For this roundup, we've got a pretty mixed bag of tricks. In The Landlord, a very low-cost indie horror, there are tenants nobody wants to tangle with; the National Lampoon spoof Transylmania's frat-boys take on Dracula on his own turf; and in a sci-fi thriller tinged red with just a touch of horror, Freaky Faron freaks out her classmates with extraterrestrial extra-credit.
Dirt cheap to make and showing every budgetary smudge, The Landlord still manages to charm… at least until the plaster begins to peel during the second act. A long-short at best, this dogged feature length (the "who-cares?" sub-plot alert!) comedy is basically about demons freeloading off an everyday, average landlord.
When new tenants move in, they never move out, instead becoming unwitting sacrifices for the wisecracking creatures — and usually, they're devoured before they can even come up with first and last. Landlord Tyler (Derek Dziak) deals with these nether-worldly nuisances as best he can, but when a pretty-but-preggers single girl moves in… and baby's on the menu… he decides it's no more Mr. Nice Guy.
The monsters are awfully goofy (the lethal lady with what basically amounts to a Halloween cat-mask is especially silly), but the actors all seem to be relishing their roles — especially cut-up Rom Barkhordar as lead demon Rabisu — it's all in good fun. (Especially if you play the Drinking Game included in the DVD extras.)
If The Landlord is a low-rent horror comedy with its heart in the right place, then the bigger-budgeted but completely joyless National Lampoon's Transylmania should get a stake through its. Co-directed by Dorm Daze 2 helming team David and Scott Hillenbrand, Transylmania looks sharp and slick with its thick fog and skimpy vampira-style costumes — but it feels old and tired. While I can't say it's as bad as Stan Helsing, Transylmania runs a close second in the lowbrow race.
The story, such as it is, follows 10 (yes… a whopping 10 so-called characters to follow and pray for their deaths) American college students on a field trip to Romania. I won't bore you with the details on all of them, but the main masturbater is Rusty (Oren Skoog) a lonely loser who has been carrying on an online tryst with super-hot Draguta Floca (Irena Hoffman). of course, Rusty sees this trip as an excellent excuse to meet her in person. Later, he discovers to his chagrin that Draguta is not 'as advertised'… He also discovers he has an evil "twin" living in Romania, by the name of Count Rabu. Fart jokes ensue.
"Homework First. Save Planet Later," is the tagline for this accomplished indie and while it's more cutesy than the film, it's a pretty good starting point. Kind of like a Donnie Darko (and alliteration as well!) for teenage girls, this tale of the supernatural and extraterrestrial follows part-time student / part-time mental patient Faron Hallowell (Courtney Halverson) into dangerous situations involving antagonistic aliens. Imbued with uncanny abilities, Faron is the only hope of mankind (or at least her neighborhood) —problem is, she wants to be normal, carefree young woman.
Freaky Faron is no-frills and populated by no-name actors, but they're quite good and what's more, they look good thanks to a super-talented and artistic DP (Kelly Richard… hm, swap her name around and there's another Donnie Darko connection). While it's not a true horror-thriller along scary lines, Freaky Faron is still a solid alternative for those who'd rather not be watching Disney Channel fare.
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson