Kiss Reality Goodbye!
Arcade is a 1993 horror movie based on video games. This appears to have been a direct to video release.
My relationship with this movie started when I was scrounging through the boxes of used movies at the local
used video game store. Well, at least the place claims to be a used video game store, but 90 percent of the place
is used VHS tapes and DVDs. Well, I was in this place scrounging through the boxes of tapes. I prefer to go
through the boxes of tapes under the tables,as they haven't really been picked over yet. I wasn't looking for
nameless early 90s drivel. I was looking for cult films, eighties movies, and stuff like that. I was buying stuff
like The Goonies, old Godzilla movies, and Heavy Metal. I saw "Arcade" and tossed it on my buy pile without
a second thought. I assumed it was one of those 1983 era arcade game based movies. It sure looked that way from
the box. But instead I got an early 90s movie instead.
This movie is about an arcade game that is called arcade. Granted it isn't the most original name in the
world, but there was once a pinball game called pinball, so it isn't completely unplausable.
I am typing this node in realtime, I started the writeup as I pressed play on the VCR. I was quickly
introduced to some assorted teenage actors that actually looked like teenagers. One of them seemed very mildly
familiar, as if I may have seen him in something else when he was older (I later identify the actor as a very
young Seth Green). None of the characters have names, or at least they don't seem to have any. Even if they had
names no one would remember them after the movie was over.
Everyone goes to the arcade. The arcade they go to is straight out of the 80s, at least the ambience is. They
then meet up with Q from Star Trek. Well, it isn't actually Q, it is actually John Delancie playing the
person who introduces the game to the teenagers. But damned if it doesn't seem like Q to me.
Eventually one of the nameless characters (Nick), gets to play the game. The game memorizes his features,
learns his name, and then transports him into the "Corridors of Doom". The "Corridors of Doom" are absolutely
terrible early 90s computer animation. It is the sort of stuff that was absolutely cutting edge at the time, but
now it looks completely terrible.
More children play the game, meanwhile Q offers them free home versions of the game. Yes, apparently the
home version is coming out at the exact same time as the arcade version. This has almost never failed to
completely kill an arcade game, but I don't think this movie has much to do with reality. Plus we already know
from Star Trek that Q is tricky and certainly has something up his sleeve.
Everyone leaves the arcade. We sort of get the idea that one of the kids has already been killed, eaten, or was
otherwise sucked into the game, but we aren't sure about it. The nameless cute girl goes home (in her Bitchin
Camaro), and we see that she has a sucky family life and is generally the angsty type. Of course most angsty
teen girls like to play virtual reality video games when they are moody, so she pulls out the home version. The
machine already knows her name, and tells her that her boyfriend lost the game and was already inside it. She then
goes into the same crappy animation sequence.
We quickly learn that the game itself is sentient, can hold conversations with people standing in front of it,
and can't be unplugged. Our nameless female heroine goes to vist "Nick" after learning these facts, and she
finds him playing the game. He seems completely entranced with the screensaver of the game. She tells Nick about
her concerns, and Nick doesn't believe her.
I am going to assume that the characters will all get sucked into the game one by one. I'll rejoin this writeup
after that happens.
Sorry, I had to rejoin the writeup earlier than intended. The game seems to just get more powerful, it gains
the ability to do all sorts of things outside in the real word. People don't even seem to have to wear the virtual
reality gear to play it anymore, and those that do play it go into a euphoric trance. It even gets so implausible
that the game starts speaking through the body of one of the nameless characters (who vanishes seconds later).
The two main characters then journey to the Q Continuum to meet back up with Q so that they can try to
figure out what is going on. Of course they could have simply called the police, but people rarely do that in
horror movies. Instead of truly bringing the problems to Q, they instead tell him they want to learn some
"tricks" about the game.
They talk to the guy who programmed the game, he tells them everything about it. Well everything other than why
he created an evil self aware game that sucks people in. After learning these wisdoms the nameless characters
journey back to the arcade, to take on "Arcade"!
Once they are inside the game we are treated to some really horrible sequences that remind me of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and other low budget trash like that. The various levels seem to be combinations of traditional animation, computer animation and live action. The only thing of note here is that the movie directly rips off Labrynth and does the "One of us always lies and one of us always tells the truth." scene. She defeats it a diffferent way, but it is the same darn scene.
It just keeps getting worse from there on out. We find out that "Arcade" is somehow a little boy whose "Mommy hit him until he died." By now I am really hoping Q will show back up and perhaps explain some of this mess, but alas he does not. Then the girl suddenly wakes up from the nightmare she was having. Even her previously dead mother is alive again. The mother proceeds to kill herself (again), and after she kills herself, she then kills her daughter.
Luckily the girl had picked up an extra life, which she uses to somehow defeat the "Arcade" and release all the trapped players. Everyone has a tear filled reunion, and they all leave wearing early 90s flannel. The movie ends without ever explaining anything, although it does set itself up for a sequel. Luckily for all of us the sequel was never made.
(Recognizable names only)