Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Transylvania Police: Monster Squad – review

dvdDirector: Ritch Yarber

Release date: 2001

Contains spoilers

This is a film that should not work at all. A shot on cam, crap quality, no budget effort and yet I found myself – in parts actually quite enjoying it. In other parts it was awful, however.

After a really stupid and badly shot false commercial we go to a cemetery and meet Conrad BrooksConrad Brooks – as himself. He speaks to us for a while and mentions how he played a cop in Plan 9 from Outer Space. Then he says that being an actual cop is really hard work and this is why he has come to Transylvania… and let’s stop there. The headstone he is by is in English, all the shots are clearly in America and they even come across Bigfoot (Tim Mlckovsky) at one point. This would have worked more if they had dropped the Transylvania idea.

Anyway, we go into the show proper and it is kind of like Cops. Because of this the hand cam, the crap sound, all the rest of it, its all kind of forgivable. The acting is low grade when it comes to the support actors but those playing the main cops; Lamar Floyd (Thomas Shepard Hill), John Tibetts (Ed Rutkowski) and John Chambers (Carl Valley) are all natural. It might not be Oscar winning performances but they feel like cops with cameras with them – exactly how they should.

arresting the Frankenstein's MonsterWe get a host of monsters – low employment causes many of the problems – all in trouble. Bigfoot, who actually evades capture. Frankenstein’s Monster (Tim Mlckovsky) causing trouble in a bar and a werewolf (Kurt Lasik). Once all these sections are done we get Conrad again and then a section with David ‘The Rock’ Nelson. I can’t tell you how annoying this moment with an inane shouting man was and the section was unnecessary, unfunny and nearly made me switch off. However I was awaiting the promised vampire.

arriving at the blood farmWe see Lamar Floyd getting ready with the pus bus – as they call the vampire retrieval SUV. He shows us his equipment. Holy water, more likely to aggravate than damage he tells us, a cross, stake, ‘warning stakes’, a stake gun and a hacksaw. All the things he might need whilst serving a warrant on a vampire suspected of running an illegal blood farm.

changing his clothesHe gets to the suburban house and rings the bell. An ordinary looking man appears and, other than being a little sun sensitive, he appears nothing special. As soon as he notices the camera he ducks back in and dresses – wig, black clothes and a cape. He says he is called Lee Christopher (Robert Juka Jr). He becomes beligerant and has to be handcuffed. I did like the sudden change of look, when the cameras were spotted, from ordinary Joe to stereotyped movie vamp.

the blood farmThe house seems clean until Floyd notices a trap door. In a below house storage space he finds an exsanguinated corpse and bottles of blood. This is the blood farm, though to be fair one corpse seems less farm and more allotment level husbandry! It would seem more a murder and less what we perhaps would expect from a blood farm. Never mind, our cop goes back up but Lee has removed the cuffs already. Floyd beats a hasty retreat to the pus bus, gets his stuff and goes back in. It is here that the section loses its way a little.

really bad effectsThe vampire mock fears the cross and then kisses it, saying he loves Jesus. Fair enough. However later he is burnt by holy water. If he loves the cross why would holy water affect him? Also, to be honest, there was so little budget for effects that the burning (of a dummy) and the brief second of crap bat should have been avoided – it reminds you that you are watching a really cheap production.

being stakedThe staking wasn’t bad (though practically the stake seemed much too thick and blunt at the business end) and this should have been what killed the vampire – so that we didn’t have to go through a second bout of holy water fire that was more false looking than the first. That said the section fit in (other than the effects) with the ethos of the majority of the film and was surprisingly good fun.

What we have here is the kernel of an idea. A little budget and better recording material, some better effects, set in the US and no moronic section with a shouty man and you could have a nice little indie picture. As it stands this is incredibly flawed, but it is a nice rough work for a future feature. Of course, cop ride along shows (within shows) with monsters involved are nothing new, the X Files did one, as did Forever Knight but this somehow still (almost) worked. 2 out of 10.

There is no imdb page at time of review.

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