There must have been a point during the production of The Dungeonmaster, originally titled Ragewar: The Challenges of Excalibrate, originally, originally titled Digital Knights, when one of the producers or even one of the seven directors said, “Hey maybe this is a bad idea.” I imagine everyone else on set, high off coke and the advancement of laser special effects in the 80’s screamed in unison, “I reject your reality and substitute my own!” Everyone laughed, did another line of coke and turned the cameras back on.
Paul Bradford (Jeffrey Byron) is a nerdy guy who is “psychically linked” (You Know Internet of Things) to a semi-conscious computer program named X-CALBR8, who is probably in love with him. Paul’s girlfriend, expert aerobics instructor and certificated 80’s bombshell Gwen (Leslie Wing), doesn’t take to kindly to Cal, Paul’s affectionate name for X-CALBR8. Paul proposes to Gwen during dinner at his home. Gwen refuses his ring citing the fact that his relationship with Cal is creepy and consuming. Paul, the genius that he is, has Cal run a success probability program to show Gwen that their marriage will be successful. Gwen angrily heads off to bed exclaiming, “At least I know I will have all your attention there” (She means sex).
For reasons unexplained, I think it was Cal trying to get Gwen to marry Paul. Paul and Gwen are transported to some digital, hellish landscape where they are greeted by Mestema (Richard Moll). Mestema, who is pretty much Satan, uses his magical powers to kidnap Gwen and challenges Paul, who he refers to as Excalibrate, to seven challenges (Each written and directed by a different person) to save Gwen’s soul. Satan, not being a total bad guy, lets Paul keep Cal and even builds him a fancy wrist device to house her.
Paul defeats all seven challenges, including a battle with a giant claymation ape and banishment to a frozen cave with Albert Einstein (Look for him in the movie trailer). Each challenge is less thrilling than the last and most challenges are defeated through lasers (Man the 80’s loved lasers). In the end, Paul goats Satan into a fist fight and throws him into some lava, somehow killing the lord of eternal flames.
They arrive back at Paul’s house where Gwen tells Paul that she will marry him and accepts Cal into their now techno-polygamous relationship. Roll the fucking credits!!
Just listen to the synth tunes as Paul, in his nut suffocating short shorts, runs home after work, using his Watchdog abilities to change the traffic lights. Not since Spider-man 3 has such great power been used so irresponsibly.
- Clay Monkey Laser!
- Double Mirror Laser!!
- Palpatine Laser!!!
Yes, 80’s Glam Metal band White Anglo-Saxon Protestant has a short cameo in the film. During one of Paul seven challenges (Survive a bad music video). Paul uses the power of high frequencies, something you think musicians would be prepared for, to disintegrate the band members.
Also, advice to any would-be musician murderer stop licking your machete before you kill someone, it is dangerous and unsanitary
Gwen does literally nothing until the very end of the film. She doesn’t even get a last name. Most of the time she is just a damsel in distress. The most acting she does is during her aerobics scene during the beginning of the movie. At least she gets to shoot some lasers in the Thunderdome section of the movie. Lasers combating gender bias since the 80’s!!
The Dungeonmaster is either a really terrible film or a really terrible film experiment. It is probably both and it is better for it. I think by looking at it as a film experiment it is a passable 80’s B-Movie with some great tunes and terrible everything else. With a running time of like 75 minutes, it’s not a bad movie to put on while you and your friends do some recreation drugs in honor of the film crew.
The Dungeonmaster is terrible B-Movie, with a creepy love triangle, seven directors, lots of lasers and Satan himself.
“You can escape purgatory, but you can’t escape Hell.” - Priest in My Left Foot
This has been day 2 of 30 VHS In 30 DAYS. My journey to the center of VHS Hell. Special thanks to I Luv Video in Austin, The World’s Largest Video Store, for being my spiritual and literal guide through VHS purgatory.