Alex Manning and her friends decide to visit the local video arcade known as “Dante’s Inferno” where a new virtual reality arcade game called “Arcade” is being test marketed by a computer company CEO. However, it soon becomes clear that the teenagers who lose are being imprisoned inside the virtual reality world by the central villain “Arcade” and takes over their minds.
Revisiting ARCADE from a 2021 point-of-view, one realizes that this is perhaps the most ’90s film ever–An obvious cash grab to benefit on the short-lived “virtual reality” craze that churned out other “gems” like LAWNMOWER MAN and VIRTUOSITY; a B-grade cast of teen stars (from ENCINO MAN’s Megan Ward, to a pre-BUFFY Seth Green, A.J. Langer aka Rayanne from MY SO-CALLED LIFE, and a post-pubescent Peter Billingsley aka Ralphie from A CHRISTMAS STORY). Heck, even the snively CEO is played by John de Lancie, Q from Star Trek THE NEXT GENERATION!
The visuals themselves are outdated, even back then when it was initially released (imagine Dire Straights’ “Money For Nothing” music video, but worse). Yet, for all its faults, it has that Pyun sheen of being both hilariously awful, yet still charming. It is definitely a nostalgic buzz and a film that was on constant repeat in some young Gen Xer’s VHS collection or on constant repeat of “USA Up All Night.”