Mazes and Monsters

This is a really misleading cover.
"Danger lurks between fantasy and reality."

Good morning boys and girls, it's that time again! Time for me to relay to you my latest foray into the danger that lurks between good actors, bad movies, and role-playing games! Well, at least that is what I will be doing today, as I explore the exquisite garbage that is Mazes and Monsters, a 1982 film based on a novel written by Rona Jaffe, during the height of Satanic D&D pandemonium. Am I referring to how Dungeons and Dragons is a tool used to recruit children into covens of Satan worshipers, using non-Christian ideologies and REAL MAGIC INCANTATIONS to twist their minds and souls to do the work of the devil? Why you bet I am! A quick primer for the uninitiated. Back in the 1980s, when liking nerd things didn't have a sitcom about it and basically made people regard you with a mixture of pity, suspicion and fear, a number of groups, particularly religious ones, put forth that D&D, and to a lesser extent all fantasy role-playing games, were tools of occultists and devil worshippers. By getting individuals to play these games, they were introducing them to real satanic rituals, and using the guise of a game to get these impressionable minds tied up in a pursuit of power and riches, making them servants of the beast. Of course no one ever had substantive proof that any of these cults existed, despite claims that their members numbered in the hundreds of thousands AT LEAST, but that didn't stop every hack on the block from blaming D&D for all the wrongs of the youthful world. It also didn't seem to encourage any of these people to actually discover what kind of game D&D WAS, given that none of the things they talk about actually happen in a D&D game or any game ever. There is also of course the very real possibility that these groups were simply full of liars and reprobates, but NO surely that couldn't be possible?

I know I personally am terrified.
So onto this backdrop of fear towards those nerd types with their role-playing and their science fiction, comes the movie Mazes and Monsters, which the author originally wanted to just call Dungeons and Dragons but for obvious reasons wasn't allowed to. That honor would go to a movie nearly as shitty as this one, which did certainly make playing Dungeons and Dragons seem like a bad idea, and also probably made Jeremy Irons very sad (for more on regrets Jeremy Irons will probably carry to the grave, see here). This particular movie also marks Tom Hanks first leading role in a film (albeit a made for tv film). Most likely starring in this also represents a regret that HE will carry to the grave. I can't find any mention of him ever talking about it, so I assume he just hopes everyone has forgotten. I haven't. Mazes and Monsters stars a young Mr. Hanks as Robbie, a troubled college student who flunked out of Tufts after playing too much Mazes and Monsters. He harbors deep guilt over the disappearance and probable death of his brother Hall, who ran away with money he requested from Robbie years earlier. It is inferred with the subtlety of an artillery barrage that Robbie's father and mother fight a lot, and that his mother is an alcoholic. Robbie transfers to a new school, where he meets three other players of this game, looking for a fourth. They are for the most part also troubled weirdos who are very very rich and probably would in a different era have starred in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. JayJay is upset because his mom keeps redecorating his room, Kate is unlucky in love, and David's parents think that he's wasting his potential with his dreams of being a video game designer (imagine wanting to design something SO FOOLISH AND INSIGNIFICANT remember this is 1982). These three basically force Robbie back into their game, the same way one might force an alcoholic back into a vat of hard liquor. It is clear that Robbie has a lot of emotional issues, but we will instead focus on this imaginary game that is driving people to madness.

Guest starring Josh from Drake & Josh, only in the past somehow.
Robbie starts dating Kate, but when he weirdly tries to move into her dorm room or something, and gets them a double bed, easily the weirdest move to try and 'take it to the next level' Kate gets kinda understandably weirded out, and asks him to maybe slow up. Robbie responds by taking one step closer to the edge (and he's about to break). JayJay, who is by far the richest and douchiest of the group, decides he wants to commit suicide in the local caves, which are renowned for being hard to get out of, but then he decides that he wants to play a game down there. He says it is something no one has ever even dreamed of, the 'ultimate game'. He is of course just talking about LARPing. But as any man who LARPs in a cave inevitably must, and so Robbie has a psychotic episode and thinks he kills a monster in the cave, and then he thinks that he is his cleric character. This leads to him wanting to find "the great Hall" who is calling Robbie to jump off of the Twin Towers apparently. For those who can't remember that far back, Robbie's brother's name was Hall. This psychosis leads Robbie to wander around New York, and later he stabs a guy to death who's trying to mug him! So that's pretty cool.

I am Pardieu, a holy man.
Don't worry though, because after covering up their time spent in the caves and not telling the police about their missing friend, Robbie's really shitty pals find him in New York and convince him not to jump off the building. Robbie's friends all decide to grow up and not play games any more, but Robbie stays at his parents' house, where he still thinks he's his character and leads everyone on one last LARP through the woods. Then it is strongly insinuated that Robbie's friends, who COAXED HIM INTO ALL THESE SITUATIONS never speak to him again. The message here of course is that imagination and fantasy are dangerous and will maybe make you crazy, but the only message I got was that people suck really bad, and that Rona Jaffe has almost literally no idea what Dungeons and Dragons is. One highlight is when the JayJay meets Robbie, and is excited to learn that Robbie is "a level 9" because I guess your character is attached to you permanently, you can only have one, and you can never play it again after that character dies ever. Also you can't just have someone roll a freaking level 9 character. For some reason all the anti-D&D types are really obsessed with statistics, and the numbers aspect of the game. Weird right?

Here though, let me share with you maybe the greatest moment in cinematic history before you go:

On that note my friends, farewell for now, I wanted to give you a taste of the fantastic music in this movie, but regrettably the song sucks so hard that I can't even find a clip of it. So I'll see you Thursday!

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