzon (1080p) – Newly filmed interview with editor Chris Lebenzon on his experience cutting the film together.
- Ira Newborn Makes the Score (1080p) – Newly filmed interview with composer Ira Newborn on his experiences working with director John Hughes and producer Joel Silver.
- It’s Alive! Resurrecting Weird Science (720p) – An archive featurette produced for the film’s 2008 DVD release, featuring interviews with cast, crew and admirers, including star Anthony Michael Hall.
- Theatrical Teaser (1.33:1; 1080p)
- Theatrical Trailer (1.33:1; 1080p)
- TV Spots (1.33:1; 1080p)
- Radio Spots
- Image Galleries
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tracie Ching
- FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collectors booklet featuring new writing on the film by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Amanda Reyes
The Final Assessment
This is one of the classic teen films from the 1980s. People seem to love it or hate it – put me in the former category. It’s not one of Hughes’ more thoughtful films, but it wasn’t meant to be. Arrow’s Blu-ray release is fantastic. The film looks superb and the set is loaded with top-notch bonus features.
Weird Science is out on Blu-ray July 23, 2019 from Arrow Video
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