The Goofiest Technological Gimmicks in Movie History


With national conversation centered on the “Information Superhighway” and “the Internet” and “interactivity” in the early ‘90s, Back to the Future co-writer Bob Gale was inspired to create the first “interfilm,” a combination of film and video game. The result was 1995’s Mr. Payback: An Interactive Movie, and the idea was simple: the audience’s seats were equipped with special joysticks, allowing them to vote at certain decision points and control the film’s plot turns and outcomes. It opened in 44 theaters, but response was less than enthusiastic, particularly from critics; Roger Ebert’s half-star review asked, “Is there a future for ‘interfilms?’ Maybe. Someday they may grow clever or witty. Not all of them will be as moronic and offensive as Mr. Payback. What they do technically, they do pretty well. It is just that this is not a movie. It is mass psychology run wild, with the mob zealously pummeling their buttons, careening downhill toward the sleaziest common denominator.” Ebert needn’t have worried — Mr. Payback was the first and last of its kind.