© @craigwardscott

The Chet Day Thread (December 2, 2020)

In which we reminisce about Weird Science.

“They went from zeroes to heroes in one fantastic weekend!”

John Hughes directed three films within a year: Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and uh, Weird Science. Generally described as “uneven” even by the most lenient critics, it’s the weird sibling to Hughes’ more celebrated ‘80s teen classics. It was titled after a EC Comics book from the ‘50s, but mostly because Joel Silver held the intellectual property rights and thought the name was cool.

Anthony Michael Hall, Ilan Mitchell-Smith are two high-school nerds who basically summon a genie through their computer, in the form of Kelly LeBrock’s Lisa. She organises a little soiree – you know, just chips, dips, chains and whips; not candlewax on the nipples or witchcraft, just a couple hundred teenagers running around in their underwear acting like complete animals – and that’s it, really.

It’s also dumb and kinda weird, appropriately enough. Lisa summons a mutant biker gang to crash the party so the boys can impress their crushes. They’re led by Vernon Wells (Best known of course from Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior) and Michael Berryman (“Please don’t tell anyone about this … I could lose my teaching job!”). A nuclear missile turns up. It’s also got a pre-fame Robert Downey Jr, before he had his teeth straightened.

It has not aged well in several places, most obviously in the fields of sex and race (The jazz club scene is unwatchable). LeBrock is clearly having enormous fun camping it up as Lisa, and the film was pretty much the late, great Bill Paxton’s first real role, and boy does he make the most of it as Chet, Wyatt’s psychotic gun-toting older brother … who ends up turned into a disgusting blob monster.

I miss Bill Paxton.

At the time, William Thomas in his review for Empire said that Hughes had, “taken a step back from his previous work. Let’s hope it leads to two steps forward.” His next film was Ferris Bueller’s Day Off though, so … I guess? I was too young for any of the director’s films at the time though, so the only one that stuck was the one with a mutant biker gangs and blob monsters. Like John Hughes himself, I didn’t even know there was a television sequel to the film; it’s probably not any good.

As you can see I’m on Instagram where you can find my work, and I’m always open to collaborations and commissions.

Anyway, have a good day, buttwads!