‘Interlocked’ (1998): Early Internet panic!

This is what happens when the cast of The Bold & the Beautiful riffs on Fatal Attraction.

By Review Staff

Interlocked (sometimes titled Interlocked: Thrilled To Death) is a 1998 straight-to-video thriller starring Jeff Trachta and Schae Harrison (both of TV’s Bold & the Beautiful), along with Sandra Dee Robinson (billed here as Sandra Ferguson) and Maitland Ward (both of, you guessed it, Bold & the Beautiful).

interlocked-dvd-case-image

The film is directed by Rick Jacobson (whose credits at the time consisted mainly of ’90s syndicated TV fare such as Baywatch, Xena: Warrior Princess and She Spies) and written by Al Sophianopoulos (just one other writing credit listed: 2001’s Poison, aka Thy Neighbor’s Wife, aka Midnight Vendetta…if you’re only gonna write 2 movies, might as well have 5 titles, right?)

While some movies are plain bad, some are just bad fun, and Interlocked falls into that latter category. At first attempting serious cinema in the psycho-faux-Fatal Attraction mold with early internet-panic underpinnings, the filmmakers eventually decide to not take this precious piece of schlock so seriously, resulting in some legitimate gut chuckles.

AnyTown/City, USA, present day 1998. Married ad executive Michael Anderson (Trachta) meets Eva (Harrison) over the internet. He never sees her; she emails and they chat back and forth. Michael is tempted just enough to extend the flirtation thanks to his pregnant wife Emily (Robinson) giving him the brush-off. (She’s just overly moody — a convenient way to rationalize Michael’s need to flirt with a stranger online.)

It turns out, Eva isn’t all that nice. When Michael decides he’s had a enough, evil Eva won’t let the illicit affair die (and if you’re at all familiar with these kinds of genre flicks, you can guess the rest). But good luck trying to find a reason for Eva’s psychotic behavior; I couldn’t make heads or tails of what was driving her to want to be with Michael…does she want a baby of her own? Is she taking out her frustration from past relationships on Michael? Your guess is as good as mine.

But it doesn’t matter, for this sexploitation film exists for two reasons and two reasons only: to shock viewers with yet another unstable, murderess Basic Instinct-type babe and to show Schae Harrison topless.

Interlocked VHS case

And speaking of sex scenes, there are almost no scenes of Trachta and Harrison together, and they never actually share a roll in the sack. Instead, the three or so scenes where they get it on are merely fantasies, with the actors serving up a visual representation of what they’re fantasizing about (the sex) while chatting with each other online, even though Micheal has no idea who Eva is or what she looks like. (She calls herself Roxanne in the chatroom.) There’s really not enough story here to get them into bed together organically, but for a movie sold direct-to-video and late night cable, the producers found a way to shoehorn those scenes in.

View the Interlocked trailer here.

But the character of Eva has as interesting trait — she’s a computer programmer! She’s able to wreak havoc on Michael’s “electronic” life (personal records, bank accounts, business files) by hacking into his computer systems and doing whatever the hell she wants. This was a novel idea back in ’98, when the Internet was still in its infancy. There was a mysterious thrill to be had when exploring the bottomless pit of the World Wide Web, and this film plays on those fears at a time when they were at their height. Who is that sending me a message? What does he/she look like? Are they who they say they are? Those questions piqued the imaginations of many in the mid-to-late 90s as everyone experienced communicating on the web for the first time. Interlocked offers a worst-case scenario. (Ironically, the sweet romantic comedy You’ve Got Mail, which helped bring recreational e-mail use into the pop culture, was released the same year, giving moviegoers a happier story about online communication.)

If you were a fan of daytime soap operas at the time (Bold & the Beautiful in particular) and wondered what a torrid love scene between Thorne and Darla might have looked like, you got to see it in Interlocked. With so many actors from that show with parts in the film, it plays like a convoluted, season finale-style soap episode, complete with stilted, melodramatic delivery and wooden supporting characters. (Maitland Ward, who plays a secretary with a crush on Michael, would escape the schlocky world of direct-to-video B-movies and soap operas by playing a receptionist on TV’s Boy Meets World.)

Interlocked VHS tape

There are enough ridiculous scenes to have fun with it. From an excruciatingly nerdy and unconvincing scene in the park where Michael and his coworker are playing catch with a football, to the ridiculous jailbreak scene straight out of Dukes of Hazzard, there’s joy to be found in the unintentional comedy. (I dare you to not roll your eyes at the pizza delivery man’s reaction when cops bear down on a nearby suspect with their guns drawn. When the suspect makes off with the delivery man’s car, he deadpans to the police: “Hey, I got a pizza to deliver!” Groan…)

But this, my friends, is why you shouldn’t turn the channel if Interlocked happens to pop up on your 2 a.m. cable TV surf, especially if you happen to be a soap opera fan. (You’re bound to recognize a few of your favorites.)

Distributor A-Pix Entertainment released a slew of familiar titles in the 1990s onto low budget, direct-to-video shelves, many of which also popped up during the late night hours on pay cable, mostly thriller, horror, and action films, enticing Blockbuster aisle browsers with their slick cover art. From information I’ve read, A-Pix appears to have operated from 1990 to 2000, with one final production released in 2002.

A-Pix logo

Interlocked director Rick Jacobson would later direct such films as Spartacus: War of the Damned (2010) and Ash vs Evil Dead (2015).

The Movies & Drinks library sports an original VHS copy of this film in its retro library, but for collectors, Interlocked can also be found on standard DVD. So go on…getcha some of that dangerous 20th century cheating — Internet style!

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