In an animated franchise you might naturally
expect to come from Universal’s animated division rather than Sony Pictures Animation,
Hotel Transylvania is built on the iconic cinematic horror monsters of the
past. Much of the humor in the films comes from playing with the tropes
associated with each of these classic movie monsters, headed up by the
hotel-owning Dracula. Aside from the premise of a hotel that gives reason for
all of the horror monsters to congregate in the same location, the Hotel
Transylvania films have also been a clever reversal of themes involving the
acceptance of someone different. In a film full of monsters, it is the humans
who are often the different ones in need of being accepted into the world of
The first film,
Hotel Transylvania (2012), introduced this idea when Dracula (Adam Sandler) is
informed by his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) that she is in love with a goofy
human named Johnny (Andy Samberg) after he accidentally stumbles into the remote
hotel resort for monsters. The monsters are initially shocked by this
intrusion, having been treated poorly by humans in the past. Johnny’s relationship
with Mavis allows each group to reconsider what they know about each other.
Hotel Transylvania also introduces
characters parodying classic horror monsters. Fittingly, Dracula’s best friends
are Frankenstein (Kevin James), a Wolf Man named Wayne (Steve Buscemi), Griffin
the Invisible Man (David Spade) and a mummy named Murray (CeeLo Green). Although
Dracula is a single father, many of the monsters are also paired up with
romantic partners, including Frankenstein’s wife, Eunice (Fran Drescher), and
Wayne’s wife, Wanda (Molly Shannon).
Hotel Transylvania 2 continues the
previously established themes with the addition of new characters. Although
Johnny has been accepted by most in the community of monsters, Dracula is disappointed
by his and Mavis’ plans to move to California with his grandson. He is also
concerned by the young half-monster’s missing abilities, and he sets out to try
to teach his grandson how to be a vampire. This is complicated even further by
the arrival of Dracula’s father, Vlad (Mel Brooks).
In one of the weaker installments,
Hotel Transylvania 3 takes the monster gang out of the hotel entirely, having them
on a monster cruise for vacation instead. Johnny continues to have a troubled
relationship with Dracula, though this film also introduces a romantic love
interest for the hotel owner. After admonishing his daughter for dating a
human, not only does Dracula follow the same romantic path, but he falls in
love with the great-granddaughter of monster hunter Van Helsing (Jim Gaffigan),
Ericka (Kathryn Hahn).
The final film in the franchise and collection
is the direct-to-streaming sequel, Hotel Transylvania: Transformania (2022).
Although several of the voice cast members have been replaced, including Adam
Sandler in the lead role, the themes and relationships still carry over from
previous films. When Dracula tells Johnny only monsters can run the hotel, his
human son-in-law takes extreme measures to make this happen. After Johnny uses
a transforming contraption to turn himself into a monster, it is accidentally used
on Dracula and his friends, who are turned into humans. As they seek out the
cure to reverse this, Johnny and Dracula must finally resolve the differences
they have had since the first film in the franchise.
Each of the films are included on
separate discs in the set, though they are stacked on top of each other which
makes scratches likely and finding the desired disc somewhat inconvenient.
Because the discs for the first three films are taken from previous releases,
there are some special features on each. Additionally, the newly released
Transformania comes with plenty of additional extras, including three short
films, several music videos, a making-of featurette, deleted scenes, and a
filmmaker commentary track.
Special Features: 7/10