Director: Albert Pyun
Screenplay: Charles Band, David S. Goyer
Starring: Megan Ward, Peter Billingsley, John de Lancie, Seth Green, Sharon Farrell
Run Time: 80 Mins
Reviewed by Guy Adams
If Charles Band’s Full Moon pictures have a fault (and, yes, I know, they have countless faults but I’m talking about the one that actually bothers me) it’s that occasionally they aggressively targeted a younger market and somehow lost sight of what made their movies such fun in doing so. Their tone could also be inconsistent, creating movies that might have played well to a child audience but littered with the sort of language or occasional nipple that meant they’d end up with a higher rating than they’d need to actually play to that market.
ARCADE is a good example, the story of an arcade game that goes mad and kidnaps the kids that play it. As a child-friendly romp it could have got away with it, as it stands it feels uneven and flat, never quite able to serve any audience. It plays far too straight to feel like trashy fun and not cute enough to supplement nineties kids’ Atari diet.
Another issue is that it conforms to the standard Full Moon structure: aimless, cheap. meandering for the first fifty minutes with the lion’s share of action and FX saved for the final twenty minutes. While you can get away with this in something like the recently reviewed HIDEOUS or CREEPS by throwing some witty script or sex at the screen to keep your audience onside while they wait for everything to kick off, if your movie is about a computer game gone mad it means we spend fifty minutes having some earnest teens talk about the fact rather than ever seeing it happen. A fifteen year old screaming in panic at a blank TV screen just isn’t exciting enough to maintain our interest.
The climax leaps into an early CGI-fest and is all the more jolly for it but it’s taken far too long for the movie to boot up and even a typically enjoyable few minutes in John de Lancie’s arch company isn’t enough to save things. If you’re a big fan of early gaming, or just really love looking at neon-lit sets with nothing much happening on them then, by all mean, give it a try. Otherwise, spend your money on of 88 Film’s other Full Moon titles, there are plenty to choose from.