Monday, July 12, 2010

Transylmania – review

Directors: David and Scott Hillenbrand

Release date: 2009

Contains spoilers

I personally believe that comedy is one of the worst genres for a reviewer to tackle. Simple reason, it is so subjective. What one person finds funny another may hate. But if it has vampires in it (and this does) then I have to look at it…

Transylmania has received some awful reviews. It was hated, it seemed, almost universally but, you know what, I rather enjoyed it. It was not the funniest thing I have ever seen but it was entertaining enough. There you go, I said it… My name is Taliesin_ttlg and I appreciate Transylmania…

The film begins with Rusty (Oren Skoog) who has arranged for himself and some college associates to go to Romania, and the university at Castle Razvan because his internet girlfriend Draguta (Irena A Hoffman, Metamorphosis) lives right next door. He introduces us to the gang, many like him are recurring characters from the Dorm Daze series (of which, technically, this is the third). There are Pete (Patrick Cavanaugh) and Wang (Paul H Kim) – dope heads. Lia (Natalie Garza), Pete’s girlfriend who is a goody-goody, and her twin sister Danni (Nicole Garza) who likes to party. Lynne (Jennifer Lyons) who likes roleplay and her boyfriend Newmar (Tony Denman) who has a sexual problem. Mike (Patrick Casey) who is easily confused and Brady (Worm Miller) the geek. Finally there is Cliff (James DeBello), who has gone missing after trying to palm off substandard sex dolls to the triads. The role call ends with a cock gag.

Radu and Stephanina
So it is off to Transylvania and Brady has a book on the castle’s history written by Professor Teodora Van Sloan (Musetta Vander). It seems that 500 years earlier the castle was ruled by the vampire Radu (Oren Skoog) – Rusty’s doppelganger – who loved the evil sorceress Stephania (Simon Petric). The vampire hunter Van Sloan (Claudiu Trandafir, Dracula the Dark Prince) used subterfuge to trap Stephania’s soul in a music box – though he died during the escape due to Edward (Radu Andrei Daniel), his son, being incompetent. For the sharp eyed, Edward and Teodora both reference Edward Van Sloan who played van Helsing in the 1931 Dracula.

Van Sloan takes aim
After the story has finished we see a man on horse being chased down by a rider, later revealed to be Teodora. The man is an agent of Radu, who has found the musical box. Teodora manages to get a crossbow bolt into him but he is able, despite the injury, to ride behind the train (which is carrying the coffins containing Radu and his vampire minions) and get on it, losing her in the process. However, due to clumsiness, he drops the box into a gypsy’s basket of trinkets and Newmar buys it and then, opening a carriage door, manages to knock the agent from the train.

David Steinberg as Dean Floca
Following this we get three main storylines that do intertwine. First there is Rusty and his girlfriend. She turns out to be the daughter of the diminutive Dean Floca (David Steinberg). She is as beautiful as her picture suggested but she also has a twisted hunchback. The Dean is protective – homicidally – of his daughter, Rusty is repelled by the hump and his friends, of course, are less than supportive.

finding Cliff
Pete, Wang and Danni go out for the night, leaving Lia on her own and she is grabbed by the mythical castle freak. Danni and Pete get it on behind Lia’s back and eventually buy their way (with blue jeans) into some illegal hunting – which turns out to be of humans and their prey is Cliff. Having bought Cliff back (who has a plan to find a girl, seduce her by telling her he is a vampire hunter and sponging off her) they return to the castle to discover that Lia is missing. She wakes up to discover she is now just a head.

Lynne gets a drop of blood onto the jewel in the musical box and is possessed by Stephania – only when the box is open. Stephania can restore herself into her own body by killing Lynne and, of course, Newmar believes that Radu is Rusty and Rusty is after his girl. There is plenty of scope for mistaken identity gags.

Musetta Vander as Teodora Van Sloan
Teodora believes Cliff is a fellow vampire hunter and keeps mistaking Rusty and Radu (Rusty has dressed as the vampire for an underground vampire themed party). We also get the Duck Soup mirror gag, with the further spin that Radu realises he shouldn’t have a reflection, as well as gags owed to Young Frankenstein and Love at First Bite amongst others.

Staked vampire
The vampires are standard, sleeping in coffins, hating garlic and crosses and burning in the sun. We get supping on blood packs to recover after running through a daylight forest, with a cloak over head and a tap in the side of a kidnapped student in order that blood can be drawn from him. There is evidence of psychic ability. A stake through the heart is the standard vampire slaying method.

Lia and the Castle Freak
The film as a whole, whilst not laugh out loud funny, was – as I said at the head of the review – entertaining enough. It certainly beat the British vampire comedy from around the same time – Lesbian Vampire Killers. I think the film succeeded because there was plenty and varied things going on. Yes it borrowed from other, more classic comedies, but the Duck Soup mirror gag, for instance, was an obvious gag to fit into a vampire movie.

All in all 5 out of 10. The imdb page is here.

1 comment:

Zahir Blue said...

Better than "Lesbian Vampire Killers"...yeah I can agree with that.