Transylmania (2009)

DECEMBER 5, 2009


Maybe if my refrigerator didn’t break last night, I wouldn’t have been sitting in the theater watching Transylmania today. But I didn’t want to be in close proximity to the thing that would either cost me 700 dollars to fix or 550 dollars to replace (I chose the latter; I now have TWO ice cube trays in the house!), nor did I want to watch a DVD at home without a nice cold drink to enjoy while I watched it. So off to the theater I went, and thus became one of the 10 people (average) per theater who would buy a ticket to Transylmania that day.

Here’s something about Transylmania that you might not realize: it’s actually the 3rd film of the Dorm Daze series, the first film of which actually played in theaters as well (34 of them to be exact). Dorm Daze 2, however, went completely and unquestionably straight to DVD, making this, I believe, the first sequel to a DTV film that played theatrically in wide release (at least in the US - overseas they’ll put anything in theaters). And now that the box office reports have come in, it’s also the lowest grossing opening on record for a film opening on over 1000 screens. So I guess we shouldn’t expect to see Dark Harvest 4 or the next Puppet Master film playing at our local multiplex.

Having never seen the Dorm Daze films, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to follow the story, but the filmmakers were kind enough to open the film with voiceover narration explaining who each character was over a scene of them in his or her “element” (i.e. “these are the two stoner guys doing stoner things, here’s the obligatory nerd who doesn’t know how to fuck, here’s the group’s sort of badass guy (James DeBello - the only actor in the film I recognized) screwing over some mobsters, and here is the dumb blond girl falling asleep in class.”). Then our hero slams his dick in his laptop (he’s cybering with his Romanian online girlfriend) and we are off to Transylvania (misspelled in the title with an M - OH WAIT I JUST GOT IT. “MANIA” like it’s gonna be FUNNY!).

From there on we essentially get an American Pie type movie with a generic vampire/mad scientist backdrop and without the heart (or the R rated stuff - I don’t know why they didn’t bother to trim out the maybe 10 seconds of tame nudity and a few F bombs and just get a PG-13, seeing as this movie’s theatrical release exists solely to cash in on the teen Twilight crowd). The characters never really spend any scenes together - even when they are on the train to Romania, they’re all split up. Three of them deal with the mad scientist, Debello’s character enters the film halfway through and pretends to be a vampire hunter, so he teams up with the film’s REAL vampire hunter, the main guy looks exactly like the Dracula wannabe (named Radu, so this movie is possibly a re-titled Subspecies sequel as well) and thus both of them spend the entire movie getting mistaken for the other, etc.

In a way, this sort of episodic structure pays off. Since it switches gears so often, I wasn’t as bored as I should be while watching a shockingly unfunny comedy. I mean, I giggled here and there, but I only had one real belly laugh throughout the entire movie, which I will now spoil. See, apparently they cannot get American denim jeans in Romania, and thus they are quite valuable to the residents. So when the two stoners and the hot blond go to a strip bar, they pay for their drinks with a pair of jeans, and then place another pair inside the stripper’s panties (instead of a dollar). Trust me, compared to the rest of the movie, it’s a sight gag worthy of Airplane. I also liked the scene where the hot vampire hunter woman smashes a music box, thinking it’s the one that holds Radu’s power. But it’s just some poor homesick girl’s family heirloom, and the girl starts sobbing as she explains as much. Hahahaha, it’s funny because it made a girl cry.

Speaking of the music box, it merely plays “Pop Goes The Weasel”, which is perfectly indicative of the movie’s half-assery. Only the sort of douchebags who would make a fucking movie called Transylmania would skip writing original music for the music box that the whole “plot” centers around. Or maybe it’s supposed to be funny? It’s not, but if so, OK. I’m sure one of the other 9 people laughed.

As expected, the horror angle is next to nil, and I suspect that the addition of horror to the formula was done simply because they ran out of ideas after Dorm Daze 2 (the movie may be getting RELEASED because of Twilight, but since it was shot in 2006, Stephenie Meyer cannot be blamed for it existing in the first place). Since it’s A. a comedy and B. technically part of a franchise, it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that none of our characters will actually die, rendering scenes where they are chased around or whatever to be just as exciting as they are funny (i.e. not in the least). Even the victim of the mad scientist (a midget who wants to replace his hunchback daughter’s body with the “perfect” body of one of our girls) survives as a disembodied head who goes on to work in magic shows. So if you’re expecting hilarious Scary Movie style killings, you won’t find them here.

Oh, and yes, I saw the movie by myself. As did the other 4 people in the theater. Five people said to themselves “I want to see Transylmania in theaters” but were unable to find a single friend or loved one that was willing to join them. Sort of amazing, I think.

There are three things that kept this movie from being “Crap”. One is the aforementioned jeans gag. Two would be the fact that it was at least better than Stan Helsing, which is about all I hoped for anyway. And three, they use The Darkness’ underrated “One Way Ticket To Hell” over the opening credits, and I haven’t heard that song in a while, so I appreciate the flashback. Otherwise this barely qualifies as par for a DTV movie, making its undeserved and largely inexplicable theatrical release the most interesting thing about it.

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