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"Transylvania 6-5000" Movie Review

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Gelonysus loves fantasy and the entertainment it brings to our lives.

Transylvania 6-5000 Movie Poster

Transylvania 6-5000 Movie Poster

Year: 1985

Director: Rudy De Luca

Writer: Rudy De Luca


Cast

Jeff Goldblum: Jack Harrison

Ed Begley Jr.: Gil Turner

Jeffrey Jones: Mayro Lepescu

John Byner: Radu

Carol Kane: Lupi

Michael Richards: Fejos

Joseph Bologna: Dr. Malavaqua

Geena Davis: Odette

Mythological Background

The movie doesn’t weigh itself down with mythology. It assumes the audience knows the core movie monsters of the silver screen. Even the well known fact that Frankenstein is the scientist and his creation is simply The Monster or Frankenstein’s Monster is ignored; the creature in this film is referred to as Frankenstein.

transylvania-6-5000-movie-review-by-gelonysus

Synopsis

Jack Harrison is a serious journalist working at a tabloid newspaper. He is teamed up with Gil Turner, the newspaper editor's eager but gullible son. They are sent to Transylvania to cover a possible Frankenstien sighting. While Harrison’s skepticism has him spend more time going after a recently divorced mother, Gil attempts to uncover the truth behind the strange stories circulating around town. In the end, these two must work together to unravel the mystery.

Production

Writer/Director Rudy De Luca originally envisioned this movie as a television show starring a new actor who had been working on Bosom Buddies, Tom Hanks. However the production company didn’t want to use an unknown actor.

The film was ultimately shot in Yugoslavia and financed by the Dow chemical company, because Dow needed to spend frozen finances they had earned in the country and could not be spent outside. The entire film was given a 30-day shooting schedule.

The Talent

Rudy De Luca was able to pull an amazing cast together for this film and made sure to utilize their comedic instincts. Leave it to a writer who worked on the Carol Burnett Show and multiple Mel Brooks projects to have good instincts in forming such a strong ensemble. An early scene having John Byner and Carol Kane preparing lunch for the guest was scripted as “'cut fruit and serve.” This long comedic scene setting up their characters and relationship was completely improvised between them. Luca would also use a two and a half-minute master shot in Jack’s bedroom allowing Goldblum and Begley to make up their own movements on the spot.

John Byner and Carol Kane

John Byner and Carol Kane

Jeff Goldblum and Ed Begley Jr.

Jeff Goldblum and Ed Begley Jr.

It should be no surprise these actors worked so well together. It was Goldblum who recommended Ed Begley Jr. to the director for the role of Gil and Begley would later recommend Michael Richards for the role of Fejos. Michael Richards still had to audition, but got the role by using his hilarious physical comedy. Producers were worried he was too crass, but Luca loved him.

Geena Davis was new to the group and beat out 40 women for the role of Odette. It was her Bela Lugosi accent that set her audition apart from the rest. She clearly proved her chemistry with fellow cast members. This would be the first time Davis and Goldberg worked together, but they would later star together in The Fly and Earth Girls are Easy.

The Review

This movie would cause one of the world’s most recognized and respected film critics to give one of his shortest reviews ever. Leonard Maltin’s review was, "Transylvania 6-5000 stunk. I'm Leonard Maltin, Entertainment Tonight." While I will not say this was a good film, I think time has made it better and worth a watch for film buffs.

There are some issues with modern sensibilities. This is especially true with Jack Harrison’s romantic pursuit of an attractive single mother who has left New York with her daughter to get away from her abusive husband.

Once you get past some dated issues, it is wonderful to watch so many talented actors before they were known, at the beginning of their stardom or in their prime. Jeff Goldblum’s career had just taken off. We get to see the humor of Jeff Goldblum before he became a caricature of himself. It is wonderful to watch talented actors become the role, instead of the roles being written for them.

Karol Kane and John Byner were already established comedic actors and to see them working off eachother led to some timeless humor that had me laughing out loud.

Michael Richards was by far the most fascinating to watch. He has never been afraid to go over the top and it worked in this movie. If you liked his physical comedy as Kramer in the hit television show Seinfeld, you’ll love seeing that type of humor taking shape. His body movements were a great preview of what was to come.

While the talent was amazing, the direction was weak. You could enjoy the moments, but the story didn’t flow. At the beginning of the movie there is a bit about not knowing where Translvania is and not caring. (It’s in Romania, if you’re curious) This bit ended up foretelling the problem with the movie. Crack reporter Jack Harrison is skeptical of monsters existing in the real world, but is oblivious to everybody being extremely suspicious around him. Even if he doesn’t believe in monsters, there is a clear story that needs to be investigated. Many of the scenes that happen are hilarious, but serve no point to moving the story forward. Although clues are left for the audience to follow, they are not utilized and things are just spelled out for you when they need to move the story along.

While this is not a good film, it will entertain you. Just leave your intelligence at the door and enjoy the fun screwball humor by some legends of comedy.

Michael Richards in Transylvania 6-5000

Michael Richards in Transylvania 6-5000

Fear Factor:

1 out of 5

The only thing scary in this movie are all the different Transylvania accents.

Cheese Factor :

4 out of 5

It’s hard to get cheesier than a goofy 80’s comedy.

Final Score:

2.5 out of 5

While It’s not on a must watch list, it can be a nice vegging out film for those lazy nights you just want to be a zombie.

Sources

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0090196/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_7