In the past month, the world of cinema has resurrected monsters of past generations and once again allowed them to rampage the movie screens, this time for a much younger demographic.
Sony’s “Hotel Transylvania,” directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, and Disney’s “Frankenweenie,” directed by Tim Burton, both pay homage to the age-old classics Frankenstein, Dracula, mummies, werewolves and many other monsters of days gone by, although they did so with very different goals in mind.
Through humor and colorful animation, “Hotel Transylvania” tells a story of parenting, Birthday Bingo and scream cheese that unravels into one of love, “zings” and the importance of honest relationships.
After fleeing urban civilization due to a riot that results in the death of his wife, Dracula sets up a five-star haven for other monsters who wish to spend a few days in luxury while still remaining a safe distance from fire-waving humans. However, with his daughter Mavis’ 118th birthday approaching, humans are the least of his worries, or so he thought. Then Johnny walked right into his hotel lobby with a backpack too large and a supply of common sense too little.
Hotel Transylvania humanizes the usually fear-provoking Dracula by placing him in the roles of an overprotective father and paternal-like hotel manager.
Other monsters are given a similar approachable quality throughout the film. For example, the timeless Frankenstein arrives in a box ready for assembly, is slow to understand and easy to persuade and boasts the label of Dracula’s best friend.
The Mummy is portrayed as a robust and jolly, life-of-the-party hotel guest, while the exhausted and perpetually worried Mr. and Mrs. Werewolf come stumbling through the doors with dozens of miniature were-devils who terrorize the hotel lobby. The Invisible Man plays the hotel’s practical joker, and even The Blob burbles and bobs through the scenes of this comedic children’s film.
“Frankenweenie” sticks to a more traditional theme: Monsters are meant to wreak havoc, and simply put, be scary.
A black and white stop-motion film that took upwards of three years to make, “Frankenweenie” tells the haunted tale of loving secrets, the experimental laboratory secrets that lead to the destruction of a town celebration, the fire at an old windmill and the boy who breathes life back into a piecemeal dog twice.
After the tragic loss of his pet, Sparky, Victor Frankenstein combines science and an eclectic assortment of his mother’s metal pots and pans in a desperate attempt to bring his best friend back from the grave. It works too well and sparks the resurrection of several other once-deceased New Holland pets.
In “Frankenweenie,” these revived animals also pay tribute to the classics: The electrical fusion of a “prophetic” feline with an ordinary bat, the resurrection of a toilet papered hamster, the electrocution of a pet turtle and the abrupt jolting of a rat transform the lovingly laid graves of deceased pets into a breeding ground of vampires, werewolves and reptiles reminiscent of Gamera and Godzilla.
Although both movies pay tribute to the past beasts of the television screen, and both wrap underlying theme of love into their storylines, the similarities stop there. From color to format and genre, you could say, in fact, that their differences are quite monstrous.
If you enjoy watching creepy characters with even creepier pets, “Frankenweenie” might be a movie worth looking into. If you’d like your fill of monsters but would rather avoid getting a case of the heebie-jeebies, the lighthearted bloopers and cheesy trips, traps and trials found in “Hotel Transylvania” might be a better choice.