"Kiss reality good bye..."
Albert Pyun and Full Moon may seem like a great idea, and Dollman did turn out pretty well, but I think that the Pyun touch relies on him being left alone to his own devices a bit more. Honestly, this is a pretty simple little film that takes a few popular films and squashes them together efficiently enough to be enjoyable. The biggest issue in looking back at Arcade is how outdated the effects look to our eyes, but if you think of this as a visit through 16 bit terror land (and try to pay in artificial game points if possible)...you are in for a pleasant 80 minutes.
So, have you ever wanted to watch a movie that could be called A Nightmare on Tron Terrace, starring Ralphie from A Christmas Story, Seth Green being exactly the same screen persona he always plays and Lucas from Days Of Our Lives (and includes a hectic screen chomping cameo of pure awesome from Norbert Weisser)...then ARCADE is your film!
Alex Manning (Megan Ward) has all kinds of personal problems and loads of stress to deal with, so she is lucky that her boyfriend is a bit of a dolt that hangs with some hip arcade loving pals and a cybermonster game kidnaps him and gives her a mission to play the game, win and save his souuuuuul. ooouuuul. Ol. Our Freddy here is a game that seems to be learning and seeking to conquer Elm Street with his devious addictive gameplay and enjoys threatening the players. I expected this to be a cry against the corporate nature of videogames and a slam on the development process of creative projects-but Arcade eschews all that and plays very straight faced without many of the usual touches of humor or just utter oddballness I enjoy so much.
That is, until Weisser arrives and plays an Arcade programmer that understands the out of control machine and fears it to a degree that I would almost think he was channeling a quivering real worlder in a Lovecraft scenario where Dagon is going to bust up the village! Awesome...Pyuniverse dwellers will not want to miss this.
It all comes together in a cyber showdown that feels much like the games made about 5 years before this movie was released...down the hall, avoid the spikes, clear the room and game over. But...it never gets boring and it is quite short. Heck, I enjoyed it!
Now, we are on the Pyuniverse blog, so lets take a look at the good parts and the stuff that is missing. With Charles Band sitting atop the production it is obvious that things are going to feel more like Puppet Master than Deceit-and they do. As Full Moon movies go, it is very solid (and I'm a Full Moon Fan) and PyunPlayers do get a chance to shine. The leads are all good, but it is damn trippy staring at the screen trying to solve out who the hell is...that is...no! RALPHIE! Yer gonna shoot your eye out with that Arcade popgun!
Yeah, it is terrible and wrong to nail someone in to a role, but he looks exactly the same, just larger. I'm glad to see Billingsley doing well, now he is director A-List films! Awesome. Bryan Datillo has almost 1000 episodes of Days Of Our Lives under his belt, so lets just say that he was so great in Arcade and Albert Pyun drew out such a magnificent performance that he will be an honorary veteran of the Pyun Academy Of Action. John De Lancie is also fun as the oooga booga corporate guy.
Sadly, no groovy game score from Tony Ripparetti for this film, but hey...Alan Howarth is no slouch and he does a solid enough job. But...it ain't Ripparetti. Sorry Alan.
So, a good 80 minutes in a 16 Bit Hell, with a 32 Bit Script by David S. Goyer off an Albert Band story and 64 Bit direction from Albert Pyun. I have to say, there is a line Arcade says that reminds me of the Pyuniverse a lot... "If you won't play the game by my rules then I'll play in your world!"