CRYPTINA’S SPOOK-TIME VARIETY SHOW which premiered at Panic Fest 2019, was a fun short to watch for a number of reasons, as it featured two of my loves: horror and comedy, and it had a sketch making fun of Twilight, which is dated but also just in time for the 10th anniversary. The almost 13 minute short is a sketch comedy horror anthology, directed and written by Ryan Rigley, with a horror host as a framing device.

The short opens with a creepy-cute cartoon of flying ghosts and a catchy theme song and then we get to see Cryptina’s lair: A coffin and a bunch of headstones and a spooky couch. Cryptina (Stephanie Twyford Baldwin) is an albino mistress of the dark, a homage to Elvira and Vampira, her sidekick is an ex-boyfriend, Ghoulsby, a vampire, who has been transformed into a bat, permanently. The bat puppet reminded me of the Cryptkeeper from Tales from The Crypt, but he’s way more chill.

Cryptina opens the show with bits, introduces each sketch, and then ends the segment with jokes, joined by her bat pal, who is overly fond of puns. Cryptina is costumed in a revealing black dress and like Elvira and Vampira, Cryptina makes sarcastic comments, but she doesn’t have an 80’s valley girl accent, a millennial vocal fry, or a particularly dry sense of humor like Vampira, nor is she as spunky as Elvira. She mostly seems bored and irritated, but who can blame her? She’s stuck with her annoying ex-boyfriend in a room with just her cell and a bunch of tombstones.

One thing that puzzled me about Cryptina — is why she was written to be an Albino Elvira. I’m troubled because it feels insensitive. The first time I watched the short, I didn’t get that she was supposed to be an albino, she just looked like a fun woman with a white wig and red eyeshadow, but then I read the descriptions of the characters, and I was like, what? Is it a reference to Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde?

I think it’s supposed to be a joke about her skin color — she’s so goth-white, she’s an albino. But I don’t feel good about that joke. I think it’s unnecessary and potentially offensive. Why not let her have white blonde hair and red eye-makeup because she has style? And all the vampires in town are in love with her because she’s awesome?

I think there’s an opportunity to expand Cryptina’s horror movie vixen personae with a stronger viewpoint. I bet Cryptina has a lot to say about: horror, comedy, men, vampires, cocky werewolves, negging by zombies — I’m dying to hear her voice an opinion. Do it for Cryptina!

But the production design of the cemetery living room was pretty cool — smoke rising around the headstones; it looked like a real wooden coffin for Cryptina to stumble out of and coffins don’t come cheap, even rentals are expensive.

The style of CRYPTINA’S SPOOK-TIME VARIETY SHOW is mostly a comedic parody of the horror genre as a whole, rather than premise-based. The other sketches are goofy spoofs with sight gags, similar in style to Keenen Ivory Wayans’ Scary Movie or The Silence of the Hams, a comedy-horror film by comedian Ezio Greggio, starring of all people, Dom DeLuise. That’s right, DOM DELUISE. The real star of The Cannonball Run. Or The Cannibal Run, a sketch someone should write: The Cannibal Run — Dom DeLuise and Burt Reynolds are back, baby! And they’re hungry as fuck.

The variety show featured three sketches, two long and one blackout. My favorite one was the blackout sketch; it’s about a dude who is dressed like The Zodiac Killer. We see him sulking, alone in a bar with a black hood, and he sighs, “I guess I’m gonna die alone.” Black-out.

Despite issues with one of the characters, I liked CRYPTINA’S SPOOK-TIME VARIETY SHOW and I hope they do a bunch of episodes. And there’s certainly a market for comedy-horror film spoofs like Stan Helsing, Vampires Suck, or Transylvania 6-5000. The most successful horror-comedy parody of all time is Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein, which is considered a Masterpiece. It’s listed as No. 13 on American Film Institute’s list of the 100 funniest movies. Lucky 13! Bring on the horror-comedy!

CRYPTINA’S SPOOK-TIME VARIETY SHOW premiered at Panic Fest 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Tiffany Aleman
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