Chick Tracts–named for publisher, writer, and artist Jack T. Chick–are among the most widely read comics ever published, if one believes the company’s claim to have sold over 750 million little proselytizing cartoons warning of the dangers of Satan, homosexuality, evolution, and more. Their literary and artistic merits are debatable–as is the worldview they espouse–but the willful misunderstanding of certain aspects of the world on which the tracts comment has also made them popular cult items. (Er, no pun intended.)
Perhaps the most beloved is Dark Dungeons, Chick’s warning about the dangers of tabletop roleplaying games. And when Portland gamer and filmmaker JR Ralls won $1,000 in the lottery, he decided to put his grand toward creating a faithful (okay, pun intended) adaptation of Chick’s polemic against the games he loved. After finding another $25,000 via Kickstarter–and somehow actually obtaining the rights to Dark Dungeons from Chick Publications–Ralls has turned the 22-panel distillation of the horrors of RPGs into a feature-length film.
The trailer for Dark Dungeons is a remarkably true-to-the-spirit take on Chick’s tract, full of melodrama and an arch faux-sincerity that hams up the dangers of gaming, as the characters appear to lose themselves in their pen-and-paper counterparts–exactly as happens in Chick’s warning. It’s a surprisingly well-assembled trailer for a movie that’s clearly insane, but which manages to somehow play its material at least somewhat straight. It’s entirely likely that the final product will be something that both accomplishes Ralls’s goal of mocking Chick and Dark Dungeons, and simultaneously makes Chick and his followers say, “They really get me.” That’s a rare accomplishment that probably involves some kind of sorcery.