Movie Review: “Mazes and Monsters”

Online Description

Despite their personality differences, Kate, Jay Jay, Daniel and Robbie are close college friends, bound together by their pleasure in playing a game called Mazes and Monsters. In order to keep it interesting, they decide to take the game from the board into a real-life setting. But soon the line between reality and fantasy becomes difficult to differentiate, and what started out as just a game soon becomes a nightmare.

My Review

Cheesy. It’s the first word that came to mind when I watched Mazes and Monsters. Others were: unrealistic, poor script, bad dialogue, silly. While Tom Hanks has developed into a great actor, he wasn’t as slick in 1982. But then maybe it was the script.

This movie was based on a novel of the same name by Rona Jaffe. She had jumped onto the cash cow that insinuated the roll-playing game Dungeons and Dragons, of which Mazes and Monsters was a substitute title for, would be responsible for people worshipping the devil. Her book and this movie spread lies and misinformation. It was obvious within the first ten minutes that this film was not about telling a good story. It was about sending a message. Since I hadn’t seen it before, I wanted to know if the stories I’d heard about it were true. They were. It was horrible propaganda.

Religious groups were the first to claim playing D&D would lead players to worship the devil and join satanic cults. Propaganda, such as this movie, were made to discourage people from playing it. In the United States, this era became the Satanic Panic of the 1980s. Here in Nova Scotia, I didn’t know how big this got in the States. I heard about religious groups there banning D&D, but we ignored it.

I started playing D&D in 1979 and played every Friday night for five years or more. We even had sleepovers, where two dozen people played all night. Incredibly, none of us went on to worship the devil, murder people or start a cult.

My parents ignored the hoopla as did the parents in my neighbourhood. All that matter was their kids were entertained and kept busy on Friday night at the Boys and Girls Club instead of running the streets and getting into trouble.

On a scale of 1 to 5 stars, I give this movie a one. The four main players did the best they could to work with a poor script. Robbie (Tom Hanks) was somewhat believable and as another viewer stated, this film was “more about a person’s decent into schizophrenia and mental illness” than an evil game. Robbie’s mother was an alcoholic, his parents fought all the time and his older brother had run away three years prior. JayJay’s mother was a loon in her own right, so when he started talking suicide, I traced that back to her, not the game. In reality, she was a cardboard character with no redeeming qualities.

The start is a little confusing because I was led to believe JayJay had returned home from being away at school, yet the next scene has him starting a new school year. Transitions were horrible. The ending was satisfying.

If you want a few good laughs and eye rolls, you can watch Mazes and Monsters on YouTube. That’s where I found it last weekend. Be prepared to suspend reality, or you’ll wonder how this film even made it to television.

Writing a Book Acknowledgement

Scattered Stones Diane Lynn McGyverThere are many sections to a book. The two important parts that need the most attention are the story and the cover (in that order). For the past several months, I have focussed on these two things; without a doubt, I want them to be as close to perfect as humanly possible.

As launch day approaches for Scattered Stones, book 2 in The Castle Keepers series, I need to start playing with the other parts that go into a printed novel, the little details that occupy the spaces between the front cover and the story, and the back cover and the story. Playing is the exact word I want to use.

This time around, I want to be less formal and allow a slither of my silly side to lighten and brighten these little details. I love fun, funny and silly. And I love putting a twist into things that readers don’t expect. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

I have never written an acknowledgement for any of my books, but I’ve seen many books that include them. In essence, it is a few words to thank the people who provided a helping hand to bring the book to life. This might be direct or indirect help.

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In my other life I’m a halfling thief.

I was a thirteen-year-old kid, racing after my friends through the lounge of our Girls and Boys Club when pixies first sprinkled magic dust of Dungeons & Dragons in my hair. It wasn’t my first glimpse into the lives of elves, dwarfs and halflings, but it was the first time an entire world was exposed. Until then I had thought these creatures lived amongst us, hiding in the shadows of the forest, deep in forgotten caves and in rock structures invisible to the human eye.

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