Color, 1998, 62 mins. 28 secs.
Directed by Dale E. Frantz
Starring Kevin Summerfield, Mandy Leigh, Tammy Parks, Kim Penn, Wayne Reitz, Danielle Summer
VHShitfest (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD-ish), Sub Rosa (DVD) (US R0 NTSC)

"Welcome to Pleasure - Game of Pleasurea sexual experience played at your risk." That's the invitation for a new virtual reality at the heart of this Game of Pleasuregenre-smushing, shot-on-video oddity aimed at the late '90s erotic thriller market. Mixing the cyber aesthetic of Johnny Mnemonic and The Lawnmower Man, the indulgent softcore of late night Cinemax, and the production values of a Polonia Brothers horror film, it's an ambitious and often befuddling experience initially issued briefly on VHS and then thrown away on DVD by Sub Rosa as a co-feature to Vampire Carmilla. In 2024, the madmen at VHShitfest have given it the red carpet treatment on Blu-ray, resulting in another example of an SOV title with a more loving deluxe edition than most major studio fare.

A persistent hacker named Michael (writer, producer, and co-editor Summerfield) has a knack for getting his way into gaming companies and, with his cronies, getting them out on the black market. However, he's gotten in way over his head with Pleasure, a very immersive game run by the voracious and addictive Vixen (B-movie and adult film star Parks). Michael's growing dependence on the game frays his relationship with girlfriend Stephanie (Red Lips' Leigh), and the game begins to blur the line between fantasy and Game of Pleasurereality while having a ripple effect on everyone around him. As it turns out, there's a very dark side as part of its security protocols that might cost him Game of Pleasurehis mind... or his life.

If that sounds like a dense plot, well, even at just an hour there's a lot of padding here to get this one up to (barely) feature length-- including the obligatory slooooow opening and closing credits. There's fun to be had here though, with Frantz and company showing a goofy sense of humor at times including a crazed bit where Michael turns into a James Bond-style superspy who shoots his opponents in the dick. Mostly though this is an excuse for Video Toaster-style special effects and lots and lots of sex scenes involving a variety of nudie models. You also get some fun makeup effects (including a cool demon design) from Doug Ulrich, who directed the beloved and wildly overachieving Scary Tales and Snuff Kill.

As you'd expect, the Blu-ray release is limited by the original source material but looks about as good as a '98 shot-on-SD video production can get. It's perfectly watchable without any significant issues, and the DTS-HD MA English 2.0 mono track sounds fine (with optional English subtitles provided). Frantz and Summerfield join forces (the latter by phone or video conferencing) for an audio commentary about the film including thoughts on the bits that were shot on 8mm, the efforts they went through to make it look as big a production as possible, the main production shooting that took place around 1995, and the process of creating and rendering the large number of computer effects. A new interview with Frantz (27m15s) covers the highlights of the production including a quickie earlier film Game of Pleasurecalled One Red Rose that brought them together, as well as his TV background and the tech and casting hassles they had to deal with here. Then a new interview with Summerfield (12m31s) Game of Pleasuregoes into his lifelong love of movies and monster makeup, the influences on this film, and the spark that led to making this film with Frantz and wearing many hats on the production. Finally a new interview with Ulrich (13m46s) touches on a 16mm production called Touch of Danger that led to him coming on this film, plus where he had to come up with ways to approach the multiple casting choices for Vixen. "Behind the Pleasure" (22m38s) is an adorably lo-fi archival featurette with Frantz and Summerfield interview snippets along with a variety of cut scenes, looks at two prior Vixen casting choices, and production footage. After that you get raw spicy footage from "The Pool" deleted scene (11m13s) and the insanely long "Eddie Meets the Girls" deleted scene (53m51s), a trailer, "Bar Fantasy" storyboards (3m11s) and "End of Eden" (5m34s) storyboards with or without the picture-in-picture final result, a Demon Vixen FX reel (5m9s), a One Red Rose trailer, and a hefty image gallery (12m24s). Easter egg hunters will also find a whopping 86m33s of raw footage from one of the sex scenes, complete with lots of anatomical detail you didn't see in the finished film.

Reviewed on July 7, 2024