This past weekend at the Southern-Fried Gameroom Expo in Atlanta I had the pleasure of interviewing legendary video game designer Brian F. Colin, the designer of such classics as Arch Rivals, Xenophobe, and the legendary Rampage. During our conversation about his time at Bally Midway and his current position as CEO of game design company Game Refuge Inc., a question came up about the possibility of there ever being a movie based on Rampage or any other of Mr. Colin’s games. At the time, he responded that there was interest several years ago, but that everything was essentially dead in the water.
Fast forward just two days when it was announced that blockbuster star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson would star in a film adaptation of the video game Rampage. I reconnected with Colin to see if he was surprised to learn of this development, or if he had just been holding his cards close to his chest. Most of all, I wanted to know what he thought about the project and how he feels about Johnson in the lead role.
GeekDad: We were just talking this weekend about how the development of a Rampage movie was in limbo, and now this announcement. Were you as surprised to hear about this news, or were you already in the loop?
Brian Colin: No, I’m not “in the loop” LOL …I doubt if I’m even on the filmmaker’s radar. I was a Bally/Midway employee back when I first came up with Rampage, and as such, I don’t own any rights to the game. I’d be very surprised and flattered if the producers knew of my existence. Still, as you might expect, I was really excited a few years ago when I heard that Rampage was slated to become a big budget Hollywood Movie … and then bummed when it never materialized. I just assumed that the project had lost its initial momentum and been sidelined. So I was quite surprised, and delighted, at the announcement earlier today that the project is still very much alive!
GD: What do you think about Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson being cast as the lead in the film?
BC: I’m incredibly excited that ‘The Rock’ has attached. He’s proven that he can bring a comedic aspect to large-scale action adventures, and his involvement brings a tremendous amount of credibility to a project that has got to be raising a lot of Hollywood eyebrows.
GD: OK. Just knowing the movie is based on Rampage and will star Johnson, could you give us some wild speculation about what the plot may be?
In my dreams, it would follow the storyline we created in our arcade games, Rampage and Rampage World Tour. George, Lizzy and Ralph are the protagonists; striking out against the corrupt and ecologically irresponsible Scumlabs corporation that caused their involuntary transformations. The storyline:
‘Just before dawn, in the small Illinois town of Toxic Hollow, a dedicated employee of SCUMLABS INTERNATIONAL, the world’s foremost toxic waste recycler, places an urgent video conference call to the head office. Scarcely does Scumlabs research technician Dr. Veronica DeMonic begin voicing her concerns regarding plant safety when an explosion rocks the building. A garbled E-Mail transmission to the associated press reveals that while three technicians have been inadvertently exposed to volatile toxins, the general public is not at risk.
The three technicians, known only as George, Lizzy and Ralph, are next seen rampaging through the streets of downtown Peoria. George has transformed into something resembling a giant ape, Lizzy appears to be a Dinosaur of sorts, and Ralph, well, Ralph is a something out of a Tex Avery nightmare!
The trio destroys one building after another until the entire city lies in ruins. Their appetite whetted, the creatures turn their attentions to the next city on the horizon…. Meanwhile, back in what’s left of the lab, Dr. Betty Veronica grimly attempts to document the devastation.
As city after city is crushed beneath their massive feet (paws?), a sudden insight causes Veronica to phone the head office with some unpleasant news: the creatures’ goal seems to be to wipe Scumlabs from the face of the earth! Scumlab C.E.O. Eustas DeMonic remains unruffled; even smiling as word of the destruction of the Scumlabs Eastern Seaboard Facility reaches his ears. “Making Toxic Waste Palatable” is not Scumlabs only business; there are a number of defense contract prototypes that he has been itching to test… Not surprisingly; he is rumored to have some heavy underworld connections as well.
And so it goes… The creatures’ single-minded (if dimwitted) and relentless rampage to rid the world of Scumlabs International versus Eustas DeMonic’s deadliest weapons of destruction…. with mankind smack dab in the middle.
In my dreams.
GD: Big monster movies like the new Godzilla and the blockbuster Pacific Rim have been very popular. What do you think a movie version of rampage could bring to the table that others haven’t already?
BC: The original games had slapstick violence, laugh-out-loud comedic surprises, and three average joe protagonists that the players could empathize with. (After all, doesn’t it sometimes seem like the only way to deal with unrelenting urban sprawl and unrestricted corporate greed is to knock it all down and start all over?) Best of all, there was no wrong way to play Rampage. So players could feel good about wreaking havoc in a totally guilt free scenario. The games were simply about having fun.
I’m hoping that the filmmakers can combine cutting edge CG, cartoon violence and cornball humor with just enough heart to keep audiences cheering for years to come.
GD: When you designed the video game Rampage back in the ’80s, did you ever think it would capture the hearts of so many people, or possibly be made into a movie?
BC: I knew it was something I would love to play, and I hoped it was something that players would enjoy, but no, I never dreamed that it would have such an incredible, lasting impact on so many players for so many years.
GD: Thank you for your time. Is there anything you’d like to add?
BC: I understand that the producers haven’t locked down a director yet. Did I mention that I before I became a video game designer I was an international award-winning filmmaker? See: In Search Of A Plot
Thank you to Brian Colin for taking the time to respond to the exciting news. Be sure to follow Brian’s game development company Game Refuge Inc. on Facebook to keep up with their latest projects and products. We’ll be sure to check back in as the Rampage film begins production.