Zapped! (1982)


1982, Apple/Rose Productions/City Films/Embassy Pictures/Thunder Associates

Robert J. Rosenthal
Jeffrey Apple
Robert J. Rosenthal
Bruce Rubin
Daniel Pearl
Robert A. Ferretti

Scott Baio (Barney Springboro)
Willie Aames (Peyton Nichols)
Robert Mandan (Walter J. Coolidge)
Felice Schachter (Bernadette)
Scatman Crothers (Dexter Jones)
Roger Bowen (Mr. Springboro)
Mayra Small (Mrs. Springboro)
Greg Bradford (Robert Wolcott)
Hilary Beane (Corrine Updike)
Sue Ane Langdon (Rose Burnhart)
Heather Thomas (Jane Mitchell)

The good ol’ days of cult classics…especially with those involving telekinesis…first there was Sissy Spacek in Carrie (1976), which has gotten the remake treatment released this past weekend…then there was Scott Baio in this film .For anyone who has not seen Chachi gain telekinetic powers, get ready for a tgrip back in time to 1982.

Capitalizing on his stint in Happy Days as a teen hearthrob, Scott Baio enters the world of the teen comedy…with a twist! Baio plays nerdy Barney Springboro, who is always ridiculed by his religious fanatic mother, picked on by the popular kids, and has only one best friend, notorious schemer and wannabe ladies’ man Peyton Nichols. However, one day will change Barney’s life forever.

A scientist by nature, Barney has been experimenting with white mice. When he has an accident, Barney soon discovers he has telekinetic powers. Realizing his newfound powers, Barney decides to cause some chaos along with Peyton. This includes getting revenge on high school bully Robert while Peyton eyes Greg’s girlfriend, the popular Jane. Meanwhile, Barney begins to have feelings for newspaper editor Bernadette. When Barney goes to the prom, what can go wrong?

It is clear that the producers meant to make this a comedic version of Stephen King’s haunting tale Carrie, which became one of the great cult horror films in the seventies. The similarities are obvious: nerdy student is telekinetic; the overzealous mother who is a religious fanatic; and of course the prom scene. While Carrie brought scares to the prom, ZAPPED brings more comic relief when Barney exacts his so-called “revenge” on everyone at the prom.

Of course, this is 1982 and we are talking Scott Baio here. Fans didn’t seem to care what he did as long as they got to see him on the screen. It is clear that his chemistry here with Eight is Enough star Willie Aames was so profound that they would re-team for six years with the popular television series Charles in Charge. To see their first pairing here, it is clear that they acted like best friends in this film and would bring that chemistry on the television series.

There is a funny sequence in which the high school coach, played by Hong Kong Phooey himself, Scatman Crothers, is high after smelling a bushel full of pot (grown accidentally by Barney) and has a dream sequence. There is also a subplot involving a romance between the principal (Robert Mandan) and one of the teachers, Miss Burnhart, played by Sue Ane Langdon, that proves to blend well within the main story.

Zapped! is a fun take on elements of Carrie and making it an underrated teen comedy of the 1980’s. A sequel would be released eight years later.



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