Released for the CD-I gaming system, 1993
As I’ve attested in previous posts, a search for Robert Culp stuff on YouTube back in 2008 yielded a small return of material which I’ve covered in previous posts. Once I got through the standard, though limited, fare of I Spy and Greatest American Hero material, I then began to notice the “other” results that came up.
I hardly paused clicking on this stuff, but it was once I got to it that I often thought, “what the–?” The first clip I found of this early 90’s full motion video game was just such a clip.
The original clip I saw is gone, but it was for the intro to the game (which has since been posted on YouTube by other users). The opening credits of the game play over a scene showing a woman undressing down to her black panties, bra and garters.
Thus, my “what the—?” moment. The scene plays out and eventually we hear Culp’s voice but don’t see him. Since there was nothing else posted at the time, I was left to wonder (and you can only imagine what I was left to wonder). It wasn’t until 2010 that various segments of the game were posted by a user and included footage of Culp from the game. And holy smokes, what a “game.”
Culp plays Reed Hawke, multi-millionaire industrialist who has his sights set on running for the Presidency. He gathers his family at his mansion for the weekend to ponder and discuss his decision.
Right. Reed Hawke has so many possible nasty skeletons in his closet that he’s called everybody together so he can tie up any loose ends that might threaten his candidacy. The premise of the game is you, as the player, are the voyeur. You’re a PI that’s been hired to spy on Reed and his crew to collect any damaging material you can to ruin his plans of running for President. He’s a dangerous man and nobody wants to see him in the White House.
Pretty much a choose your own adventure type concept, depending on what you see and hear and when determines how you continue to move forward in the game. Once you record any damaging material and submit it to the authorities you’ll likely save one of Reeds kinfolk, and prevent him from running for President.
There’s multiple story lines, each one as seedy and shocking as the next. Reed either murders somebody or there’s one storyline where he ends up murdered.
In each story line, Culp plays Reed as sadistically evil as possible. He is one nasty, devious, diabolical dude, his performance of which won him a “Best Actor” award at the Cybermania ’94: The Ultimate Gamer Awards. Unfortunately, I can’t tell if this is a dubious honor or not. Entertainment Weekly at the time lambasted the awards show, calling it “a low-rent whack at the MTV Video Music Awards without the faintest whiff of Oscar’s legitimacy” and Cybermania ’94 is sometimes attributed to the respected Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences but the AIAS didn’t come to be until 1996.
Online reviews of the game are mixed but Culp’s performance is often noted as above par. The game itself wasn’t without controversy, even still today. The storylines and themes are very adult, the language at times is raw. If it hadn’t been a video game it would have made a hell of a movie.
Other noted cast members include Grace Zabriskie (Twin Peaks, Big Love), who plays Reed’s disturbed sister, Margaret (they’re a little closer than brother and sister oughta be…), Sherrie Rose (Tales from the Crypt, Black Scorpion) as Reed’s niece, Chloe, Musetta Vander (Wild Wild West, O Brother Where Art Thou?), as Reed’s assistant, Chantal, and Bruce Locke (RoboCop3, Mortal Kombat: Conquest) as Reed’s son-in-law.
Collecting caps of this was a challenge as I had to grab them off YouTube and it’s hard to see the performers very clearly. Nonetheless, a few interesting scenes to note from a few of the storylines…
As mentioned previously, Reed’s sister Margaret is a lot closer to her brother than she really should be. There’s one scene where she practically crawls inside his robe (What? Culp showing off his chest? Surprise!)
In another scene Reed and niece Chloe have a chat and Chloe wants money or else she spills their little deep dark secret. Culp’s portrayal of Reed is especially creepy in this exchange…
Daughter Jessica confronts dad about Hawke Industries’ toxic waste dumping and is easily dissuaded by the promise of funds for Research and Development on another project…
Son Zack, previously thrown off of a BIG missile development project with Hawke Industries, is further given the shaft by his father…
One of the story lines concludes where Chloe is saved (because you, the Voyeur, got the tape to her in time) and Reed meets an unfortunate end by the hands of his own sister…
Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.
Many of the game’s scenes can be viewed on YouTube, here.
One final note, on Sherrie Rose’s IMDb listing is this photo of her and Culp on the set of the video game, taken at some point during the scene in one of the story lines where Reed kills Chloe.
Don’t you wonder what Sherrie Rose is thinking?
Although long discontinued, Voyeur is available sporadically still in the CD-I format and also a CD-ROM DOS version. I don’t believe the CD-I format can be played on anything other than the CD-I player. The CD-ROM DOS version was only compatible with Windows 95/98 systems.