Welcome to the HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA. But beware! To paraphrase an infamous Eagles song about its Californian counterpart, you can check in, but you can never leave. Or at least that’s the case for the monsters residing therein.
Actually, at this time, HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA is under construction. Just announced Tuesday, the movie will be the third CG-animated feature from Sony Pictures Animation, in the works for 2009 release. For the record (though they’re not FANGORIA material), the first is OPEN SEASON, with talking animals fighting back against hunters, due out September 29. The second, SURF’S UP: A TRUE STORY, details in mockumentary fashion how penguins invented surfing and premieres June 8, 2007. (This summer’s fear-flavored CG motion-capture opus MONSTER HOUSE was distributed by Sony, but not actually made by its SPA subsidiary.)
HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA definitely sits on FANGORIA turf: It’s the place where all the classic creatures have found refuge, because, according to co-director Anthony Stacchi, “the modern world became so scary, they hid from us.” Permanent hotel guests include the Frankenstein Monster and his ex-Bride (of Frankenstein) Eunice, Larry the Werewolf, the Mummy (who keeps his colleagues “in touch with their inner ghoul”), Al the Goblin, the Invisible Man (who got that way thanks to extreme dieting) and, (super)naturally, Count Dracula, leader of the pack. Drac is “the only monster not afraid of the real world,” Stacchi says, but he has far worse problems in coping with Mavis, his rebellious teen daughter (who’s really 110).
The action begins with the death of faithful Renfield. An elderly enabler, he has hitherto kept the hotel-bound monsters supplied with whatever they required (bandages, blood, etc.) so that they need never, ever venture outside. After his passing, Dracula dispatches a disguised Al out into the world in search of the last of the Renfield clan. À la YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, the Goblin’s mission is to bring back young Simon Renfield so that he may assume his rightful heritage as the man among monsters.
Stacchi, who co-directed OPEN SEASON, previously served as head of story on ILM’s tantalizing but unmade CG FRANKENSTEIN project (a serious adaptation of the Mary Shelley tale). The other director, David Feiss, is the creator of Cartoon Network’s hilarious COW & CHICKEN, and makes his feature directorial debut on HOTEL. SURF’S UP scribe Don Rhymer, best known for writing BIG MOMMA’S HOUSE, is scripting, and Michelle (STUART LITTLE movies) Murdocca is producing. No voice cast has been revealed yet.
The character designs—unveiled at an SPA press preview this week—are distinctive and cool, in the tradition of past Jack Davis and Paul Coker Jr. creations. HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA shows haunting potential in its mixture of fun and fright, and co-director Stacchi does offer a promise to fear fans: “We really want to make HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA scary,” he tells Fango.
So, beware! Audiences will discover if they fulfill that fearsome goal just three short years from now.