By Roger Moore
You’ve got to love actors who show up, give their all and try to make something out of whatever Z-grade horror comedy they’ve been lucky enough to get cast in. I like to think their best acting job is pretending they don’t know how bad the script is, that “Z-grade” stands for “zero” ambition on the part of the writers, if not the directors.
“Transylmania” is a bad movie with a cast of no-names who hurl themselves at it as if it were auditions week at Juilliard. A graphic spoof of vampire thrillers and college-kids-in-Europe-in-jeopardy horror, it’s unfunny and out-of-step. It feels dated, almost quaint, in the post-“Hangover” and “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell” cineplex.
Ten college “types” set off for a semester of study at Romania’s Razvan University, which is actually a castle where coeds occasionally disappear. Might the vampires who once ruled the roost be to blame?
RU is run by a dwarf dean (David Steinberg, who pronounces castle CAST-ull) who has a humpbacked daughter (Irena A. Hoffman). She’s been sexting the virginal-but-on-the-make Rusty (Oren Skoog, apparently his real name) after meeting on the Internet. Rusty is a dead ringer for a long-dead (supposedly) vampire, which his classmates — the brainy one, the stoners, Mr. Bad-in-Bed, the sexpot, the good sister and bad sister, the hustler and ’70s hair — think is hilarious until the real vamp wakes up and confusion ensues.
South African Musetta Vander (“Kicking & Screaming”) rolls her Rs as the resident vampire hunter on campus. An Ava Gardner look-alike, she wields swords and wears her Spandex with verve. C-movie vet Jennifer Lyons flings herself at her character — the daffy, sometimes-possessed-by-a-vampire bombshell Lynne — with the abandon of someone with a lot of direct-to-DVD credits and one shot at showing she deserves better.
Other than them, only the pothead “Wang” (Paul H. Kim) makes an impression.
The Hillenbrand brothers, veterans of a “National Lampoon Presents” direct-to-DVD, don’t make anything funny out of the script (too many characters, virtually no jokes) they were handed. Their direction is so paint-by-numbers that the only mystery is why it took two of them to shoot this.
One laugh: Vampires, stuffed in their coffins on a horse-drawn wagon, whine to the driver, “Are ve DERE yet?”
The most expensive item on the budget had to be buying the rights to “White Rabbit” (for a drug trip) and “Bad Moon Rising” (for obvious reasons) for the soundtrack. They probably got a group rate for the plane tickets to Romania. From the many indoor scenes where you can see the actor’s breath, I’m guessing they didn’t even pay to heat the sets.