The Dungeonmaster ★★½

Empire International 35mm (Theatrical)

Computer nerd Paul has an unusually close relationship with his souped-up PC, named X-caliBR8 -- much to the chagrin of his aerobicizing girlfriend, Gwen. Unfortunately for them, she's not the only one who's taken notice; a demon called Mestema is also impressed with 'Cal's trouble-shooting skills, and whisks the threesome to his otherworldly domain for a series of life-or-death trials pitting Paul and his glorified PowerGlove against waves of beasties. Can he rise to the devil's challenges and save his squeeze?

Structured as a sort of anthology, THE DUNGEONMASTER finds a slew of Empire Pictures regulars each helming a different sequence, from head honcho Charles Band to monster maker John Carl Buechler to editor (and future SUBSPECIES director) Ted Nicolaou, amongst others. The problem is, with the film running a scant 72 minutes, there's not a lot of time for each segment to make its mark, and most lack any real punch. They're also surprisingly monotonous; Paul seemingly just talks to his arm then vanquishes his foes with a well-placed laser. It's not all bad, though. Richard Moll gives a marvelously pissy turn as the titular adversary, there's pretty much a constant slate of kooky creatures, a few of the dialogue exchanges are genuinely funny (Mestema: "Say the word and it all ends." Paul: "The word is forget it!"), and they somehow manage to incorporate Blackie Lawless and a W.A.S.P. stage show into the whole thing. There's no reason this couldn't have been a bit better with all the talent behind it, but it'll still do in a pinch. 5/10

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