One of several hot topics to have popped up throughout the 1990s was virtual reality. Long before the internet, many were certain that virtual reality would sweep the nation of its feet, if not the entire world. With that said, there were also several movies that tackled the subject matter of virtual reality, such as The Lawnmower Man, Johnny Mnemonic, and Brainscan. One such movie to focus on virtual reality is an offering from Full Moon Entertainment, Arcade, from 1993 and directed by Albert Pyun (Dollman, Nemesis)
Arcade is an extremely interesting Charles Band-produced feature, especially since, along with Dark Angel: The Ascent and Shadowzone, it's one of the better Full Moon movies to not have turned into a franchise, at least in my personal opinion. It's a tale about a hot new virtual reality game called Arcade that has just hit the video game market and has become very popular with the kids in town. The game transports you into a 3D world and it's up to the player to outsmart Arcade. However, there's a catch. If you lose, Arcade absorbs your very soul into its virtual lair. Now it's up to two teenagers, Alex (Megan Ward from Encino Man, Crash and Burn and Trancers 2 & 3) and Nick (Peter Billingsley of A Christmas Story and Beverly Hills Brats) to enter the world of Arcade and free the other players from the evil game. Unfortunately, Alex has never been very good at video games...
One notable aspect of the film itself is its delayed release. The CGI effects in the final film, seen in this trailer below, were not the original intended effects.
The original effects were changed to what you see in the trailer above because both Band and Pyun were less than satisfied with how the original effects turned out. So they went back and redid everything.
However, I was lucky enough to not only come across a trailer for the film featuring the original CGI FX, but to also come across an actual full-length version of the film, featuring the deleted CGI. And how was I able to see this? Somehow, the version of the film with the original CGI FX got released on PAL VHS, in Argentina, of all places.
I gave this watch not too long ago, and I must say, that despite some moments in this version of the film being dated at best, I found it to be somewhat darker than the released version. Tony Riparetti's score for this version helps set up that tone, as the score ranges from somewhat cheesy yet still energetic to ambient. I was also very surprised to see some dialogue and scenes missing from the released version as well.
In closing, if I had to choose one version of the film to see as the definitive version, I would actually lean towards this version. Seek it out if you can!
Here are some screencaps of the original FX: