Directed by David Allen, Charles Band, John Carl Buechler, Steven Ford, Peter Manoogian, Ted Nicolau and Rosemarie Turko
Starring Jeffrey Byron, Richard Moll and Leslie Wing
An evil sorcerer transports a computer genius into a magical realm to test his skills with the help of a personal computer against the sorcerer’s various challenges.
Paul (Byron) is a mild mannered computer super nerd who has developed an artificially intelligent computer called X-CALIBR8 in the future year of 1984! Paul and his girlfriend are whisked away to a fantasy realm by an evil sorcerer called Mestema. Mestema is so intrigued by Paul’s fancy technology that he wants to put it to a test and to make sure Paul goes through with it, he holds his girlfriend captive. Mestema converts Paul’s computer into an armband that Paul wears and must use to fight off each challenge since it can shoot freakin’ “laser” beams!
Where do I begin with this? Did you see how many directors there are? The Dungeonmaster is certainly unique in utilizing multiple writers and directors to film separate segments but have them tie altogether as a single narrative. It’s a pretty creative idea as the film changes just a little bit every ten minutes or so with the shift in directors. The film really looks and feels like it’s trying to merge TRON and science fiction with old fantasy films and it delivers hilariously entertaining results. And I mean that in the best way possible!
Make no mistake, in 2015, my first time watching the movie, it does not stand the test of time at all. Remake this now and, with a few bucks, it might be Iron Man vs. Madarin but we have Bull Shannon from Night Court hamming it up to no end as an evil magician who makes a nerd shoot dwarves, puppet demons and claymation creatures with a laser computer on his wrist filmed on a shoestring budget. It’s so bad, but yet so awesome at the same time. So much effort went into making this film that you have to admire everyone’s dedication to making a film like this. It’s fun to watch but for all the wrong reasons. “The Dungeonmaster” tries to tell such an epic story yet oozes cheese in every scene from the acting or the effects on display, but it’s for those exact reasons the film entertains (thirty years after its’ release, it may be the only way to be entertained by it.)
Story: 7 – It’s a jarring blend of science fiction (influenced a bit by TRON) and fantasy that doesn’t totally mesh due in part to the amount of writers and directors doing their own interpretation of the material. It does provide the viewer something interesting to watch every few minutes though, you can’t say there wasn’t effort put into it.
Blood: 2 – Most of the violence is laser blasts that don’t show much in the way of anything bloody.
Nudity: 5 – The first few minutes offers a lady just hanging out in the buff, just because.
Overall: 7 – Yes, in spite of the film not standing up thirty years after release, it’s a fun watch just to see the film try so hard to tell a story that mixes TRON, Star Wars, Mad Max and Dungeons & Dragons among others. It doesn’t work but it’s fun to watch it not work. Does that make sense?
-The film was originally called “Ragewar” but was changed to “The Dungeonmaster” to capitalize on the success of fantasy games, notably Dungeons & Dragons. The film’s in-movie title, however, is still “Ragewar.”
-A short film, “The Dungeonmaster II,” was produced as an entry in the anthology horror film Pulse Pounders. Byron and Moll both reprised their roles. As of 2014, the film has only been exhibited once.