Monday, May 30, 2011

Horror Movie Review: Transylmania


Starring: Oren Skoog, Jennifer Lyons, Musetta Vander, James DeBello, and David Steinberg

Directed by: David and Scott Hillenbrand

Written by: Worm Miller and Patrick Casey

Production Companies: Film Rock and Hill & Brand Entertainment

Release Date: November 5, 2008

Early on in horror film cinema the bizarre closeness of horror and humor was used. Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, and the Three Stooges all yucked it up with the monsters of the 30s at one point or another, and a good Horromedy is a great thing. And that great potential is there in the Hillenbrand brothers' Transylmania.

Rusty (Oren Skoog) has convinced a number of his friends to join him for a semester at Castle Razvan in Romania. His real interest is in hooking up with online girlfriend Draguta (Irena A. Hoffman). Everyone else is out for fun. Little do they realize that Razvan has a vampire problem and young college girls have been going missing.

Rusty turns out to be a dead ringer for head vampire Count Radu, Lynne's body becomes possessed by the soul of Radu's former lover, Lia (Natalie Garza) is abducted by Dean Floca (David Steinberg) and becomes a disembodied head so that Floca can complete the body he was building for his daughter, the aforementioned Draguta.

The identity confusion of Rusty and Radu was fairly entertaining, although not taken quite as far as it could have gone. They experience some interesting parallel trip ups in the confusion such as Rado going to a vampire ball held by the college kids being handed a glass of "blood" which he disgustedly spits out saying, "This is not blood." Rusty, thinking he's being taken to another vampire orgy is handed a glass of blood which he disgustedly spits out because, well, it's blood. But the identity confusion only treads the surface. An interesting scene, although admittedly a bit overdone in identity confusion comedies, involved Radu thinking he was seeing his reflection until he remembered he can't see his reflection. It would have been interesting to bring in Rusty's girlfriend, Draguta, who it turns out has a hunched back. Draguta's hunched back was used for obvious comic purposes involving Rusty trying to avoid her and his friends ribbing him, but no real creativity was used.

Lynne (Jennifer Lyons) being taken over by Radu's lover's soul could have taken on some funny twists but they just stuck with Lynne regaining control with the closure of the music box which housed the evil sorceress's soul at awkward times. The evil lover's soul also turning up in other people as others open the music box could have been amusing especially if done well.

Dean Floca as a diminutive Frankenstein was pretty entertaining partially because of David Steinberg's great comedic sense, but it seems more of a throw away plot forced awkwardly into a vampire movie than anything, and the comedic possibilities of Lia as a disembodied head were largely overlooked.

But many things just seemed to get started and then discarded prematurely. An apparent homage to the great Young Frankenstein had horses fart every time Castle Razvan is mentioned. However, after the first third of the movie the joke is gone. Professor Theodora van Sloan (Musetta Vander), vampire hunter, and her self-defense class involving the use of stakes and attackers bursting out of a coma could have been used better, but seemed to be an idea quickly discarded. And Cliff (James DeBello) and his attempts to hook up with van Sloan by pretending to be a vampire hunter not only could have been further explored, but also could have included spoofs of college students/teacher romances. Another joke that just kind of skips along the surface has Rusty take a handful of pills thinking they were Viagra to find out they were a mixture of various pills and not a Viagra in the mix. Rusty just begins acting in a generic high/drunk fashion rather than having him cycle through the effects of the different pills.

In the end Transylmania suffers from too many characters and the jokes aren't explored past the point of predictability. Like Rusty, Transylmania is flaccid and in need of some Viagra, but instead staggers around under the influence of too many characters and disparate, predictable jokes.

Related Trailers

Wasting Away - Oren Skoog also appears in Wasting Away, aka Aaah! Zombies!! Wasting Away focuses sympathetically on a group of zombies just beginning to grasp the implications of their horrific new existence. Writer-director Matthew Kohnen's comedic nightmare combines wit and absurdity in its novel approach to the zombie genre, revealing the suffering of a neglected monster minority.

Killer Pad - Jennifer Lyons also appears in Killer Pad. Three buddies think they've found party paradise when they land a great deal on a Hollywood Hills mansion. They've been warned that the home has a gruesome history, but really, they insist, what's the worst that could happen? Well, for one, the residence they hoped would be a babe magnet turns out to be an evil magnet -- an actual portal to hell. Nightmare on Elm Street star Robert Englund directs this horror comedy.

Cabin Fever - James DeBello also stars in Cabin Fever. Five college friends head off to the woods for a weekend of drinking, partying and fooling around. But as they sit at their campfire the first night, a blood-soaked hermit with a flesh-eating virus approaches them. They shoo him away, but the hapless kids start to catch the bug, and paranoia and hostility run rampant. Meanwhile, the locals slowly learn that they've got the bug, too. Eli Roth (Hostel) directs.

Demon Island - The Hillenbrand brothers wrote and directed Demon Island, aka Pinata: Survival Island. It's a weekend to dismember when a group of college co-eds show up for a wild island adventure and their annual treasure hunt turns into a massive bloodfest. An ancient clay piƱata crammed with the evil spirits of a forgotten village wreaks bloody revenge on the hapless undergrads. Only something this evil could tear (literally!) such good friends apart.

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