Dungeons and Dragons 3: The Book of Vile Darkness
Travis: Welcome back to Vagrant Fox everybody. Tonight Toad and I review Dungeons and Dragons: The Book of Vile Darkness.
This is the 3rd movie based on Dungeons and Dragons and the 2nd to pass the Jeremy Irons test.
Toad: This movie contains 0% Jeremy Irons.
Travis: I was surprised when I saw SyFy was showing this for its Saturday movie as I had first heard about it when SyFy was still the Sci-Fi channel and the word back then was the movie was so bad they had killed the project.
I guess you just can’t keep a bad film down.
To begin it appears they have chosen to narrate the backstory at us. Proceed with your heavy handed exposition good sirs.
Toad: At 1 second in, they have at least picked a pretty good font. I’m hopeful.
Travis: 2000 years ago Nagoul the foul… apparently a tiefling sorcerer…
Toad: He’s got horns on his head, so that’s my assumption.
Travis: This movie stars Jack Derges and Eleanor Gecks!
Toad: Yeah, I don’t know who they are either.
Travis: So Nagoul sold his soul… thus he’s a warlock. It seems the plan was apparently to turn this warlock into the eponymous Book of Vile Darkness and read it at people. Then the evil society of the book used it to spread evil across the land.
Toad: No one likes to be read at.
Travis: I would point out, this is the exact plot from Prince of Lies, one of the better Forgotten Realms books written exactly 20 years ago. Ack, I’m old!
We have a Pelor sighting, god of light and all things that are good! I enjoy how the back story just straight up tells us, this guy is bad, that guy is good, hooray.
According to the narrator the knights of the new sun drove back the darkness! after 1200 years of either fighting, or darkness it is not clear; so I guess by virtue of math, the evil has lain slumbering for 800 years.
The zealous disciples hid the book by giving it to people that work for money. That’s not a well thought out plan. And according to the narration the ink was found, but the cover and pages never were.
Toad: But the book was already written, who cares about the ink now?
Travis: Naturally after such a long period of peace, the knights disbanded convinced that the book was lost forever… and with it, like all crime and evil amirite?
Travis: So in scene one there is a knights of Pelor sighting.. you know, the guys whose order just disbanded.
Toad: I like how that was almost planned in the worst way possible. The narrator literally says “The Knights of the New Dawn were disbanded” and there’s like artwork of knights walking away all sad, and then the movie opens on a meeting of the Knights of the New Dawn.
Travis: Defend the weak and show mercy to the wicked… that is a terrible oath.
Toad: Why is Pelor’s statue shaped like a penis?
Travis: Aww, our poor hero didn’t get his God’s blessing. So these are all civil war reenactors. Then the leader guy says, “If you want to be a knight, act like a knight.”
Toad: I think that’s his dad.
Travis: Surprise round! Evil emerges from the woods and kills all of the knights. I would like to take a moment and say those were some terrible Special FX.
Toad: And since the Knights of the New Dawn don’t exist, but they’re still having a secret meeting, how did some bad guys find them?
Travis: Oh, so the other guy was his dad. Toad called it… I said no way because the guy was too young and looked nothing like him.
Toad: Fair point.
Travis: Now our hero is walking through the creek even though the road is right behind him. Upon arriving in town he knocks and enters on a door 6 feet tall and when it cuts inside he walked through a door 8 feet tall.
Toad: That’s just good continuity. I would like to point out that he just randomly wandered into a whore’s abode, told her he was a paladin and then she was immediately like “My brother was a follower of Pelor, let me take the rest of the day off and help you find magic items.” I guess she doesn’t have any other customers today.
Travis: I like how she randomly whips out a vial of poison. Why does the whore have poison? She gives it to the hero, in case they try to torture him. Hey bad guys wait… I need to drink something.
The “Adventurers Vault” way to name drop…. rune of force, bag of holding, wicked blade and knights armor… paragon level of course. So he is at least level 11.
Toad: This is the same magic item store we’ve had in every D&D game. “Do they have a rune of force? Uh, yeah. Sure. Why not.”
