Oh Bugs! Where are you when we need you?
Not to sound paranoid or anything, but my spies tell me that they have been hearing whispers complaining that I only write positive reviews. While it is true that most of the reviews I post are at least a little positive I also think that I have not shied away from including reviews of stuff I did not like. Of course, the nature of b-movie appreciation is such that even a real dog of a movie can be entertaining by virtue of the unintentional comedy value. Also I tend to want to review movies I thought were at least a little entertaining. Well, in order to reassure you all that BigRuta does not pull punches, I present the following reviews. Proceed at your own risk.
New World Pictures, 1985, 94 minutes, PG
actors: Jeff Goldblum, Ed Begley Jr., Joseph Bologna, Jeffery Jones, John Byner, Michael Richards, Carol Kane, Geena Davis, Teresa Ganzel, Norman Fell.
writer/director: Rudy DeLuca
Taxonomy: Oh so 80s CRAPPY horror comedy spoof.
Plot: Two tabloid reporters are sent to Transylvania to hunt down a good Frankenstein story.
Bluntly: A young nubile Geena Davis in a skimpy vampire outfit!
I have a rather perverse fondness for bad comedies. I don’t know why, it’s just something about films that are supposed to be funny and turn out not funny that, well, amuses me. Yeah, I’m weird. Maybe it is because I came of age during the early 80s when low budget crappy comedies were slapped together and pushed out the studio door to local theaters just about every week. We kids would go see them even if they were junk because back then it was still cheap to go to the movies. Of course the makers of these films knew very well that if they tossed in some gross humor and scantily clad babes, the teenaged boys in the audience would at least pay the $1.50 Saturday matinee price so we could talk about the flicks Monday at school.
Transylvania 6-500 is definitely one of these bad comedies. The fact that it stars people with actual talent makes it even more of a rubbernecker attraction. I have pointed out before that one of the fun things about watching b-movies is seeing actors that went on to be big stars in movies that they would no doubt want to forget. This film has at least three folks who I would bet do not list this flick on there resumes.
So, Jack Harrison (Jeff Goldblum) and Gil Turner (Ed Begley Jr.) are reporters for ‘The Sensation’, a Weekly World News type of tabloid. The editor of The Sensation (Norman Fell), who also happens to be Gil’s father sends them to Transylvania to find Frankenstein after viewing a video shot by collage kids. By the way, the “collage kid” in the video is Michael McKean who played Lenny in Lavern & Shirley, is an alumnus of Saturday Night Live and is perhaps best known for his work in This is Spinal Tap. Gil’s loving daddy makes it clear that if they don’t give him a story, they will be fired.
The two intrepid reporters travel to Transylvania – via stock airline footage and a very obvious model train. Jack is a serious journalist who considers his current post an insult and Gil is a big dork. Gee, Ed Begley Jr. playing a big dork – what a strech! Once in Transylvania, Gil demonstrates how big of a dork he is by openly asking people if they have seen Frankenstein. The good people of Transylvania then laugh and mock Gil every chance they get.
While Gil tries his best to track down the story, Jack tries his best to make time with a hot blond single mom named Elizabeth Ellison (Teresa Ganzel). Ms. Ganzel was an 80s TV staple. She was on any show that required a cute, well built dumb blond. Perhaps her claim to fame was that she replaced the late Carol Wayne as Johnny Carson’s Teatime Movie Lady. Although she looks great (even with 80s make-up) and her character is not as dumb as usual, her considerable figure is never shown off, which means Elizabeth is a straight nonsexy character in an unfunny comedy. Yeah, lots of viewer interest there!
Okay, this is already taking too long so I am going to try to speed things up a bit. Jack and Gil went up a hill to…no…sorry. Jack and Gil talk to an old gypsy woman who tells them that her son is a werewolf and asks then to help him. Gil is concerned, Jack thinks she is nuts.
Later a gorgeous scantily clad future Oscar winning nymphomaniacal vampire named Odette (Geena Davis) comes on to Gil. I just realized that I have never written the word nymphomaniacal before; and now I have written it twice! Ha! A young Geena Davis prancing around in her skimpy vampire outfit is by far the best part of this flick! In one scene Odette pulls Gil’s face into her cleavage. This is the most terrifying scene in the movie! Why? Because when I saw it I wished to be Ed Begley Jr. if only for that scene. If that ain’t terror I don’t know what is!
