Hollywood Looks at Video Games Part 5
by Al Backiel

MORTAL KOMBAT ANNIHILATION (1997, Robin Shou, Talisa Soto, NR) The MK sequel was #1 at the box office during its first weekend, but seemed to have faded fast. I hope they made out. It looks like an expensive effort with all the special effects and exotic locations like Jordan and Thailand. This time the villain is Lord Rayden’s evil brother, Khan. Like every true villain, he cheats. The portals to the underworld were supposed to remain closed for another generation, but Khan breaks ranks with the Gods. He threatens to capture the world in 7 days (Biblical twist). He sends his henchman, Scorpion to kidnap Princess Kitana in order to force a showdown. Liu Kang, Jax, and the luscious Sonya Blade come to the rescue. Johnny Cage gets killed off early on in this version. Sonya Blade looks a lot like Lara Croft, which was obviously intentional. There is a new Lord Rayden. Apparently, Christopher Lambert opted out this time. A lot of the other MK characters put in an appearance. There’s Sheeva, Motaro, Sub-Zero, Smoke, Night Wolf, Jade, and Queen Sindel. All look terrific in their makeup and costumes. The special effects, especially the morphing (man to monster e.g.) are a little over the top this time around. You could expect anybody to turn into anything. In one scene, it looked like Godzilla vs. Ghidrah. I don’t know if that one was intentional or not. There is also a lot of crashing around and set damage during the fight scenes. So much so that the title trailers (which seem to last forever) contain the disclaimer that no damage was done to the national monuments depicted (Petra? Angkor Wat?). This movie is very fast paced, perhaps too much so. I did like most of the techno/heavy metal music which was done by numerous artists. A lot of the martial arts are done in slo-mo so you don’t miss a trick. All in all, I still like the original better. The acting seems a little cornier in the sequel, perhaps it’s the script.

VIDEODROME (1983, James Wood, Deborah Harry (Blondie),**). Woods plays a cable TV program director who is scouting around for new programming. He is interested in anything sensational that will boost ratings. A video pirate shows him a program called Videodrome which has sex and violence. It produces a hypnotic effect on the viewer and eventually hallucinations. From there on the movie gets very strange. On the top of his TV one can make out the boxes and the carts of the 2600 games Air-Sea Battle and Combat, and 2 joysticks. An Atari 800 system sits on the video pirate’s workbench.

101 DALMATIANS (1996, Glen Close, Jeff Daniel,**1/2) The Walt Disney full length cartoon classic adapted to live action. Jeff plays a video game designer who is suffering from writer’s block. On his current project, he can’t seem to come up a suitable villain. Into the picture steps Cruella De Vil. Cruella is an evil furrier who wants to make a coat out of the family’s Dalmatian puppy dogs. Hey! I blame her parents. Naming her Cruella, what do you expect? She kidnaps the dogs, but gets her comeuppance before the curtain closes. Jeff ‘s videogame is completed and becomes a best seller and everybody is happy. There are several scenes of the Dalmatian adventure game under construction throughout the movie. In the real world, a computer CD-ROM was released based on the movie. I’m not sure if it was ported over to any of the dedicated game systems.

MARS ATTACKS! (1997, Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Martin Short, Pam Grier, **1/2) Bubble Gum cards from the sixties becomes fodder for a movie. Pam Grier plays a bus driver in DC. She spots her two hookey-playing sons in a video arcade. She stops the bus, jumps out and gives them hell. They were playing a shoot-the-alien game which looked like it was made for this film. It had a pinball machine cabinet with two orange pistols attached by wires. The pistols look like one of those third party peripherals for the NES or SNES. In the background, I can vaguely make out Stunt Cycle. Later on in the movie they are playing the "home version" of the shoot-em-up.


CRUMB (1995, R. Crumb & his dysfunctional family,***1/2) In this biography, there is a scene where The Fritz the Cat creator is watching his daughter Sophie play Game Boy.

