The Dungeonmaster

March 17, 2012 at 4:26 pm (6 Heads, Dungeonmaster, The) (, , , , , )

The Dungeonmaster – 1984 – United States

Like all Charles Band productions, The Dungeonmaster merges juvenile plot, plodding humor, zappy effects, and sizzling sexuality into a tonally ambiguous mess. Example: In the opening non sequitur dream sequence, undead fishmen kidnap a naked woman. Seven separate writers/directors collaborated on this chaotic flick. Probably inspired by Tron (1982), Dungeonmaster features a nerd (wearing high-tech glasses that hack traffic lights and ATMs) who gets sucked into a computer role-playing world by the scenery-chewing sorcerer Mestema. According to the nerd’s wrist computer X-CaliBR8, “Mestema = Belial, Beelzebub, Satan”.

To rescue his girlfriend, the nerd must conquer seven challenges. Starting as typical fantasy scenarios with dwarves, golems, and zombies, they rapidly become bizarre. In one challenge, the nerd escapes the police to thwart a serial killer. In another, he flees a samurai, werewolf, mummy, Zulu warrior, and Jack the Ripper. And most ludicrously, he kills the heavy metal band W.A.S.P. with ultrasonic blasts.

At least Dungeonmaster isn’t boring. The story is confounding and the dialogue is brain-damaged, but constant action and wild effects keep it moving. Lasers zoom and explode, stop motion statues rise to life, rotoscoped dragons duel, and there’s a cute satanic imp puppet. As a computer role-playing fan, I feel that Dungeonmaster’s premise is wasted. However, a similar idea is used even less successfully in the Charles Band-produced Arcade (1993), so I shouldn’t complain. Needless to say, enjoying Dungeonmaster requires a high tolerance for Charles Band’s unique absurdity.

Rating: 6/10 Shrunken Heads. I prefer the pluckier original title: Ragewar: The Challenges of Excalibrate.

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