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.
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. And then I surveyed the crowd at the screening I attended, feeling the chill in the air as seven strangers sat in stone-cold silence -- not a single laugh from anyone. The eighth moviegoer? Fast asleep five minutes in. I’ve never envied a person more.