Sunday, August 31, 2008

Interfilm's Interactive Movies (1995)

Interfilm was one of the many mid-90s attempts to merge live action with interactive gaming. They took things one step further - attempting to reach an even bigger audience with interactive movies.

The set up involved a hand full of theater's arm rests being modded with a 3-button controller. It was basically a choose your own adventure book without any majorly dire consequences - just different methods of achieving the same goal. Audiences were actually encouraged to shout at the screen to affect the other audience member's decisions in the realtime voting. Interfilm became known to me when, while pouring over some old copies of GamePro, I came across this article with some names that seriously caught my eye: the Back to the Future/Interstate 60 dreamteam of Christopher Lloyd and Bob Gale starring in "Mr. Payback: An Interactive Movie."


The film was released in February 1995, in approximately 25 newly retrofitted interactive Interfilm theaters, but it was never released in wide release due to the required $50,000+ each theater had to spend to upgrade their screens with the necessary interactive equipment. Viewers were able to sit through three showings of the twenty minute film (compiled from two hours of footage), with no show ever being shown the same way twice.

"Mr. Payback" is the story of some half-witted vengance robot committing the ultimate sin: posing as a human. Mostly it's a vehicle for repugnant fart jokes and sexual innuendo. What was Bob Gale thinking?

Check out the only existing clips from this film:

The scenes splice nonsensically due to the complex and somewhat nonsenscical 3-laserdisc system used to play the movies. These clips are from one of the three laserdiscs.

"Mr. Payback" was the first release from Interfilm, though not actually the first film. The first film was "I'm Your Man" starring former MTV VJ Kevin Seal. Easily the weirdest thing about this movie is that Joe Jackson did the incidental music for it. Here's a very optimistic promotional documentary produced for the film:

Oddly enough it turns out you can actually purchase and play "I'm Your Man" in DVD form. "I'm Your Man" was the third film released, possibly out of desperation, after the Adam West sci-fi bycicle race comedy "Ride For Your Life." "Ride For Your Life" toned down the "edgy" PG-13 sass for a lighter, more video gamey fair. Apparenlty "Mr. Payback" upset more than a few theatergoers:

"That was like watching pornography," one viewer complained after having subjected her preteen daughters to 20 minutes of Mr. Payback.

I thank Joe Redifer deeply for making details of this oddity available to the interweb.

- Cap

1 comment:

Nick Jade said...

I don't think Martin Scorsese would touch this project with a 100 foot pole.