When it comes to 80’s films, you can talk about Spielberg, Lucas, or whomever, but those in the know will always put John Hughes at, or near, the top of influences of that era. Take a look at the 7 year run that he had in the 80’s when it came to writing movies in that era. From 1983 to 1990, the list brings up a flood of kitsch and nostalgia for any movie going kid during that time – Mr. Mom, Vacation, The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Pretty In Pink, Ferri… Bueller’s Day Off, Some Kind of Wonderful, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Uncle Buck and Home Alone. Aside from getting a good dose of Anthony Michael Hall, Molly Ringwald and John Candy, one, some or all of those films have a soft spot in anyone’s heart if they’re under 30. So much was experienced from his films, hell, the guy served as a surrogate parent to a lot of people! For good or bad, he had an influence on a lot of lives, and if you take a look at the high school comedies that come out now, there’s no comparison. They just don’t have the same kind of originality. Hughes may not have done the high school comedy first, but very few have come close to achieving the combination of unique characters, quotable lines, touching emotional moments and hilarious scenes that have resulted in the Hughes films of the 1980’s. Universal put out an inexpensive boxed set of 3 of his films; The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, and the “other” movie in the set, Weird Science, which I’m reviewing for your dining and dancing pleasure.
Featuring Hall as Gary and Ilan Mitchell-Smith as Wyatt, two losers at Shermer High School, looking to be popular, despite being constantly tormented by Max and Ian (Robert Rusler and Robert Downey Jr., respectively). One night while spending the night at Wyatt’s house, Gary and Wyatt decide to create a woman, using Wyatt’s computer, in the hopes that they can become popular, but to also use as a sex slave. The result is Lisa (Kelly LeBrock) – a stunning, smart woman who has the power to get them fake Ids, as well as summoning a group of mutant bikers to their home. Basically, the movie is Frankenstein, but turn Boris Karloff into a really hot chick, substitute the doctor for a couple of nerds, and load the movie with Oingo Boingo songs, and you’ve got yourself 94 minutes of adequate humor. Throw in a brief, but healthy dose of Bill Paxton as Wyatt’s older brother Chet, and the result is a movie full of quotable moments, and worth re-visiting as the perfect cult classic/guilty pleasure film.
When Universal puts its mind to things they do very well. They even gave this release separate Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS soundtracks, both substantial improvements over the 2.0 Dolby Surround track that the Image release had. The music sounds good, and the explosions and other noises that would need the support of rear speakers sound well balanced also.
Universal cleaned up what was a pretty horrible Image Entertainment transfer, and gave it a sparkling new 1.85:1 anamorphic presentation. Black levels are very constant, and the print is very pristine, with razor sharp images, and not much noticeable edge enhancement.
Remember I mentioned about Universal putting its mind to things? Well, just like the 80’s, there’s fulfillment by having a re-mastered feature, but the fulfillment is fleeting. So if you’re looking for a featurette, photo galleries, or something it, forget it. You get the Universal Reel Recommendations (trailers promoting the releases of Scarface and Monty Python’s Meaning of Life) and the theatrical trailer. That’s it, not even a “pork sandwich served in a dirty ashtray…”
Well, you win some (with a great transfer and sound) and you lose some (very little extras). The anamorphic and DTS treatments make it enough to recommend renting, and those of you who are fans of this little recognized cinematic gem should snap it up, the cheap price makes it too easy. Go to Towel World, stop by the store and get some Blind Dog Bourbon, fire up this disc and enjoy!