Grind-Fu Cinema Rolls a D20 For Scare Tactics!

See Dark Dungeons and Mazes & Monsters for free!

May 02, 2022 |

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Grind-Fu Cinema presents
Dungeons & Dragons Scare Films

Dark Dungeons
Mazes & Monsters
Saturday, May 28th @ 7:00 p.m.
Wiecking 220 Auditorium
Minnesota State University, Mankato


So far so good! The April Grind-Fu kick-off went without a hitch, and we're on the way to a full Grind-Fu season! This is another bucket list double feature, featuring an all time campy fave featuring an early performance by one of the biggest stars in the world, and a fan production of a pretty hardcore anti-Dungeons & Dragons pamphlet. Both of these features were meant to scare people away from the evils of role playing games, but let's face it...we all want to play them even more now, right?



Directed by L. Gabriel Gona
Chick tracts are pretty iconic in the genre of religious messaging. They're small pocket sized comic books that preach on a wide variety subjects. Depending on your perspective, they're either fighting a righteous battle, or misguided and hate filled. They're also very collectible. Shyboy Tim has quite a few in his comic book collection. 
One of the more notorious Chick tracts is Dark Dungeons, which preaches all about the evils of role playing games. Sadly, this tract is out of print, but you can find it on eBay for prices ranging between $50 and $400. At this point, the primary market for this tract seems to people that gleefully play Dungeons & Dragons, so I suppose, in a way, they're still kind of reaching their target audience.
J.R. Ralls was a fan of Dark Dungeons. In college he had always dreamed of turning the tract into a film, but wasn't able to get the project off the ground. In 2013 he won $1000 in the Oregon lottery and realized that he potentially had seed money for his dream film. He reached out to the notoriously reclusive Jack Chick, creator of the Chick tracts, and asked if it would be possible to purchase the film rights to Dark Dungeons. To his surprise, Chick agreed, and the project could now become a reality.
Ralls turned to Kickstarter to raise additional production funds, and soon raised double his initial goal. He also received backing from Zombie Orpheus Entertainment, a role playing game company that realized that something like this is actually the best possible way to promote the joys of role playing.  With that in mind, what was their approach to this going to be? They all decided that the best way to present the film is to play it as straight as possible. By doing this, the film can either be seen as a very devout film about the evils of role playing games, or it can be seen as a wildly off mark scare film. Regardless of how you view it, Dark Dungeons is wildly entertaining.
Massive thanks to the folks behind Dark Dungeons for allowing us to screen their film! Support the makers by visiting their website and purchasing the film.



Mazes and Monsters (1982)
Directed by Steven Hilliard Stern
In 1979, sixteen year old Michigan State student James Dallas Egbert III went missing in the steam tunnels under the campus, allegedly during a live action role playing session of Dungeons & Dragons. In reality, he ran away to take his life, but ended up hiding out at the home of an older admirer. His parents, and the private investigator they hired, latched on to the narrative that he was led astray by the role playing game, and since this was the early days of the "satanic panic", that story stuck.
Realizing there was a story behind this, author Rona Jaffe set out to write a book to cash in on the case before someone else did. Some reports state that she wrote the novel in a few days, but it went on to become a lasting symbol of hysteria via the 1982 TV movie by the same name. Mazes & Monsters stars 26 year old Tom Hanks as Robbie Wheeling, a troubled youth going to a new college to get a fresh start on his life and escape an eluded to troubled past. He meets up with some students to being playing Mazes & Monsters, a Dungeons & Dragons-esque game, and they all become friends.
One of the players decides to scope out a cave system near the campus, and he comes up with the idea to play a live action version of Mazes & Monsters. They all enter the cave as their M&M characters, and it's here where the line between fantasy and reality begin to blur. I CAN SAY NO MORE! YOU HAVE TO SEE THE FILM TO FIND OUT MORE!
Don't forget, Grind-Fu Cinema is free! Join us on Saturday, May 28th at 7:00 p.m. in Wiecking 220 auditorium for a great night of movies. There's plenty of parking behind the building! For more information, e-mail us at
Made possible through funding from the Minnesota State Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.
I'm the new boy in town! Where can I go?

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