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Badmovies.org Forum  |  Information Exchange  |  Movie Reviews  |  Mazes & Monsters (1982) « previous next »
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Author Topic: Mazes & Monsters (1982)  (Read 1001 times)
Pacman000
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« on: June 05, 2017, 04:35:21 PM »

First a disclaimer: I've never played Dungeons & Dragons.  I'm not really interested in the game, or most non-video games. (Yes I know there are D&D video games, dating back to the Intellivision at least.) I am, however, curious about it and the controversy it caused. That puts me closer to this film's target audience than most reviewers, tho I am a bit partial to fantasy and sci-fi stories in film and literature.

Second: If you want to know more on the film's background, just look it up with your favorite search engine, assuming the search engine's still in business and indexing the web at large. (Northernlight's still around, but only indexes recently-published business news articles; WhatUSeek only indexes sites which pay to be in their directory. AltaVista, AllTheWeb, InfoSeek, ScrubTheWeb, and many others are gone. Excite, HotBot, and Yahoo no longer have their own index, etc.)

The Review:

From the box you'd think Mazes and Monsters is a cool early-80's fantasy film.  It's not; it's an attempt to capitalize on the late 70's/early 80's
controversy surrounding Dungeons & Dragons and other fantasy role-playing games. Surprisingly it wasn't made by the 80's re-incarnation of Dwain Esper; it was made by CBS, a major U.S. TV network. I knew this, but bought it anyway out of curiosity. At the very least a TV film would have some minimal quality standard imposed on it, and controversy sounds interesting from a distance.

After a brief scene showing reporters and police gathered around a cave to look for a missing teen, we flash back to the start of the year at an east-coast university. Several students who feel isolated from their parents and other kids are trying to get a game of Dungeons &- uh..."Mazes & Monsters" going, but they need a 4th player. Enter Robbie. Robbie's a new transfer student, and he likes Mazes and Monsters. No, strike that. He doesn't just like it; he's obsessed with it. That's why he's had to transfer to a new school; he spent so much time playing Mazes and Monsters at the old school that his grades began to slip. His parents, who apparently argue constantly, forbid him from playing anymore. He agrees, at first until he meets one of the D&...M&M players. (Mmmmm...M&Ms...)  When the rest of the group finds out Robbie is a high-level player, they implore him to join their group. They only play once or twice a week, so Robbie agrees.

Most of the 1st half of the movie makes RPGs seem innocent. No, really. I might even say it makes RPGs seem like a positive outlet for people who want to participate. They were alone, but now these kids have friends, spend time together. They do play by candle light, like the game's a seance or something, but, other than that, it just seems like another activity, nothing odd, unusual, weird, or wrong. This does not make for an entertaining or engaging movie.

Eventualy, one of the characters (not Robbie) decides to commit suicide because he's starved for attention.  He can't just do it in his dorm room; it has to be memorable, so he takes off for the local, forbidden caverns.  There's something disturbing with his attitude; he's decided to throw his life away, but he doesn't really seem depressed and he doesn't act like this was a big decision. He acts too casual; he decides to kill himself the same way someone would decide to order pizza. He goes to the caves and wanders around for awhile there; then, after a quick dissolve, we see him playing Mazes & Monsters with the other kids. What happened? I don't know; it's not explained. Any grand epiphany, that life is beautiful and shouldn't be thrown away so casually, that he really has friends, that he can at least look forward to the weekly Mazes & Monsters game, is dissolved away. His Mazes and Monsters character dies, but this kid's time in the cave has gives him a great idea: he convinces everyone they should play a Mazes & Monsters for-real in the caves.

There's a few scenes of them preparing for the game, then they wander around in the caves for awhile. Eventualy Robbie imagines he's being attacked by a monster. The movie's half done, and we're just now getting to the complication. Oh, and the monster looks worse than most of the creatures in Lost in Space. (Note: I'm a bit biased; I'm a Lost and Space Fan.)

After they leave the cave Robbie still acts like his character.  He has a dream where "the Great Hall" tells him that he must break up with his girl friend to advance to the highest level. He does! He begins to act more and more like his character, but we don't get to see it. Nope. We get to hear his ex-girlfriend talk about his behavior behind his back, but we don't get to see Robbie's increasingly weird behavior. There are times to break show-don't-tell, Jack Webb narrating Dragnet to sum up long, mostly un-productive parts of their investigation worked. This did not work. I need to see what was happening to Robbie; I don't care what his friends say behind his back. That's just gossip, and it does nothing to develop or connect me with the character.

Eventualy Robbie walks out on a Halloween party to find "the Great Hall." When he doesn't show up for class, his friends report him missing, then go to find him when the police can't. This involves riding elevators and escalators up and down the...:( the Twin Towers til they accidentaly run into Robbie. The see him going to the roof, keep him from jumping off (not suicide; he thinks he can fly) and give up RPGs. Everyone goes onto a great career, except for Robbie, who will need years of psychological help.

