Movie News & Reviews

'Transylmania' looks like Halloween thrift store

There are few things more liberating than being fully braced for the worst.

I like going into movies with a fresh eye, so I almost never read upon them beforehand. Plus doing research feels like homework, and Ididn't flunk my way out of middle school just to take up doinghomework in my adult career. But sometimes you know a movie'sgoing to be bad, as with Transylmania, which looked like ano-budget '80s horror movie that somehow washed up in the modern age.

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That's pretty much what it turned out to be. But going to a movie youknow will suck is like buying store-brand booze in the big plasticbottles. Look, of course it's going to taste like poison. You knewthat before you walked in the store. Just toss it back and enjoy. Thatseems to have been the motto of Transylmania's makers, who puttogether a movie of such drunken, delirious badness it's impossiblenot to get swept up in the good cheer.

In love with a Romanian girl but separated from her by thousands ofmiles, college student Oren Skoog convinces his friends to spend thesemester abroad with him.

Arriving in Romania, they soon find themselves embroiled in theschemes of a vampire lord (also played by Skoog) to restore his lostwife's soul to her body. Caught between the vampires, vampire-huntingprofessor Musetta Vander and dean David Steinberg's mad plan totransplant his hunchbacked daughter's head onto a healthy body,they'll be lucky to get out of the country with their lives.

It's so rife with subplots it's almost possible to forget how awful itis. Transylmania's meant to be a spoof of bad vampire movies,and it certainly feels like one. In fact, it so accurately mimicstheir cheap sets, second-rate acting and slapdash editing you mightbe tempted to believe it really is what it sets out to send up.

If Transylmania had been funny, it wouldn't matter that itlooks like a Halloween thrift store. It sets the tone early with thatcomedy staple known as "reams of exposition" — not only does it have tointroduce a cast so long it could double as a commercial landingstrip, but it's got a whole vampire legend to read to us, too — thenassaults us with a nonstop onslaught of crude humor pumped straightfrom the joke fields of Suckistan.

No brow is too low for its comic scope: midgets, farting horses,deformed women, it's got them all. On the other hand, Seinfeldhad all those things, too (Mickey, Rusty, and man-hands,respectively), and that show was somewhat successful.

But Seinfeld actually did things with even its most tastelessjokes. Transylmania lays them out like ugly, dying fish,expecting us to laugh just because something's gross. That's allyou've got? I mean, due to my financially crippling addiction towedding dresses, I have to eat squares of my back yard every morning,but you won't catch me chuckling over the breakfast table.

So that's the first 80 percent of the movie. What Transylmania doeshave, however, is an irresistible momentum. As its eight jillioncharacters follow their eight jillion subplots, hurtling into aridiculous world of mistaken identities, fencing and love triangles,it stops being annoying and starts being awesome. It even has the ol'fake mirror gag! Like from a '40s cartoon! And someone using a severedhead to pretend they're someone else! It's like a brilliant disaster,charmingly terrible, a time capsule of badness that'll have youwalking out feeling good.

Grade: D+