Dark Dungeons comes from the ‘Mazes and Monsters’ era of anti-D&D hysteria, a satirical comic strip showing two naive young, innocent Christian girls being sucked into the dangers skulking about every college campus, the RPG. The problem was at least when I first read it, it was so bad, so over the top, so exaggerated that I assumed it was a joke about such anti-D&D hysteria. It was only when someone pointed out to me that it was dead straight that I realised that I just didn’t much like it. But that was a long time ago and required me having to read, maybe it’s time to give it another chance.
From Rallsfilm, who have made this and Zombie Orpheus who have made everything involving funny larpers lamp shading every trope and cliché in the book comes the live action adaptation of the old comic decrying dungeons and dragons. Marcie and Debbie are two straight laced girls, who after a public education film MST3K would kill for, are eager to see what college life has to offer, until they see the cool kids walk past. The cool kids being the RPG kids. This is a habit so dire and serious that it becomes their only warning from a fresh faced teen I shall call Randy. Taking this warning to heart they head straight over.
Here they encounter Mistress Frost the local GM who invites the two to join in a game or two while literally a whole party sits on and watches. Now I don’t know if they were planning for the girls to come over, Mistress Frost just picks people and random, not bothering with a campaign but I like to imagine that there was another scene where two people were booted, while Mistress Frost was chatting our heroine up, to make room, or worse two people who had been going to these sessions for months now, both convinced that tonight would be there lucky night.
From here Mistress Frost walks them through an almost complete TPK leaving only the two girls left by the end. Again I get that this was probably part of the groups evil plot to lure them in, like when cardsharks let you win a few free games first to lull you in, but I still like to imagine that nobody knows this but Mistress Shadow and again there is another scene unshown of everybody walking out later moaning about the dungeon masters new girlfriends. Speaking of which I don’t recall the original comic having so rich a vain of lesbian undertones running beneath it. Whether this is trying to put a link between the evils or homosexuality and the evils of RPGs or if it’s there to humanise the characters a little bit and give some idea of why they are doing what they are doing I couldn’t say but it does make me feel sorry for them.
Other than that the movie sticks fairly closely to the original plot with this gateway into magic leading to spell casting and suicide pacts for the two girls to navigate before they can find the light again. Now this is done partly because they had to get the rights to this from Jack Chit, the man who made the original comic strip, and partly because I don’t think you could have played something like this any other way. See it’s too silly and over the top to try and parody and that’s kind of the problem. The jokes about casting magic missile and ‘The Shadow‘ don’t break the mood as much as the way gaming is portrayed. The partying, the attractive people, the idea of gaming leading to actual spell casting all make this seem like some gamers wish fufilment.
Coming in at under three pound fifty on GOG the movie is only forty or so minutes long and truthfully doesn’t really go anywhere. Born of an age long past I don’t think gamers will laugh at it as much as, well Gamers which is only fifty pence more and I can see this having less legs outside of gamers, especially when compared to plot filled piece like some of the other Zombie Orpheus productions.
This movie doesn’t make jokes about Gamers, nor christians but a weird group who I think most in this day and age of MMOs and Marvel movies will find even weirder, that is people who are scared and shocked by a game involving math, paper and teamwork. Maybe that’s why I got distracted watching this by the nerd wish fufilment and longing glances from one half of our leading pair.
This isn’t my favorite online movie about RPG’s, it’s probably not even in the top five but I will say that I would hate for it to be the last put out by this team. After all that’s where Zombie Orpheus started out and look where they are now.