FOREVER YOUNG (1992, Mel Gibson, Jamie Lee Curtis,***) Man returns to life after being cryogenically frozen since WWII. Quick view of two kids playing Mario Kart on the SNES.

AIRPLANE (1980, Robert Hays, Julie Haggerty, Leslie Nelson, ***) In this non-stop Tour de Farce there is a scene where two traffic controllers are huddled over a radar screen playing 2600 Basketball (Atari).

THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK (1997, Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore, **1/2) In one of the scenes in the sequel, Jeff tells his daughter that he is going away for a while and that he wants her to stay with a new nanny.

Daughter: "I don’t even know this woman."

Jeff: "What are you talking about? It’s Carrie! You’ve known her for 10 years."

Daughter: "She doesn’t even have SEGA. She is such a troglodyte."

Jeff: "Cruel, but good word use."

FIRESTARTER (1984,Drew Barrymore, David Keith, George C. Scott, **) The movie adaptation of the Stephen King novel is about a little girl with the ability to set objects on fire using her mind. Government agents kidnap her for observation. To calm her down they give access to a ColecoVision. It looks like what she is playing is Subroc.

ROCKY III (1982, Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Ward, **1/2) This is the one with Mr. T as the challenger, Clubber Lang. Rocky’s brother-in-law Pauly gets drunk and walks into a video arcade. He walks past people playing Crazy Climber, Space Encounters, Astro Fighter, Star Castle, Space Invaders and a few others I couldn’t make out. Then he sees the Rocky pinball machine. In a fit of jealousy, he throws a whisky bottle at the backflash (showing Rocky in the victory pose) and smashes it.

SOYLENT GREEN (1974, Charlton Heston, Leigh Taylor Young, **) Chuck Heston is a cop in overcrowded NYC in 2022 AD Miss Young plays a mistress who is presented with a gift of a Computer Space by her boyfriend. This was the first commercial arcade video game and it can be seen in a few scenes, both off and on, in this sci-fi/cult movie.

THE SURVIVORS (1983, starring Walter Matthau & Robin Williams,**) Robin becomes obsessed with guns and enrolls in a paramilitary survival course. Convinced that society is going into a deep decline, he tries to convince Matthau and his daughter Candace to join him.

Robin: "Is the air getting better?"

Candace: "That’s true."

Robin: "The economy? The Middle East? Arts? Literature? Television? U.S. Presidents? Improving?"

Matthau: "Anyone can nit-pick."

Robin: "Sonny, name one thing that has gotten better in the last 10 years."

(no answer)

Robin: "See..."

Candace: "Video games!"

Matthau; "Video games, there you are!"

Robin: "All right, I acknowledge that, but you have to admit society eventually is going to deteriorate."

That’s the latest update to this series. Quake and Resident Evil are being discussed as possible future movies. Thanks to Retrogames (UK), the 2600 Connection and Scott Stilphen for some of the movies tips.

A lot of video games have some underwater sequences. Most of the Mario games, anyway. The new Zelda 64 does. Some Sonic titles. A few games use a flood scenario to end the game, e.g. Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Airlock, Flipper Slipper.

Current video game magazines devoting at least one page to retrogaming:

Next Generation

Game Informer

Computer and Video Games (UK)

Electronic Games Monthly (at least the last few issues)

Further Notes on CHEX QUEST: The Rice/Corn/Wheat Chex cereal free CD-ROM game promotion appears to be over. There are still a few stores that have the older boxes. I found one as late as 12/97 mixed in with the new. If anybody absolutely can’t find it and has to have one, don’t go crazy. Email me at Albackiel@aol.com. I have a few extra for sale at a nominal fee for postage. Ralston Purina has a website (http://www.chexquest.com) which offers a free second adventure if you have the first.

Al Backiel is just one of those guys that can't get enough of video gaming. How well we can relate to that. His specialty is Atari 2600, and you can reach Al at Albackiel@aol.com

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Last updated Tuesday, February 13, 2007 06:01 PM