Travis: So with his new evil fighter’s disguise…. he puts the pelor emblem right on the outside.
Toad: That’s going to bite him in the ass later.
Travis: Well I’m equipped and now need clues. To the Inn! Why is that black guy in grey face?
Toad: He’s the only black guy in the movie so far and he’s not allowed to be black.
Travis: Naturally our hero meets up with the random evil party in the first tavern he visits and joins them by picking a fight. What spell was that?… chaos orb, magic missile, orb of boasting?
Toad: That was a “We have some money in the budget” cast at level 2.
Travis: Terror is the most valuable weapon. Is it in your heart to be terrible – “The Vermin Lord”
Toad: The Vermin Lord is quickly becoming the best character in this movie.
Travis: After killing one of their party members, They offered him 5000 gold and 1/12th of treasure. Pretty good deal.
Toad: But there’s only 6 of them, so they’re screwing him out of half his share.
Travis: The writers want you to think they are evil because the first thing that happens when the teammate goes down is they start to divvy up his stuff among themselves; but in reality this happens in every D&D group regardless of alignment. Dibs on the Javelin of Lightning!
Travis: She has twitter!
Toad: At this point we should explain that what she has is a tiara that lets her speak to the Big Bad who’s like a million miles away. In our D&D games whenever anyone has the ability to telepathically talk we call it Twitter.
Travis: She is Shadar Kai, of course.
Toad: I think I played a Shadar Kai in a game once.
Travis: Yep. That was your Avenger. Ooh, dragon sighting.
Toad: Can’t call it Dungeons and Dragons with no Dragon.
Travis: Is the grey face supposed to be a Goliath?
Toad: He looks like the picture of the Goliath in the 4e handbook but he’s clearly not 12 feet tall. Or 8 feet tall, or however tall he’s supposed to be.
Travis: She keeps her pimp hand strong. Love it.
Toad: She used magic to slap the mess out of our Paladin, who’s pretending to be evil.
Travis: They have taken a side trek from their important quest to kill a dragon. Naturally.
Toad: It’s what adventurers do.
Travis: The dragon had no forelimbs, thus it was a wyvern. Oh wait, there is a nest of Wyverns.
Toad: Of course there is. And now they’re fighting the Wyvern.
Travis: And the vermin lord turns into a swarm of vermin.
Toad: At least he’s consistent.
Travis: The assassin was wearing the most armor…. and then he got lit on fire.
Toad: He looks like the guy that played David Duchovny’s best friend on Californication. Evan Handler. It’s starting to bother me.
Travis: She had on a necklace of missiles and she gave him the command word. By the way, Shadar Kai are represented in this movie by bad tattoos.
Toad: Shadar Kai are known far and wide for their inability to do good tattoos.
Travis: So they’ve found a box of treasure in the nest of Wyverns… you, assassin… check it for traps… and he does so using a collapsable 5 foot rod. I appreciate that the one time they check for traps, there are traps. That’s some lazy DM work there Lou.
Toad: They found a horn.
Travis: I guess the horn was the goal of this mission. And now the Shadar Kai is saying, “You are a worshipper of Zehir… why are you working so hard to bring back this demon worshipping book?”
Toad: I’m not sure he cares about that. He just wanted the horn. For some…reason.
Travis: Divvying up the loot she rewards the paladin a Wyvern tooth necklace and did she just hand the assassin an orange potion of something?
Toad: She really did. By the way, that’s also a quote from one of our old D&D campaigns, someone telling a party member that they could help by giving them an orange potion of something. (Because the potion wasn’t identified yet). So Travis and I were positively giddy when she handed him an orange potion and made no mention of what it was.
So now they’re back in town and the townspeople are hailing them as heroes. They were going to just kill everyone, but the paladin talked them into pretending to be heroes to get free stuff.
Travis: Meeting with the mayor, the Shadra Kai hands him some stick. Did she just present him with a mace or a rod of lordly might? Did the Goliath just carry off that woman?
