Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Darkness of DARK DUNGEONS

Friends don't let friends RPG.
A long, long time ago in a country no so far away, there was a crazy scare about roll-playing games (RPGs).  The freak-out was of the pre-internet viral type that came from misinformation and a news cycle that would could latch onto the crazy and play it as fact.  Misinformation and disinformation became fear, confusion and utter chaos.  Suddenly, Satanists were everywhere, peaking from around alley corners, prowling graveyards and offering free 20-sided dice to first graders.  Mothers were warning their children away from playing RPGs because they were a gateway, literally, to Hell.  Individuals interested in gaining their fifteen minutes of fame quickly jumped on the bandwagon with claims of teen suicide and lost souls due to the games.

All of it bunk, but in the late 70s and early 80s as “real” as the many pop-rocks-and-soda deaths that led the headlines.

Every bit of that paranoia, including the disquiet over university “steam tunnels,” has been built into the short 40 minutes of the movie Dark Dungeons.  This is an absolute must for anyone with aspirations to become a rogue, paladin, barbarian, spell-chucker or player class of any stripe. Based on the infamous “Chick tract” of the same name, Dark Dungeons follows a pair of naive girls, Debbie and Marcie, who enter the “addictive” and apparently rave/party world of spectator role playing games (RPGs).  Yes, I said spectator.  I meant it too.  Although warned by straight-shooter and Jesus-loving Mike during their orientation that RPGs are addictive and no one who has started has ever stopped playing, Marcie and Debbie are on a mission of dubious proselytizing and socialization.  They end up partying with the RPGers, and then start playing!


The genius of Dark Dungeons is that it takes the Chick tract seriously and plays everything straight.  Sure, this is a Dead Gentlemen Productions film, and DGP has brought us such RPG funny and friendly entertainment as The Gamers and JourneyQuest.  You’d expect them to gleefully take head-on everything wrong with Dark Dungeons through the source material.  But there’s no need.  What makes the film so uproariously funny is that DGP allows the silliness of the Chick tract to inform the story, such that college parties are broken up by the
I crush your mini. CRUSH! CRUSH! CRUSH!
“thrill” of watching—yes, watching—others role play.  There are cheers and groans from the sidelines as characters win or fail.  Especially hilarious is Jonathan Crimeni as Nitro.  As his name implies, he’s amped up about everything that goes on in the game, and acts as a kind of enforcer for Tracy Hyland’s Mistress Frost.  As Debbie and Marcie go deeper down the RPG rabbit hole, the movie brings in such fantastic elements as the Necronomicon and Cthulu his ownself!

Even if you’ve never played Dungeons & Dragons or the hundreds of variations, it’s quickly clear that the films premise deviates so far from reality as to be taking place in an alternative dimension.  Don’t—DO NOT—let that stop you from watching this hilarious film.  It’s worth it to your SOUL!


  1. I remember when this movie was discussed at the local church my mom and I attended. Like you said, suddenly, Satanists were everywhere. I would borrow the 1st and 2nd Edition book, my mom would find them, put them in the closet outside of our apt, I would bring them back in, and round and round we would go.