Comedy… especially horror comedy, is almost impossible to pull off. As the Wayans brothers can attest to, there’s only so much material to be mined until you’re pretty much just tapping the same old cliches for an audience that has seen it a thousand times over since the eighties. If “Scary Movie” proved anything, it’s that horror spoofs are quickly forgotten and easily aged especially when fads in horror comes and go faster than style in America. By the time “Scary Movie” was released, the whole “Scream” phenomenon was tired thus the Wayans were already three steps behind. “Stan Helsing” is an attempt to combine all the classic tropes while also bringing an actual narrative to the audience. Oddly enough while it’s not a good film by any means, it’s also not the worst spoof ever put to film.
In the area of the Aaron Seltzer Jason Friedberg abominations, it’s quite good and entertaining if you can endure the stretched out jokes and sight gags and see it as something of an enthusiastic tribute to the horror genre that squeezes in as much original story as possible. Director and Writer Zenga doesn’t exactly instill confidence in the opening by declaring the movie a parody for all of us, but he does make up for it with some solid performances all around. Kenan Thompson is actually quite raucous as the straight man of the group who isn’t above being some of a spaz when the shit hits the fan. Desi Lydic is hilarious as the obligatory dumb blond of the group who constantly states the obvious and is moronic she is not aware of how hot she really is while Steve Howey is solid enough as Stan, the descendant of Van Helsing who is being hunted by four monster wannabes. The villains who look like four iconic horror monsters are trying to bring down Stan, as he and his friends journey to deliver tapes that ends up pretty much turning in to an adventure.
As for Diora Baird well… my undying affection toward her aside, Baird is really hilarious here as the ex to Stan, Nadine, who is stuck in a moronic situation all the while her evident raw sexual appeal is downplayed for a more plain Jane performance here. Baird can deadpan quite well and delivers some sharp one-liners from Zenga’s script. Why did I like this so much? I’m still not sure. While I’m aware that it’s nothing near remotely resembling a comedic masterpiece, it’s also something of a charmer. It tries and it tries to bring the goods quite often. Eighty percent of the time the movie can keep your eyes to the screen, and Zenga really seems to be enamored with the genre he’s satirizing embedding these gags in to the scripts instead of just tossing them at us waiting for us to laugh. I mean there’s a karaoke scene where the group sings “Ring of Fire,” there’s a rather nonsensical sub-plot involving gas station owners, and nevertheless I found myself enjoying this much more than I should have because it seems to be working for its meal rather than just winging it most of the time.
Zenga gets the most out of his cast here while also directing with a Halloween atmosphere that keeps this as something of a cinematic twinkie you can watch once and look back on fondly because Diora Baird was dressed like a hot Native American. That’s officially my favorite sentence of all time. “Stan Helsing” has its flaws that are just about as embarrassing as most comedy films these days, but for what it’s worth, it’s a so bad it’s good experience with a director who hits interesting highs when he’s on and fumbles half the time with dignity. I wish I hated this movie, but I had fun with it. I’m not about to sit here and pretend “Stan Helsing” is first class cuisine that can be put up there with “Kentucky Fried Movie” or “Airplane,” but when put up against the swill Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg feed us, it’s quite entertaining for a disposable little horror comedy. It just simply didn’t suck. Director and writer Bo Zenga tries his best and most of the time he pulls it off with some memorable one liners, entertaining gags, and… come on there’s nothing wrong with sitting down to watch Diora Baird and Desi Lydic parade around in skimpy costumes and for ninety minutes.