It can be tricky to find a monster movie suitable for kids. They need to walk the line between funny and spooky without being downright scary. Many years, families don’t see any new films that fit the bill. But this Halloween season, Hollywood delivers an embarrassment of trick-or-treat riches when Sony Pictures Animation’s Hotel Transylvania and Disney’s Frankenweenie arrive in cinemas just a week apart. Which new monster movie will click best with your little ghouls? We talked to two moviemakers—director Genndy Tartakovsky about Transylvania and producer Allison Abbate about Frankenweenie—to figure it out.
HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA: Opens September 28
FRANKENWEENIE: Opens October 5
HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA: CGI
HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA: Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Fran Drescher, CeeLo Green, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon
FRANKENWEENIE: Winona Ryder, Martin Short, Martin Landau,Catherine O’Hara, Conchata Ferrell
HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA: “Dracula is a dad with a daughter. He doesn’t want her to leave home, so he does everything in his Dracula powers to keep her in this hotel that he’s built—the one safe place in the world for monsters,” says Tartakovsky, who’s making his feature-film debut. (The former Chicagoan previously amassed extensive TV credits, including Star Wars: Clone Wars.)
FRANKENWEENIE: "It’s about a boy—Victor Frankenstein, a budding filmmaker and mini scientist—who loves his dog Sparky so much, he finds a way to do the impossible: to bring him back to life after a terrible accident,” explains Abbate (whose previous work includes The Iron Giant, Corpse Bride and Fantastic Mr. Fox).
HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA: Dracula. “There’s a lot of his daughter, who drives the plot, but he goes through the biggest change.”
FRANKENWEENIE: Victor Frankenstein and Sparky. “They really are a team, those two.”
HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA: Dracula again. “He’s the hero and the bad guy at the same time, which makes it more unique and interesting. Although Quasimodo plays a small villain role because he wants to cook the human.”
FRANKENWEENIE: “There isn’t a specific villain. A lot of the townspeople are suspicious and close minded. In some ways, they conspire to become the villain by judging Sparky to be a monster by the way he looks.”
HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA: Bride of Frankenstein bouffant flip
FRANKENWEENIE: Bride of Frankenstein poodle beehive
Clever real-life resemblance
HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA: It’s not hard to see echoes of Sandler’s mug in the cartoon Count.
FRANKENWEENIE: We spy an homage to classic horror actor Vincent Price in Victor’s science schoolteacher.
Sources of inspiration
HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA: Less specific monster movies, more Looney Tunes comedy. “I was never big on horror films growing up,” says Tartakovsky. “A lot of my monster references are much more from a comedic point of view, like Abbott and Costello Meet the Wolf Man.”
FRANKENWEENIE: Universal monster movies, especially those of director James Whale (Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein). “It’s a love letter to those movies,” Abbate says, “because these are the ones that got us excited to make movies.”