Anti-Dungeons & Dragons hysteria gets a modern-day facelift with Dark Dungeons film
If you were born after, say, 1980 and/or you didn't grow up as a huge geek, you probably have no idea that, for a brief time, RPG hysteria was a very real thing. That's right, for five or six years in the early to mid-'80s (and probably to this day among the hardcore lunatic fringe), fantasy role-playing games, particularly Dungeons & Dragons, were considered to be an existential threat by a certain portion of the religious right.
Don't touch these, they're evil!
And why wouldn't they be? After all, the game is full of wizards and witchcraft, demons and dark gods and other shit that must have seemed pretty scary to people who believe in talking snakes and a boat capable of serving as a home for two of every animal on the planet (minus dinosaurs, of course) for an extended period of time. If your mindset incorporates the idea that Satan is real and constantly trying to win control of your soul through any means necessary, the idea of your precious children playacting at being barbarian kings and chaotic aligned necromancers must have seemed pretty scary.
Now, you'd think a quick look through an actual, real-life copy of the Dungeon Masters Guide might have dissuaded these folks, given the fact it has more in common with a statistics textbook than an actual, magical grimoire (supposing, of course, that such a thing existed in the first place). But when has religious hysteria ever been dissuaded by something as simple as facts or reality?
There's little doubt it would have sucked to be one of the poor bastards from religious families who no doubt had their first-edition Monster Manuals confiscated and burned at Sunday school, but for the rest of us, who came from sane families, the ludicrous wave of anti-gaming hysteria resulted in two wonderful pop-culture artifacts. The first is the Mystery Science Theater 3000-worthy TV movie Mazes and Monsters, which, in typical TV movie-of-the-week fashion, misrepresented a real-life event to exaggerated effect in an attempt to get suburban moms everywhere to clutch their pearls and gasp in abject horror. We'll never know if it succeeded in that (unless your mom was an '80s suburban mom, in which case you could just ask her) but we do know it succeeded in one way -- it introduced the world to a man named Tom Hanks, in his second most ridiculous role (Bosom Buddies still holds the pole position of shame in the Hanks filmography).
Keep reading for a second anti-Dungeons & Dragons resurrection.