Toad: Yes, and yes. Though the woman the Goliath carried off didn’t look too upset about it.
Travis: Wandering about town the Vermin Lord decides to chat up random street children and thanks to the vermin lord, we now know how to catch a raccoon.
The vermin lord is actually a good character, nice mannerisms, good powers, and stories. There might be an actual actor under that mask and makeup.
Toad: So you put an apple in a box and the raccoon reaches in and won’t let go of the apple? That seems like the kind of evolutionary trait that would have made raccoons extinct a long time ago.
Travis: Back at the bar our hero is wearing the ring of shiny. And bar wenches love dragon trophies… is the Shadar Kai jealous? Madness. The bar wench asks Sir Paladin to go home with her and he starts talking about his father. F’n paladin.
Toad: Shadar Kai witch is not having this.
Travis: Shadar Kai cold clocks the bar wench and drags off our paladin.
Toad: To give him a stern talking to about protection, presumably.
Travis: Back outside, our assassin is following some guy around, drinks the orange potion and vanishes.
Toad: So now we know what the orange potion is. Not Orange Crush, but an Invisibility potion. And for some reason the Assassin is following around some nobleman.
Travis: He backstabbed the mess out of him.
Toad: He did double damage and everything. And now he’s robbing the town. Which, despite being terrorized by forearmless dragons, apparently has the magical know-how to create illusionary locked walls, which they keep their massive treasure behind.
Travis: The assassin will have a short career if he gives a speech after every person he kills.
Toad: And now, back to the Shadar Kai and the Paladin. She’s left the room and started to disrobe.
Travis: She only has face tattoos. And as soon as she’s gone he put on the twitter headband.
Toad: And he gets blurry visions of his father being tortured.
Travis: Quick, she has returned! What? They blurred out her butt?
Toad: Come on Syfy! You’re not CBS! I’ve seen Dennis Franz’s ass on network television for God’s sake!
(I found a non-edited version of this film online and the only things missing were that unblurred butt and a character building scene with the Goliath where we see him in the whorehouse with the girl he picked up and carried off. There’s a few boobies in there, so I’m sure that’s why it got cut. Goliath gives the whore a giant ruby and a kiss as he leaves and she smiles. He’s really a nice guy! That actually makes something coming up even worse!)
Travis: By Shadar Kai law he is permitted to ravish her… nice law. I really hate this paladin.
Toad: You know, he wouldn’t be breaking the law, so that’s technically ok, for him, right? Although he did swear to his dad that he would never get laid. Which seems like it might explain what happened to the Order of the New Dawn, now that I think about it. That’s probably a rough recruiting tactic.
Travis: She just told him she escaped from the Pyramid of Shadows, you guys have done that.
Toad: In one of our D&D campaigns, we sure did. More name dropping.
Travis: Ok, so he won’t tap that…so she kicks him out of the party. No wait, he’s back in. and tapping that.
Toad: Worst. Paladin. Ever. He made a promise, he broke it.
Travis: How did he take off his clothes without her seeing the symbol of pelor? Did he get that head wound from the sexy time? Those are some pretty even claw marks….. she healed his wounds… what sort of sorceress is she?
Toad: A sexy Shadar Kai sorceress? Yeah, how did she miss the giant holy symbol he’s got that’s like one of Flavor Flav’s old clocks.
Travis: So we got all this treasure. Black guy carry this.
Toad: That really just happened.
Travis: There is one black guy in the movie, they paint him grey and he throws a spear.
Toad: That he stole.
Travis: You’re right. So the mayor tells them the treasure keeper had his cut throat…Oh, WE didn’t kill that guy. The guy WE killed was stabbed in the back…
Toad: So they’re being confronted by the mayor and what appears to be the rest of town. You people couldn’t deal with the dragon and these five people killed it. Why do you think they’d be afraid of you?
Travis: Men.. on my count of five… why five?
Toad: Dramatic tension?
Travis: Hell yeah, the vermin lord totally detonated that dude!
