Well…one thing’s for certain, David and Scott Hillenbrand are pretty happy all those teenage girls out there are buying Twilight books and watching WB shows about boyish bloodsuckers. It’s thanks to them that the pair of filmmakers behind National Lampoon’s Dorm Daze 1 & 2 could get their 2007 production of Part 3 out of direct-to-DVD hell and into some big box office multiplex moolah –now under the newly christened name Transylmania.
If you’ve followed the previous chapters of this epic saga we’re pretty much back with the same cast of characters, presumably in their Junior Year of college (as the first two films covered their Freshmen and Sophomore years), as they take a semester abroad to study sex and drugs in Romania.
The main plot centers around the tried and true mistaken identity gag. This time it’s Rusty (Oren Skoog) who happens to look exactly like a centuries old vampire named Radu. Radu’s evil lover was a dark sorceress whose soul was sucked out and trapped in a long lost, ornate, music box. When the music box reappears and is opened by Lynne (Jennifer Lyons) she becomes possessed by the wicked spirit. But, Jennifer is only possessed when the music box is open. So, each time it closes, she has no clue what is going on. Meanwhile Rusty has his hands full being chased by a fearless leather-clad vampire slayer (Musetta Vander) and romancing his gorgeous cyber-girlfriend (Irena Hoffman), who has a secret of her own.
Most of the supporting cast of the previous Dorm Daze films make appearances here, including stoner sidekicks, Pete and Wang (Patrick Cavanaugh and Paul H. Kim) and James DeBello’s return as the always-up-to-no-good Cliff (who has a great Hostel-esque introduction back into the story).
To be fair here, not much in this film is drag-you-out-kicking-and-screaming funny, but the film scores a huge bit of extra credit grace from me for at least attempting to take up the old Once Bitten, Transylvania 6500 mantel of telling a strictly-for-laughs slapstick horror comedy. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty fed up with the Stan Helsing and Epic Movie-styled spoofs. And, even though this year’s two basic horror comedies (the other being the festival film Lesbian Vampire Killers) both seem to miss the mark, Transylmania still might offer a glimmer of hope to the one or two of you out there that either (a) loved Dorm Daze or (b) have abysmally low expectations (and considering how bad the trailer for this flick looks, it shouldn’t be hard to muster those sinking suspicions).
The film has a few saving graces, most of those come from Jennifer Lyons’ turn it on again/off again gear shifts as she switches from loopy helium-voiced airhead to husky demon goddess, sometimes in mid-sentence. Pete and Wang supply some standard stoner comedy relief (per usual) and Irena Hoffman has one moment–where her character is heartbroken–that shows just how good her acting could be if someone cared enough to actually provide some direction.
And, that’s where the film is a mess. It’s anarchic and haphazard in its staging, hampered by every failed joke–courtesy of a screenplay that is missing the serious funny. And that’s too bad, because every once in a while an off-the-cuff witticism (like the subtle reference to Lord of the Rings) hits the tone right in the sack and makes you laugh your ass off. It’s too bad that those moments are so few and far between.
But come on, you can’t really tell me you were expecting a masterpiece of modern comedy out of this film. The best thing about it, is that it feels retro. It reminds me of a lot of good/bad 80’s comedies. It’s not surprising since the Hillenbrand boys have been churning out this kind of teen sex throwback since 2003. Knowing that the film has been shelved for the past 2 years and only making a trip to the big time world of “movie screens” thanks to our latest obsession with all things fangy, eases my disappointment a little too.
So, if you’re looking for loads of laughs then Transylmania is probably going to be about as amusing to you as a stake through the heart. But, if you’re a fan of sophomoric stupidity and wanna see some sexy topless vampire girls, then…this bloods for you.
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