Dark Dungeons May Be The Reefer Madness For A New Generation
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Dark Dungeons May Be The Reefer Madness For A New Generation

By Rob Payne | Trade News | April 26, 2013 | Comments ()


There's been a lot of jibber-jabber on this here site and in the comments lately, about the relative merits of various Kickstarter and audience-funded projects. Who knew -- after the last torturous season of "Scrubs" and zero worthwhile movies after Garden State -- that Zach Braff could still inspire people to come out swinging on multiple sides of an argument? I sure didn't. But regardless of how you feel about Braff's new venture or his celebrity friends' endorsements, that Kickstarter (and IndieGoGo) exist at all is cause for celebration. Today (and for the next 26 days), we can celebrate their existence by donating to a much smaller, much more independent project: an adaptation of Jack Chick's Dark Dungeons graphic novel.

Unfamiliar with Jack Chick? Perhaps you've heard of Chick Tracts, the super-duper fringe Christian comics that people give away for free or discard wherever there's a surface upon which to discard them? He's basically Glenn Beck without the influence and Frank Miller without the talent, which means his work is some of the most unintentionally hilarious you will ever come across. Chick Tracts are so bizarre and ungrounded in any recognizable reality that it is impossible to take them or their ideas seriously. And yet, that is exactly what "Middle Manager and Professional Writer" J.R. Ralls intends to do with his live-action adaptation of Dark Dungeons, a comic about the inherent pitfalls and obvious Satanic nature of Dungeons and Dragons, and roleplaying games in general.

Just how sincere is Ralls taking this concept? Skip to the 4-minute mark in the video below to see his acquired thespians reciting their lines in character...

I'd recommend watching the whole video, which, despite being over 9 minutes long and (purposefully?) cheaply produced, is very entertaining. I hope I'm not bursting anyone's bubble with this, but Ralls is clearly attempting to make a satire for the ages by taking the same type of ludicrous beliefs about an underground culture found in eqaully sincere, if misguided, camp classics like Reefer Madness and playing them 100% straight. I don't know if that one joke can hold up over feature length, but I do know that by donating to find out you aren't actually giving money to Jack Chick. Director/writer Ralls has already obtained the film rights, so any money received is purely for the production of this movie, which besides its source material has no other connection to Chick or his Tracts. Intrigued but still not convinced? Here are some of the things Chick actually believes and will find their way into the film -- remember, he's on the fringiest of fringes:

  • Playing RPGs can make you gain real life magic abilities.

  • If you gain a high enough level you will be invited to join a secret cult.

  • Gamers whose characters die are in danger of committing suicide.

  • That DM's are vile temptresses that are out to corrupt their players to the forces of evil.

If Ralls gains enough backer support, he also plans on including elements of the Necronomicon and Cthulhu, which Jack Chick also believes are totally real. Because of course he does. So, no matter how you feel about Zach Braff and his cojones, J.R. Ralls is only asking for $12,500 to make something that probably literally could never happen without the kindness of strangers. So, let's help make this happen, people.

Or else the devil and the Pope win.


Rob Payne also writes the comic The Unstoppable Force, tweets on the Twitter, tumbls on the Tumblr, and his wares can be purchased here. He's pretty sure Ralls never saw The Wild Hunt if he thinks Mazes and Monsters was the last negative portrayal of roleplaying on film.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • OMG, was that Glenn Beck in the hood? When he said "a work like this can't be parodied," truer words were never spoken. I wonder if Chick will catch on, or is he so far out in hyperspace he can't?

  • mat catastrophe

    "...for a New Generation"???

    Really? Like this tract came out last week or something?

    Get real.

  • If J.R. Ralls played more Dungeons and Dragons, he could conjure up the money for his film without resorting to Kickstarter.

  • foolsage

    "Ninth level backers get to play 'RPGs are Evil!' the role-playing game." OK, that was witty.

  • "Playing RPGs can make you gain real life magic abilities."