Toad: After she used her bizarre magic trick to move her hands behind him and start choking him with the necklace of missiles. The Paladin had almost talked their way out of here, and then the Vermin Lord used the command word and blew the dude up! And now everybody’s fighting!
Travis: Seriously, what is her class?
Toad: She’s a warlock/sorcerer/druid/rogue/assassin/hybrid. The paladin is trying not to kill anyone, which is fantastic since the rest of the evil party is mercilessly slaughtering everyone in sight. The guy the Paladin doesn’t kill is going to be the sole survivor of this village. And now he can hear kids calling up at him from the well…what?
Travis: Why did the paladin go into the well? The children were hidden. You lead the real bad guys right to them… worst paladin ever.
Toad: Shadar Kai witch is totally looking around for the Pally. He must be awesome in bed.
Travis: You are going to throw your life away for a human boy? Not very legendary. She totally shouted the door open.
Toad: And the paladin is outside. Without the kids.
Travis: No questions as to why he is outside? Really?
Toad: They have treasure to count, I guess.
Travis: 60,000 gold and gems… 12 each… more than the reward for bringing the Horn back to the Big Bad. And the paladin scored a Vorpal weapon…. for not fighting.
Toad: She gave it to him because he hammered her. The Hammer is his penis.
Travis: So the Assassin is going to where his dad is being held to deliver the horn, but the sorceress wants him to go with her and spend all their treasure being awesome. You can go with the worlds worst Assassin, or with your sex buddy sorcerer girlfriend… your call.
Toad: He’s going to make the wrong call. But first everybody has to sleep on it. Again, at the suggestion of the paladin. Has anyone noticed that he’s not particularly evil? I mean besides the vermin lord who appears to know everything. He’s suspicious as f*ck.
Travis: How have they not set a watch? And then the paladin throws away the dragon trophy. The one thing he has earned the entire movie, the dragon tail, is what he throws away.
Toad: I have no idea why he did that. He got a dragon tail as a reward for killing the dragon, then he was taking a bath in the river and he looked at it and just chucked it in the water. Why did he do that?
Travis: Nevermind, the black guy is on watch…. and smoking a pipe. Full of crack probably.
Toad: So the paladin has a plan, and it’s to poison the Goliath? Where is he going with this? Aha! So his plan is to get rid of the treasure to make sure that everyone has to go to where his dad is.
Travis: And the black guy is the first one to die. And he gets stuffed in the bag of holding… then he throws the bag into the water.
Toad: With all the money.
Travis: And now they turn on each other… like every evil party ever. And the worshiper of the poison god, dies to scorpion poison.
Toad: Good job. So now there’s no one left but Vermin Lord, the suspicious paladin, and sexy Shadar Kai witch. Well no more money, off to deliver the horn I guess.
Wait, to get into this place they have to summon a creepy little girl?
Travis: Creepy little girl, successfully summoned. Ghoul? She is made of the worst CG ever. Actually… it’s pretty good. Well, except that’s not a ghoul… not sure what it is supposed to be.
Verdict: If she is supposed to be a ghoul, it’s horrible. If not, then the jury is still out.
Toad: They have to let her determine if they’re evil enough to continue, which she does by…
Travis: She detects good/evil by suckling on fingers? Paladins can simply detect evil at will.
Toad: She’s no paladin, that’s for sure. She sucks Vermin Lord’s fingers and he’s evil enough to ride this ride. No surprise there. Pally doesn’t want to do it…
Oh, but he passes the test!
Travis: For premeditating the murder of the Goliath probably.
Toad: Nice bit of writing there. But the Shadar Kai witch is in love! The creepy girl doesn’t like it!
Travis: What sort of creature did the little girl summon? Some sort of energy knight? Ah, it was a helmed horror according to IMDB. Played by Lloyd Pitts.
Toad: And he killed the Vermin Lord!
Travis: If the vermin lord is really dead i’ll be pissed.
Toad: But they manage to kill the helmed horror, and now…
Travis: They are in the Shadowfel now.. of course they are. And the ceremony starts at midnight… there is no midnight in the shadowfell, it’s a demiplane… not a planet.
