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Dark Dungeons May Be The Reefer Madness For A New Generation

By Rob Payne | Industry | April 26, 2013 |

By Rob Payne | Industry | April 26, 2013 |

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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