Terrible Anti-Role-Playing Movie Didn’t Work Like Was Supposed To


Skullduggery had one job to do and it failed at it pretty spectacularly.

The movie Skullduggery was ostensibly supposed to warn people about the dangerous and demonic effects that tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons could have on young, God-fearing minds. Of course, in reality, the role-playing angle was just a way to get the low rent horror flick in front of a few more people, so it wasn’t really as good a deterrent as anti-RPG campaigners might have hoped. In Issue 296 of The Escapist, Adam Gauntlett, reminisces about Skullduggery and how it actually made him more interested in role-playing games, not less.

Skullduggery is a blisteringly awful movie. It is worse than bad. It is drinking game material. However enthusiastic I may become in the course of this retelling, please bear that in mind.

You should also know that I loved it.

It doesn’t have what you’d call a plot. There’s a medieval tabletop RPG framing device, with [main character] Adam being sent off on missions to level his warlock. This usually involves killings, which the oblivious authorities pass off as a heart attack epidemic. That description almost sounds like a story, but the on-screen action is essentially one extended murder scene after another, with no narrative justification beyond Adam! Sexy! Stabby! On with the show!

It’s unintentionally hilarious in places. I still get a laugh out of a scene in which a voluptuous, nameless nurse takes Adam back to her apartment; something gets spilled on his trousers and she washes it off, then strips to her undies and does the ironing while Adam hides behind his security blanket and stares at her like a demented Linus van Pelt. Frankly, [Thom] Haverstock probably got cast as Adam thanks to that wacko stare. His acting certainly had nothing to do with it.

Through its bizarre and evocative imagery, Skullduggery did a better job of getting Gaunlett interested in role-playing games than any advertisement could have. You can read more about Skullduggery in Gauntlett’s article, “Satan, Bad Acting, and Dice.”

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