Sunday, 27 June 2010

TRIPLE BILL: ARCADE (1993), APEX (1994), EVOLVER (1994)

Big-box VHS tapes were my staple movie watching diet as a teenager, and I had a very deep appreciation of cheesy sci-fi B-movies. The three flicks I'll talk about here are some of the very best (or worst, depending on your viewpoint) of the hundreds of 90 minute cheese fests that I sat through during that time of my life. They may have had budgets that would just about buy you a Happy Meal these days, but at the time, I thought they were just about the best films ever made.
Look, I was a teenager, okay? I was allowed to have bad taste. It's the law.

ARCADE (1993)

This delightfully silly teen SF film features Megan Ward being a heartbreaker and Seth Green demonstrating his knack for looking 15 in anything he was in for about ten years. It also features Star Trek: The Next Generation's Q, namely John de Lancie in a supporting role. The plot? It's a bargain basement version of TRON, basically. Video game develops sentience, characters get sucked into the game, the game screws with reality, and there's a cheap CG explosion in the VR world at the end. Arcade is a great example of the madness that Full Moon productions could put out in their heyday, and proof that not everything they did had to have killer puppets in it. This was out at the height of the Virtual Reality boom, but rather than being something groundbreaking like Lawnmower Man, it looks more like a science fiction version of Knightmare. Still, it's fun and I need a new copy.

APEX (1994)

Apex was a marvellously dodgy SF film that took elements of The Terminator, Quantum Leap, Aliens and any number of other big movies with mixed results. Time gets screwed up when a robot is sent back in time and an experiment goes terribly wrong. The result? History and the future are rewritten, and (fanfare) ONLY ONE MAN CAN END THE MADNESS. Our hero leaps through time to a war-torn alternate future, where he gets caught up with a group of soldiers trying to stay alive in a harsh landscape. Along comes the APEX unit (via a series of extremely dated CG animations) to make things explode. It's violent, it's loud, and it gets very confused about halfway through, but it was an ideal video rental back in the day. Decent cast, too. Where this differed from many of the other titles around at the time was in that it takes itself a bit more seriously. Characters suffer, things have consequences and despite its meagre budget, you do get a sense of futuristic desolation.

EVOLVER (1994)

This straight-to-video project was pretty much the cheapest looking film I saw during that golden era of b-movies in big-box VHS format. In fact, I had a promo poster for this film for months before it got released, and that poster alone was twenty times as good as the film it was advertising. The film follows the misadventures of a young boy and girl who must pit their wits against a robotic version of a popular video game. But... the robot was initially designed as a weapon, and when its circuits go haywire, it reverts to a much more violent set of functions. Cue much running around a house while a robot prop goes mental. Like Arcade, this also picked up on the themes of video games and VR taking a swipe at the real world. While it was cheap and shoddy, it was a good laugh, and another fine entry from Trimark Pictures, who were one of the best exponents of schlock like this until they made the Double Dragon movie and ruined themselves. Oops!

1 comment:

  1. Awww, it's the kid from "Get Over It".

    What about "The Tower" with Paul Reiser?