Saturday, June 27, 2015

Dark Dungeon

Debbie (left), Frost and Marcie
Dark Dungeon is odd movie. It was based on the "Dark Dungeon", a religious comic book made by Jack Chick that accused role-playing games of being gateways to the occult. The movie, despite being an "official" adaption, is actually meant to be a parody of the original.
What is the plot? College freshmen Marcie (Anastasia Higham) and Debbie (Alyssa Kay) join the local role playing club. However, their game master Mistress Frost (Tracy Hyland) is actually a cultist manipulating them into summoning Cthulhu.
What's good with the movie? Despite being made on a cheap budget, they managed to make the movie look professional (sans the special effect for the magic). They managed to get real locations and role playing game material for the movie. Some of the comedy in the first half was good especially RPGers having a rave party.
What's wrong with the movie? The movie has tone problems. At first, the movie is an over-the-top parody (à la Naked Gun) then it tries to be more stealthy about its mockery (à la Starship Troopers) and devolves to being completely serious. They should have chosen to one tone instead of randomly shifting gears. For some reason, the Witches' Coven, in the original comic, is replaced a conspiracy about cultists trying to summon Cthulhu. This change doesn't help the narrative at all. The subplot with the cultists gets resolved out of nowhere and nonsensically. Meanwhile, Satan, who is a major villain in Jack's works as a whole and is implied to help cause the events of original comic, is never mentioned. A lot of the references to role-playing culture (such as the steam tunnels (referring to the disappearance of James Egbert and the result media hysteria) and the live action role playing session) are intrusive and bog down the movie. As I mentioned before while the movie otherwise look professional, the special effects for the magic are very fake-looking.
Dark Dungeon is a confused mess to the point it can't decide if it wants to parody or be a straight forward adaption of its source material. This and adding the conspiracy that adds nothing to the movie made this movie unenjoyable. I give this 3 out of 10.