Transylvania Twist (1989)

Author: Brett H.
Submitted by: Brett H.   Date : 2008-03-01 03:00

Directed by: Jim Wynorski
Written by: R.J. Robertson
Produced by: Alida Camp

Reviewed by: Brett H.

Spoofs have never really been my cup of tea. The Scary Movie franchise began well, but ended up falling flat as the series progressed. Most people have recognized the in-jokes of horror movies within horror movies for years, but it seems as though mainstream people think that Scream was the first to do this. It may have been the most popular, but it existed much, much before Scream was even thought of. Scary Movie, the same. Although it was the most mainstream and popular, it wasn’t the first. In the 1980s films such as Saturday the 14th and Transylvania Twist were entire films spoofing the genre. Although, Scary Movie had real adult humor and Twist seems geared more towards the PG audience. If spoofs aren’t my film of choice, then imagine where a PG-rated one stands on that totem pole.

The movie starts off very promising, with a woman walking in the woods, breasts pushed out doing her best Hazel Court impersonation. Three men gather behind her, following her every move. And could it be… yes, it is horror icons, Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees and Leatherface! They follow the vixen into a cabin and the camera shakes and a ruckus ensues before silence. Poor girl… or not. The woman exits the cabin and looks directly at the camera and smirks, “amateurs” and flashes her fangs. It’s the best scene in the film and will surely give a chuckle to even the most serious horror fan. Perhaps it could be spoofing the spoof in Sleepaway Camp II, which also “featured” the three horror villains!

Now, the movie begins for real at the funeral of Dexter Ward’s (Steve Altman) uncle, who comes back to life for all to see, exclaiming, “what stupid son of a bitch pronounced me dead?!” Dexter’s uncle also happens to have the world’s largest library of books on the occult, but he is missing one key piece, a book he foolishly loaned out entitled the Book of Ulthar and was never returned. Happy to see his uncle alive, Dexter promises to do all he can to find the book and is only given one hint at its whereabouts. The book was lent to Marinas Orlock years ago and all that can be traced to him is a daughter, who is living in Los Angeles. Dexter goes on the hunt and it turns out the girl, Marissa (Teri Copley) hasn’t seen her father in years either. She gets a message from Transylvania from Victor Van Helsing (Ace Mask) urging her to come to the country as her father has passed.

Things are very different in Transylvania, there’s zombie bellboys and the people of the city are straight out of every old Universal and Hammer movie you’ve ever seen. They like their pubs and like to assemble as a nice angry mob, except they never can agree upon what to do come lynching time. They are met at Castle Orlock by Marissa’s evil uncle, Byron Orlock (Robert Vaughn) and three vivacious vampire cousins, one of them the bloodsucker that took on the three horror legends at the beginning. Byron and Marissa’s father never saw eye to eye and Byron tells Marissa this and uses the example of the last letter he was left by her father as an example. The letter began, “Dear, Shithead.” Naturally, Byron needs the book to bring evil into the world and the forces of good and evil do battle for the prize. With a lot of cleavage along the way.

Transylvania Twist is a fun movie, but the PG humor really hurts it, it’s more likely to impress kids rather than adults. It acts as an 80s Fearless Vampire Killers, but doesn’t pull it off nearly as well as that classic. As far as horror references go, the movie is awesomely full of them, from the aforementioned to Pinhead and Angus Scrimm makes a cameo, spheres in tow. The Exorcist is spoofed and the actor who plays Van Helsing looks like a cross between Vincent Price and Donald Pleasence. Surprisingly, other than the beginning there’s very little, if any at all, play on slasher films. And just when you thought you’ve seen it all, the late (as in he died 20 years before the movie was made!) Boris Karloff makes an appearance after Dexter walks into a room and sees him in Castle Orlock and claims he’s just seen him in The Terror, to which Karloff replies, “don’t remind me.” The kicker, the footage spliced together to make a conversation between the two is from that very movie! Roger Corman is the executive producer on the film and worked with Karloff many times in the 60s with AIP, including making The Terror on the left over sets from the hilarious horror comedy, The Raven.

Another cool thing is how they cut to stock footage in some scenes, mimicking the look of grainy older gothic horror flicks. The dialogue in the film is generally fun and there’s a few laugh out loud scenes and a lot of chuckles along the way, but my type of humor usually involves more than a few f-bombs and dirty innuendo. The DVD looks much like a VHS and takes some searching to find, but can be had for an affordable price and includes a trailer. It’s a decent spoof with spooky sets and something that’s appropriate to watch with a younger crowd, or those wanting to see the scenes involving the big horror franchises or see Angus Scrimm’s amusing cameo. It has its share of quality scenes, but as a movie falls a tad short of one that you should add to your collection, unless you're a hardcore spoof fan. I prefer a straight horror-comedy to a spoof any day of the week, with the exception of Roman Polanski’s classic, Fearless Vampire Killers and while Transylvania Twist is not the best spoof out there, it’s certainly no joke either. Rent it!

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