Saturday, January 7, 2017

Dark Dungeons (2014)

Directed by: L. Gabriel Gonda
Run Time: 40 minutes

A disclaimer before the review. I backed the Kickstarter for this movie. Please keep this in mind while reading my review. With that out of the way let's move on to how the 80's satanic panic lead to the creation of this movie.

In 1983, Patricia Pulling founded Bothered About Dungeon & Dragons (B.A.D.D.) after her son tragically committed suicide a year earlier. She claimed that Dungeons & Dragons was the gateway game to the occult and Satan. A message that resinated with Jack Chick and his ministry. They make cartoon tracts that are meant to be left in random places in the hopes of saving people from evil and hell fire. These tracts are full of religious righteousness but lack logic, research, and real facts. So when Chick Publications made Dark Dungeons tract 1984 it was made in that same spirit. The tract claimed that D&D spell were real and could be used to corrupt and effect others, meetings with robed cult members at higher player character levels, and committing suicide if your character dies are just a few of the evil things about D&D.

Now the end of this story should be that the tract was a joke in role playing circles but J.R. Ralls had other ideas. After winning a thousand dollars in the lottery, Ralls wrote Jack Chick to buy the movie rights to Dark Dungeons and adapt the tract as close as possible into a movie. For some reason they said yes and then the magic of making a movie happened.

The story follows Debbie and Marcie. Two born again freshmen university students who are looking forward their time at school. After their orientation session, an older student Mike, warns the girls about the popular kids on campus and how getting involved with them will only lead to problems. At this university all the popular students play role playing games. Despite the warning the girls accept an invite from the role playing group to attend a party. It starts out like another normal party with loud music, alcohol, and photogenic people showing off how photogenic they are. With the party this exciting, everyone feels it's time to shut off the music and quietly watch a group of people describe what they are doing while rolling dice.

This starts Debbie and Marcie's corruption into Satanism and evil. Also, Debbie and Marcie's friendship starts to have problems as Debbie is selected to learn real magic and be one of the popular role players. Things get even worse when Marcie's character gets killed, kicked out of the role playing group, and ends up killing herself. Distraught over her friend's death, Debbie is at a loss as to what she should do next when Mike comes back into the picture. He has been praying and fasting for Debbie and he has a way to free her from this evil. She has to accept Jesus into her life and burn all her D&D stuff in a big bonfire.

Overall it is an okay movie. There is a lot of inside jokes in the movie that detracts from the overall enjoyment of the movie. Examples would be knowing about the insanity that are Chick tracts and various incidents that people have blamed on D&D. It's worth a watch but don't go out of your way to find this unless this sounds like your thing.

MVP: Possessing the balls to buy the rights for this thing and make just as insane as the original source material.

Make or Break: The unexplained references and inside gamer jokes did a lot to take me out of the film.

Score: 4.5 out of 10

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