The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #353: Welcome My Brother, Jeremy, as We Talk About Mazes and Monsters (1982)

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #353: Welcome My Brother, Jeremy, as We Talk About Mazes and Monsters (1982)

https://archive.org/download/podcast-353/Podcast%20353.mp3

This week, Jeremy and I are tackling the 1982 TV movie, Mazes and Monsters!  This was a movie (based on a novel by Rona Jaffe) released in the midst of the popularity of Dungeons and Dragons as well as the public fear/backlash of the Satanic panic and all that.  Not surprisingly, it’s a bit of a shlock fest, but we have a surprisingly nuanced discussion on a variety of topics related to the film, role playing games and adjacent activities, distant parents, 80s social panics, steam tunnels, and more.  You can watch the film for free on Tubi (click on the VHS cover below to watch) 

Mazes and Monsters (TV Movie 1982) - IMDb

Ironically, the showing of this TV movie was sponsored by Proctor and Gamble, who acquired the stomach discomfort drug Pepto Bismo also in 1982!

Mazes and Monsters (TV Movie 1982) - IMDb

Mazes and Monsters (TV Movie 1982) - IMDb

The main cast of Mazes and Monsters with their characters and game paraphernalia.  Below, the article about the book the film is based on from the 7/1983 issue of Dragon magazine is below.

dragon1dragon2

There are a few things that are notably positive about the film that I think deserve some mention.  I liked the scene where two of the characters are painting their miniatures.  I liked the fact they had game notebooks.  Then there’s the interesting subject of gender, which has an interesting history in DnD.

I think it was notable that the story actually included a female character at all, and she took a more active role in the story (the fact the book was written by a woman may have had something to do with it).  Glacia (Kate Finch) was the party’s only fighter, which I think is notable since Dungeons and Dragons was still fairly overtly unbalanced in its gender roles.  At the time of the filming of this game, DnD was still in its first edition, where female characters of different races had lower stats (e.g. lower strength) and the game was generally written using only male pronouns (e.g. “fighting men”).  Although the female : male player ratio is more even today (about 60% male : 40 % female), it was apparently much more male dominated at the time (estimated around 10 % female in one source I found). 

As we talk about in the episode, DnD drew heavily from earlier (more male dominated) historical wargames, so it’s interesting to hear what female players of the time thought of it (here’s a interview with RPG pioneer Jean Wells, the first woman hired by TSR).  However, my main exposure to DnD as a kid in the 80s came not from the actual game but from TSR’s Endless Quest books, many of whom were written by a woman, Rose Estes, a TSR employee who, like many other women of the time, was frustrated at the male centric nature of the game and the play – centered around stats, dungeon crawls, and combat – which she felt took away from the telling of a cohesive story. 

So I think it is admirable that this film gave the fighter class role to a woman, who, though she does feature in a requisite love triangle, is not passive in her involvement in the main story.  She seems to be the only one for most of the film that actually owns a car, and the movie does not relegate her to passenger status in favor of having one of the male characters drive it.  Again, perhaps the film was just staying true to the original source material, but in that case, good on them for not changing it. 

Also, as mentioned in the episode, my interpretation of the film’s ending differed from most of thoughts found in the reviews I read at the time or since.  As much as the game was depicted as an experience potentially blurring the lines between reality and fantasy, I thought they also seemed to be saying that this was a way, separate from the world of distant adults, where four lonely young adults could connect with each other.  Such is the power of make believe (normally relegated to the word of children), even, in the end, cutting through psychosis.   When I saw it, the ending seemed to be saying that while aspects of day to day adult reality can be drab, disconnected, and limiting, it doesn’t have to be that way as long as there is still a human connection that binds people together.

Check out Jeremy‘s work over at Pixel Grotto, CBR.com, and Classic Batman Panels on IG.  You can support his work on Ko-fi and get access to in-depth, exclusive Batman content here.   If you are of the DnD persuasion, his articles on DnD Beyond may be right up your alley.  Thanks, Jeremy, for coming on the show!  We will be back with another look at another fine piece of cinema!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #160: Summer Schwarzenegger Series 2: Reflections on Rewatching The Terminator (1984) with Adam from @mom_gave_them_away 

