When you think of Tom Hanks’ early career, you recall the TV show Bosom Buddies, and then his starring roles in the movies Splash and Bachelor Party, which both came out in 1984. His first film was He Knows You’re Alone in 1980, but he only had a small part. You probably don’t recall his starring role in the 1982 TV movie Mazes and Monsters. The film rode the wave of moral panic surrounding role playing games, particularly Dungeons & Dragons, which few people understood at the time.
Hanks stars as Robbie Wheeling, a university freshman who joins his new friends Jay Jay (Chris Makepeace), Kate (Wendy Crewson), and Daniel (David Wallace) in games of Mazes and Monsters. Like most teenagers, the four have tensions with their parents – Jay Jay’s mother’s a control freak, and Daniel’s father doesn’t want him to become a videogame designer. Robbie, on the other hand, is more troubled than the others realized; he’s already been forced out of one school for playing roleplaying games too much. When Jay Jay invites Robbie to join his Mazes and Monsters group, Robbie reluctantly agrees.
The trouble begins when Jay Jay decides to take the RPG a step further: “I propose we play Mazes and Monsters in a real setting,” he says. “Naturally, I’ll be the maze controller.”
You can see where this is going- Robbie (Hanks) steps into a nightmare. Read about Mazes and Monsters and the news that led to its production at Den of Geek.