I know that this sounds like Strange Days, which I haven't seen, but from the Wikipedia description I don't think that's it.

I saw this back in the early-to-mid-90's on TV, pretty sure it was a premium channel. It follows a research group who develops a way to record experiences. Not thoughts, but at least the sights, sounds, smells, touch, etc. They record it onto this reel-to-reel tape, it looked striated and golden in color. The protagonist is the head of the research team.

I don't remember a great deal of the plot, but there were conspiracies surrounding the invention. The lab clown decides to give it a whirl by putting the bike-helmet-sized apparatus on his head and going out to have a little fun, in the classic wine, women, and song fashion. Once he returns, an older member of the team finds the tape and finds a section where the clown is having sex. Later on, the protagonist, who is the lead researcher, finds the older member shut up in his house seemingly for days and nearly comatose. The older researcher had the playback device over his head and is non-responsive. Worried, the protagonist removes the helmet and puts it on himself, only to find that the older researcher had snipped a few seconds of tape and had them running on a non-stop loop; the moment of orgasm for the clownish researcher. The older researcher eventually comes to and awkwardly apologizes.

I think there were also experiments in recording the sensorum of a lab monkey, and that played into the plot. I remember the plot seemed fairly thin and dull for what seemed to be a pretty neat idea. I don't desperately feel the need to watch the movie, but I'm mildly curious if my impressions would differ 20 years later now.

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    "fairly thin and dull"? Movies have changed a lot in 30 years. It was inspired by Silicon Valley of its day, and captured the zeitgeist, even if the miraculous technology is still out of reach today. The story was true sci-fi in that it explored the "what-if" of a yet-to-be-if-ever realized technology. It wasn't intended to be a thriller, mystery, or action flick as a lot of modern "sci-fi" movies are. – Anthony X Jul 4 '15 at 3:42
  • You should watch it again. It is a classic sci-fi movie which has inspired many fils since. Hopefully upon a second viewing you might find it less dull :-) – Josh Jul 4 '15 at 3:45
  • As I said, it's been 20 years. My tastes have changed somewhat since then, which is why I'm curious to give it another go. – Broklynite Jul 4 '15 at 4:29
  • duplicate of scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/21782/… with even earlier candidate at scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/4256/… – Otis Oct 19 '15 at 0:43

The movie you're looking for is called Brainstorm from 1983. It starred Louise Fletcher, Christopher Walken and Natalie Wood.

DVD cover

Fletcher's character invents a device that allows people's memories to be recorded on tape. A member of the team records himself having sex with his girl friend, another scientist gets a hold of that tape and puts it on an endless loop, sort of frying his brain a bit in continuous orgasms. Fletcher's character ends up having a heart attack and records herself dying. Replaying the tape almost kills Walken. The conspiracy is the Military has been following the project and confiscates it.

Scientist with the helmet on

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  • To Walken's character, its his baby, and he sees all the benevolent uses for the device; others see the potential for military application. Between the deeper pockets funding military initiatives, and the need to protect intellectual property having the potential for military advantage, the project gets taken over. Not sure I'd call that a conspiracy. – Anthony X Jul 4 '15 at 3:29
  • That's right- I thought I remembered someone being recorded while dying but wasn't sure if that was influenced by reading up on Strange Days on Wikipedia. Thanks a bunch! – Broklynite Jul 4 '15 at 4:28

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