Stan Helsing

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"Can you say bitch slap?;

Feb 23nd, 2010

Horror gets a bad rap in the movie-goers community. Considered the bastard child of cinema most reviews are unfavorable, films only get limited releases and vary rarely are nominated for awards (Silence of the Lambs being the only stand out). At least that's how it used to be, in the last ten years the horror genre has risen in status – but for it to rise a new genre stepped into its place at the bottom, the spoof movie. Stan Helsing appears to be aiming for the most resentment though, it's a spoof based on horror and did I mention it's straight to DVD? Gulp!

Where horror is a misunderstood genre, the spoof is deservedly universally panned. Production values are low, they are devoid of any creativity (stealing from other flicks) and despite the promise of humour they are severely lacking. The thing that burns me most is that things were not always this bad and the original spoof was a thing of greatness. It must be noted that I now separate these films into two categories the spoof and the parody.

The parody films such as Airplane, Naked Gun, Hot Shots and the first Scary Movie can be placed here. Rather than just sending up a set of films they target a popular genre of the time and make amusement from the typical conventions seen. Each of the above films has their own storylines and original characters. The humour is original and each sport their own classic lines, who can forget "Don't call me surely (Shirley)"? Unfortunately Scary Movie's popularity spawned the next set of films…

…The spoof. This is where things went wrong, the parody was a rare film experience and arrived once or twice a decade but the last ten years have seen the release of three to four annually. This new breed doesn't rely on story and resembles more of a sketch format as basic characters are thrown from one "classic" scene to another. In fact studios are so desperate to release these movies as fast as possible that they have begun spoofing trailers, comedy films (what is the point of making a comedy scene funny?) and popular stars (hey look its Amy Winehouse). There are many of these but the worst offenders are the Scary Movie sequels, Meet the Spartans, Disaster Movie and Superhero Movie.

I hate the spoofs, I find them pathetic but I end up seeing many of them as some of my friends love them and on occasion I can find one joke that's amusing. After witnessing Disaster Movie I vowed to never see another one again. However Stan Helsing had a few tricks up its sleeve to draw me in, it was spoofing horror, Kenan Thompson starred (Saturday Night Live) and it had a cameo from Leslie Nielsen. I sat back and prepared myself for the worst.

Strangely it never happened and I quite enjoyed my time with Stan. Make no mistake this is a bad movie but it falls into the "so bad its good" category. Stan Helsing is not a spoof but a parody (a fact which is blasted across the title sequence) and it has its own story to tell using the clichés of horror.

Stan is a video store clerk, working on Halloween night he's forced to make one more delivery taking his friends with him. On their way they pick up a creepy hitchhiker, are accosted at a strange gas station, break down in a village, learn of the Helsing legacy and are hunted by six icons of horror.

The reason this worked for me was the cast of friends and the banter between them throughout. Each character was made for this film rather than being ripped from other flicks. Steve Howey played Stan and was a likeable lead (a nice surprise as most heroes in spoofs are arseholes). Kenan Thompson as Teddy delivered an ok performance as the goofy black guy that I've seen from him numerous times over the years. Diora Baird looked gorgeous as Stan's love interest and that's pretty much all she did. The true revelation was Desi lydic as Teddy's ditzy date, every one of her lines are gold and delivered with such innocence despite the fact she seems unaware she's a prostitute. My favorite line comes near the end of the movie when she states "I would give my right arm to be ambidextrous"

The production vales are high even though costumes were made to look low budget, I later found out this was a cinema release in America so it's not strictly a true straight to video effort. Even though I found enjoyment here and there make no mistake this is still a terrible movie that I cannot recommend to anyone.

The jokes are extremely hit or miss with most falling flat. The opening ten minutes are dire to say the least "that's why black people don't go camping", racial stereotypes are not funny. The ending defies belief as it revolves around a karaoke competition against the icons of horror that perform a rendition of YMCA. The icons themselves are bizarre, we get a gangster Freddy (called Fweddy here) with gold teeth and a Jewish Michael Myers (I don't understand this). But the worst thing about this film is none other than Leslie Nielsen.

Leslie has had cameos in numerous spoof films, no matter how bad the film his scenes are always great. From playing the stupid president in the Scary Movie films to Uncle Ben in Superhero movie he has always had me in stitches. Here Nielsen plays a waitress, that's right, he's in a dress and a wig. This is not a funny look and sadly is the extent of his character; he takes a food order and stands in the background for the rest of the film, what a waste.

This movie is crap but it's defiantly an improvement over Disaster movie and the like. My time with this film wasn't a chore but that was probably as I was expecting a lot worse (mood can seriously affect a film). If one good thing comes from this film I hope to see a lot more of Desi Lydic in the future. Don't go looking for this film but if it comes your way, give it a chance. 4/10

Ken Kirzinger who played Jason in Freddy vs. Jason spoofs his role here as Mason
Set in L.A. the car they drive is Canadian
Bo Zenga directed, wrote and produced this puppy and was one of the producers for the original Scary Movie

Director: Bo Zenga
Screenplay: Bo Zenga
Released: 2009
Rating: 18
Starring: Steve Howey, Diora Baird, Kenan Thompson, Desi Lydic, Leslie Nielsen

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