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Bad Movie Tuesday: The Dungeonmaster (1984; aka Ragewar), another sword and sorcery fantasy B-movie with a laser-shooting techno-anthology spin.

June 4, 2019

MY CALL: A terrible yet terribly amusing B-movie that has nothing at all directly to do with Dungeons & Dragons despite its misleading title. MOVIES LIKE The Dungeonmaster:  Do you like this 80s fantasy badness? How about Flash Gordon (1980), Sorceress (1982), Thor the Conqueror (1983), Krull (1983),  Conquest (1983), Deathstalker (1983), The Devil’s Sword (1984), The Warrior and the Sorceress (1984), Barbarian Queen (1985), Deathstalker II: Duel of the Titans (1987) and Kull the Conqueror (1997). Like all the 80s fantasy but don’t care for all the “bad”?  Then perhaps aim for Legend (1985), Beastmaster (1982), Conan the Barbarian (1982), Conan the Destroyer (1984) or Willow (1988).

This “allegedly” PG-13 film (according to my DVD box set anyway) features some ample full-frontal nudity in just the first few minutes! I’ll bet some preteens in the early 80s got one Hell of a pleasant surprise with that! I’m reminded of the classic Of Unknown Origin (1983), which opened with a breasty Shannon Tweed shower scene after not even one full minute (i.e., 0:00:59) of running time.

Our lucky dreamer Paul (Jeffrey Byron) is about to bed his very naked dream girl (Gina Calabrese; Vicious Lips) when a gang of zombie orcs drag her away. FYI, this has absolutely nothing to do with the plot—just a raunchy dream sequence for the sake of a raunchy dream sequence. Upon awakening from this fantasy, we find Paul is a computer programmer phenom living with his sultry dancer girlfriend Gwen (Leslie Wing; The Frighteners, Strangeland) who is a tad jealous of his relationship with his talking computer CAL.

Seeking a worthy opponent, the evil wizard Mestema (Richard Moll; House, Evilspeak, The Sword and the Sorcerer) pulls Paul into fantasy-land and holds Gwen hostage until Paul completes seven challenges of sorcery against technology. This quasi-anthology film actually features seven different directors (for the seven challenges) who all went on to great success in B-movies. It’s a shame there is no real success to be found here.

Rosemarie Turko (Scarred) directs the segment “Ice Gallery”, in which we find lackluster historical figures brought to life. A ghoulie king sends his undead minions to attack Paul in John Carl Buechler’s (Cellar Dweller, Friday the 13th Part VII, Ghoulies go to College) segment “Demons of the Dead.” Paul thwarts the demons using his computer as a laser-shooting Nintendo Power Glove, which he’d then use to disintegrate a hair band in Charles Band’s (Parasite, Doctor Mordrid, Hideous!, Meridian, Puppet Master: The Legacy) segment “Heavy Metal.”

Speaking generally, the effects suck. But honestly, the special effects weren’t all that bad for 1984… well, for a 1984 B-movie. But the action was laughably terrible. The writing, however, is deplorable. Everything is very brief, with even the action fleeting. Just snippets really; ideas of scenes realized on-screen for a few moments… like the laser fight with the stop-motion giant in David Allen’s (Puppet Master II, and the visuals for The Howling, The Stuff, Ghoulies II, Subspecies, Puppet Master 1-5) segment “Stone Canyon Giant.” Although Steven Ford’s (actor in Starship Troopers, Contact) segment “Slasher” was surprisingly developed compared to the other shorts in terms of story, it was among the worst in terms of action/horror execution.

Then Paul basically engages in a laser-crystal snowball fight with a goblin in Peter Manoogian’s (Seed People, Arena, Demonic Toys) segment “Cave Beast.” And yes, the 4’ tall goblin is the “cave beast.” Yawn. And in Ted Nicolaou’s (Subspecies 1-4) segment “Desert Pursuit” Paul and Gwen have a soapbox derby a Mad Max-ian apocalypse.

Before we resolve the seven challenges with the wizard, can we just bring to question that I have no idea where our evil wizard came from, or why we call him dungeon master in the title. Apparently the rise of Dungeons & Dragons superseded any sense of inclusion in the script.

So what makes this a bad movie?  Here are a few clues:

  1. Full frontal nudity in the very first scene. Like, LOTS of bushy nudity. #MPAAratingFAIL

  2. An evil wizard who gets handsy with Gwen. But, I guess if you saw her “classy” dance rehearsal, you might not be so surprised.

  3. Clumsy zombie orcs. Zombies or orcs make good wizard minions. But why zombie orcs? #OrcFAIL

  4. Artificial intelligence so advanced it’s silly. Paul was hitting buttons while out for a job to control traffic lights… which weren’t even connected to any main computer hub in the 80s! CAL also does research exactly as you’d ask SIRI today… but before the internet existed! So where is CAL culling all this data…? Sounds like sorcery to me. Perhaps Paul had this wizard duel coming.

  5. Laser fights with stone giants. I mean, if you’re going to go to the trouble to animate a 20’ tall stop-motion stone giant, then why would you make his big move a gemstone laserbeam? #GiantFAIL

  6. Ghoulie kings. Who doesn’t like Ghoulies (1985)?

  7. Under-utilized ice werewolves. For real, there’s a frozen werewolf that subsequently is animated, and all it basically does is turn its head toward Gwen. Menacing!!!!

  8. An evil heavy metal band. Because all heavy metal was evil in the 80s… and 90s.

  9. A cartoon battle between two dragons… that was complete crap compared to the flying Manticore battling a wizard’s face in Sorceress (1982).

  10. Offering Paul a pile of gold and a threesome in exchange for Gwen. Joke’s on you Mestema! He threw away those dreams when he chose that sultry dancer!

  11. Heavy use of dwarves. And this isn’t a joke. Dwarves are used as a novelty as if they’re funny in many of the segments. It’s juts crass.

  12. Futuristic apocalypse vehicles represented by wooden panel-bottomed go-karts. You actually see the wooden bottom when one of them flips over. LOL

Well, that’s it. That’s the movie… if we’re calling it a “movie.” It measures up more closely to a “scene salad” of haphazardly realized ideas with a gropy arcanist and some boobs. Horrible movie, but truth be told, kind of fun anyway.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. June 4, 2019 10:58 am

    You know your stuff! Great pics too!

    • John Leavengood permalink
      June 4, 2019 12:40 pm

      Thanks. Have you seen this ridiculous movie?

    • John Leavengood permalink
      June 4, 2019 2:06 pm

      This is way more innocent than Warrior Queen. This only has nudity in that first scene. After that, it could be rated PG. lol


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