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).
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Butt-Monkey: Ronny. Hung and Eric bring his rival, Joe, to game, suggest Ronny has had A Date with Rosie Palms, cheat in front of him and whine about it when he stops them. Ronny is awkward around Gwen, who ignores him in favor of Joe, and has to endure his helpers stealing his triumphant moment. His game is wrecked, his player based killed, and he himself winds up dead by the end of the movie. What should be his Crowning Moment of Awesome, understanding the nature of Eric's book and figuring out what has happened, is undercut by the fact that this information ends up being useless; instead the heroes win using a truck and Joe's ability to rock out. Even the epilogue, which notes that his game was great, is subverted by another Date with Rosie Palms joke.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Hung initially isn't taken seriously when his mushroom-induced hallucinations actually allow him to see the demon's true form.
- 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.
- Evil Laugh: The transformed succubus gets one.
- 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.
- Horny Devils: The succubus.
- 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
The Norse Whisperers
- Jerk Jock: The paintballers.
- Kill 'Em All: Aside from Joe, Gwen, Eric, Gunther, and some random announcer, no one else appears to have survived the LARP camp battle.
- Large Ham: Ronny and Hung.
- Laser Sight: On the paintballers' guns.
- Lock-and-Load Montage: The sight of the gang breaking out the real weapons is quite satisfying.
- 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.
- 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, demon.
- 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: In this case, gay.
- 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: The spells must be sung to work. They don't have to be in the spellbook to work, though-the gem in its binding does the trick, making one wonder why the demons bothered writing out the spells in an obscure language when English would've been better Schmuck Bait.
- If the succubus-who can only haltingly repeat sentences she has already heard-is any indication, it would seem that the demons simply do not know how to speak English at all.
- It was actually written by the mystic John Dee, while trying to summon angels. Enochian is a supposedly angelic tongue the historical John Dee claimed was divinely revealed to him.
- 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".
- Running Gag:
- Thy map sucks!
- Giving people's characters magical syphilis.
- Hung getting high and hallucinating.
- Roleplaying: Of the LARP variety.
- 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.
- The opening exposition appears to be an homage to the similar openings of the Evil Dead films.
- The reference to Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual art being used for unsavory purposes. Truth in Television, as early art in the books featured Off-Model monsters with no nudity taboo.
- Eric at one point shouts "Lightning bolt! Lightning bolt!" while throwing bean bags, a reference to an infamous Youtube video of LARPers.
- The succubus is mistaken for a Vampire: The Masquerade LARPer at one point due to the blood on her.
- One of the faction leaders is named King Diamond. The other is named King Kerry.
- "The Temples of Syrinx" is one to "2112."
- In the final battle, the roar of the "dragon" sounds awfully familiar.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.