Transylvania 6-5000

Transylvania 6-5000 (1985)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Cast: Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, Ed Begley Jr., Michael Richards
Extras: Commentary Track, Storyboards, TV Spots, Still Gallery, Trailers

1985’s ’Transylvania 6-5000’ was the first — and so far only — feature film directed by frequent Mel Brooks collaborator Rudy De Luca. Featuring a cast of easily recognizable faces and playing with horror characters and settings that most film fans are readily familiar with the movie is a horror/comedy spoof that has now been released on DVD by Anchor Bay — the saviors of all things odd and 80s-ish.

Ed Begley, Jr. and Jeff Goldblum play two intrepid tabloid reporters who uncover the scoop of the century — the Frankenstein monster has once again come to life in Transylvania. Jetting off to get the story, the two soon encounter a buxom vampire (Geena Davis), a mad scientist (Joseph Bologna), the wolfman (Donald Gib), a Lurch-like butler (Michael Richards), and a whole host of other assorted freaks and creeps in their quest to unearth the truth.

From there the story pretty much becomes a series Mel Brooks-like set pieces and one-liners that will elicit either guffaws or groans depending on one’s disposition toward that style of broad slapstick humor.

Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, ’Transylvania 6-5000’ arrives on DVD looking pretty good. The image is a bit soft and grainy and colors are a tad washed out but this seems to be a common affliction among low-budget, early 1980s movies. Black levels and contrast are fine and there are very few physical blemishes on the print. I really can’t imagine the film looking any better than this.

Audio comes in a very plain English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono mix. Lacking in dynamic range, the track is at least free from any noticeable distortion. Dialogue, sound effects, and music are all well balanced though noticeably thin and harsh sounding.

As an added bonus, Anchor Bay has managed to round up a few extras. First up is a running commentary with director/writer Rudy De Luca and visual consultant Steve Haberman. This is an engaging and funny track that isn’t afraid to dish a little dirt here and there.

Next up is a selection of storyboards that offer some insight into the design process of the film. Also included is a behind-the-scenes still gallery, three TV spots, and two trailers for the film.

’Transylvania 6-5000’ is an odd movie to start with and the combination of a very dated 1980s look, surprisingly wooden performances, and a weak script drag down what otherwise could have been a very funny movie. Not likely to displace ’Young Frankenstein’ as reigning king of the horror/comedy spoofs, the film is nevertheless worth a look and certainly has its share of entertaining moments.

Once again Anchor Bay is to be applauded for taking up the cause of under-appreciated films everywhere and releasing ’Transylvania 6-5000’ with solid audio and video quality and a handful of decent bonus features. Fans of zany, low-budget 1980s comedies should find this one to be right up their alley.