The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Arcade (1993)

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This is one of about five or six Albert Pyun films on Netflix I have left to review, so I thought I'd go for it. The deciding factor when faced with multiple Pyun options? John de Lancie, of course. This wasn't a first choice among potential Albert Pyun films, though. First, I wanted to do his newest one, Bulletface, but that one isn't available on Netflix, and I don't have the money right now to buy it outright, no matter how good a bargain it's offered at. Another I'd wanted to do was Heatseeker, but that one's only available on VHS, so I put it out of my mind for a while. Can you guess what happened then? I get Arcade home, watch it, capture images of it, and then later in the week, I come across Heatseeker in a buddy's VHS collection tucked away in his garage. "Oh, I must've bought it when that video store went out of business. Sure, you can take it, I don't think it was any good anyway..." Since we already had Arcade, and it's fresh in my mind, I decided to do that now, and Heatseeker we'll do next week, satisfying our Gary Daniels crowd at the same time.

Arcade stars the lovely Megan Ward as a teen dealing with her mom's suicide and her dad's inability to cope with her mom's suicide. She and her friends are big time gamers (including the kid from A Christmas Story, Seth Green, and AJ Langer), and they invite her to join them for a launch party for the game Arcade, the latest in virtual reality technology, and shilled by the one and only John de Lancie. Ward's boyfriend disappears while playing the game, and she soon discovers the game is what, as my nephew would say, disappeared him, and she has trouble convincing anyone to believe her, meaning they're disappeared too. All except for the kid from A Christmas Story, because he has a crush on Ward, and we all know if someone has a crush on someone, he or she will believe anything that person says. They investigate, go to de Lancie and his head programmer, Pyun mainstay Norbert Weisser, devise a plan, and then play the game to get their friends back.

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Even though this was a DTV movie, it played out more like a Nickelodeon original film, maybe a Goosebumps story arc or something. That doesn't mean Pyun doesn't add his own personal touches to make this something bigger than that-- there are welcome cyber punk elements, and of course, the inclusion of Norbert Weisser-- but he was fighting an uphill battle. Looking at it in situ, though, as opposed to what the average DTVC reader would want out of a movie, for a 1993 pre-teen video game thriller, it works. The thing is, most of our readers are looking for Mean Guns, not Arcade, and there's nothing wrong with that, it just means that though this film isn't bad, it's probably not for you.

We love Albert Pyun here at the DTVC, not only because he directs the kinds of films we all enjoy, but because he's been kind enough to comment, which is always great. With that in mind, I feel bad that I haven't been able to reciprocate that support as much as I'd have liked, primarily by not checking out his newest film, Bulletface. Unfortunately it's only available through his website, http://www.albertpyunmovies.com/, and though you can buy it for a very reasonable price, I just don't have the money right now to get it. To give you an idea of what I get for my $17 or so a month from Netflix: in May alone, I received 10 movies at home on DVD, and got another 15 on Watch Instantly-- and that includes 10 days where I didn't watch anything while I was on vacation! So $11 before shipping, with the Inferno version of his film Left For Dead included, definitely sounds like a great deal, but on my limited budget, it becomes almost frivolous. That doesn't mean I won't buy the film as soon as I can, just an explanation as to why I haven't gotten to it yet. I also want to make clear to anyone wondering why I don't just get a torrent of it for free: as a policy I don't download movies that are still in print, but that goes double for Mr. Pyun's work. I want to support his movies as much as possible.

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All right, with that out of the way, let's get back to Arcade, and its lead, Megan Ward. I think the role I remember her best in was PCU, but she's also done her share of TV dramas and whatnot. Total hottie as well, which doesn't hurt. What adds to her overall hotness in Arcade is her ability to roll with the punches, and transcend all the ridiculousness inherent in a movie like this one. There's something endearing about a girl (or 24-year-old woman at the time in her case), who can wear a skintight body suit and oversized racing helmet, and not let onto us just how silly the whole thing is, even if she might be thinking it just as much as we do.

I've never been a big fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation, so I have no idea why I know so much about it, or why I love seeing any of the cast members acting in anything else. And it's not like I'm ashamed of it or anything. I mean, I'm writing a blog about Direct to Video movies, I certainly don't think being a Trekkie is anything bad, right? I really don't like the show, yet I love watching it. Does that make any sense? Anyway, John de Lancie has a small part in this as the salesman for the video game company. Pretty sweet if you ask me.