Toad: It’s always midnight in the Shadowfel. So shouldn’t this ritual just be going on constantly? Somehow paladin snuck away and found his dad. And his dad is horrified by the things he’s had to do to come save him. Man screw this, just leave him there and go evil. You’re already getting steadily laid.
And here comes the new girlfriend to freak out at him.
Travis: What did he just zap her with… I’ll go back and check…. rune of force? Rune of force is a silver beam? Rune of force, is that how you break up in D&D?
Toad: Rune of Divorce!
Travis: I like how his dad is like, “You banged a chick, you are no son of mine” but after he zaps his girlfriend his dad is suddenly kosher. I think his father had domestic abuse issues and the lack of a mother figure in this boys life now makes sense. How are they supposed to get out… they are in the Shadowfel.
Toad: Yeah, it’s not like they can just ride away. They’re on a floating demi-plane with no magic to return home with. This plan had no chance of success.
Travis: At what price have you saved him? Kill your father Grayson… And what sword is that? That isn’t the Vorpal blade? It’s not even the wicked blade.
Toad: He’s magically created a new sword to fight with. I have no idea where it came from.
Travis: Ding, you’re a paladin now.
Toad: He used the symbol of Pelor, which he’s conveniently managed to hide for the whole movie, and he’s blasting bad guys!
Travis: Suddenly, the paladin is cold clocked by the Vermin Lord! Yay, the vermin lord is back! I bet he is the big bad villain. By unlocking your paladin powers, your blood may now form the ink and complete the ritual! Congratulations. I like a man with a plan.
Toad: Wow, he set this kid up from minute one, didn’t he?
The big bad just showed up with two girls chained to him. Apparently the Big Bad has no mouth and he thinks things at the girls and they speak for him. Though they’re completely out of synch that makes everything he says sound garbled.
Travis: What is the advantage of the mime girls?
Toad: Producer promised his girlfriends they could be in the movie?
Travis: That’s probably it.
Toad: The ritual is beginning…and…Pelor! Pelor saves the day!
Travis: That was a literal deus ex machina. The hand of Pelor shows up and smashes the ritual. Did the Paladin even need to be here? What was the point of the movie again?
Toad: It really was. And now his girlfriend is going off to be by herself and be a badass adventurer, and he’s going home with dad to be a chaste and wise paladin. I hate this kid.
Travis: Yay, the vermin lord escaped. Sequel? We can hope. His name is Bezz.
Toad: Vermin Lord. Bugs. Bugs buzzing. Buzz. Bezz. Ok. Whatever. Still the best character in the flick.
Travis: And that’s the movie.
The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
Travis: Ok for the Good i’m going to give this one to the story. It won’t win an oscar, but it is probably the most D&D of all 3 tries so far.
Toad: I’m going to totally agree on that. Additionally, this is probably the most accurately portrayed evil D&D party ever. They were constantly at each other’s throats and yet still hung out together for most of the movie when in reality they should have either killed each other or gone their separate ways long ago.
Travis: I am also giving the Bad to the story. Come on people; just because the title begins with Dungeons & Dragons doesn’t mean you can phone in a plot.
Toad: I’m going to go with the paladin. It’s not that he’s a bad actor, he’s not great or anything, it’s more the character. Everything he does is what you get from a guy who read Paladin in the 1st edition rule book, tried to follow all the rules for as long as he could but occasionally just does dumb things to continue to justify his paladinhood.
Travis: And my Ugly goes to lighting. Putting Darkness in the title doesn’t excuse you for not being able to see the scenes.
Toad: My ugly goes to the opening narration, which contradicted itself almost as soon as the movie started and really didn’t lead anywhere. It was full of convenient excuses for what was happening, but seriously a warlock that turned into a book that got magically converted into pages, book cover and ink? That’s not even a clever idea for a magic item. It’s just dumb.
And That’s The Book of Vile Darkness. We watched it so you don’t have to. But you could. It’s probably the best of the three D&D movies all told.