Blu-ray News and Reviews | High Def Digest
Film & TV All News Blu-Ray Reviews Release Dates News Pre-orders 4K Ultra HD Reviews Release Dates News Pre-orders Gear Reviews News Home Theater 101 Best Gear Film & TV
Blu-Ray : Recommended
Ranking:
Sale Price: $23.98 Last Price: $36.98 Buy now! 3rd Party 23.98 In Stock
Release Date: June 25th, 2024 Movie Release Year: 1998

Game of Pleasure (Standard Edition)

Overview -

Blu-ray Review By: Billy Russell 
Vinegar Syndrome’s VHShitfest releases the SOV cult classic Game of Pleasure on Blu-ray, with a wealth of special features, reversible cover art, and a DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack. Depending on your tastes and interest in no-budget video filmmaking, and soft-core erotica, your mileage may vary but this release is a work of love and admiration for the film. Recommended
  

OVERALL:
Recommended
Rating Breakdown
STORY
VIDEO
AUDIO
SPECIAL FEATURES
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
Region Free Blu-ray
Video Resolution/Codec:
1080p/MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect Ratio(s):
1.33:1
Audio Formats:
English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Subtitles/Captions:
English SDH
Release Date:
June 25th, 2024

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

Ranking:

I’m a sucker for movies like Game of Pleasure, which span genres. Released in 1998, it really hits that sweet spot of being totally at home in a niche of soft-core flicks courtesy of Cinemax, blending the plot with some cyberpunk aesthetic, like a proto-Matrix, replete with bad guys with trench coats and sunglasses. 

Directed by Dale Frantz, Game of Pleasure tells the story of a hacker and perpetual daydreamer, Michael (Kevin Summerfield, who also wrote the script), who gets more than he bargained for when he enters the virtual reality, sexual experience by the same name, “Game of Pleasure.” The game, you see, has been corrupted by a virus and the company is recalling copies, but Michael is stuck inside, unable to differentiate what’s real and what’s the game, as he battles wits with the game’s demonic Vixen (Tammy Parks, Attack of the 60 Foot Centerfolds).

As Michael fights for his life, and his sanity, I was reminded of lots of similar movies–skin flicks like Killing for Love, virtual reality simulators gone wrong like Existenz–and it has a lot going for it. This was made during an era, on the cusp of transformation, when the future of VR was viewed with curiosity, angst and confusion. VR is to the 90s as AI is to the 2020s. Game of Pleasure is not what you would classically refer to as a “good” movie, but it is fun, and it’s clearly a labor of love. The plot goes off the rails plenty of times into detours that make zero sense, in tangents that seem like complete nonsequiturs, but you know what you’re getting into with a movie like this. It delivers on the goods that it promises: sex, nudity, a goofy plot with a cyberpunk/cybergoth aesthetic, and a script that never makes the mistake of taking itself too seriously.

As a child of the 1990s, I admire Game of Pleasure more as a nostalgic totem than as an actual movie, but it is impeccable in its duty on that front. But let’s be real, even at a mere 62 minutes, this movie draaaaaags. At one point, I clicked to see how much time was left, and I’d only made it about 12 minutes in. I let out a single, gentle sob, and proceeded to hit play to bang out the rest of it. For such a short movie, there is a lot of padding added to the run time, including a prologue and title sequence that seems to go on for eternity, and artsy-farsty black-and-white fantasy sequences that go on, and on and on...

Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Game of Pleasure is presented on a single-disc Blu-ray with reversible covert art, including the original cover art on one side, and the reverse containing the artwork of the CD-rom game within the film, also titled “Game of Pleasure”. The reverse art is my favorite, as it really nails that 1990s PC game look and feel, with an olde English font type that reminded me of Phantasmagoria. The video transfer is what it is, which is SD from a movie shot on video in the late 90s and audio that sounds like it was shot on location, and in-camera. There are a ton of special features here to keep you entertained, if something like this movie is your cup of tea.

Video Review

Ranking:

I’m torn between giving the video 1 star for being so amateurishly shot–fuzzy, badly lit, barely comprehensible–and 5 stars for being the best possible result that the Blu-ray could have hoped for, given the source. So, I decided to split the difference and give it a 2.5.

The shoddy video is half of the movie’s charm, so I don’t want to ding it too severely for that, and it’s totally reminiscent of that time and place with SOV erotica/sci-fi being budgeted for pennies on the dollar. Some of the effects, like the PC monitoring shooting electricity into the players’ eyes, looks quite good and sharp and bright, whereas just about everything looks terrible. It’s always hard to rank these kinds of video transfers, because they look awful, sometimes intentionally and other times by necessity, but let’s just say that VHShitfest did great work on a not-so-great source.

Audio Review

Ranking:

The audio fares a bit better on Game of Pleasure than the video, given a surprisingly-deluxe DTS-HD MA 2.0 treatment. The music and effects, which are often overpowering in the overall sound mix, sound great. They really do. The cheesy soft-core techno soundtrack is a ton of fun, and I loved it. The dialogue often comes through soft of fuzzy, popping on the syllables, but I get the feeling that most of the dialogue was recorded on the set, directly into the camera. The omnipresent buzzing of the camera and the whirring of the tape changes pitch and frequency whenever the film edits and the angle changes. Game of Pleasure is a totally amateurish affair, but everything is audible, even the fuzzy dialogue. Music comes through pitch-perfect and the effects are sharp and crystal clear. The work that went into the sound mix and transfer is good stuff.

Special Features

Ranking:

The special features found on the Game of Pleasure Blu-ray are robust and give you an overall history of the making of the movie, what inspired the writer and the director, and what it was like to make the picture. It was, predictably, not an easy shoot, and when the money ran out, which was frequent, production would stop, then start again months later, until finally, they had enough in the can (or in the case here, on tape) to finish and edit, utilizing Adobe software that was brand new at the time.

  • Audio commentary with director Dale Frantz and producer/writer Kevin Summerfield
  • Behind the Pleasure, a making-of-featurette from the movie’s original release (SD 22:38)
  • New Interview With Dale Frantz (HD 27:15)
  • New Interview With Kevin Summerfield (HD 12:31)
  • New Interview With Special Effects Artist Doug Ulrich (HD 13:46)
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Alternate Scenes
  • Raw Footage
  • Trailer
  • Image Gallery

Final Thoughts

Game of Pleasure is, let’s face it, a terrible movie by the objective standards we have to judge quality. It is, however, a lot of fun even if it’s way too long for its hour-long runtime. It’s a great cultural artifact for a specific time and place and specific sub-sub-genre within a genre (no-budget SOV sci-fi-erotica), and VHShitfest goes all in on it, with a pretty decent soundtrack, and amazing special features, and they do whatever they can with the existing video quality. For curios and aficionados alike, Game of Pleasure comes Recommended.

Order Your Copy of Game of Pleasure on Blu-ray