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Even sweeter is Norbert Weisser's knit tie in this scene. You can't really see it from the image, but it's there. I love ties. I own a bunch that I've collected over time at various Goodwills and thrift stores. This astounds my friends, because I've never had a job where I needed a tie, meaning I seldom wear one. Maybe that's why I think they're so cool. It's also one of the most often screwed up aspects of men's attire. I don't know how many times I see guys on TV, or even more so in my everyday life, draping some Godawful excuse for neck wear over the front of their shirts. It just breaks my heart. (I think the most often screwed up aspect of men's attire is the size of the dress shirt. I don't know how many times I see guys in these billowing adornments that make them look like they raided their father's closet as a child.) One of the more difficult ties to wear right is the knit, which is why I tend to stay away from it, but Weisser really pulls it off here, adding a touch of style to an otherwise drab lab suit.

I've totally gone off topic here, which is what usually happens on that seventh paragraph, so let's reign it in and wrap it up. Arcade is probably not for most of the DTVC's readers, especially those looking for something more like Nemesis or Mean Guns; but at 80 minutes, it's a fun trip down memory lane, and has a lot of familiar faces. As long as you know what you're getting into, I think you'll have a fun time.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0106302/

7 comments:

  1. This is a movie I never understood why such was Rated R. It really was a kids movie and really not a very good one. In fact I liked Evolver better which had some hilariously demented scenes while having the same premise. One being the robot in question load knifes into it's projectile arm to fight a little sister who plugs him back in and how he corners into the pool, also how the robot was able to have lasers and stuff it's a very implausible movie but that time of absurdity was fun.

    Arcade on the other hand...If i'm not mistaken Christmas Story kid doesn't get the girl (Megan Ward) at the end. So after all that hard work he still has to wait for her in the trenches. Which is probably worse than any of the evil he faced in such a machine.

    Last thing about ties and stuff,I never in my life cared that much or even knew. I learned something I had no idea.

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  2. I loved both this film and Evolver(though I slightly prefered the latter, as this film had a pretty lousy ending) This was actually the very first Pyun film I ever saw, and that was before I knew who Pyun was. One Pyun film i'm really hoping you'll review sometime is the Die Hard rip-off called Blast.

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  3. I think in the case of Ward and the Christmas Story kid the film was very realistic. Too often movies give the false impression that men and women can be won over by the person with the crush on them, which I think adds to the delusional mentality behind stalking. Here, Arcade made it plan and simple: dude, she don't like you... Don't like you! (sorry, Baller Blockin' reference.)

    And as far as ties, you'd be surprised how much they can make an outfit... but I also think I'm in the minority in thinking they can torpedo an otherwise perfect look.

    Blast is one I'm trying to get my hands on, so hopefully soon we'll make it happen. Two great DTVC Hall of Famers, Hauer and Pyun, who were also great in Omega Doom.

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  4. True, but that's why I would never get involved. What I would've done isto do is let her become a complete basket case over her friend's disappearances, she will become withdrawn and all the popular girls and boys will stop inviting her to parties then that is when you go show your support and she sees you are loyal and deep and she then realizes how much stability you offer. Game.Set. Match. Until you realize that you're in the friend zone, then what you do is become like Ricky (From the Story Of Ricky) go to prison and put people through meat grinders and punch out people's livers. Such doesn't win over the hot chick but it's still pretty damn sweet.

    In my opinion this is how you handle crushes on the obtainable. And I'm dating a girl way out of my league so my theory must work...It certainly can't be my personality or looks.

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  5. I think what happens in your version is while you're staying out of it, she's going to John de Lancie for help, and that's your game, set, match, because no one's winning a woman over him, except for Jonathan Frakes or Michael Dorn. Between de Lancie and Brent Spiner, I'd give even odds.

    One thing the Christmas Story guy can hang his hat on, 17 years later, is that he directed Vince Vaughn in Couple's Retreat. Now he can drop that and get chicks even hotter than Ward. Better late than never, right?

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  6. Well I think I just stumbled upon a great idea for a film, a guy likes hot girl who only likes him as a friend, and has a boyfriend, said boyfriend gets trapped and killed in a virtual reality world, in which your creator tries to help out the heroine, he ultimately fails, it turns out the boy she never notices is like Ricky and only with his kung fu and superhuman strength can he take on the virtual reality that starts killing people. However she still doesn't go for him, so he goes to prison for punching out her new boyfriend's eyeball and stands up for the prisoners and takes on a satanic mutant that he boils alive at the end.

    Then in the sequel he can take on a gang of Howling II cult of Werewolves. See, if I made movies, they would be terrible but they would at least be interesting.

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  7. Here's a better version: scrap the whole concept, and get me, John de Lancie, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, and Michael Dorn together in an expensive looking study. We're all wearing black suits with white shirts and optional black ties. We sit around on expensive leather sofas and recliners, drinking scotch and smoking Cubans, and I coordinate a roundtable discussion on the Star Trek: The Next Generation experience. I smell a winner there. See Kenner, you need to get outside the box when you come up with your movie ideas. Don't be afraid to be too postmodern.

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