Australian Council on Children and the Media

Hotel Transylvania

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Short takes

Not recommended under 8, PG to 10(Violence; Scary scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Hotel Transylvania
  • a review of Hotel Transylvania completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 20 September 2012.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not recommended due to violence and scary scenes
Children 8-9 Parental guidance recommended due to violent and scary scenes.
Children aged 10 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Hotel Transylvania
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild crude humour and horror theme
Length 91 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

This animated movie tells the fictional history of Count Dracula or “Drac” (voice of Adam Sandler), and the Hotel Transylvania, which he developed after the tragic death of his wife Martha (Jackie Sandler).  For years, this hotel has been a holiday retreat for monsters and ghouls of all kinds, safe from the threat of contact with humans.  Humans, they believe, wish to dominate and destroy all other forms of life.  

However, the hotel’s sense of peace is compromised when Jonathon, a human backpacker (Andy Samburg) stumbles across the old mansion.  Drac, who is initially afraid of this young man soon realises that Jonathon’s happy-go-lucky nature contradicts the stereotypes he has held about humans.  Worse still, Drac realises that if his daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez) meets Jonathon, she will also learn that humans can be gentle and fun-loving, rather than merciless killers.  He fears that with this knowledge, Mavis will want to leave him and explore the world.

Unfortunately, Drac’s plans to silently 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).  In an effort to hide the presence of a human, Drac uses make-up to disguise Jonathon as a Frankenstein-like monster.  Initially, this subterfuge works well, and Jonathon builds friendships with many of the guests.  Ultimately, however, the ruse is uncovered, and Drac is forced to suffer the consequences of his deceptions.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

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

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some verbal and physical violence in this movie, such as when:

  • Drac leans over Jonathon in a menacing manner, while threatening him;
  • Drac gags the mouth of a disembodied zombie head;
  • Drac uses magical powers to move Jonathon against his will across the room 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 the monster audience and they 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 him over a hot cauldron.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are multiple scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including when:

  • Drac is first shown as a menacing  shadow in a dark room;
  • Frequently 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 transform into bats, and begin flying;
  • Corpses rise from the soil in a dark graveyard;
  • Ghosts are shown floating through buildings;
  • Witches are depicted flying 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 breaths fire;
  • A skull becomes a talking telephone; and
  • An empty helmet speaks.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • A band of zombies set a village on fire and it becomes an inferno.  Many zombies are shown burning.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are a few scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, such as where:

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

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

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

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.

Sexual references

There are some mild sexual references in this movie including scenes where: 

  • After Jonathon pokes his hand through a skeleton’s ribcage, another unidentified skeleton steps up and berates him, saying, “She’s my wife.  Keep your hands out of her”;
  • Ghoul construction workers eye off a passing female ghoul; and
  • After accidentally interrupting two unnamed bedbugs sitting on a bed with pink satin sheets in the Hotel’s Honeymoon Suite, Drac apologises, and then on leaving, tells them to, “Carry on”.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is partial nudity and mild sexual activity in this movie, such as:

  • Aunty Eunice constantly wears tight clothing and mini-skirts
  • a few brief kissing scenes between Jonathon and Mavis

Use of substances

None of concern

Coarse language

There is no coarse language as such in this film, however, there is some threatening language and put-downs that children may imitate and some crude humour, including:

  • Drac threatens Jonathon to leave the Hotel and never return, or he 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”;
  • An unnamed zombie calls several other zombies, “Losers”;
  • A disembodied bottom and legs bend over and pass wind, which is green.

In a nutshell

Hotel Transylvania is an animated horror spoof aimed at children.  This film relies heavily upon visual comedy rather than storyline.  Some parents may be disturbed by the constant depiction of monsters and supernatural phenomena, and younger children are likely to be scared by the violence and some disturbing characters and scenes. 

The juxtaposition of monsters and humans provides a message about tolerance and acceptance of difference. 

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • truth;
  • tolerance; and
  • courage.

 This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • The negative consequences of fighting, in comparison to the benefits of learning how to share and work together; and
  • The effects of stereotyping, judgment and discrimination on people who are viewed as different, compared to the positive outcomes of accepting others as they are. 

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