Arcade (1994)

arcade_1AKA Cyber World

Starring Megan Ward, Peter Billingsley, John de Lancie, Sharon Farrell, Seth Green, A.J. Langer, Bryan Dattilo, Brandon Rane, B.J. Barie, Humberto Ortiz, Jonathan Fuller

Directed by Albert Pyun

Expectations: Pretty high.

On the general scale:
onestar

On the B-movie scale:
twostar


Arcade is supposedly one of Full Moon’s most popular films, but after seeing it I have little understanding why that is. Video games were pretty popular in 1993, so maybe it’s just that an overwhelming amount of kids convinced their parents to rent this “video game movie” for them (wonder what they thought of the bloody suicide aftermath seen in the first couple of minutes!). But if Arcade actually did so well, Charles Band would’ve cranked out a sequel (or four). Hmmm, all I know is that people seem to harbor a nostalgic love for Arcade that is not in line with the film’s actual quality. That’s no crime, but it did come as a surprise.

Alex (Megan Ward) is having trouble coping with her mother’s recent suicide. She seeks solace with her group of friends: her boyfriend Greg (Bryan Dattilo), Nick (Peter Billingsley) and Stilts (Seth Green). Together they head down to their local arcade (Dante’s Inferno) where a new virtual reality game called Arcade is being test marketed. It’s no ordinary game, though, and after Greg tries it out he is nowhere to be found. Now it’s up to Alex and Nick to uncover the secrets of Arcade and find Greg!

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Mini-Review: Vicious Lips (1988)

Starring Dru-Anne Perry, Gina Calabrese, Linda Kerridge, Shayne Farris, Anthony Kentz, Christian Andrews, Mary-Anne Graves

Directed by Albert Pyun

Expectations: Moderate.

On the general scale:
onestar

On the B-Movie scale:
twohalfstar


Coming at you like the love child of Purple Rain, Alien and Robinson Crusoe, Vicious Lips is not for the faint of heart. Not because of its over-the-top violence or its plethora of nude bodies. No, this one is firmly in the incredibly boring camp, but it’s the ridiculous WTF factor that makes Vicious Lips worth watching for B-Movie fans. The intergalactic girl band Vicious Lips is out one lead singer, but they’ve got the gig of a lifetime on the line. Matty, their manager, plucks a fresh-faced kid out of a high school talent contest and before she knows it, she off to fulfill her lifelong dreams. Along the way they crash land on a desert alien world and the cargo hold of their ship just so happens to be carrying a female killing machine, the Venusian Man-Beast!

The whole film’s story is pretty shoddily told from the get-go, with quick-cut editing and neon glows ripped directly from Prince’s Purple Rain film. This isn’t a bad thing, as I enjoy Purple Rain, but it’s nothing new. Director Albert Pyun does have an eye for quality shots and cinematography though, which isn’t enough to carry the movie, but it adds a lot more visual candy than I expected there to be. The music is also very enjoyable for fans of 80s music and it’s an absolute crime that a soundtrack was never made available.

For all its faults, Vicious Lips surprisingly wraps itself up pretty well and pays off better than expected in the end, with a finale so triumphant and enjoyable that I couldn’t help but be enamored with the movie, despite being bored throughout nearly its entire runtime. There’s not a lot that I feel needs to be said about this one, it’s awful but oddly enchanting for 80s music and B-Movie fans. There’s also a brief glimpse of a triple-breasted hooker a few years before Total Recall, though I doubt this is the first on-screen appearance of an accessory breast (yes, that’s the real medical term for it).

Director Albert Pyun is known for being in a similar class with the madcap genius of Ed Wood, and Pyun showcases why in Vicious Lips without a doubt. He later went on to direct one of my favorite Full Moon flicks, Dollman, so I’m definitely interested in checking out more of his work, especially his first film The Sword and the Sorcerer, a low-budget 80s sword and sandal epic made in the wake of Conan the Barbarian.

Next week I’ll launch into another of Full Moon’s big series, the vampiric tale of Subspecies!

Dollman (1991)

Dollman (1991)

Starring Tim Thomerson, Jackie Earle Haley, Kamala Lopez, Humberto Ortiz, Nicholas Guest, Judd Omen, Michael Halsey, Frank Doubleday, Frank Collison, Vincent Klyn, John Durbin, Merle Kennedy, Luis Contreras, Eugene Robert Glazer, Richard D’Sisto, John Eastman, Christian Guzek

Directed by Albert Pyun

Expectations: Moderate, I remember liking this when I saw it as a kid.

On the general scale:
twohalfstar

On the B-movie scale:
threehalfstar


Dollman in some ways is the ultimate Full Moon film. It features a high-concept plot, lots of special FX (of varying quality) and that unmistakable brand of cheap humor laced into most of their titles. For instance, the whole opening sequence is a cavalcade of bad-quality fat jokes, which I suppose sets the tone accordingly, but it does so in such a ham-fisted way that many probably never made it past the scene. It’s unfortunate because once it gets going,  Dollman is a rip-roaring good time.

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