If you're able to recall the 2003 teen comedy "Dorm Daze," well, you have my sympathies. I hear there's potent medication now available on the market for the screaming nightmares. The bad news is that "Transylmania" is actually "Dorm Daze 3," tarted up with a new title and a trendy vampire-slanted marketing push to capture the interest of those who haven't had their fill of those fanged creatures of the night. And before anyone e-mails me, yes, there was a "Dorm Daze 2." I couldn't believe it either.
Heading to Romania for a semester abroad to study inside a castle, a group of dim-witted students (including Tony Denman, James DeBello, Patrick Cavanaugh, and Oren Skoog) carelessly unlock an ancient curse housed in a music box, allowing vampire Radu (Skoog) to return to life and reclaim his kingdom. Standing in the way is vampire hunter Teodora van Sloan (Musetta Vander), who hunts for Radu and his brides around the castle, mixing the frightened students up in the business of monster killing. Also featured in the script is a little person trying to piece together a perfect human body for his humpbacked daughter, an all-holy sex guide, and a team of farting horses. You know, I'm not even 100% sure what the film was about. It was never something that commanded rigorous inspection.
Returning for their third "Dorm Daze" adventure are screenwriters Patrick Casey and Worm Miller, and these guys sure do love a farce. "Transylmania" is their version of a Mel Brooks comedy, only steeped in the trite conventions of today's smutty cinematic product. The opening five minutes of "Transylmania" alone offer a pair of lubed-up anal invasions and a penis crushed by a laptop. Drab stoner comedy is also a huge component of the script, playing directly to the target audience with copious, tiresome weed jokes.
Casey and Miller haven't matured much in the six years since "Dorm Daze" was made bottom-shelf DVD royalty, and while their imagination for comedic situations remains disturbingly limited and borderline litigious (there's homage, and then there's just ripping off classic comedy bits), I must admit, "Transylmania" did offer a moment of legitimate wit, concerning the revelation of Romania's preferred currency: American blue jeans. It's not a laugh, but it shows that dear old Worm and Patrick aren't always lusting after the most idiotic, unfunny material around. Just most of the time.
Directors David and Scott Hillenbrand tender the same atrocious effort they've been delivering for years now, only with "Transylmania," the duo have an opportunity to work with the forbidding forests and striking castles of Romania. Or at least one castle (a word one cast member keeps mispronouncing, and I don't think it's on purpose), which they shoot the heck out of, using the historic architecture to marry a gothic ambiance to the rampant slapstick. The directors can't sell a joke to save their life (their eye for casting is equally as hopeless), but at least with "Transylmania" half the work is already there with the eye-catching Eastern European locations. It's a shame the frigid clowning occurring within the beauty is so steadily unimaginative and aggressively pitched.
Since the picture is such a low-budget affair, it's comes as a shock to find the anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1 aspect ratio) presentation looking somewhat approachable. Detail is strong (which isn't a welcome development with some of the gross-out jokes), while colors stay settled and pronounced. There's some trouble caused by EE, but nothing too distracting, while skintones remain fresh and black levels stay courteous.
The 5.1 Dolby Digital sound mix runs a little too tinny, with a mono-like experience accompanying the antics onscreen. There's little dimension to the audio track, which elevates the cartoon intent of the film. Soundtrack selections are anemic, but the scoring fares better, merging with the sound effects to give something of a pulse to the DVD, with a modest amount of the madness slipping into the surrounds. It's not a picture that would normally welcome a rich, expensive mix, so perhaps the thinness here is intentional.
English and English SDH subtitles are offered.
The feature-length audio commentary with co-directors David and Scott Hillenbrand, and actors Oren Skoog, Jennifer Lyons, and Musetta Vander is one of sustained pride, which seems outrageously delusional, but hey, why should I spoil the fun? The Hillenbrands run the track and they're very content with the picture, constantly trumpeting the location shoot in Romania, where temperatures were freezing, making comfort impossible. Everyone here appears greatly impressed with the final "Transylmania" product, but then again, they all want to stay employed, leaving true reactions to this dreck a pipe dream. Still, for anyone who takes a shine to the film, it's an educational listen...I suppose.
"Alternate Opening" (2:47) reveals the flashback structure that initially kicked off the film. It can be viewed with or without commentary.
"Alternate Ending" (1:37) practices the art of telling instead of showing. It can be viewed with or without commentary.
"Deleted and Extended Scenes" (16:05) offers more connections and complications to the story, along with plenty of failed comedy bits, running gags, and silly character business. They can be viewed with or without commentary.
"Gag Reel" (6:40) is a standard routine of mix-em-ups, with special attention paid to actor James DeBello, who can't quite remember his lines.
"Behind-the-Scenes" (1:59) is a brief peek at the making of the film, with a few interviews and some BTS footage.
And a "Stoner" Trailer is included.
There was a brief moment during the feature where I thought that perhaps I was being too hard on something so one-dimensionally silly. That I was physically unable to process a specific genre of stupidity due to some obscure gene defect.
Nope. It's just a terrible movie.
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