Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Halloween 2018 #23: Mazes and Monsters ** (1982)

A 1982 made for TV movie with a very serious message on the danger of role playing games, Mazes and Monsters stretches the limits of credibility, but stands as a curio of the decade that brought us the Satanic Panic. Tom Hanks received top billing for the first time as troubled gamer Robbie Wheeling. 

Based on a real case when a college student went missing after allegedly getting too involved with a Dungeons and Dragons game, a case that was enhanced in a bestselling book by Rona Jaffe. A few years later Jaffe's explosive claims were debunked in another book, blaming the incident on emotional distress brought on by factors that had nothing to do with the game.

The film hints early on that something might be amiss with Robbie, an all around nice guy who may be concealing some emotional issues. When asked if he plays Mazes and Monsters he replies "Not Anymore," then totally gets into it. He gets along with his Waspy college friends and things appear to be going well, except they all have issues with their hard driving parents. Robbie experiences an incident in a cave and starts to believe he's in an alternate reality and goes missing.

There's enough unintentional laughter to sustain Mazes and Monsters.The ending is especially ridiculous in its "message." The theme song of the movie may be the most disturbing part, "Friends in the World" by Judith Lander and Cathal J. Dodd. Enjoy some early Hanks with the climatic scene at the World Trade Center.

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