Dark Dungeons Review

Dark Dungeons: The Movie

Dark Dungeon Poster

Back in the early 80’s, Dungeons and Dragons came as close as it ever was going to get to being cool. D&D was readily available in toy stores and book shops, and there was even a cheesy Saturday morning cartoon I remember with equal parts nostalgia and shame. As the game’s popularity grew, there was also a backlash from certain fundamentalist groups and moral crusaders against D&D (there was even a 60 Minutes segment on this). Enter Jack Chick. Jack Chick is a cartoonist who creates “missionary bibles.” These are short, free comics that warn people they are going to hell unless they worship Christ in precisely the way Jack Chick does. His comics rail against a variety of targets (Muslims,Catholics, sex, drugs and rock and roll) but one of the most unintentionally hilarious is a comic he created called Dark Dungeons (1984) which showed how Dungeons and Dragons is a tool of Satan that leads to players developing THE REAL (satanic) POWER from its intense occult training. It has been a source of unintentional amusement for gamers for years. A gamer managed to get Jack’s permission (likely with a Charm Person or Suggestion spell) to use turn his eight page comic into a 45 minute movie. Naturally, once this sucker hit kickerstarter, it was fully funded. It is now available for $5 here.

How come the D&D books I read never taught me how to use THE REAL POWER?
Opinion So is it worth $5 for this 45 minute movie? If you are hard core role-playing nerd, I would answer with an unqualified yes. This is a movie made by gamers, for gamers, loaded with obscure cameos and references just for you. 

Even if you aren’t a gamer, you may still find it quite enjoyable, so long as you know enough about RPG’s that they don’t actually involving casting spells. Even if most of the in jokes and gaming references go right over your head, this movie just works as a comedy.

“Those RPG’ers. We tried to get them kicked out, but they’re just TOO popular.” Only slightly less believable than the idea that D&D teaches you real magic.

The majority of Dark Dungeon’s comedy doesn’t derive from in-jokes, pop culture references or manatee gags. It works because it a faithfully adapted, utterly clueless movie based on an utterly crazy worldview in which the UN wants a godless one world government and Muslims worship the moon. Dark Dungeons takes the original material and adapts it faithfully, keeping as many of the origonal lines as possible. When it can’t rely on the source material (presumably from extending a short comic into a 45 minute film) it at least keeps to the spirit of the original, adding in bits from other comics, or the aforementioned in-jokes I mentioned earlier. The result is damn funny, even if the gaming references mostly go over your head (or at least, my significant other found it really funny). 

I really wish Hollywood comedy writers would take note. Recently movie parodies make the mistake of flying way too far off the plot. You have to give a certain level of faithfulness and understanding of the source material for a parody to really work. You also have to let the actors actually act as though they are in the situation in the movie. You can’t just throw in pointless dated pop culture references, some zany manatee gags and call it a parody. Surely, having taking the ridiculous situations being taken with deadly seriousness adds another level of comedic appeal to the joke.

If you don’t get this reference, get off my lawn, whippersnapper.

Caption: If you don’t get this reference, get off my lawn, whippersnapper.

When the source material is itself ridiculous, it just makes sense to just play it absolutely straight. Every line in Dark Dungeons, no matter how ridiculous, is delivered with gloriously goofy earnestness. Where ever possible, the movie choses to go with Jack Chick’s original dialogue, stuff from his other pamphlets he’s written, or made up insanity that might as well have been written by him. The only in movie indication that the movie is aware its a joke are the easter eggs and references that no one but a gamer would know.

Other then that, this movie takes place in the world envisioned by Jack Chick’s: a world in which D&D really is a super popular addictive gateway drug into real magic, occultism, Satanism, and playing around in college steam tunnels where you are likely to be eaten by a grue. Your only chance is to burn your books and accept Jesus as your personal saviour, or C’thulu will be summoned and Satan will reign on earth!

You can check out the first 20% or so of the movie on YouTube for free. If you like it, you can get the whole movie for $5 at http://darkdungeonsthemovie.com/

Also, those creepy occult demons at the start in the robes?
Those are the cast of the Gamers movies. Check out their stuff at http://deadgentlemen.com/ if you are a fan of tabletop RPG`s.


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