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  Transylvania 6-5000 Tabloid terrors
Year: 1985
Director: Rudy De Luca
Stars: Jeff Goldblum, Ed Begley Jr, Geena Davis, Jeffrey Jones, Michael Richards, Joseph Bologna, Carol Kane, Teresa Ganzel, John Byner, Norman Fell
Genre: Horror, ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  2 (from 1 vote)
Review: If it’s laughter you’re after watch Transylvania 6-5000 (1963), the classic Bugs Bunny cartoon, and give this same-titled horror-comedy a wide berth. Written and directed by regular Mel Brooks collaborator Rudy De Luca, the skimpy plot has tabloid journalists Jack Harrison (Jeff Goldblum) and Gil Turner (Ed Begley Jr) sent to Transylvania to investigate sightings of the Frankenstein monster. Locals barely keep a straight face when quizzed about old bolt-neck, while the mayor (Jeffrey Jones) is out to prove there are no scary monsters lurking about. Sceptical Jack is more interested in scoring with single mom Elisabeth (Teresa Ganzel), but he and Gil discover a werewolf, a nymphomaniac vampire (Geena Davis), a mysterious mummy, and the elusive monster are somehow connected to a schizophrenic scientist (Joseph Bologna).

Sluggish and mostly a laughter-free zone, this painful parody barely raises a smile. Goldblum, at that time known for his wacky antics on TV series Tenspeed and Brownshoe, headlines what in retrospect seems like an all-star cast of comedy performers. Seinfeld’s Michael Richards plays an irritatingly clumsy manservant, Carol Kane essays a similarly accident prone maid, and Geena Davis dons a bosom-baring, Vampirella-type outfit. Maybe De Luca brought Goldblum and Davis to the attention of Mel Brooks who cast them in his next production, the excellent remake of The Fly (1986) by David Cronenberg.

If true then it’s the only good thing that came out of this movie. Unlike Brooks admirable achievement with Young Frankenstein (1974), De Luca directs with a near-total absence of style and fails to evoke any kind of a spooky atmosphere. Performers are given free reign to fall over a lot and indulge silly accents in scenes that play like a series of dull skits from a variety show. The big concept here is that these so-called monsters are really people with elaborate physical/psychological problems: Frankenstein’s monster is an accident victim, the mummy is a woman undergoing plastic surgery, Davis’ vampire just wants some attention. However, the script restricts these revelations to the inexplicable, feel-good climax whose “freaks are people too” message comes over as painfully insincere. The bulk of the film involves lame sex jokes, gags aimed at East-European stereotypes, and Jeff Goldblum mugging in that endearingly Jeff Goldblum-like way.

The title is of course a play on that old, Glenn Miller swing classic “Pennsylvania 6-5000”, a gag that extends to a comedy ring-tone that plays throughout the movie. It’s a joke that won’t mean much to younger viewers, but is about as funny as this gets.
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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