Jack and Gil find hints of corruption between the mayor and chief police inspector and try to get a look inside the sanatorium of mysterious Dr. Malavaqua (Joseph Belogna). Jack and Elizabeth go out on a picnic and Elizabeth’s daughter Laura gets lost in the forest. Laura is abducted by Frankenstein and during the search Jack and Gil come face to face with Frankenstein, the werewolf, a mummy and a freaky contortionist type guy.
Gil is captured and taken back to Dr. Malavaqua’s lab, where Laura is beating Frankenstein at poker. Jack finds the lab and with the help of Odette learns that Dr. Malavaqua is a nutcase while he is in his lab, but a gentle man outside of the lab.
Eventually everyone shows up at the local Wine Festival and Jack, Gil and Dr. Malavaqua explain that all of the “monsters” are really ordinary people with severe physical and mental problems that Dr. Malavaqua has been helping under the table because the mayor and chief inspector embezzled the money his clinic was getting from outside organizations. Yeah.
Jack and Elizabeth fall for each other as do Gil and Odette. Odette was suffering from pathological insecurity and pretending to be a vampire because she thinks she is ugly. Yeah.
Wow! Talk about a wasted opportunity! The writer/director of this thing also co-wrote Caveman and Mal Brooks’ High Anxiety, so you would think he had learned how to make an effective comedy. Guess not.
To be absolutely fair there are some funny moments in this film. The frontpage headlines the editor of The Sensation has hanging in his office: “Man runs through Vatican nude.” “I was dead for a week and liked it.” “Wet Dreams: Are alien creatures using your body for sex while you sleep?”
The hotel bellhop Fejos (Michael Richards after Fridays but before Seinfeld) wants to be a comedian and is always pulling jokes on Gil and Jack and asking “Is good, huh?” We get a hint of Richards great odd character acting and physical humor, but all it amounts to is padding as Fejos is completely unnecessary to the story. The really stupid story.
Babeage: Just in case you have not been paying attention, GEENA DAVIS IN A SKIMPY VAMPIRE OUTFIT!!! Teresa Ganzel for you blond lovers.
Sleazeploitation: None, just stupid jokes and sight gags.
Beasts, Freaks and Weirdoes: The “monsters”, crazy Dr. Malavaqua, Radu and Lupi, Fejos and of course Ed Begley Jr.
Gore & FX: Nada
Almost as abominable…
I had hoped that the beer I paired with Transylvania 6-5000 might save my night’s entertainment. Alas, twas not to be.
Brasserie des Cimes, France
I should have know better. When all the information you get on a bottle of beer is the name, a rather vague brewery name and the alcohol content, chances are you are not in for a taste sensation.
Well, there was more on the label, but it was just marketing flapdoodle. “From the French Alps.” “High Fermentation” Wow! So is it an ale or a lager? The label did not say, however the French have an ale tradition, so I will go with ale.
ABV: 8.00% IBU: 20 – 30 I would guess.
Color: A soft, slightly cloudy amber. Hmmm, cloudy – so there are suspended proteins? A strong wheat ale perhaps? Or a traditional light ale with a high wheat content?
Aroma: Hoppy and clean with a bit of maltyness. A very slight floral scent; clover? The floral aspect pegs this as a French beer. The French like to put herbs and flowers in their beers to enhance the aroma. Yeah, well what can I say? They’re French.
Head: White semi-persistent small bubbled head. Hmmm, wheat ales tend to have a much more robust head due to the wheat protein. So, I would say not a full wheat ale.
Taste: Sweet and slightly cloying. Smooth with a hint of sour. A hoppy finish and slight aftertaste. Not bad, but nothing to get excited about. The floral scent combined with the cloying sweetness turned me off.
Recommendation: There has been a lot of France bashing in the last couple of years and I think it is pretty stupid. No, I will not call them “Freedom Fries!” They are not even really French! “French Fries” are originally from Belgium! Anyway, Yeti Biere is not going to change Franco hater’s opinions of the land of stinky cheese. Serve this – in a glass – to your most outspoken anti-Frog friend. Stand back and watch the reaction!
Okay, well I think I have put that nasty “BigRuta never writes any negative reviews!” rumor to rest. And please note that I did it during the coveted Halloween reviews! Ha!
Remember: comments, suggestions, questions and requests alway welcome.