Zapped Again (1990)


USA. 1990.


Director – Doug Campbell, Screenplay – Vince Cheung, Ben Montanio & Jack Morris, Based on Characters Created by Robert J. Rosenthal & Bruce Rubin, Producers – Rosenthal & Jeff Apple, Photography – Tom Grubbs, Music – Brian Bennett, Music Supervisor – Jake Hooker, Special Effects – Max W. Anderson & Cinemotion Pictures Inc (Supervisor – Robert McCarthy), Production Design – Rhaz Zeisler. Production Company – ITC Entertainment Group/Part II Productions


Todd Eric Andrews (Kevin Matthews), Kelli Williams (Lucy Kaminski), Reed Rudy (Wayne), Maria McCann (Amanda), Sue Ann Langdon (Rose Burnhart), Lyle Alzado (Coach Kirby), M.K. Harris (Mike), Ross Harris (Chris), Linda Larkin (Joanne), David Donah (Cecil), Ira Heiden (Elliott), Linda Blair (Miss Mitchell), Michael K. Coylar (Sheldon), Brent Hinkely (Larry), Karen Black (Homeroom Teacher)


Kevin Matthews becomes a new pupil at Ralph Waldo Emerson High School. Rejected by the trendy Key Club, he instead joins the Science Club. There he accidentally discovers several vials behind a hidden panel in the lab and develops psychokinetic powers after drinking the contents. He amuses himself lifting girls’ dresses and humiliating the Key Club jocks, becoming popular in the process. However, the Key Club plots a cruel revenge.

This is a sequel to the teen psychic powers comedy Zapped! (1982). The original was not memorable, certainly not enough to warrant a sequel. The fact that the climax of Zapped! involved Scott Biao psychokinetically stripping the dresses of girls should give an indication of where things were coming from. Not much has changed by this sequel.

The original at least had a certain veneer of innocence. The tone of Zapped Again is set by the pre-credits sequence, which opens on a masturbatory fantasy. The credits sequence is like a montaged guide to the lowlights of the film – two idiots belch into a loudspeaker and send out faked messages to say that school has been cancelled in favour of partying; two other idiots photograph a naked female butt and peek into the girl’s locker room; someone sneezes over a pizza they are cooking and happily puts it back into the oven; a scantily-clad girl is accidentally knocked into the pool; Linda Blair pulls down a world map, which has a land mass drawn on it in the shape of a penis and testicles with the legend ‘The Bermuda Tit Dangle’. This level of crassness continues throughout – with displays of gross eating; hero Todd Eric Andrews getting to do the requisite flipping up of girl’s dresses; Principal Burnhart’s door tag being altered to Principal Burnfart; a short order cook who strokes a long sausage in front of a girl, and so on.

The psychokinetic powers are of no importance to the film. Certainly, Zapped Again has no serious interest in exploring the scientific possibilities the drug might raise for the human race – it is only the particular McGuffin that drives the proceedings. The nice guy hero; the humiliations he has to go through from the macho and popular bullies; the choice he has to make between the sexy, bad girl and the plain, nice girl are all well worn elements of formula. What is amazing is the masochistic extremes the hero’s humiliations go to – the climax has him dressed as a cheerleader being forced to dance on a stage while being pelted with tomatoes. Unfortunately, despite the story’s sympathetic pitch in favour of the hero, the director’s leaning is entirely on the side of the crass party animals – the vulgarity of the humour is presented for us to find funny.

The only recognisable names in the cast are Linda Blair and Karen Black who, from the brevity of their roles, must have appeared on the film for about a day each and then taken the money and run. Linda Blair, an underrated exploitation actress, comes across quite cute, while Karen Black thoroughly camps it up as a sultry Italian sexpot teacher. Lead actress Kelli Williams later went onto become the female lead in tv’s The Practice (1997-2004).

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