Interview: Patrick Cavanaugh talks Transylmania
Tue, 01 Dec 2009 12:35:14
Patrick Cavanaugh Videos
Vampires used to know how to have a good time.
Sucking blood and living forever looked deliciously fun in The Lost Boys, Dracula and From Dusk Till Dawn. However, the so-called life of an immortal has become rather ordinary with Twilight and True Blood transporting vampires to normal suburban locales. Transylmania brings them home to a big Eastern European castle though, and there's no shortage of sword fights or laughs in this epic comedy. In fact, Transylmania is quite the undead romp through Romania…
Transylmania star Patrick Cavanaugh [Dorm Daze, Mad Men] had a blast making this comedy. He sat down with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino to discuss making vampires fun again, fake vomiting and one hell of a remix idea for Trent Reznor.
Check out the exclusive interview below and catch Transylmania in theaters on Friday December 4th!
Is there a certain art to making a spoof?
Yeah! To be honest, we're not spoofing anything specific, so Transylmania is not like Epic Movie or Scary Movie, which take things from actual pop cultural references and put a spin on them. It's in the horror comedy genre. These kids just think they're going to a college for a semester, but they get thrown into this vampire world. They're in this castle with these crazy vampires and hilarity ensues.
The film has more of a Mel Brooks feel, because it's not simply parodying one movie or idea.
Exactly! I think David and Scott Hillenbrand were touting it as American Pie meets Twilight. I compare to an old National Lampoon movie like European Vacation where all of these weird things are happening. The characters think it's supposed to be a nice trip, but things are not happening as they planned. Throwing in crazy vampires always makes for a fun mix.
The whole concept of being a vampire is inherently funny. You suck for life…
[Laughs] For life! You're alive forever, you're a tortured soul because you can't go out in the sun and you need plasma which is tough to come by sometimes.
Was there a particular scene in the script that really made you want to be a part of Transylmania?
When I watched it at the premiere last week, I laughed out loud a good half-dozen times. Of course I'm a little biased because I'm obviously in the movie, but I genuinely laughed at a handful of moments. If you can do that in a comedy, I always think that's a success. If you think about any comedy you've loved, you're not laughing the entire movie, you usually have a few really good laughs and that's what makes it fun for you. Hopefully, it's entertaining for the rest of the time though! In Transylmania, there are a couple moments that I've seen a bunch of times that always make me laugh. There's a moment with a crossbow that goes awry, and that kills me every time. James DeBello is really funny when he's screaming and going crazy [Laughs]. I also chuckle while watching some of the things that I had to do. There's a vomit scene that's pretty gnarly. We had a fun time doing that. I remember it being hard to film because we were laughing through most of it. We're literally acting like we're throwing up, and that's always a slippery slope because sometimes you get too into it and you almost make yourself really vomit [Laughs]. You have to watch how far you go with the wretchings because it can get a little messy for sure!
Sounds like it can get really messy!
We've all done the fake "I'm going to throw up" sound before and caught ourselves going, "That was a little too real there!" It's a bad moment [Laughs].
Transylmania definitely balances various styles of humor seamlessly too.
There's a lot of slapstick, and there's also some subtlety to some of the humor. Then there's the outlandish throwing up scenes, which are obviously very over-the-top, whacky and zany. There are swashbuckling swordfights. There's a great blend of action adventure, comedy and these scarier vampire moments that we have throughout the film as well.
The action element also stands out, because it's not that prevalent in many modern comedies.
Yeah, I thought it was a really smart choice to have that thrown into the mix. In a lot of vampire flicks, the hero just has a garlic dart or a crucifix whereas, in our movie, the vampires are sword fighting with one of the students towards the end of our movie. It's pretty awesome!
Twilight and True Blood have put vampires in such a sterile, suburban atmosphere that the epic nature inherent in being a creature of the night has become diminished.
Right, it's almost like the vampires are normal. You lose that element of mystery that I've always loved about vampires and that creepiness the original vampire movies brought to the table.
Even a movie like From Dusk Till Dawn had superhuman vampires. They were stripper vampires, but there was a supernatural quality…
We have a couple of those running around! There's a brood that follows the main vampire. They're these three sexy Romanian vampire girls that run around with him throughout the movie. That added a nice visual on set that's for sure [Laughs]. It did not hurt my feelings.
Vampires have become way too serious in most pop culture, so this sense of humor is extremely refreshing.
We hit the lottery because when we made this movie there wasn't vampire craziness like there is now in pop culture. They really hit a time period where people are obsessed with this vampire culture and world. We're lucky that the movie is coming out now! There's no better time for vampire love.
How thin is the line between horror comedy? There's an interesting dichotomy between the genres.
Watching some horror movies, you can tell that the writer had some fun! I remember specifically when I was younger watching one of the Friday the 13th movies. Jason comes up to a couple in a tent. The girl runs out, but the guy is still in the sleeping bag so Jason wraps the guy up in the sleeping bag and swings the bag against the tree like a baseball bat several times. It sounds disgusting as I describe it but I remember laughing so hard. The thought of it being "batter up" time for Jason with a dude in a sleeping bag is pretty funny. You can go back and forth between laughing and being completely disgusted. I'm not going to lie; horror movies scare the crap out of me! I'm not a huge horror movie buff because I sit there thinking, "I'm scared out of my mind! This is not fun right now!" [Laughs]
Well it's great when the scares are balances with laughs.
Right, you need that relief—that exhale.
The college road trip element of Transylmania is pretty hilarious too. That hasn't been incorporated into a vampire story yet either.
Not at all! Filming in Romania was unbelievable. Getting paid to go shoot a movie, first of all, is always awesome, but getting to travel and go to a land that I probably would've never gone to on a vacation was awesome too. It's beautiful there! We had such a great time, and the people were so nice and giving. They loved that this movie was being filmed there. We were filming in an actual castle that was built during the 14th century too. It doesn't get much better than that.
If this movie were an album what would it be?
That's a really a good question…My choice would be "The Monster Mash" redone by Nine Inch Nails [Laughs]. I think that'd be a really nice combo! In fact, I'm going to get on the phone right now. We're going to do this, Trent [Laughs].
Check out Rick Florino's new novel Dolor available now for FREE here…
Check out the official site and trailer for Transylmania here!