Chet in Weird Science
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Credit: Universal Pictures

WTF Moments: That time Bill Paxton turned into a farting, festering blob in Weird Science

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Jan 27, 2020, 3:04 PM EST (Updated)

Okay, sure, there's a a lot of WTF moments in Weird Science, starting with the fact that the whole movie is a bit WTF — as in WTF is a sci-fi movie doing springing up in the middle of a John Hughes high school comedy about teenage boys trying to get a supermodel to do their bidding? But there is one particular out-there moment that defies the rest: the festering blob that becomes of Bill Paxton.

Buying into the whole premise of the 1985 film requires a leap of faith and a healthy stretch of the imagination, but what the heck, so did the '80s in general. When high school dorks (before dorks were cool) Gary Wallace (Anthony Michael Hall) and Wyatt Donnelly (that other guy) start watching Frankenstein one night, Gary has the brilliant idea to simulate a girl … "Just like Frankenstein, except cuter."

With some fancy computing (back when computing was a much bigger mystery) set to Danny Elfman-fronted Oingo Boingo, the boys don bras as ceremonial headgear and get to work.

Anthony Michael Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith in Weird Science (Credit: Universal Pictures)

Turns out they muster a little more computing power than they bargained for, using a dial-up phone modem to tap into some sort of government-controlled power plant or something, and out of the computer pops the very real, bikini-bottomed, half-shirted fancy of middle-school boys the nation over: Lisa (Kelly LeBrock).

Immediately, the mysteriously powered Lisa makes it her personal responsibility to coolify Gary and Wyatt — by first of all platonically showering with them, and then taking them to a Chi-town blues club, getting them drunk, dressing them up in fancy threads, and throwing a raging party at Wyatt's house while his parents are out of town. That's pretty much the plot.

Bill Paxton in Weird Science (Credit: Universal Pictures)

And then there's Paxton's Chet, one "serious idiot," as Lisa calls him. He's a walking flat-top of a jerk ("anybody with a haircut like that, you know he's an asshole"), who makes his little brother Wyatt's life a living nightmare, and by extension Gary's as well.

Chet extorts money from his little brother, belittles him, bullies him, and basically causes him to live in fear. The fact that my own older brother took cues from this man only made me hate him more. Paxton was so good in this role that the name "Chet" became synonymous with "bully." (Just a year later he would don another high-and-tight haircut as the self-proclaimed "ultimate badass," the mouthy marine Private Hudson in Aliens.)

So Lisa takes on another mission, beyond making the boys cool: changing the Donnelly brothers' power dynamic. "You can't live in fear of Chet for the rest of your life," she tells Wyatt. Not just because it's seriously affecting his sex life, but because it makes him meek, subservient, and poor.

So the power dynamic is changed, in ways Wyatt couldn't possibly have imagined.

The moment begins when Chet comes home from duck hunting to discover the aftermath of a wild party, which includes a full-on blizzard in his room. Toting a shotgun, Chet goes looking for blood. Wyatt offers up his college money and his social security if Chet will just hear Lisa out. But after finding his grandparents catatonic in the closet, Chet gives Wyatt a particularly vicious snuggie. That's when Lisa decides it's time to be alone with Chet.

Lisa tells Chet to start treating Wyatt with respect, but Chet's far more interested in "buttering Lisa's muffin," as he puts it. Quick interlude to cool and confident Gary and Wyatt winning over the popular girls … and jump-cut back to the kitchen, where Chet's been transformed into a flat-topped, buck-toothed, oozing, burping, hacking, farting, fly-ridden blob.

Lisa says she'll turn him back to normal if Chet promises to apologize to Wyatt and leave the boys alone. But he denies having done anything too egregious, since "it was done out of love." Which makes Lisa think about giving the blob a "set of elephant balls." So Chet changes course and quickly agrees to make right by his little brother.

Gelatinous Chet greets Gary and Wyatt in the foyer when they return home in their computer-generated top-of-the-line sports cars, and apologizes for being such a s**t for Wyatt's entire life. Between hacks and burps, he then tells Wyatt he loves him.

"That's nasty, Wyatt," says Gary.

"That's Chet, Gary," says Wyatt.

Chet then proceeds to nab a delicious fly out of the air with his two-foot tongue. He eventually gets transformed back into a human, but the lessons were learned. And all us kids in 1985 got to see the real potential of computer power.


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