This week is off to a good start with the release of Lost Trails 2: Forgotten Tales of the Weird West which includes my Lovecraftian horror story “Reckoning at the Alamo.” I wrote about the anthology in detail over at David Lee Summers’ Web Journal on Saturday. Yesterday, I joined several of my fellow contributors to the anthology Gaslight and Grimm on a podcast discussing the anthology. I had the chance to briefly mention my forthcoming novel The Astronomer’s Crypt. Of course, as noted in the podcast, some of the stories in Gaslight and Grimm are pretty dark in their own right. If you want to check out the show, visit The Catholic Geek: Gaslight & Grimm. The podcast was great, chaotic fun. Afterwards, I took time to hang out with the family and watch Hotel Transylvania 2.
As it turns out, I haven’t seen the original Hotel Transylvania, but my kids brought me up to speed with the one bit of information I needed to know. Human Jonathan Loughran has married Mavis, the daughter of Count Dracula, who runs a hotel for monsters in Transylvania. Jonathan and Mavis had a child named Dennis.
The conflict of the movie centers around the question of whether or not Dennis is a vampire like Mavis or a human like Jonathan. Mavis’s dad, Count Dracula, of course wants Jonathan to be a monster. Jonathan’s family would like Jonathan, Dennis, and Mavis in the “human” world of California. All of this becomes a simple metaphor for race relations. Can we love another who is somehow different than us? It’s a sweet family film with few surprises and a few laughs.
Of course it plays on several vampire tropes. The vampires can’t go out into the sun without heavy duty sunscreen and they can hypnotize humans. What’s more, the vampires can all transform into bats and other creatures. As I’ve said before, this is something I’d love to see explored more in vampire stories and media.
The monster world is filled with other creatures besides vampires. We also see Frankenstein’s Monster, the Mummy, the Blob, and the Wolfman—complete with a litter of ferocious pups. I liked the joke where Frankenstein’s Monster introduces himself as Frankenstein, but backtracks to explain that technically he is the Monster. Interestingly, there is actually literary justification for the monster calling himself “Frankenstein” since he sees himself as the son of his creator.
For me, the very best horror-comedies such as Young Frankenstein and Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein offer a few genuine scares to offset the laughs. Hotel Transylvania 2 makes an effort on this score, but for the most part, it comes off like the safe camps it pokes gentle fun at. You never have the feeling anyone was really in danger. Despite that, the movie was a fun way to spend an evening with the family and might be a good way to introduce younger children to the classic monsters we all grew up with. Just don’t forget to pull out the real classics when they get a bit older!