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Film / Knights of Badassdom

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Knights of Badassdom is an independent film from Joe Lynch that focuses on the world of LARP. It features an Ensemble Cast culled from Sci-Fi and geek culture, featuring Ryan Kwanten and Steve Zahn, with supporting roles from Summer Glau (Firefly), Danny Pudi (Community), and Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones). It also features the music of Bear McCreary.

Joe (Kwanten) is a complacent homebody who is a classic car mechanic by day, wannabe Doom Metal singer by night. Sick of his lack of accomplishment or drive, his girlfriend Beth dumps him. Joe returns to his home (shared with millionaire friend Eric (Zahn), and gets drunk and high, but his friends Hung (Dinklage) and Eric have another idea — drag him along to their LARP game this weekend and take his mind off of her.

At the event, Joe (who is something of a legend among the LARPers for a past RPG success against the event's game master, Ronny) meets Gwen, a blisteringly attractive young woman who plays in the LARP guild in order to chaperone her cousin Gunther, who is always in "game mode". Circumstances lead to Joe and Gwen spending a lot of the movie traveling together.

During the game, Eric uses his prop book as part of a game spellcasting, but unbeknownst to him, his book is more than a prop. Long story short, his seemingly farcical incantation actually summons a demon, who takes on the form of Beth, Joe's recent ex, and begins to slaughter LARPers one by one. As the main characters start to realize something isn't right in Evermore, they struggle to figure out what has happened, how to stop it — and how to do it before all the other players get up the next morning for the game's epic Final Battle, which is destined to become a lot more epic.

This film provides examples of:

  • Accidental Incantation: Eric's prop book contains a real spell that summons a Succubus that takes the shape his friend's ex-girlfriend.
  • Achievements in Ignorance: Deconstructed. Eric had no idea that the book he was using for his LARP sessions was a genuine Tome of Eldritch Lore, nor that he accidentally summoned a genuine Demon, until Ronny explains it to him.
  • And Starring: "and Peter Dinklage as Hung".
  • Anachronism Stew: Unavoidable, but some stand out.
    • One of the faction's kings is a player in a wheelchair; it has been decked out to look like a chariot. Of course, nothing is pulling it.
    • Ronny, the game master of the event, makes his announcements via PA system.
    • A Running Gag is that someone is told to "return to the Outskirts of Eliphaz," but they don't remember where that is; the other players must resort to clarifying it as "the parking lot."
  • Audible Sharpness: All of the real swords, obviously. But the foam dagger in the opening scene has to be the most ridiculous example.
  • Asshole Victim: The paintballers are all swiftly gibbed by the monster when they crash the LARP's final battle.
  • Back from the Dead: Hung in the finale, summoned by The Power of Rock.
  • Belly Mouth: The succubus, after it is changed into a more monstrous form.
  • The Big Guy: Gunther.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Downplayed by the upbeat "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue, but it still qualifies when you think about it. On the one hand, Joe and Gwen are together and form their own doom metal band, and Eric finally levels up his character. On the other hand, Hung, Lando and Ronny are dead, most of the LARPers were brutally slaughtered along with the paintballers (one of whom was a Sheriff's Deputy), and Gunther, having faced a demon in real life, is now (somehow) even more obsessed with LARPing than ever.
  • Blood-Splattered Wedding Dress: Blood-Spattered Prom Dress- the Demon, while impersonating Beth, wears the Prom dress from Joe's old photo, and the dress gets increasingly blood-spattered (and torn as the Demon keeps killing people).
  • Boy Meets Girl: Joe and Gwen lock eyes during their first encounter... Then Hung attacks Joe when his back is turned and pretends to behead him at Gwen's command.
  • Breath Weapon: the Demon's One-Winged Angel form has a fire breath. It can incinerate even the previously-indestructible book, though not the gem on its spine.
  • The Cameo: Brian Posehn makes a brief appearance as Gilberto, one of Joe's coworkers at the auto garage.
  • Camp Gay: The guy playing an elf displays stereotypical effeminate mannerisms and rejects the succubus's seduction attempt by saying she's "marching down the wrong battlefield, honey".
  • Car Fu: Ronny and Gwen take turns using the bullies' pickup truck to keep their foe literally pinned down.
