Story

This animated movie tells the fictional history of Count Dracula – ‘Drac’ (voice of Adam Sandler) – and the Hotel Transylvania, which Drac developed after the tragic death of his wife Martha (Jackie Sandler). For years, this hotel has been a holiday retreat for monsters and ghouls, where they can be safe from the threat of contact with humans. The monsters believe that humans want to dominate and destroy all other forms of life.

The hotel’s peace and quiet is upset when Jonathon (Andy Samburg), a human backpacker, stumbles across it. Drac is initially afraid of this young man but soon realises that Jonathon is happy and cheerful, quite different from Drac’s stereotypes of humans. Drac also realises that if his daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez), meets Jonathon, she will learn that humans can be gentle and fun-loving, rather than merciless killers. Drac fears that Mavis might then want to leave him and explore the world.

Unfortunately, Drac’s plans to send Jonathon away are thwarted when hundreds of guests begin arriving for Mavis’s 118th birthday. Some of these guests include Aunty Eunice (Fran Drescher) and her partner Frankenstein (Kevin James), Quasimodo (Jon Lovitz), the Invisible Man (David Spade), and werewolf couple Wayne (Steve Buscemi) and Wanda (Molly Shannon). Drac uses make-up to disguise Jonathon as a Frankenstein-like monster. Initially, this works well, and Jonathon makes friends with many of the guests. But Drac’s deception is revealed, and he must suffer the consequences.

Themes

The supernatural; deception; discrimination; separation from a loved one

Violence

This movie has some verbal and physical violence. For example:

  • Drac leans over Jonathon in a menacing way, while threatening him.
  • Drac gags the mouth of a disembodied zombie head.
  • Drac uses magical powers to move Jonathon against his will across a room and into a corner.
  • An empty suit of armour punches Jonathon in the chest.
  • Quasimodo binds Jonathon with rope.
  • A skeleton punches Jonathon in the head.
  • Jonathon stage-dives into an audience of monsters. The monsters step aside so that he lands on his face.
  • One zombie burns another by pressing a hot waffle iron onto his head.
  • Esmerelda the rat uses her tail to beat a spider and then hangs it over a hot cauldron.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5

In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie has many scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example:

  • Drac is first shown as a menacing shadow in a dark room.
  • Often when Drac loses his temper, his face turns fiery red and his eyes glow in a demonic way. Sometimes, he also roars like a wild beast.
  • Both Drac and Mavis frequently change into bats and start flying.
  • Corpses rise from the soil in a dark graveyard.
  • Ghosts float through buildings.
  • Witches fly on broomsticks.
  • Various characters (such as Frankenstein) suddenly collapse into a collection of body parts, which are still alive.
  • Several zombie characters move about in disembodied states.
  • A vicious dragon breathes fire.
  • A skull becomes a talking telephone.
  • An empty helmet speaks. 

From 5-8

In addition to the violent scenes and scary visual images mentioned above, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example, a band of zombies sets a village on fire, and it becomes an inferno. Many zombies burn up. 

From 8-13

In addition to the violent scenes and scary visual images mentioned above, this movie has a few scenes that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example:

  • Drac is seriously burned when he flies (as a bat) in the sunlight.
  • After Jonathon jumps down a trapdoor, growling animal sounds are heard. Several dry bones are flung up through the trapdoor opening. 

Over 13

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this movie. 

Sexual references

This movie has some mild sexual references. For example:

  • After Jonathon pokes his hand through a skeleton’s ribcage, another skeleton says, ‘She’s my wife. Keep your hands out of her’.
  • Ghoul construction workers look at a passing female ghoul.
  • After accidentally interrupting two bedbugs sitting on a bed with pink satin sheets in the Hotel’s Honeymoon Suite, Drac apologises. As he leaves, he says, ‘Carry on’. 

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

None of concern 

Nudity and sexual activity

This movie has some partial nudity and mild sexual activity. For example:

  • Aunty Eunice constantly wears tight clothing and miniskirts.
  • There are a few brief kissing scenes between Jonathon and Mavis. 

Product placement

No products are openly displayed or used in this movie, but there are some references to popular music acts such as the Beastie Boys and television shows such as The Nanny. There is also likely to be associated merchandise marketed to children. 

Coarse language

There is no coarse language in this movie, but there is some threatening language and put-downs that children might copy. There is also some crude humour. For example:

  • Drac tells Jonathon to leave the Hotel and never return. Drac says that if Jonathon doesn’t leave, Drac will suck every ounce of blood from Jonathon’s body.
  • Drac describes humans as evil creatures who will ‘cut our heads off and fill them with candy’.
  • A zombie calls several other zombies ‘losers’.
  • A disembodied bottom bends over and passes wind, which is green. 

Ideas to discuss with your children

Hotel Transylvania is an animated horror spoof aimed at children. This movie relies heavily on visual comedy rather than storyline. Some parents might be concerned by all the monsters and supernatural phenomena. Younger children are likely to be scared by the violence and some disturbing characters and scenes.

The movie’s main message is about being tolerant and accepting difference. This is what the monsters must learn to do.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include truth, tolerance and courage.

This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues such as:

  • the negative consequences of fighting, compared to the benefits of learning how to share and work together
  • the effects of stereotyping, judging and discriminating against people who are different, compared to the positive outcomes of accepting others as they are.