Arrow Heads Vol. 62 Conducts Some WEIRD SCIENCE

The John Hughes movie gets an all new 4K restoration from Arrow Video

In an age increasingly fueled by ‘80s nostalgia (thanks, Stranger Things) and reboots, one cult release that seems to get a little overlooked is Weird Science, in spite of it coming from beloved writer/director John Hughes (Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) and with an oft-rumored reboot being speculated about for years. Perhaps the female objectification angle kickstarting its plot hasn’t aged too well over the years, but now Arrow Video have put out a spiffy new collector’s edition that gives you a chance to revisit a film jam packed with now-famous faces and helmed by one of the most cherished filmmakers of that decade.


THEY WENT FROM ZEROES TO HEROES IN ONE FANTASTIC WEEKEND. If you can’t get a date… make one! After proving himself the king of heartfelt teen flicks with Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club, writer-director John Hughes infused the genre with a hefty dose of wacked-out sci-fi comedy in Weird Science, a film where every teenage boy’s wildest fantasies come to life. Perennially picked-on high school nerds Gary (Anthony Michael Hall, Sixteen Candles) and Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) are sick of their status at the bottom of the social food chain. Using Wyatt’s computer, the two hatch a plan to create their dream woman — and following a massive power surge, that woman unexpectedly appears in the form of Lisa (Kelly LeBrock). Gorgeous, intelligent, and blessed with limitless magic powers, Lisa makes the boys’ dreams come true… but what about Wyatt’s gun-toting psycho older brother Chet (Bill Paxton), and the two bullies (Robert Downey Jr and Vamp’s Robert Rusler) determined to put them back in their place?

As an era the ‘80s is very distinct, and Weird Science channels it, hard. The look, the sounds, the attitude all scream ‘80s, and of course any film that roots itself in emerging technologies (Disclosure, Johnny Mnemonic, Lawnmower Man) rarely ages well in those respects. The other component that feels to have suffered with time is the launching plot point of hormone-riddled teens desperate to have a woman in their lives who, being inspired by a late night viewing of Frankenstein, look to use a new computer to realize their fantasies. Would that it were so simple.

The idea of young boys ‘building the perfect woman’ is obviously going to be rife with problems in any kind of entertainment vehicle, especially in this age, and while it strives to be family friendly fare, elements edge it into something that does feels a tad seedy at times. To the credit of Hughes, and an affable pair of leads in Anthony Michael Hall (Gary) and Ilan Mitchell-Smith (Wyatt), the themes the filmmaker often tries to convey in his works remain intact — outsiders, underdogs, the pressures of high school, and growing up in general. The foil is provided by Lisa (Kelly LeBrock), an artificially created woman who, rather than conforming to their ideals, confounds them with a sharp intelligence and wit, intent on educating these boys, stripping back much of the male objectification that kicks things off. There’s also a great OTT turn from Bill Paxton and a young Robert Downey Jr., who pops up too. Hughes is often credited with defining the American teen comedy, and the shift from a female focus (Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink) to male (notably young teen) gives Weird Science a different tone than what you might expect, but this goofy and often bawdy adventure is an entertaining venture with a lot of heart.

The Package

The release offers up a new transfer, resulting from a 4K restoration of the film with a rich, vibrant palette, deep blacks, and sharp detail. There’s no sign of any damage or issues, and a natural grain is preserved. A top notch visual presentation. The extended version includes scenes where the quality dips marginally, but nothing egregiously so. A few of the (now) bigger names from the cast are conspicuous by their absence in the new special features, but the extras are still very nicely done:

  • High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation of the original Theatrical Version of the film (94 mins), plus the exclusive Extended Version (97 mins), featuring two additional scenes newly remastered in high-definition: Nothing really different between the two versions, just a few extra scenes of banter between the two kids.
  • Option to watch additional scenes from the Extended Version separately
  • The TV Edit of the film: SD version, running 94 minutes, that shows some of the tweaks/dubs necessary to get the film on TV. There is a ‘side by side’ comparison feature that runs them together for clarity.
  • Newly-filmed interview with special makeup creator Craig Reardon: Entertaining and insightful, Reardon shares some of the difficulties during the production, notably with the Chet creature featured in the film.
  • Newly-filmed interview with editor Chris Lebenzon: Discussing his accidental career path, this is one of the more entertaining watches on the release.
  • Newly-filmed interview with composer Ira Newborn: ‘80s synth inspirations!
  • Newly-filmed interview with supporting actor John Kapelos: Some personal tidbits about his career as a young actor, as well as his relationship with Hughes.
  • All-new interview with casting director Jackie Burch: Runs through the process as well as the potential names who were nearly cast, some of which are rather interesting indeed.
  • It’s Alive: Resurrecting Weird Science, an archive documentary featuring interviews with cast, crew, and admirers, including star Anthony Michael Hall: An archival extra that actually does a pretty good job of pulling together the key players to reflect on the film and its legacy.
  • Theatrical trailers, TV spots, and Image gallery
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tracie Ching: Feels of good quality.
  • FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Amanda Reyes: Pretty chunky booklet featuring two well composed pieces on the film centered around its cult status and how it was adapted from an original comic, as well as many stills and behind the scenes images from the movie.

The Bottom Line

Even after 30 years the film remains weird, even if the science is markedly questionable. Some elements of Weird Science are certainly dated, but it remains an entertaining and quirky coming of age tale. While underrated in the John Hughes filmography, Arrow have gone out of their way to offer an impressive presentation and package for this cult classic.

Weird Science is available from Arrow Video via MVD now.

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