There’s only one “Stan Helsing” — but that won’t last long. When a movie is advertised as being “from the executive producer of ‘Scary Movie,’ ” the one thing you can count on is more of the same, which is precisely what producer-writer-director Bo Zenga provides — creaky horror-movie parody, Freddy/Jason/Michael/Chucky lookalikes, bathroom gags, gynecological levity and even a Michael Jackson visual. (If “Bruno” had to excise its Jacko joke, why not “Stan Helsing”?) It’s the kind of thing you like, if you like this kind of thing. As of this Tuesday, you can like it on DVD.
Thank goodness for the cast. Steve Howey, Diora Baird, Desi Lydic and Kenan Thompson make an utterly charming quartet, and probably the gamest in town, given what they have to work with (and how cheerfully they play it out).
Howey’s title character is a chronic slacker who’s constantly being mistaken for someone named Van Helsing — obviously, the vampire slayer of film and fiction, and someone with whom Stan seems to have nothing in common. Just ask his ex, Nadine (Baird), who’s so tired of Stan, she doesn’t even want to take the same car with him to a Halloween party, for which she’s dressed up as a buxom Arapaho complete with buckskin bustier. Seated upfront are Teddy (Thompson) in a Superman outfit and Mia (Lydic) in a Catholic schoolgirl skirt. Mia, by the way, used to be a lap dancer and now works as a massage therapist, just in case you thought this was Harold Pinter.
The four think they’re making a pre-party side trip to drop off some videos, but they’re really headed into a rather tiresome catalog of old nightmares, Fridays, Texas chainsaw demonstrations and homicidal dolls, none of which are as interesting as the four people in the van. Or Leslie Nielsen, who shows up as a rather chesty waitress in a karaoke bar, in a town where horror movies were once made, but which suffered a horrible fire that still haunts the town — and apparently left the stench of old jokes in the air.
As the four get deeper and deeper into their bad Halloween dream (their trip to the party is like the one in “Eyes Wide Shut” without Tom Cruise), Stan will eventually get in touch with his inner Hugh Jackman and become the Helsing he was meant to be. But the family plotline isn’t exploited very much in the end; Zenga is more concerned with flatulence and crotch humor to work up anything on a higher level. A little “Airplane!,” a little “Scream,” a little “Scary Movie” and what it adds up to is less than a good time.
If “Stan” does nothing else, it should at least get its four leads some attention. Thompson is already well known through”Saturday Night Live,” but Baird, Lydic and Howey need a break and deserve one — preferably via something funny.
Production values are like a pile of smoldering old tires.