  • Cavalry Betrayal: Played for Laughs- Joe and Gwen's attempt to call the police only results in the Paintball rednecks turning up, only to get killed by the Demon. Averted for their pickup truck, however.
  • Chainmail Bikini: Unsurprisingly, many of the female role-players are wearing these. Averted for Gwen, who is wearing a corset stylized like a cuirass, and the Demon, who is wearing the prom dress Beth was wearing in the old photo before shedding it entirely for a Full-Frontal Assault post-transformation.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The metal song that Joe is singing at work in the beginning of the film. That same song is used to banish the Demon in the climax via The Power of Rock.
    • Subverted with the Enochian runes that were burned onto a paintballer's head. Ronny is killed when unsuccessfully attempting to read the runes, and the head is presumably destroyed as well.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Joe's heavy metal singing that wasn't getting him anywhere in life? It turns out to be what saves the day.
  • Clingy MacGuffin: The book returns to Eric after he loses it in the woods. Nothing can destroy it except for a demon's fire breath, apparently.
  • Clothing Damage: Beth's blue prom dress, which the Demon is wearing in her Beth form, gets progressively torn up and blood spattered as the movie progresses. First one slit was cut open, then another, and after killing Lando and Hung the skirt below the knees was trimmed off. The Demon abandons it entirely by the time it goes One-Winged Angel.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Gunther never breaks character... even outside the game. There was an... incident at Medieval Times.
  • Cloud Cuckoolanders Minder: Gwen is this to her cousin Gunther.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right:
    Gunther: It would surprise me not, wizard, if thou hath brought forth something vile and unholy.
  • Depraved Bisexual: The Succubus is an equal opportunity seductress.
  • Doppelgänger: The demon, for Beth.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Hung uses his last moments to cuss out the succubus.
    "'Tis a cruel act of the gods to waste such a sweet backside on such a filthy beast."
  • Finish Him!: Said word for word by Gwen when Hung is showing Joe LARP-style damage examples, and has him on the ground.
  • Emergency Stash: Eric has a cache of contraband real (i.e. not foam or blunted) swords and other weapons that he brings for lucrative trades. Suddenly they become useful.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: Hung temporarily comes back from the dead during the climax, ready to kick some serious demon ass with the power of a demon.
  • Enemy Mine: Played for Laughs with King Kerry and King Diamond teaming up against the Paintball Rednecks in the final battle. Averted with the Demon that crashes the fight moments later, since they don't team up with the rednecks against her (not that it matters much, since they all die shortly after).
  • Evil Laugh: The transformed succubus gets one.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Ronny is in the middle of a Freak Out, while recovering from his encounter with the Succubus, when he finally realizes that Eric's book is a genuine Tome of Eldritch Lore. And then he realizes he's lost.
    Ronny: Oh fuckity fuck! Get a hold of yourself, man. Get a hold of yourself, man! What the fuck was that, man? Oh my God, she was not normal! She was like some kind of she-beast from the- Oh my sweet shit. Oh, my sweet, sweet shit. Eric, you fucking asshole! I have to warn him... Where the fuck am I? ... They suck at making maps! Where the hell am I?
  • Fun with Subtitles: This exchange soon after the group arrives at the LARP.
    King Diamond: Aye, Sir Dragonoth hath been detained by Minerva—the sea hag.
    Subtitle: Ed's frickin' wife is making him clean the garage this weekend—the bitch.
    King Kerry: His bewitchment by the siren's song shall be the nail thine army wantest, King Diamond the Red.
    Subtitle: She found the porn folder on his PC and now your army is screwed.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: Subverted, as one of the girls is a heart-devouring demon.
    • Subverted again, when the boyfriend who put his girlfriend up to it is horrified to find out that she liked it so much, she's cheating on him.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: As it turns out, Peter Dinklage looks quite fetching with a pair.
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: One background extra during one of the first scenes in the parking lot is a woman wearing a Tudor-era farthingale dress and gable hood.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Hung and Lando each get one at the public restrooms. Averted for most of the Demon's other kills, since she normally kills people in full view of the camera.
  • Hidden Depths: Ronny, the group's DM, has enough knowledge of Occult Lore to act as the Mr. Exposition of the Book to Eric, after realizing what happened.
