Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Some Quick Thoughts on Arcade (1993) - The Version You've Never Seen!

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!

UPDATE (2 October 2017): I've been told that the CGI was changed not because of dissatisfaction of Chaz Band's behalf, but due to a potential copyright infringement lawsuit that was filed against Full Moon by Disney due to similarities to Disney's Tron. Shoutout to user laseractive for pointing this out!!

Here are some screencaps of the original FX:


  1. Actually, Band didn't have the CGI redone because he was unsatisfied. He had it redone because Disney threatened to sue him because he ripped off the lightcycles from TRON. If the footage hadn't been featured in a trailer in a previous Full Moon release, Disney probably wouldn't have noticed until the film actually hit video, and Band would have gotten his butt sued off (not that it would have been the first time, or the last).

    I have a friend who used to work for Band; believe me, once something has been shot, Band NEVER goes back because he doesn't think it turned out good enough.

    1. Thanks for your input. All things considered, this actually doesn't surprise me.

      Apparently, on Facebook, Dan Schweiger and some of the other crew do believe the claims of dissatisfaction with the original FX, or at least act like it. So either Band lied to them, or Dan and the others are still in denial about the matter over 20 years later.

      Nevertheless, I still find it strange that despite the potential lawsuit, the original version still managed to get released outside of North America somehow.

    2. Sorry for the late response, by the way.

    3. Although to be fair, Band and the others probably can't talk about the real reason for the change for legal reasons.

  2. I have been searching for this movie for years. Years! I finally found it again through you guys, thinking all along I had just made it up in my mind. Yet, despite having all sorts of "free movie" venues I have yet to cross the actual film. But I have hopes now, knowing I wasn't just making it up.

  3. had just made it up in my mind

  4. " I had just made it up in my mind". i was looking for this movie too about 20 years

  5. Three years later, I finally got around to reading this article (after you called my attention to it with a reply on MY review of it. Thanks for the interesting additional historcial details, and about the variant version that's out there!