Rev. Warlock DRACONIS BLACKTHORNE (dblackthorne) wrote,

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Mazes & Monsters

Mazes & Monsters
{XVII A.S. Written by Rona Jaffe. Teleplay by Tom Lazarus. Directed by Steven Hilliard Stern. Starring Tom Hanks, Wendy Crewson, David Wallace, Chris Makepeace}


The film begins with the excitement of a new college semester on the verge - Kate, Daniel, and Jay-Jay travel to school with their seemingly 'normal' stereotypical families'... then there's Robbie, a sensitive sort with an alcoholic mother and verbally abusive father, trying to align his priorities despite his past extreme distractions with a fantasy board game akin to "Dungeons & Dragons" called "Mazes & Monsters", when lo and behold, he spies an "M&M" group advertised on the posting board in the cafeteria... and it begins... the obsession resurfaces, progressing from a gloomy candlelit room to "taking it to the next level" wherein the players actually don the accoutrement of their characters {acquired from Theatre class} and travel to the local caverns where Jay-Jay, the resident "Game Lord" {eq. 'Dungeon Master'; D&D} has arranged several objects including a skeleton which appear on cue when the wayfarers pass through certain spots in the caves, whereupon the Game Lord's voice echoes forth with warnings and instructions. This is where the hallucinations begin for Robbie, imagining a literal "Gorvil" creature stalking the stalactite-laden corridors, which becomes the first indication of his mental degeneration.

He confides in his girlfriend Kate about the loss of his brother 'Hall' on Halloween to a mysterious dissappearence and was never found...

Thus, on Halloween night, while others were living it up, he sleeps and begins dreaming of a dark figure named "The Great Hall" who informs him of his erstwhile 'destiny' as 'Pardu' the Holy Man, who must seperate himself from the group, become {ack!} celebate {there went Kate...}, and seek 'The Towers' by engaging upon a quest, which takes Robbie to New York City where he roams in a hypnogogic state until an attempted mugging by a couple of greasy thugs results in him defending himself by stabbing one of the lowlifes, all the while perceiving himself as this 'Pardu', and the attacker as another Gorvil.

Frightened by this encounter, he almost comes to his senses and calls for help. Being skiddish however, seeing another couple of guys on a street corner scares him enough to descend into the city's subway system and further below into the labyrinthine underworld beneath the streets, and its roaring "Great Dragon"...

Meanwhile, the Police become alerted to his sudden disappearence, and the group are payed a visit by an investigator. Scared that they may be implicated in his missing, his friends scramble to figure out where he may have gone by inspecting his room and find a hand-drawn map, carefully brainstorming to decipher his 'journey'.

Robbie eventually encounters a homeless man who jestingly refers to himself as 'The King of France' - of course, being in a completely delusional state of mind, "Pardu" acknowledges him as such, inquiring for directions to 'The Towers'*, which turns out being 'The Twin Towers', The World Trade Center, to be exact, which one could see coming from a mile away, as it were, both figuratively and literally. Included is some extensive interior footage of the WTC from lobby to observation deck.

His friends eventually catch up to him as he climbs out on the parapet preparing to join with "The Great Hall", until tearfully awakening from the somnambulism. He is eventually committed to a scenic mental home where his delusions persist, and after one last 'adventure' with friends, is left to live out his days in his fantasy world.

Rating: 4/5.


Obviously, Robbie dealt with the loss of his big brother by anthropomorphosizing his memory as "The Great Hall", and his desire to reunite with him. Delving into the board game as a form of escapism taken to an extreme, in this case served as an affectation of his mental illness, but may not necessarily have been the cause of it, but merely placed fantastical definitions and terminology to establish an albeit false identity.

Through a balanced perspective, these games can be an amusing recreational activity, but there may always be the danger of those with a wayward brain who will literalize elements therein and attempt to detrimentally personafy either the characters and/or activities described. While the exercise of the imagination is encouraged and channelled into creative endeavors, care must sometimes be taken with the mentally ill in order to prevent compulsion, lest you travel the "Pardu Path" to insanity.

* 'The Towers' as part of the legend of 'The Lord of The Rings' series writ by sage Tolkien were acknowledged as one of the possible motivations while the group were inspecting a map and gathering clues to his whereabouts, defining his mentality by the persona of the Pardu character. Ergo, "What Would Pardu Do?"

* Related article: Satanimation II: Role-Playing Games.

Dungeons & Dragons

Personally, I had begun playing a variation of this board game with an acqaintance in 5th grade, who would hand-draw a maze on a piece of paper and roll a piece of die, and proceeded imagining all sorts of scenarios, marking "X's" where a previous battle was waged, until eventually gathering enough "power points" to battle the dragon guarding some treasure at the center of the maze.

This moved onto improvisational "adventures" at local parks, where we physically played out the actions of our characters, sometimes deciding who would "win" by whom actually won a wrestling match! Here we did not limit the exercise of our imaginations to the rulebooks, but actually took it out into the physical realm - plus, we were also motivated by Kung Fu movies we enjoyed.

Eventually, I joined a D&D group at the local library, then played with a private group of friends through Jr. High where I eventually became a "Dungeon Master". My favorite character was most often a combination "Warrior / Mystic", with a perfect synthesis of mental as well as physical capabilities, which seemed an appropriate reflection of what I was in real life, with excelling in My academic studies and Martial Arts training. The games became rather ceremonially psychodramatic as well, with the addition of candles, various objects d'art {from wizards, creatures, to dragons}, memento moris, and music of a darkened nature. The propensity for elements of an exotic and occult nature has always been a vital part of My life.

I subsequently moved on to other concerns and indulgent experiences in life, but was amused to have "guest Dungeon-mastered" on a couple of occasions.

Tags: blackthorne theater, blackthorne theatre, film, film review, filmography, films, games, monsters, movie, movies, multimedia review, psychology, reviews, satanic panic, satanimation, spechtreum, video, videography

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