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Overall Rating

Awesome: 7.69%
Worth A Look: 23.08%
Just Average: 7.69%
Pretty Crappy: 7.69%

1 review, 7 user ratings

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Transylvania 6-5000
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by Jack Sommersby

"Lame, Listless Horror Spoof"
1 stars

One of those '80s oddities from New World Pictures that some claim is a guilty pleasure but to others should be found guilty for being humor-deprived.

Having co-written two Mel Brooks pictures, Silent Movie and High Anxiety, Rudy De Luca makes his directorial debut with the horror spoof Transylvania 6-5000, which he wrote himself, and it's an inane waste of time. Reporters Jack Harrison (Jeff Goldblum) and Gil Turner (Ed Begley, Jr.) of the ultra-disreputable tabloid The Sensation (which runs front-page stories like "Are Alien Creatures using Your Bodies for Sex While You Sleep?") are dispatched to Transylvania to get a "Frankenstein story" to boost readership of their flailing publication. Only when they arrive they find Transylvania to be a welcoming, tranquil tourist location boasting scenic beauty and wine festivals -- when Gil asks a bellhop if Frankenstein has ever been seen, the bellhop can barely keep a straight face; and it's not five minutes till word is spread to all the citizens who can't help laughing themselves silly. The cynical, once-esteemed journalist Jack knows their efforts are futile, but Gil, a doofus whose father is the tabloid's managing editor, believes what he's seen in old horror movies and keeps doggedly pursuing the story. Unfortunately, because De Luca's lackluster material affords the actors so little in the way of bright dialogue, Goldblum and Begley, Jr. never manage to get an engaging rapport going. (It also doesn't help that Goldblum, who lent sarcastic and caustic wit to his eccentric characters in Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Big Chill, acts in a detached manner throughout, which not only gives the impression of Jack being too good for the tabloid but Goldblum being too good for the movie. Besides, in his first straight-man leading role in John Landis's dreadful black comedy Into the Night earlier in the year, he didn't come off much better.) Our heroes check into a castle inn, with its proprietor also acting as the town mayor who insists Transylvania is coming up to modern standards with its "six-story skyscraper"; and the staff is made up of accident-prone dimwits who never manage to connect with our funny bone but do succeed at grating on our nerves. The central joke is that underneath the disarming facade Transylvania actually does have a phantasmagorical element, which gives way to full-blown pandemonium in the second half, with a mad scientist and his seven-foot-tall monstrosity and the like thrown into the mix, but because the movie's practically running on fumes by this point, our goodwill has already been depleted to the point of no return.

De Luca has obviously modeled Transylvania 6-5000 on Brooks's 1974 Young Frankenstein, and though Brooks's movie repeated gags and doesn't quite live up to its sterling reputation, it was fairly imaginative, evocatively photographed in B/W, and pricelessly acted by its firing-on-all-cylinders cast. Here, the physical comedy is either uninspired or just flat-out inept (you can practically see the chalk marks the actors aren't hitting), the visual life undistinguished and drab (you'd never know the cinematographer Tom Pinter has been at his job for thirty-four years), the dialogue of the cringe-worthy variety ("Are you just pissing through?" is intended to be a laugh riot, I guess), the glacial pacing having all the momentum of an ice floe (the running time feels twice its ninety-four-minute length). Brooks clearly had true affectation for the genre he was sending up; De Luca, however, merely presents rather than invents. Relying on horror-movie familiarities in the second half of a comedy doesn't equate with turning these familiarities on their heads -- it's as if they were being mechanically checked off a master list; so when a Frankenstein-like monster kidnaps a little girl and the townspeople band together to destroy it, we're not sure how to respond. The gorgeous Geena Davis is on hand as a nymphomaniac of a wannabe-vampire with false fangs, and though the skimpy black outfit she wears is libidinously alluring, De Luca doesn't know what to do with her. The equally-attractive Teresa Ganzel (she was Jackie Gleason's flaky big-bosomed younger wife in The Toy) acts with energy and verity as an American tourist yet is eventually reduced to screaming hysterics. The offbeat Carol Kane, as a maid always on the painful receiving end of a slamming door, doesn't get a single workable scene to play. And the supporting males don't fare any better. The incorrigible Joseph Bologna valiantly tries imbuing his mad scientist with the kind of manic zeal Wilder so gloriously pulled off but is woefully under-directed. Jeffrey Jones, who was outstanding as the pathetic vice principal in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, is criminally wasted as the mayor/innkeeper. The only one who manages to come through is Norman Fell, as Jack and Gil's boss; sadly, he's only in one scene. With the dismal disappointment that is Transylvania 6-5000, hopefully it'll give audiences the inclination to give star/director/co-writer Gene Wilder's slightly underappreciated, much-funnier Haunted Honeymoon, a homage to those '50s "comedy chillers," the look-see it deserves.

About on dubious par with the otiose "Saturday the 14th."

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=2656&reviewer=327
originally posted: 11/02/13 14:15:53
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User Comments

11/06/13 JP Ward Terrible film, but features some hilarious improv by Michael Richards worth Youtubing. 2 stars
10/28/10 Rolly Hyatt This movie's become somewhat of a family tradition. Lupe definitely stands out. 5 stars
9/20/05 ShadowFace5 I liked it. 4 stars
3/06/03 Charles Tatum Shocking in its seriousness 1 stars
12/18/01 When Geena Davis was Hot Sucks that all the monsters are just people, but it's wacky Halloween antics 4 stars
3/28/01 Andrew Carden Goofy to the core, but mildly amusing...not amazing. 3 stars
5/01/00 nicole i loved this movie...great 4 stars
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  08-Nov-1985 (PG)
  DVD: 02-Apr-2002

  N/A (PG)

  23-Jan-1986 (M)

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