Mazes and Monsters (1982)

mazes and monsters 1982 poster tv movie tom hanks
3.0 Overall Score
Story: 3/10
Acting: 3/10
Visuals: 3/10

Subject is amusing and some so-bad-it-is-good-quality


Movie Info

Movie Name:  Mazes and Monsters

Studio:  CBS Television

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  December 28, 1982

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated


We’re so screwed up, what harm could this do?

Four college students find themselves drawn together by their love of the popular roleplaying game Mazes and Monsters.  When the game is taken to the next level and played in a real time location of a series of caverns, Robbie Wheeling (Tom Hanks) finds himself breaking from reality.  Now, Robbie is trapped in the world of the game and lost in New York City where he fears he is surrounded by monsters.  As his friends desperately search for him before he accidentally hurts himself or someone else, it might be too late for Robbie (now Pardieu) to return to the real world ever again.

Directed by Steven Hilliard Stern, Mazes and Monsters was a Made-for-Television film which originally aired on December 28, 1982.  The movie adapts the 1981 novel Mazes and Monsters by Rona Jaffe.  The movie now is known for being the first starring role for Academy Award winner Tom Hanks as Robbie Wheeling.  The TV-movie has been released on DVD.


I’m just lookin’ for an Oscar

I remember when Dungeons & Dragons was something that “cool kids” played.  It was almost a covert, secret society that few people were allowed in.  Now, it is seen that many playing RPG games of this style were outsiders and society’s “geeks and nerds”, but when this film was made, it was still seen as an edgy thing to do.

The movie is based heavily on stories that games like Dungeons & Dragons were a corruptive form of entertainment.  Groups called them pagan, ritualistic, and evil due to their subject matter and there were stories of people getting too caught up in the fantasy.  The characters in the movie are all sad and screwed up people who all have problems…so of course they’d be drawn to this horrible game…it is a rather weak alarmist source for a movie that I’m sure was meant to scare parents and teens straight from the dangerous habit of roleplaying (which is hard to say with a straight face).


Back foul Gorvil!!

The cast for the film is rather strong, but it doesn’t matter because both the script and the actors underwhelm in their roles.  Hanks isn’t anywhere near his early comedy roles (which I prefer to his Oscar winning stuff) and really struggles with the “crazy” aspect of the script.  The rest of the group is made up of other stars of the time like Chris Makepeace (Meatballs), Wendy Crewson (who went on to bigger films), and Daniel Wallace (who also fizzled).  The supporting cast does contain some fun members with Vera Miles, Anne Francis, and Murray Hamilton in roles as the adults trying to straighten the troubled college students.


World Trade Center no more

The movie has one monster (the Gorvil) which is a lumbering and not so scary creature…if this is the monster of Tom Hanks’ fantasy, he needs to get a better fantasy…I’d be more depressed that I was driven crazy by it than the idea that it was real.  The best part of the movie is that the final act of the film involves a long scene at the former World Trade Center.  Hanks’ fantasy character runs away to New York to find the “Twin Towers” and the whole group goes up to the observation deck to save him from killing himself (which doesn’t work since he’s completely insane by this time).

Mazes and Monsters is one of those movies that feels like it should have a warning at the ending for parents dealing with kids who like RPG games.  The cautionary movie is just sensationalism and it feels more like an Afterschool Special than a realistic plot.  Check it out if you are a fan of Tom Hanks and want to see him in an early role, or you just want a good laugh about what parents worried about in the early ’80s.  It isn’t a good film, but it does almost reach so-bad-it-is-good status.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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