Net Games (2003) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

You would expect that a no-budget erotic thriller starring C. Thomas "Soul Man" Howell would not be worth your while, and you'd be right. The erotic bits are insufficient to satisfy somebody looking for a decent soft-core film, and the production values are inadequate to satisfy somebody looking for a real movie.

In all fairness, the script and directing aren't that bad except that they are derivative. The opening scene looks exactly like the opening scene in Basic Instinct, and other elements mirror Fatal Attraction. Hell, I guess you have to expect such homages. There's only so much one can do in an erotic thriller with no money. The real weakness of the film is the budget - not that everything is derivative, but simply that it is cheap. A lot of the running time consists of people talking at computer screens while pretending to type. (It's about cybersex gone bad). I don't know about you, but I don't find it especially stimulating to watch simulated typing. If you can believe it, I don't even like to watch real typing that much. But I guess that's just me.

The most fun involved in encountering a film like this is to see whose career is really in the crapper. Remember this is a no-budget, straight-to vid, soft porn film which stars Soul Man, so anybody who took a small role in this must be desperate for a paycheck.

That roster of desperation includes:

  • Ed Begley Jr.

  • Joan van Ark

  • Marina Sirtis

Sirtis had an especially humiliating role. She had to pretend to be falling-down drunk, and then had to make a sad, unsuccessful pass at Soul Man. She better hope they rev up some more Star Trek adventures for her.

C. Thomas Howell, like Merlin the Magician, has lived his career in reverse. You're supposed to start out in small productions, hoping some day to get a lead in a film from a major director, right?

In 1983 Howell starred in a Francis Ford Coppola movie based on S.E. Hinton's popular book The Outsiders. That's impressive enough, but what is truly extraordinary is the list of young actors who had smaller roles in that film: Tom Cruise, Diane Lane, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Emilio Estevez, Patrick Swayze, and Rob Lowe. That's right, Soul Man was the star, Cruise and Lane and the others were the bit players!


  • Lala Sloatman -breast and buns repeatedly
  • Monique Demers -one breast
  • Marina Sirtis -none (cleavage only)
  • Unknown stripper - breasts
  • Unknown victim  - breasts

After that auspicious start in the early 80s, Howell started to go backwards. Here's an example of some of the movies he made in the 1990s:

He has also tried directing, with little success. These are the three films he directed:

I don't think any of them had theatrical releases.

DVD info from Amazon

  • widescreen anamorphic 1.85

  • no features except trailers

Currently, he's trying to be the straight-to-vid Michael Douglas, but that isn't really working out any better than some of his earlier efforts. To his credit, he has always managed to maintain a career of some kind, keeping his foot in the door, working steadily, making a decent living, hoping for another break of some kind, getting an occasional small role in a good film like Gettysburg.


Net Games (2003) is a straight-to-vid thriller built around a cybersex stalker, and has convinced me that it would not be possible to make a good thriller about cybersex. Much of the film is two people sitting at computers, typing to each other, and reading aloud what they are typing. Depending on what is being typed, this might be fun to do, but it is simply not a spectator sport. It is only when the story moves out of cyberspace and into a real life stalking that the film picks up any energy at all, but it is too late by then, and even that story is rather derivative of films like Play Misty for Me and the hundreds of copycat movies such as Fatal Attraction.

LaLa Sloatman, who plays the stalker, is the cousin of Moon Unit and Dweezel Zappa.

The Critics Vote ...

  • no reviews on file

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it 3.5/10. It seems to me that all of Soul Man's recent films are in that territory.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a D (Scoopy) or D- (Tuna). Not adequate as a softcore or as a thriller.

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