Like an 80’s VHS Horror version of “The Expendables”, “The Dungeonmaster” gathered renowned, low budget cult filmmakers for a single effort.
A man with a sentient computer system takes on a demon in a battle for the love of his girlfriend. Let’s dig into 1984’s “The Dungeonmaster”, directed by Rosemarie Turko, John Buechler, Charles Band, David Allen, Steve Ford, Peter Manoogian, and Ted Nicolaou!
As I See It
Originally titled Ragewar, I was genuinely excited by the idea of an anthology-like film with the filmmakers that were involved. It’s always an exciting concept to get overly creative minds together and try to make a fun and memorable piece of genre flash. But, it’s easy to forget how often things get muddy with too many hands in the pot.
I didn’t expect some masterpiece, after all Charles Band films are known for their low budget quirk with an air of intellect.
Most of the sequences were enjoyable, though the whole of the film suffered from the differing visions.
The late, great John Carl Buechler’s sequence (Demons of the Dead) highlighted his innate skills as a special effects master which erased any deficiencies within the story for the time being. Charles Band’s “Heavy Metal” sequence which featured a demon summoned performance by W.A.S.P., also stands out. And David Allen’s “Stone Canyon Giant” fulfilled the Harryhausen fanboy in me.
The more cerebral segments lulled me to disinterest, and it was capped off with a meagre, anti-climatic end befitting a lifetime romance story rather than an eighties horror anthology.
Another frustrating aspect was the disappearance of the Tech angle for most of the middle section of the film. What probably seemed like unreachable science fiction at the time (EDITH style glasses that control every reachable aspect of life, automated assistance, and information at your digital fingertips) seems prescient now that all of that technology is now commonplace.
Richard Moll (Mestema) is most famous for the role of Bull the court officer on the 80’s TV series Night Court and was also featured in multiple segments of Night Train to Terror (1985).
Of Gratuitous Nature
A tame film for the most part, the sole nudity comes in the opening scene when Paul dreams of a Woman in a red dress and follows her to bed before she’s whisked away by Tusken Raider-looking sea creatures.
Is there any style more trendy than 80’s retro aerobic wear? The answer is no. Gwen and her friends treat us to the faux singlet sweat fest while they stare at themselves in the floor to ceiling mirror and dance to some synth beats.
Ripe for a Remake
Recent anthology horror like the VHS series and The ABC’s of Horror have succeeded in pulling together both notable and up and coming filmmakers. Can you imagine a cohesive story with a cadre of horror elite at the helm? Eli Roth, Adam Green, Joe Begos or Mick Garris, John Carpenter, and Joe Dante? All fantasy of course.
A sequel was reportedly shot but not completed.
Where to Watch
Shout Factory released it as a double feature Blu-ray along with Peter Manoogian’s Eliminators (1986).