  • Human Sacrifice: Subverted. The intro scene features a group of red-robed, hooded figures in the woods surrounding an altar with a person lying on it. A priestly figure repeatedly stabs the person with an intricately curved blade. Another figure approaches the priest and notes, "Your appeasement of the gods of Vinsibus... has failed." The priests remove their hoods and object; the sacrifice complains about the "blood" stains on his clothes. It's all part of a LARP campaign.
  • Idle Rich: Eric is wealthy enough that he doesn't have to work, and spends most of his time on his roleplaying hobbies.
    • Eric actually has a job; he owns a small business that reproduces LARP-style weapons with non-foam materials (real swords, maces, etc...). Though, it's suggested at one point that it actually doesn't do very well as he has a large stock in the back of his van.
  • Incompatible Orientation: When the succubus tries to seduce him, the guy playing an elf says she's "marching down the wrong battlefield". Naturally it doesn't stop her from killing him.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: All of the quest groups' names.
    Freakend Warriors
    The Medieval Kenevils
    Gnomeland Security
    Fair-Leather Friends
    The Norse Whisperers
  • It's Personal: The Paintball redneck who got the runes burned on his face by Eric's book at the beginning of the film has this as his motivation for crashing the LARP at the climax.
  • Jerk Jock: The Paintball rednecks, who have apparently made a hobby out of crashing LARP events this gets them killed when an actual Demon is also present.
  • Jewish and Nerdy: One of the two co-runners of the LARP event is Jewish, wearing a yarmulke and 'borrowing' his Synagogue's Shofar after the LARP's official horn went missing.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The Demon, being a monster that kills people for real, is one for any scene she appears in, often becoming a source of Mood Whiplash as a result.
  • Large Ham: Ronny and Hung.
  • Laser Sight: On the paintballers' guns.
  • Let the Past Burn: Hung swallows Joe's old photo of him and Beth at Prom, as a non-fiery variant of this trope. Subverted when the Demon tears the still-intact photo out of Hung's stomach.
  • Lock-and-Load Montage: The sight of the gang breaking out the real weapons is quite satisfying.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: With the exception of Hung and Lando (who each instead get a Gory Discretion Shot), most of the Demon's kills are quite graphic- jaws, heads, limbs, entrails, and hearts get torn out and thrown around left, right, and center. Especially so in the final battle, where LARP players and Paintball rednecks alike get explicitly torn apart.
  • Magic Music: In this movie, real spells must be sung in order to work. Not just the spells in the book, but the gem in the book's spine can turn any music into a spell with the right lyrics.
  • Male Gaze: Lingering shot of Gwen's "+3 Ass of Perfection".
    • +3? Clearly you underestimate her endowments.
  • Manchild: Eric and Hung. Neither of them appear to have jobs (though in Eric's case, at least, he's rich enough not to need one), and spend nearly all of their time getting high and playing RPGs, literally living in a fantasy world. Their house is even shaped like a medieval castle.
    • Eric at least actually has a job despite his wealth, see Idle Rich.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": Two in quick succession, both by the LAR Pers in the climax- first when the Paintball rednecks show up again, followed a couple minutes later by the Demon's One-Winged Angel form attacking.
  • Melancholy Musical Number: Eric and Hung quickly deduce that Joe broke up with Beth, when they walk in on him playing a sad gentle ballad on his guitar.
  • Mood Whiplash: Once Eric accidentally summons an actual Succubus, the movie frequently cuts between dark and gory scenes of her killing people and light-hearted scenes of LARP comedy. Most notable when, in the final battle, the light-hearted scene of King Diamond and King Kerry pulling an Enemy Mine against the Paintball rednecks is immediately followed by the Demon attacking and killing everyone but Joe, Eric, Gwen, and Gunther.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Gwen is this. Along with the male gaze example above, there's a few shots focusing on her legs.
  • The Munchkin: Lando constantly tries to bend the LARP's rules to his own advantage, especially to keep himself alive during battle when by all rights he should be out. Lampshaded by Gunther after they find his remains in the restroom.
    Gunther: One cannot cheat death forever.
  • Music Soothes the Savage Beast: Or in this case, banishes the Demon.
  • Noodle Incident: The only thing known about what got Gunther banned from Medieval Times was that the Red Knight was hospitalized.
