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This is a long shot, but I’m wondering if anyone might recognise this scene I saw as a child but have been unable to ever find.

The scene in question is some kind of interrogation or torture scene (at least, that is how I perceived it), in which the “interrogee” is secured to some kind of frame that holds them Vitruvian man style, possibly gimballed or otherwise able to rotate.

The “interrogator” I remember as being unnaturally thin or having a long neck, possibly similar to spider-smith from the '90s Lost in Space, or Fode and Beed from Star Wars.

And lastly, the space the “interrogation” took place in was like the interior of a large sphere with some kind of repeating pattern or technology in the walls. It was yellowish and the effect was sort of like the scene with Neo and the Architect with all the screens in the Matrix Reloaded.

I remember the scene from walking into my living room when I was 8, and being ushered out because it was too scary for an 8 year old, but I’ve often thought of it since, but my Mum doesn’t remember it.

The only clue about timeframe is that I distinctly remember that my parents got this movie and Jurassic Park from the video store at the same time, and we moved to a different place at the beginning of 1995, so it could only have been late 1994, and the movie was on VHS.

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  • 12 Monkeys? Fits timeline at least.
    – Radhil
    Jun 14, 2023 at 10:53
  • I think 12 Monkeys would be too late. My family moved to a place where there were not video stores in 1995, and we never picked up the habit again until I was in High School. So there’s a hard limit of needing to be on VHS by the end of 1994. It could be an earlier film, of course.
    – Ben Murphy
    Jun 14, 2023 at 11:12
  • How long (or brief) was the scene? Was the entity being tortured human or alien? The Last Starfighter (1984?) had a very brief torture/execution scene of a League spy (alien humanoid) transmitted to Starfighter Command by Xur and the Ko-Dan, but I cannot recall the details other than that the victim was seated. Jun 14, 2023 at 12:22
  • 2
    Sam (Jonathan Pryce) being interrogated/tortured by Jack (Michael Palin) inside a gasometer in Brazil? (The interior of the gasometer is grey rather than yellowish — but it is large and round with a regular pattern, he is strapped into a large chair that can rotate, with a frame for the head; and the movie was released in 1985, so plenty of time to be on VHS by 1994. It's also show in a disorientating manner, and is pretty scary — especially once you've seen the whole movie…)
    – gidds
    Jun 15, 2023 at 0:14
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    @gidds Looking at the stills, that that really feels like it could be right. I’m just going to blame VHS colour reproduction and tiny TVs for all the ways in which it doesn’t match my description :)
    – Ben Murphy
    Jun 15, 2023 at 2:00

2 Answers 2

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A partial match could be Sam (Jonathan Pryce) being interrogated/tortured by Jack (Michael Palin) inside a gasometer in Terry Gilliam's dystopian 1985 movie Brazil.

It's not a perfect match:

  • The interior of the gasometer is grey rather than yellowish.
  • It's cylindrical rather than spherical.
  • The interrogator is not unnaturally thin.

But it roughly matches many points:

  • The interior is very large and round.
  • It has a regular (rectangular) pattern.
  • He is strapped into a large medical-style chair that can rotate, with a frame for the head.
  • The interrogator is quite thin, and wears a long white coat and has a fat babyface mask, so his body and neck might look even thinner in comparison. And much of the scene is shot from very close, which distorts the perspective.
  • The movie was released in 1985, so plenty of time to be on VHS by 1994.

The scene is quite short (about 3 minutes), and is shot in a very disorientating manner, making it pretty scary for all ages. (And even more so once you've seen the rest of the movie…)

IMDB has some relevant stills, including:

(Despite being quirky, disturbing, and suffering from insufficient budget, IMHO it still richly deserves its flattering comparisons with Orwell and its 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes!)

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  • I don't think this is it (although it is a good answer). I've discussed it with my mum again and she does not recall ever having seen Brazil. Plus I've watched this scene and it doesn't "feel" quite right. (I'll have to think about why that is)
    – Ben Murphy
    Jul 6, 2023 at 11:04
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This may be from near the end of The Lawnmower Man (1992), which features one of its main characters (played by Jeff Fahey) positioned with limbs outstretched in a gimbal and electricity connected to his brain while he is experiencing a virtual reality encounter.

Gimbal

The surrounding area is not as described in the question, but the virtual conflict and crucifiction/torture that takes place is located in a large area with curved walls carrying the repeating pattern. However, the honeycomb of the walls is blue and red, not yellow.

VR Avatar

The antagonist's avatar in the virtual domain does have a lot of yellow though. It also sometimes stretches out into particularly inhuman proportions, like its head in the above image.

It's easy to find a (purported) "director's cut" of the film online, but the original was significantly different. If this was on television in the 1990s, it would have probably been the original cut, which has a somewhat different ending.

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  • These stills don't look quite right, but I'm still trying to work out how to watch this to see.
    – Ben Murphy
    Jul 6, 2023 at 11:06

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