'Back to the Future's Writer Made An Insane 'Interactive' Movie

'Back to the Future's Writer Made An Insane 'Interactive' Movie

If someone ever builds a museum dedicated to crappy movie ideas, hopefully, they remember to save a spot for Mr. Payback, the largely-forgotten 1995 turkey written and directed by Back to the Future's Bob Gale. Yeah, the guy who co-created Marty McFly and Doc Brown also came up with the idea of a revenge-hungry cyborg who roams the Earth solving people's dumb problems by attacking "scumbags." Billed as the "world's first interactive movie" (it wasn'tMr. Payback found the titular character punishing jerks in a myriad of ways based on what movie theatre audiences voted on using custom joysticks.

The movie wasn't exactly the groundbreaking cinematic experience some had hoped -- it only lasted about 20 minutes in total and cost $50,000 per theater to set-up. In the ensuing 25 years, there's never even been a home video release of Mr. Payback, and the only footage that has survived is just a handful of clips of Mr. Payback beating up muggers and threatening gang members.

While some of the scenarios sound fairly harmless (albeit unnecessarily aggressive), the movie also waded into some bizarrely uncomfortable territory. One storyline found Mr. Payback helping a college student who is being harassed by a female dean ... which is kind of a weird road to go down. There were lots of different ways Mr. Payback could punish the dean, including stripping off her clothes and putting her in a dunk tank full of literal shit.

Or if audiences selected the "humiliation" option for Payback's revenge, he forced her to dress up in bondage gear and pulled her around the room with a leash. Did we mention that this movie was marketed to kids? Similarly, another story involves Mr. Payback helping a Black man who's being discriminated against by a racist boss -- the "humiliation" option there involved forcing the boss, played by Christopher Lloyd (Way to waste that "I wrote your biggest role" chip, Bob), to dress up like a French maid while in blackface. Yeah.

Not surprisingly, the movie was not well-received by critics, particularly Siskel & Ebert, who hated this thing with the passion of a thousand suns.

So A) please make this monstrosity available to the public in some form, and B) maybe we all owe Black Mirror an apology.

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter! And check out the podcast Rewatchability.

Top Image: Interfilm

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