Transylvania Twist is a 1989 comedy film that parodies horror movies. Originally released by Concorde Pictures, this film is distributed on home video by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. In the film Angus Scrimm reprises his role of the “Tall Man” from the Phantasm movies, as a parody. The humor of the film is most often said to be in the style of Airplane!, and Mel Brooks comedies. It occasionally breaks the Fourth wall rule with characters looking at the camera, and one even saying “I’m in the wrong movie.” The film’s main theme has been released on a variety of albums, it and the entire soundtrack was released on CD and as a direct download in the year 2010, twenty-one years after the movies initial release.The film opens with two short sequences before the main story line begins, first a prologue, and then a mock television advertisement. In the prologue, a seemingly helpless young woman is pursued by Jason Voorhees, Leatherface, and Freddy Krueger; she is then chased into a cave and reappears a few seconds later with an item from each of the three. She then faces the camera and laughs (showing her fangs) and says, “Amateurs!” The advertisement sequence is for a “mortuary, crematory, cemetery” called “Death City” where a salesman tries selling viewers “new and used coffins, with the help of his assistant Lovely Rita.”
Dexter Ward (Steve Altman) enters a ‘Death City’ location, and is greeted by two morticians, one of which is noted science fiction anthologist Forrest J. Ackerman in a cameo appearance, who is holding a copy of Famous Monsters of Filmland.Dexter is there for the funeral of his uncle, who is suffering from a ‘medical condition’ and not actually dead. After helping his uncle out of the coffin and back to a library, Dexter is then sent by his uncle Ephram (Jay Robinson) to find and bring back The Book of Ulthar, a book of great power capable of unleashing terrible evil in the wrong hands; librarian Ephram had mistakenly let someone check it out. Dexter’s search leads him to aspiring singing star Marissa Orlock (Teri Copley), who is about to be informed of the death of her father Marinas (Howard Morris), and her inheritance of Castle Orlock in Transylvania. Dexter goes with her to the castle.
Victor Van Helsing (Ace Mask),a professional vampire hunter, accompanies Marissa and Dexter to the castle as the executor of her father’s estate. Count Byron Orlock (Robert Vaughn), and his three adopted-daughters who are also vampires are already at the castle. One of them is named Patricia (Monique Gabrielle) the seemingly helpless girl in the prologue. When ‘viewing the will’ they find out that Marissa has been left the castle and the money, while Orlock was left luggage. As a toss-up gift, they are left to find the book somewhere within the castle. Orlock is determined to find the book so that he can create an age of evil; assisting him is the butler Stephan (Angus Scrimm).
The book is finally found by Dexter but Byron steals it from him and uses it to summon an enormous monster called The Evil One (which was originally seen in It Conquered the World), but Dexter and Marissa (who is possessed by her ancestor of the same name) stops him, while Dexter is freed and destroys the book. The possessed Marissa blasts Byron with a lightning bolt, but as he burns to death he declares that he’ll be back in the sequel.
Marinas, who was suffering from a cataleptic seizure and was not dead, tells Marissa that she must stay in the castle to ensure that the monster never returns; Helsing, who is now a vampire, also stays. Dexter arranges for Marissa to make her latest music video in the castle, with the help of her vampire cousins and Helsing.
The film ends with the local villagers, who throughout the movie have been trying to find the castle so they can destroy it, finally give up and go home.
The film received mixed reviews, from positive reviews such as “what might be the best of the late-80′s wave of Naked Gun inspired horror spoofs.” To the more negative reviews that state “Moronic comedy about vampires, teenage vampire hunters and half-naked babes.” One of its most positive reviews comes from Variety stating that; “Mixed into the cosmic stew are many delightful reflexive bits,” and that it “is an occasionally hilarious horror spoof notable for the range of its comical targets.”
Skillfully helmed by B Auteur Jim Wynorski.
Wynorski is the talented auteur behind dozens of low-budget horror, comedy and sexploitation B-movies, and a genuinely fine filmmaker who sets out to entertain with everything he does. This is my favourite of his many films, a hilarious fast-moving pastiche of vampire movies in specific but horror cinema in general which affectionately spoofs everything from Night Of The Living Dead to Hellraiser. It also pokes fun at itself, with some wonderful moments like the Van Helsing dream sequence (“Holy Water – don’t leave home without it !”) and the mad plot is an amazingly clever hotch-potch of Son Of Frankenstein, Nosferatu, The Fall Of The House Of Usher and The Dunwich Horror, to name but a few. Wynorski ensures that things keep hopping along so that the next sight gag, funny line or creepy moment is never far away, and the cast all get into the spirit of it. Altman does some funny schtick, Barbie-doll Copley is great eye-candy and Vaughn is a good sport as the caped fiend, but it’s really the support players who win the day. Mask is an absolute hoot as the vampire-slayer, Scrimm has lots of fun spoofing his Tall Man / Phantasm character as the ominous butler, Franken does a great spin on the Lionel Atwill / Kenneth Mars village constable, and Gabrielle (who is billed with a “?” for some reason) is a deliciously buxom vampire bride. There is also a fabulous thumping dumb-dumb piano score by Chuck Cirino, which sets the comic-spooky atmosphere perfectly and underscores all the best moments with little zingers. Brilliantly written by Wynorski and R.J. Robertson (who plays Hans Phull the barkeep) and cheesily produced by Roger Corman’s Concorde Pictures, this is a must-see for all horror fans with a sense of humour and anyone else who just needs some cheering up. And remember if you’re taking part in a lynch mob tonight, “I say we give up, forget everything and go home – no, wait a minute, I say we give up, forget everything, but not go home – no, we should forget everything, go home, but never give up !”. Fabulous.