Spellfury Isn’t Just Funny; It’s A Spell Of A Good Time5
By Raven Kai
Spellfury Isn’t Just Funny; It’s A Spell Of A Good Time
When it comes to television and film, comedy and fantasy have not always played well together. Most fantasy lovers are avid readers, sometimes gamers, and fairly finicky about their film and television choices – typically avoiding mainstream shows. All too often show writers alienate their viewers by trying to blend elements that appeal to different groups that mesh poorly and result in disasters like Comedy Central’s Krod Mandoon. Still, when you find the right balance of humor and fantasy, which is admittedly rare, you get a show people will remember fondly for years to come – television shows like Wizards and Warriors and The Charmings come to mind, or films such as The Barbarians and Beastmaster. While they didn’t have a lot of mainstream success, they were priceless to the fans that discovered them.
It’s the comedic, fantasy web series Spellfury that finds the balance between comedy and fantasy with pleasing results. Spellfury is the tale of the elf Druinia who is hired to steal a sword. After retrieving it, she and her accomplice are attacked by a demon. When she tries to use the weapon to defend herself, she discovers it is a magic sword. Deciding to keep it, she now finds herself wandering through the wilderness, being hunted by seedy criminals and monstrous villains who seek to use the sword for their own agendas. Having lived a common life before the brutal murder of her father, Druinia now find herself on the dangerous and comedic adventure of a lifetime.
From writer/director Travis Gordon, Spellfury is a classic sword and sorcery tale with a sense of humor. I asked him what his inspiration was for Spellfury. “I’ve wanted to do a fantasy-based movie or show for the longest time,” said Gordon. “I was a huge fan of the Fighting Fantasy books when I was younger. I’ve almost got the whole series at home. They were like Choose Your Own Adventure with dice, with most of them set in a medieval fantasy world. I also find there’s not enough shows and movies in the genre, partly because it’s expensive and hard to do. On a fantasy show you have to worry about visual effects, costumes, sets, makeup and prosthetics. You have to really love it because it’s an incredible amount of work.”
He also admitted to playing Dungeons and Dragons and World of Warcraft, and you can see their influence on the series. “I used to play Dungeons and Dragons a little bit in high school and college but hadn’t played in ages until we started on the show – now we play once a week and if something really cool happens in the game I always try and shoehorn the event into the show somehow. I played World of Warcraft for a bit, thought it was pretty cool, but I don’t have much free time nowadays. I have to have new episodes of Spellfury out every 45 days. It’s a lot of work.“
Overall, Spellfury feels like the live-action version of classic console RPGs (Role Playing Games) such as Dragon Warrior or Secret of Mana. You have your average Joe (or in this case, Jane) who gets pulled out of their normal life by a tragic, life-altering event that was masterminded by a vile, Evil Villain. The average Joe/Jane encounters challenges, monsters and mayhem and discovers things about themselves along the way that are key to becoming The Hero and defeating the Evil Villain.
Instead of the traditional short, stocky, pixie-eared elves of popular literature (think Keebler Elves), Druinia is tall with long, pointy ears and appears to be a nod to World of Warcraft. The special effects are reminiscent of classic pulp sci-fi and fantasy and made me wax nostalgic for a good long weekend of popcorn, pizza and cheesy movies. The humor and the pacing is like that of late night comedy sketch shows and more then once I was reminded of SNL or Mad TV while watching it.
The villains of Spellfury are like exaggerated versions of classic cartoon monsters and villains from popular children’s entertainment. That bundled with the absurdity of their actions and dialog makes me think it’s an intentional play on the things that scared and entertained us as kids. For example, the evil mastermind, looks very much like a hairy version of the Crone in Disney’s Snow White and his right hand man…er… thing… looks like the Abominable Snowman from the classic claymation version of Rudolph. While this could have easily been overdone to the point of farce, the timing and delivery of the lines and the slightly-larger-then-life-without-going-overboard humor pays off. The puppet inhabitants of the town are very Brian Froud-type caricatures which remind me of the familiar creations from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop over the decades (think Labyrinth, The Story Teller, The Dark Crystal) with perhaps a hint of Avenue Q.
When asked what he hoped fans would take away from the experience of watching Spellfury, Gordon said, “I want them to think: Wow, that was fun!“
Choc full of elements from my childhood submersion into fantasy, Spellfury is a guilty pleasure that pays homage to the things I loved while creating something unique and entertaining. It is both respectful and irreverent with the genre and plays off as a fun and funny adventure.
Raven Kai is an artist, coffee master and geek. She’s also a writer, blogger and co-creator of ÜberSciFiGeek.com which explores geeky interests and lifestyle with special focus on emerging media such as webseries. She’s lived all over the United States including Chicago, Indianapolis and Tampa and has always wanted to travel the world. Her next great adventure is a move to Vancouver, BC, where she hopes to take on a more full time role in the production side of filmmaking. She’s divorced with two children and currently resides in Virginia.