There are a lot of movies that feel like RPG adventures — Ladyhawke, for example — and there are even a pretty good number of movies directly about RPGs, like the second D&D movie. But I just discovered that one of my favorites is on YouTube, and in a completely legal way. (It was uploaded by the creator, Bill Stiteler, so it’s got to be okay, right?)
THAC0 is a movie about three friends (okay, four, sorta) who meet for a D&D session. They actually don’t do a lot of gaming; it’s largely about how they get along, how gaming affects their lives, and how gaming has made them friends. It’s also got a huge number of hilarious jokes about gaming, only a few of which are at the expense of gamers; you really have to be a gamer to get a lot of the humor. The title is a good example — yes, “to hit armor class zero” is a major plot point. And the humor is dead-on, because all the people who made THAC0 are gamers. They know us, because they are us. (Okay, there are actually a couple jokes that are kind of offensive. But it’s otherwise great.)
Here it is:
Unlike movies like The Gamers (which, I notice, I’ve never reviewed here — hafta do that sometime), there is no in-character or in-world viewpoint. No one’s running around with swords, and there are no fireballs. It’s all very low budget. In fact, the closest it gets to fantasy is a depiction of Neil Gaiman casually reading comics at the Source. (Yes, the Source; the movie was made locally. I recognize a bunch of the locations, and the movie now probably serves as one of the best documents of the Source’s previous location on Larpenteur.)
THAC0 grew out of a stage play that I was lucky enough to see. The movie is totally worth seeing, though I wish Bill had managed to fit in the joke about football from the play. It was superb.
The movie is easily one of my favorite filmed depictions of RPGs. If you haven’t seen THAC0, watch it; and if you can afford it, buy the DVD.