Anchor Bay // 2009 // 90 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // October 27th, 2009
The most feared monsters in cinematic history have met their match.
"Ugh, how about a courtesy flush, man!"
Stan Helsing (Steve Howey, Bride Wars) is a video store clerk whose existence is mostly rather dull and miserable. However, he's looking forward to tonight, because tonight he gets to go to a Halloween party. Along for the ride are Teddy (Kenan Thompson, Saturday Night Live), Teddy's girlfriend Mia (Desi Lydic, Out at the Wedding), and Stan's ex-girlfriend Nadien (Diora Baird, My Best Friend's Girl). On the way, Stan and friends get lost and somehow find themselves in a gated community called Stormy Night. It turns out that this community has been plagued by monsters for the past decade. When Stan discovers that he's actually a relative of the great monster hunter Van Helsing, he realizes that his destiny is to battle the monsters and save the community. Will he be able to defeat the likes of Fweddy, Pleatherface, Needlehead, Mason, and Michael Criers?
Clipping my toenails. Cleaning the gutters. Watching the same half-hour infomercial three times in a row late at night. Listening to a CD of nature sounds. Watching Norton Anti-Virus run a scan on my computer.
Oh, hey there. I didn't see you standing in the doorway. What am I doing? Why, I'm just making a list of things that are more interesting than watching Stan Helsing. Let's see...folding socks, listening to static on the radio...oh, what's that? You want to know what I hated so much about this Stan Helsing film? Okay, okay, fine.
Stan Helsing is a parody. We know this, because the opening titles introduce it as Stan Helsing: A Parody (in case some bright audience member happened to see this film and gasp at how blatantly it "steals" from the likes of Halloween and A Nightmare on Elm Street). Oddly enough, the film does not involve the Zuckers (who have made the rather bad Scary Movie films) or Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer (who have made such unwatchable dreck as Meet the Spartans, Date Movie, and Disaster Movie). This one is directed by a guy named Bo Zenger, who is most noted for writing Soul Plane and producing Turistas. Make of that what you will. The film also boasts over 20 credited producers. Definitely make of that what you will.
Due to the fact that there is a supporting role for Leslie Nielsen, I hoped that it might fall into the stupid-yet-watchable category (think Scary Movie 4) rather than the I-want-to-tear-my-eyes-out category, but no luck. Stan Helsing earns itself a comfortable position right alongside the works of Friedberg and Seltzer, never generating a single laugh over the course of its agonizingly long 90-minute running time. However, this film is horrible in a slightly different way than, say, Meet the Spartans is horrible. While the Friedberg and Seltzer films throw a fast-moving barrage of witless crudity at the viewer, Stan Helsing shares a trend with some of the horror movies it parodies: filling time by offering lots of scenes of the characters piddling around doing nothing interesting at all.
Sure, I expected the stupid gags that are contained within the film. I didn't bat an eye when a Michael Jackson lookalike turned up and started handing phallus-shaped popsicles to kids. I expected the multiple scenes in which we hear gross-out sound effects while various character take a dump (have you ever noticed that no one ever does their business quietly in these movies? It's always some sort of wet, sloppy explosion). It was no surprise to discover that all of the female characters (except the sassy waitress played by Leslie Nielsen) are nothing more than sex objects included to serve as the butt of various crass jokes, or that the film demonstrates a juvenile paranoia of anything that could possibly be perceived as "gay." But I was certainly surprised to discover just how many moments there were in which the film had absolutely nothing to offer.
The first half-hour contains quite a few scenes in which the characters attempt to have a conversation while driving to the party. This seemingly semi-improvisational material is both dull and wretched; as most of the actors are incapable of selling even the simplest of lines. And the jokes these characters toss off...gracious, they're awful. For instance, in one scene, Mia starts rubbing her breasts. "What are you doing?" Teddy asks. "I'm looking for acupuncture points," she says. Teddy gasps and runs off the road. "This car just turned from an automatic into a stick shift because Teddy got a boner!" Stan declares. Then they start driving again. I mean...what does one even say to that? Half of the joke doesn't even make sense, and the half that does make sense sucks.
The sense of desperate padding becomes particularly evident during the third act, when Stan and his friends engage in a karaoke battle against the monsters. It's a stupid idea, but hey, there are plenty of comic possibilities, right? Maybe, but the film certainly doesn't take advantage of them. The monsters sing a song for 3 or 4 minutes. Stan and friends sing a song for 3 or 4 minutes. No comic subtext of any sort. The filmmakers apparently just expect you to keep laughing for eight minutes straight at the very idea of such a contest.
Do you remember the era when film parodies actually served as a form of film criticism, ribbing the conventions of various genres? A lot of the slasher movies made fun of here may be dumb, but they're all more intelligent than this mess. Yes, even Jason X. For one thing, the filmmakers completely ignore the elements that make characters like Jason, Freddy, Pinhead, and others unique in the first place. They simply place all of the monsters in a group and have them sluggishly chase after the protagonists, Frankenstein's Monster-style. Oh, and what about that scene in which Stan and his friends stand around talking about how to beat the monsters while the monsters are standing next to them! The monsters aren't even employing their dumb attack strategy anymore, just standing around waiting to be beat up and/or killed after Stan formulates a unique (read: not unique, just weird and dumb) strategy on how to take out each villain. Is it remotely possible for a film to be any lazier or less imaginative?
I mean, I know how pointless it is to attack logical errors in a film like Stan Helsing. I do. Heck, I know how pointless it is to even bother reviewing a film like Stan Helsing. Nobody actually thought this thing was going to be good, and if you did, the odds are pretty high that you can't read, anyway. But I'm still a little baffled by just how incompetent Stan Helsing is at so many of things one takes for granted when they watch a film. This film not only belongs with Meet the Spartans in the "Humorless in the Extreme" category, but also with things like Moscow Zero in the "This Must Be Some Sort of Tax Shelter Deal, Because They Clearly Don't Actually Want People to Watch This" category.
Okay, the Blu-ray release. Really? You actually care? Fine. The Blu-ray disc looks just fine, presenting this waste of celluloid in lovely 1080p. The darker scenes are a bit murky at times, but otherwise there are no real concerns of note. Detail is...I mean, seriously, you actually care? Okay, sorry. Detail is stellar throughout, though not exceptional. The audio is merely adequate, presenting Ryan Shore's synth-y score with a bit less punch than you might expect. Dialogue is clear and clean, though a bit quiet during a few scenes. Sound design is mostly quite minimal, except during the scenes when characters are taking care of business on the john. That's exactly when your subwoofer will decide to kick in, quite literally filling your room with the sounds of explosive $#*!. Hoo-frickin-ray. You also get an audio commentary, an EPK-style making of featurette, deleted scenes, outtakes, galleries and a trailer.
God help you if you pick this one up in the video store hoping to get a few giggles. What complete rubbish. That the Blu-ray looks and sounds decent is irrelevant.
Review content copyright © 2009 Clark Douglas; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* PCM 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted Scenes
* Image Galleries