  • Oh, Crap!: Several times, but especially for Eric. (See below once you unspoiler it.)
  • One-Winged Angel: Thanks to Eric casting a spell that buffs the demon instead of banishing it.
  • Our Elves Are Different: A Camp Gay roleplayer is seen roleplaying as what appears to be a standard D&D type Elf.
  • Our Fairies Are Different: One of the in-story guilds is a group of fairies... who seem to just be a group of people who wear large costume butterfly wings and prance around.
  • Picky People Eater: The succubus removes its victims' hearts, and eats them.
  • Police Are Useless: Or in this case, more interested in the opposite of helping you.
  • Poor Man's Porn: Apparently Joe caught Ronny pleasing himself to the art of the succubus in the Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual.
  • The Power of Rock: How Joe finally manages to defeat the monster in the final battle.
  • Prince Charming Wannabe: Ronny tries to hit on Gwen early on, putting on his full repartee of Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe, which actually turns her off.
    Gwen: The game hasn't started yet. Do we have to speak in Dorkinese?
  • Punny Name: All of the named guilds revealed in a montage, such as a group of gruff-looking barbarians called "Fair Leather Friends".
  • Rousing Speech: Joe gives one to Eric right before the final battle, when Eric considers running away.
    Joe: That thing slaughtered our best friend. You gonna let that stand? You been out here, practicing this shit every weekend for years. Face it man. You've got everything but you earned nothing. Are you gonna hide from that thing the way you hide from real life? Or are you gonna man up and avenge the death of our friend?
  • Running Gag:
    • Thy map sucks!
    • Giving people's characters magical syphilis.
    • Hung getting high and hallucinating.
  • Shout-Out: Joe is introduced as a struggling heavy metal musician and the theme carries through the rest of the film with virtually all of the LARP's locations and a few key participants named after numerous real-life heavy metal songs and bands.
  • Sole Survivor: The Demon massacres an entire LARP session, of which only Joe, Eric, Gwen, and Gunther are the only known survivors.
  • Spell Book: Eric's impressive-looking book, which he found on Ebay and uses in LARPing as a prop. Zigzagged, as the presumably plain old book is actually in fact a Useful Book of incantations for summoning demons. Which works.
  • Spiked Wheels: King Kerry has some (blunted) ones on his wheelchair-chariot. While delivering a Rousing Speech to his troops, he accidentally kneecaps one of his own men. Seems they still hurt a lot even if they're fake.
  • The Stoner: Hung owns a bong that's almost as tall as he is, and spends most of the LARP tripping on 'shrooms.
  • Succubi and Incubi: The Big Bad of the movie is a Succubus that was accidentally unleashed on a LARP event. She apparently doesn't understand English, since her only lines are to haltingly repeat sentences she has already heard.
  • This Is Not a Drill: Joe and Gwen invoke this to another LAR Per right before the final battle, when they call 911 and start bringing out real weapons.
    Joe: "We're so far out-of-Game, we're somehow back in it."
  • Title Drop: When the gang arrives at the Outskirts of Eliphaz and Joe agrees to play. It appears to be their faction name.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: Eric's book was actually written by the mystic John Dee in the early 16th Century, while trying to summon angels. It was written in a supposedly-divine language called Enochian. Eric doesn't know Enochian, so he thinks the book is just a prop until Ronny tells him.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The roleplayers who still tried to attack the demon even though it's actually killing people.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Most of the main characters end up having to do this, although Gunther may be an aversion.
    • Joe is the biggest leveler, although this is thanks to his singing being Not Completely Useless.
  • Unexpectedly Real Magic: The LARP-party's wizard bought a creepy old tome off the internet to add to his get-up and accidentally used it to summon a real succubus from hell.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Joe gets over Beth, starts dating Gwen and forms a doom metal band with her. Eric finally becomes a Level 27 Sorcerer. Gunther (if it's even possible) becomes even more obsessed with LARPing, having faced down a real demon (though the Medieval Times restraining order still stands). Ronny is posthumously declared "GM Extraordinaire." Hung's death, resurrection, and defeat of the demon go down into LARP legend.
  • The X of Y
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Another Running Gag, with a major character referring to it as "Dorkinese." Almost every time it's spoken, it's done poorly.
    • One conversation particularly thick with this is subtitled.