If you know that the classic line "Yeah, they're dead--they're all messed up" comes from THE NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, then you're the target audience for TRANSYLVANIA TWIST, an enthusiastic Roger Corman-produced parody of horror films that especially burlesques his gothic cycle from the 1960s (the H.P. Lovecraft-inspired THE HAUNTED PALACE in particular),...read more
If you know that the classic line "Yeah, they're dead--they're all messed up" comes from THE NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, then you're the target audience for TRANSYLVANIA TWIST, an enthusiastic Roger Corman-produced parody of horror films that especially burlesques his gothic cycle from the
1960s (the H.P. Lovecraft-inspired THE HAUNTED PALACE in particular), though the hackneyed plot is a mere formality on which to pile layers of in-jokes.
Novice occultist Dexter Ward (Steve Altman) must find the dreaded Book of Ulthar, which could bring long-banished evil deities back to Earth. Last to possess it was the recently deceased Marinus Orlock, whose daughter Marisa (Teri Copley) is Transylvania-bound for a reading of the will. Marinus
Orlock's evil brother Byron (Robert Vaughn), a Bela Lugosi dress-alike, is also named in the legacy, but all he inherits is a set of Transylvanian Tourister luggage for his anticipated departure; Marisa gets the castle and its contents, including the Book of Ulthar, which is concealed in a coffin.
Byron grabs the tome and uses it to invoke an "Old One" from beyond--which turns out to be a turnip-shaped monster. Dexter puts an end to the satanic shenanigans by burning the book.
TRANSYLVANIA TWIST shares with some of Mel Brooks' better satires a thorough (in truth, filial) affection for the source material, and director Jim Wynorski (a prolific Corman contributor with DEATHSTALKER II, RETURN OF THE SWAMP THING and many others to his credit) indulges in recreating infamous
creature-feature situations and setups, most splendidly when he re-edits footage from Corman's THE TERROR to bring Steve Altman face-to-face with the late Boris Karloff. Other cameos include genre afficianado/collector Forrest J. Ackerman, clutching a copy of his "Famous Monsters of Filmland"
magazine. Angus Scrimm plays a skulking butler and also reprises his "Tall Man" bit from the PHANTASM movies. There are dull spots when the film verges on a laundry-list of late-show trivia, but fans on patrol for in-jokes won't come back empty-handed. There does exist a piece of music called
"Transylvania Twist," a followup by Bobby Boris Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers to their hit "Monster Mash," but it's nowhere to be found on the soundtrack here. (Violence, sexual situations, profanity.)
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