Written by guest contributor Brian Roe
In 1984 tract-master Jack Chick used his oddly proportioned little comic books to preach against the then pop-cultural Goliath, Dungeons and Dragons. His tract, Dark Dungeons, is an oversimplified version of role-playing games that is rich with Chick’s own peculiar theology.
The new film version of Dark Dungeons, while obviously played for laughs, is also a pretty straight forward adaptation of the original. Writer/producer JR Ralls and director L. Gabriel Gonda avoid the temptation to stray too far from the source and instead use the oddities of Chick’s own tract to draw laughs. Although there is plenty of gamer fan service, it never gets in the way of the overall message of the original Dark Dungeons.
Marcie (Anastasia Higham) and Debbie (Alyssa Kay) are sugar-sweet Christian girls who can’t wait to start saving souls at their new college. But instead of joining a healthy extra-curricular group like Computer Club they make a fatal decision and fall in with the RPGers! This dark group of hard partying, hard gaming bad kids push the girls into even deeper levels of debauchery in the game Dark Dungeons even as their RPG character levels climb higher. Almost to 8th level! Lead by the beautiful but deadly Mistress Frost (Tracy Hyland), the RPGers game to the death both in the fantasy world and in the real one. After all if something happens in your imagination isn’t it still really happening?
The lead actors in DD are all spot on and pitch perfect for the tone of the movie. Marcie and Debbie are almost impossibly naive and pure and Mistress Frost is commanding and controlling. Overall the entire cast is made up of solid actors and there are never any cringe-worthy moments that take the viewer out of the movie. Everyone plays it competently and straight and that’s why it works so well.
I saw the premier of Dark Dungeons at this year’s Gen Con and it was quite simply the best possible audience to see it with. Every reference was picked up and appreciated, every odd Chickism was belted with roars of laughter. It’s a funny movie but seeing it with a crowd of gamers made it a great movie. Dark Dungeons is worth getting your friends together and having a party for.
Director: L. Gabriel Gonda Studio: Rallsfilm, Zombie Orpheus Entertainment Runtime: 42 minutes Website