Honestly? Well...There are a few nice moments. One character has a bird, trained to say "Birds can't talk." The sets are good. Cinematography's ok. I'd like to see more long shots, but this was a TV movie. Long shots don't always work well on a 20" screen. Acting's generally acceptable, tho Tom Hanks' last line as Robbie was more laughable than dramatic. There are a few other places where the actors could've used a bit more practice, but generally they're performances are acceptable for a TV movie. The monster suit, while goofy looking, is well-detailed. The story, however, is a failure. It fails in it's main purpose: to show RPGs as a bad influence; the 1st half makes them look good; the 2nd half doesn't show enough of Robbie's breakdown to make an impact. Doesn't matter if you agree with what the movie was trying to say; it failed to say it. And it's dull. So dull I could hardly get through this review; just remembering this movie is boring. ZzzzzZzzzz..zz...z....
« Last Edit: September 27, 2017, 03:07:51 PM by Pacman000 » Logged

Paquita
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« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2017, 05:13:29 PM »

Thanks for posting this review!  I keep running into this movie and thinking “Mazes & Monsters! This looks AMAZING!!!” and then my husband has to talk me down from watching it and assures me it would be the most disappointing movie of my life.  My husband plays D&D, well actually a game called Rifts which is a nerdier version of D&D, and has told me this movie is basically a poorly written public service announcement about the dangers of RPGs which your review confirms.   I’ve always wanted to play D&D (or a similar game) because it seems like it would be the funnest thing in the world if you can just get 3-4 friends together that all want to go on an imaginary quest once a month for the next year or so without back-stabbing, short cuts, arguing about rules, straying from the plan/story/character alignment, etc. which is, apparently, impossible.   

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Pacman000
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« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2017, 09:51:53 AM »

Thanks for reading, and I'm glad the review was helpful. 

The DVD does have a great cover, but that's all that's good about it. They put no effort into the actual disk. The print is grainy, washed out, and scratchy.  There are no special features, and the scene selection has a grand total of four scenes. It's like a PD dollar store release. An old PD dollar store release; even the bargain basement companies are doing a better job than this these days. I guess even the guy mastering the disk didn't want to watch this film!
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Ted C
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« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2017, 09:56:38 AM »

Save yourself the time and boredom of watching the TV movie and just read the dumbass Chick Tract.

Dark Dungeons
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« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2017, 03:58:36 PM »

I remember being made to watch this as a child (around 10) and my dad telling me that this was what could happen to me if I didn't stop playing roleplaying games. I can also remember thinking that one of us definately had a loose grip on reality if they thought it was in any way realistic. He had decided to teach me a lesson, but I don't think the one I learned was quite what he had in mind.
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akiratubo
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« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2017, 09:38:47 PM »

I never could make it through this movie.  Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
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« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2017, 07:23:24 AM »

Save yourself the time and boredom of watching the TV movie and just read the dumbass Chick Tract.

Dark Dungeons

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As time goes by, you will see
That we're going to be free, you and me
We'll touch the sky
Can you see in your mind's eye that we are one
We're all the same and life is just a simple game.
ER
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« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2017, 10:27:01 AM »

This is the Tom Hanks movie, right? Up until it got ruined I thought it was fun, these kids discovering a real-world setting for their own private fantasy realm like that. The coin that kept returning to Tom Hanks from the innkeeper, ha. Funny to think how there was a Reefer Madness view of D&D back then among so many people. I played it once in 1996 and it wasn't for me, but I do somewhat like Magic the Gathering when I'm in the right mood. If you can get past the themes, it actually has more in common with chess than it does most other card games. I recently taught my oldest how to play and she's not bad at it.
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Dark Alex
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« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2017, 11:36:05 AM »

Have you ever tried playing Magic with some of the Unglued cards set? My favourite is Denimwalk, where if your opponent is wearing Denim he can't block you.
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ER
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« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2017, 09:06:28 PM »

Have you ever tried playing Magic with some of the Unglued cards set? My favourite is Denimwalk, where if your opponent is wearing Denim he can't block you.

You know, I think maybe I did but I didn't know that's what the set was called. There were cards like, if someone reads a flavor text aloud they lose the game, and unless someone is willing to wear a sock on his or her head through the game, one of your creatures is unblockable, things like that.

I also once saw a rare deck that was absolutely beautiful and depicted Japanese mythos in lovely colors. Just amazing.

I have a friend who once owned 8,000 cards but his wife made him sell most of them after they had a kid. lol

It's an addictive game.
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Dark Alex
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« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2017, 12:36:01 AM »

Oh yeah. When I started playing it around '92 we described it as being like crack cocaine for gamers. Still got all my old cards.
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Paquita
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« Reply #11 on: June 08, 2017, 09:50:29 PM »

My husband plays Magic too!  I would play if there was anyone I could play against besides him.  I also think they have a lot of nice artwork and I kind of want to read the books that came along with them.  There were 2 "parody" sets, Unglued and Unhinged.  When we started dating, he sold one of his valuable cards to buy a used car so he could take me out.  I felt really bad about that so I bought it back for him a few years later for Christmas - a better version too!  Some of the cards are really valuable! 

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Dark Alex
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« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2017, 03:04:21 AM »

I think the most valuable card I had was Frankenstiens Monster which when I looked on some website back in the 90's came in a whopping $90. Not quite enough for me to sell and retire on alas.
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« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2017, 02:28:04 PM »

Not to reiterate too much of what was said on our podcast, but I loved the scene when the fly was on the camera lens and they just said "forget it!" lol

Mazes and Monsters is the story of a serial dating gamer girl who cures her writer's block by exploiting the mental collapse of a friend.
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« Reply #14 on: June 29, 2017, 05:41:39 PM »

Save yourself the time and boredom of watching the TV movie and just read the dumbass Chick Tract.

Dark Dungeons


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Did you guys know that someone made a film adaptation of the Chick tract?

Small | Large


(Haven't seen it but it's probably a hoot!)
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"Clive [Barker]'s idea of a great time is to have a nightmare about a woman with three heads and no skin who flays your body with a pitchfork. To give you some idea, NIGHTBREED has over 200 pus monsters, including one guy with a crescent moonhead like the McDonald's commercial and a fat guy with snakes that pop out of his stomach and eat your face off, and these are the GOOD GUYS. These are the people we're supposed to LIKE."-Joe Bob on NIGHTBREED
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