Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Oren Skoog, Patrick Cavanaugh, James DeBello, Jennifer Lyons, Paul H. Kim, Irena A. Hoffman, Musetta Vander
Directed by David & Scott Hillenbrand
Upon first viewing the trailer for Transylmania, I found myself nonplussed by the very notion that such a film was actually going to get a theatrical release. Online I learned that it was intended to be the third installment in the direct-to-DVD Dorm Daze college sex comedy franchise and has been sitting on a shelf for about two years. Again, begging the question, why was this getting a theatrical release? The answer it would appear comes down to someone desperately hoping the vampire angle would be enough to sucker the Twilight audience into wanting to see this unholy melding of Transylvania 6-5000 and every lousy sophomoric T&A comedy from the 80's, directed with clueless aplomb and written by two guys whose rapier wit should be restricted to posting R-rated "Gilligan's Island" fan fiction on the net.
I went into Transylmania with the lowest of expectations and quickly came to realize I had not set the bar nearly low enough. I have always said the two worst kinds of bad movies are unfunny comedies and films that are boring; Transylmania pulls off the dreaded double whammy. The first time I felt compelled to check my watch to see how much longer it had to go, I was mortified to realize that only fifteen minutes had transpired; sitting there stone-faced as irritating people engaged in one flat joke after another, I would have sworn at least twice that amount of time had passed.
The only mild amusement I experienced for ninety-six godforsaken minutes of my life I'll never get back stemmed from an error on the theater's part; they were showing the film in the wrong ratio, causing the picture to look slightly stretched out. Every female on the screen had the same body type as Fiona from Shrek. One actress I could tell was a skinny blonde with nice legs, but coming down the stairs in a micro mini with the projection as off as it was, her long legs looked like a pair of giant cankles that went all the way up to her hips. I also helped pass the time by playing "spot the boom mic". Not sure if this was also due to the aspect ration being out of whack or simply directorial incompetence, but the boom mic got more screen time than most of the supporting actors.
When a movie is this grueling, you struggle to find something, anything, to speak about in a positive light. The best I can come up with here is Musetta Vander as a bumbling, black leather clad, vampire-hunting professor. Vander tries to make the most out of her insipidly scripted role, and a scene she has at the very end was the first and only time I ever came close to laughing during the entire ordeal.
What little constitutes a narrative revolves around a college doofus named Rusty. (He struck me as being Steve Zahn's unfunny kid brother. Oh, and Crispin Glover called; he wants his haircut back). Rusty has talked several of his dimwit friends into transferring for a semester over to a Romanian university (once a vampire's castle) so that he can finally hook up with his hot Romanian Internet girlfriend. Rusty just happens to be a dead ringer for the castle's former vampiric proprietor, Radu. Radu just happens to have picked now to return in order to free his evil dead love's soul trapped inside a music box. Mistaken identity antics follow. Or in the case of the airhead blonde that gets possessed by the spirit of Radu's girlfriend whenever the music box is opened, dual identity shtick occurs. Somewhere in heaven Sherwood Schwartz receives another royalty check.
The performers have all been left to wither and die on the vine because their annoying characters have only been given one personality trait: ditzy blonde, potheads, prudish and hard partying twin sisters, wimp, hunchback hotty, guy who thinks he's a real stud but constantly hits on trannies, and so on. That writers Patrick Casey and Worm Miller give us a megalomaniacal midget mad scientist in a robotic ghost costume kidnapping women to create a new Frankenstein body for his hunchback daughter and still fail to come up with a single funny thing for him to say or do is symptomatic of how their script fails to capitalize on any of the fantastical elements provided by the Transylvanian setting. Don't even get me started on the lameness of the vampire humor.
Okay, just one example of the lameness.
Radu and Rusty are dressed identically and end up facing one another through a hole in the wall. Vampire Radu for no particular reason begins making moronic faces as if he thinks he's looking into a mirror, and Rusty instinctively mimics every stupid face Radu makes. Yes, that old gag. And then Radu walks off, pauses in a moment of confusion, and says to himself in his fake Dracula accent, "Vait. I don't have a reflection." What a punchline. Where's Eddie Deezen when you need him?
A brief word about pot humor. Just having a character pause mid-sentence to take a hit on his bong does not make me laugh. Someone needed to explain to the writers that there is more to high comedy than merely having a character get high.
Even the raunchy side of Transylmania fails to titillate. It consists of a few random boobies here and there, all belonging to random strippers and Radu's harem, mixed with a few sex jokes that would have been considered lame even by Bikini Carwash Company standards.
The jokes primarily fall into one of three categories: belabored, lazy, and obvious. That is, when there actually is a joke. Sometimes the actors are instructed to just mug for the camera in spots where the jokes failed to materialize. Farting horses, competitive vomiting, gay jokes, and pratfalls, pratfalls, and more pratfalls: not one laugh. Transylmania is to comedy what gas station hot dogs are to nutrition.
If you want to see a truly funny movie by the Hillenbrand Brothers, then seek out Pinata: Survival Island. That idiotic creature feature was not meant to be a comedy, but it turned out a thousand times funnier than their latest. The only thing Transylmania succeeds at is making us realize how we've all been way too hard on the Scary Movie sequels.
As if it came along 25 years too late, in the same mold as those Eighties sex comedies that appeared in regular rotation in the 1990's on USA Network's "Up All Night", the ones that would have had me switching the channel very quickly from "Up All Night" over to Joe Bob Briggs' "Monstervision" on TNT, perhaps there is a chance for Transylmania to be looked back upon by some with a certain degree of kitschy fondness a decade or two from now, but I only just saw it less than 24 hours ago and can assure you it is a strong frontrunner for the worst theatrically released movie of the past year.
1/2 out of 5
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