Episode #160: Summer Schwarzenegger Series 2: Reflections on Rewatching The Terminator (1984) with Adam from @mom_gave_them_away 

https://archive.org/download/Podcast160_201809/Podcast%20160.mp3

This week marks the second in a four-part summer Arnold Schwarzenegger 80s action fest where Adam from the Instagram page @mom_gave_them_away and I rewatch four classic Arnold movies we originally saw as kids and discuss our reflections (listen to last week’s show here).  Today, continue where we left off last week with 1984’s The Terminator, which of course is one of the films that continued Arnold’s push into the stratosphere of stardom but also birthed one of his most famous lines (“I’ll be back”).  Part sci fi, part fantasy, part film noir, part cyberpunk, part horror, it’s a film that defies easy categorization, though, as we discuss during this episode, it’s part love story as well.  Neither of us felt that Kyle Reese (played by Michael Biehn) really got enough credit in the film (or the series), so we spent the better part of the episode on Reese.

The podcast now has a page on Facebook, so head over there and to Instagram to check out some scenes from the film.  One of my favorites I’ll link to here.  It’s a rare moment of respite for Reese that is not surprisingly disrupted – always felt bad for him in this scene since he loses one of the few things he has to comfort him:

If the music in between the introduction and when Adam and I start talking sounds familiar, it is, of course, the rendition of The Terminator theme that we made back in episodes 146 and 147.  More information about the making of the soundtrack for the film and the different ways the theme was used in the film can be found in the show notes of episode 146.

To end on a humorous note, despite the fact that these movies had a degree of badassery that no one could deny, the video games that came out in association with them with pretty horrendous.  But I’ll let the AVGN do the honors:

These ones are specific to the Terminator games:

Speaking of NES games, check this out:

File:Snake reese.jpg

Yup, the painted cover of the original NES version of Metal Gear Solid is basically Kyle Reese with slight variations.  He may have died in this movie, but he lives on in other ways.  Not sure if this was a homage or just a blatant rip off, but hey, imitation is the best flattery, and it’s not the only instance where NES game art did this (more soon).

Adam will BE BACK next week for Commando  In the meantime, check out all the excellent custom action figure work he does for a taste of some truly heroic work.

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Between Two Worlds, the synth EP follow up to Long Ago Not So Far Away is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

The bonus track, called “Flight of the Cloudrider” has a 80s movie mashup music video (see if you can identify all the movies!) which is available on youtube.   This app was largely created with the iphone app Auxy.

between 2 worlds EP cover 2

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hourplaylist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #159: Summer Schwarzenegger Series 1: Reflections on Rewatching Conan the Barbarian (1982) with Adam from @mom_gave_them_away 

Episode #159: Summer Schwarzenegger Series 1: Reflections on Rewatching Conan the Barbarian (1982) with Adam from @mom_gave_them_away 

https://archive.org/download/Podcast159_201808/Podcast%20159.mp3

This week marks the beginning of a four-part summer Arnold Schwarzenegger 80s action fest where Adam from the Instagram page @mom_gave_them_away and I rewatch four classic Arnold movies we originally saw as kids and discuss our reflections.  Today, we start in chronological order with Conan the Barbarian, one of Arnold’s first staring roles.  It combined some of the best parts of Frank Frazetta (he, of course, painted many Conans and Conan-like figures during his career) with a tinge of the 70s, pre-MTV/quick cut, languid style filmmaking (hearkening back to spaghetti westerns) with an epic score by Basil Poledouris.

Image result for conan the barbarian

Image result for conan the barbarian cast

Members of the cast

The podcast now has a page on Facebook, so head over there to listen to the score and check out some Frank Frazetta renditions of Conan.

One of my favorite scenes from the film:

Arnold talks about how influential Conan was for his career and what he had to do prior to getting the role in an inspirational University of Houston commencement address here.

To end on a high note, despite the fact that these movies had a degree of badassery that no one could deny, the video games that came out in association with them with pretty horrendous.  But I’ll let the AVGN do the honors:

Adam will BE BACK next week for The Terminator!  In the meantime, check out all the excellent custom action figure work he does for a taste of some truly heroic work.

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

Between Two Worlds, the synth EP follow up to Long Ago Not So Far Away is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

The bonus track, called “Flight of the Cloudrider” has a 80s movie mashup music video (see if you can identify all the movies!) which is available on youtube.   This app was largely created with the iphone app Auxy.

between 2 worlds EP cover 2

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hourplaylist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!

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