    I wish. I play D&D with my co-workers occasionally because it gets real boring on the night shift and if I could snap my fingers and make people explode the way a high level evocator can, my job satisfaction would skyrocket, let me tell you.

  • How have I gone my whole life without encountering these things? Did I repress them somehow? I regret so thoroughly evading street corner pamphleteers up to this point (in college, I used to carry around one of those little green new testament semi-bibles just so I could pull it out whenever I encountered someone trying to hand me another one and be like "nope, already got me"). Where can I get these without paying Chick Tracts for them? Should I just start hanging around downtown or in Santee more, acting all sinful? If I go for variety, am I more likely to amass a better collection? I'm thinking short skirt, visible tattoo of a barcode, tank top referencing both dinosaurs AND Darwin, D&D manual tucked under one arm, Human Rights Campaign sticker on my tush, a necklace featuring symbols from multiple religions, and a lot of eyeliner.

  • And here's the link for your reading pleasure/daily confusion/rage requirements: http://www.chick.com/catalog/t...

  • All of the Chick Tracts are available to read for free online at Jack Chick's website. They are fascinating and horrifying and hilarioius. My personal favorite: Boo! Look out for the druid holding an ankh.

  • abell

    I want to clarify something. Is that comic implying that the doctrine of Transubstantiation is a JudeoSatanic plot to lure Christians into Idol Worship? Because, I don't even... what?

  • RedRightAnkle

    Transubstantiation is one of those things that Christians loooove railing on Catholics for. But then Christians love dog-piling Catholicism in general (at least Christians of this sort) especially if they can get a good Anti-Christ crack in there.

  • linnyloo

    While I was in high school, I was a babysitter for a conservative couple who were the up and comers of the Republican Party in Iowa. During the primaries, they'd be out super late, and they didn't have cable, or movies, or any books worth reading, and sometimes I'd forget to bring along something to keep myself entertained. One time I was so bored I was flipping through a youth bible, and in the middle were a whole series of these tracts. I was horrified that their little kids -- the oldest was 8 -- were being exposed to that hatred and ridiculousness, and I didn't babysit for them any more after that.

  • Cazadora

    I think I got one of those tracts once, on my car after visiting the grocery store. It was something like bar codes were the sign of end of time. So one minute it's on a can of peas and the next it's tatooed on your forhead and the devil is emminent.

  • BlackRabbit

    Depends on how hard you throw it.

  • DoctorDouchebag

    Well he does have some salient points, for instance as my half-elven rogue/mage advanced i gained the ability to repel attractive women.

  • PDamian

    Geez, this takes me back. At my first job out of college, working for a small law firm, one of the file clerks kept a stack of Chick tracts in her purse and would pass them out to people she thought were misbehaving. For example, if you told someone in passing that you'd been out for a drink the night before, she give you a tract on the dangers of devil alcohol and sleeping around -- because in Chick tracts, people always drink to excess and end up in bed with multiple strangers. I always thought they were how-to manuals.

  • dannyexplosion

    "If you gain a high enough level you will be invited to join a secret cult"
    I wish I would get invited to a secret cult, usually I just eat 2 bowls of Lucky Charms and some Cheetos.... I guess I need to get higher

  • elsie

    Wasn't this already covered by Tom Hanks and Chris Makepeace in Mazes and Monsters?

  • Mazes and Monsters didn't go FAR ENOUGH!

  • Socrates_Johnson

    Make believe is the devil, and Queen Sara is Lillith.

  • Marc Greene

    Apparently I am DMing the wrong goddamn game. I know my players would have loved me sharing my "mind bondage spell" secrets with them (psst! It's vodka)

  • Robert

    Does Dustin know you're praising Kickstarter on Pajiba or is this is a stealth attack against his wishes?

  • (Tom) Hardy har har. It is to laugh.

  • notmark

    Who knew that Nikola Tesla was an exorcist.

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