Stan Helsing (2009)

(On DVD, December 2011) There’s an intriguing concept at the heart of this spoof parody film updating the Van Helsing legend (and terrible 2004 movie) to modern times and just-as-modern monsters taken from the horror genre.  Concepts don’t make a movie, though, especially not when it’s backed with a dull script and a low budget.  The result is a movie that’s bad by almost every standard: Amateurishly written, staged with mediocre competence, put together in a botched fashion (even allowing for the low budget)… it’s just not very good.  But having survived a feverish back-to-back-to-back viewing of far worse spoof comedies as appetizer, I can say that there are a few things in Stan Helsing that make it rise above the muck of Wayans and Friedberg/Seltzer zero-effort zero-result trash.  For one thing, the actors seem determined to give it their best.  Here, the spotlight belongs to Desi Lydic for stealing nearly every scene she has as an adorable bubblehead, whereas Steve Howey is fine as the title character.  Limited by its PG-13 rating, Stan Helsing also manages to avoid much of the over-the-top grossness, violence and mean-spiritedness of several of its “unrated/extreme” contemporaries.  The result may indeed not be very good, but it’s not particularly offensive, and even occasionally charming in its earnest goofiness.  Having a karaoke contest to decide the fate of a monster-ridden town sounds like a terrible idea, but darn if I didn’t smile like an idiot as the monsters were singing “S-T-A-N” and promising the worst torture to the lead character to the tune of the Village People’s Y-M-C-A.  Dumb stuff, but writer/director Bo Zenga has a few solid instincts –I wonder what he could do with a better script and a bigger budget.  I’m not recommending the film… merely pointing out that it’s nowhere near the bottom of the heap when it comes to spoof comedies.  The DVD edition has a number of disappointing extras: The DVD commentary is practically useless (other than some making-of details on how to operate within a low budget) and many of the extended scenes show the wisdom of cutting the film down to its PG-13 rating.

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