Sunday, October 19, 2014

Review: Dear Dracula (2012)

If you're into horror, you're going to have a preference for one of the many different kinds of horror. You might enjoy the nostalgia of 1980's horror, the surreal Italian horror, or even the torture porn variety of horror that has become rather popular over the years. There are so many different types of horror for today's fan to devour, but what about the classic gothic sort of horror? What about the old fashioned monsters? Clearly they haven't been completely forgotten, what with Universal trying revive them now.

I'll have to get back to you on how that went, as I haven't seen it yet.

But it is a good question...where are the young gothic horror fans? Are there still any left or have they all gotten too old to really be counted among the young, like myself? Well, that's the question this short film asks without really outright asking. It focuses on a young boy named Sam who adores the classic monsters, but none more so than Count Dracula himself. And who can blame him? Drac's the man. He's got the looks, the mysterious allure, the raw power, and a reputation for not staying down.

"I have trouble staying down in more ways than one, ladies."

Without further a-boo, let's take a bite out of this little kid freindly flick. We find Sam sitting with his Grandma watching television when a new Dracula action figure is advertised and he practically begs her to get it for him. But, like many parents, she says that maybe Santa will bring it to him at Christmas. But Sam finds that idea dull, and the prospect of waiting for an awesome figure is even worse. On that, I would have to agree. There's nothing worse than waiting for an awesome monster to set up in your menagerie. It's much better to get them as quickly as possible, especially when the month of October is going. Cue Sam realizing that it is, in fact, October and Halloween is coming a lot sooner than Christmas. This gives him the rather brilliant idea to write to a different mythological immortal figure, as he writes to Count Dracula himself.

"This contract says that Ray Liotta will be playing me...I'm not so sure about this."
Afterward, we see his interactions outside with his pet spider, Webber, as they both decorate for Halloween. Then we're introduced to the local kids: a douchey guy with too much gel in his hair, twin blonde cheerleaders who as stereotypical as can be, and the redheaded girl from across the street> The girl next door, Emma, invites him to her party on Halloween night but her annoying friends question why she'd want to invite Sam, as he is (by their definition) creepy.

I wonder if any of these little shits are related to the teens from Trick or Treat...
After Webber runs off Emma's questionable choices in friends, she laughs at how funny it was and leaves too. Alright, Sam, here's a cute girl who not only clearly digs you but also isn't bothered by your pet spider. Now me, spiders scare the hell out of me (and sometimes right back in) but this girl isn't even shook. But I dunno, I kinda like Webber. He's not really as unnerving as actual spiders are, despite having some obvious spidery features in his facial area, which is the area where spiders often bother me the most.

He has some pretty jawesome web-spinning skills too.
Meanwhile, Dracula gets delivered Sam's letter and tells his bumbling henchman, Mirroe, to pack his bags because they're going to the states to visit this kid. This is following Drac going on a spiel about how he feels like he's not as scary as he once was, so he's likely hoping visiting Sam will refresh him. He arrives and hypnotizes Sam's grandma, as she won't let him in because she thinks he's a coffin salesman. No, really. And then he introduces himself to Sam in grand fashion as he proclaims why get an action figure when you can have the real deal? I have to say, that's a pretty solid deal there. Not many kids get to spend quality time with their larger than life idols, so I can dig it. They watch some horror movies and Dracula laments that these films are lacking true fright, with their sparkly vampires and torturing of people. He wants to see some ghouls running amok, but finds that sadly kids today seem less interested in his brand of horror and more into dressing like hot dogs.

A freaking hot dog calls Dracula lame. I'd look for a joke there but I'm too busy shaking my head.
After talking, Mirrou reveal that his master hasn't had fan mail in years and that people simply don't treat him with respect anymore, a fact that the Count himself confirms sadly to Sam. But, not to worry, as they all decide to help one another out. Sam will help Drac get his ghoul back and he will help the kid learn to love himself. They have a classic montage of him being trained as he improves his abilities in scaring immensely and he then turns to the task of helping Sam, who is reluctant to bother. He tells the boy to look at himself not as what others see him as, but instead to focus on the positive reality. It's a good message, especially for any young kids watching this who might feel like they too are odd and misunderstood. I know if Dracula gave me a pep talk as a kid I would've felt a lot better about things.

"And remember, nothing is scarier than crabs, Sam. Have a good night."
Drac goes out and scares plenty of kids, feeling great, and urges Sam to go to the party and let himself get closer to Emma. Sam tries but begins to panic when the cheerleader twins show. Luckily, Dracula shows up and gets him into the party to face his fears. A new problem rears its head though, as The Situation Jr. is talking up Emma and Sam is afraid to approach. The Count talks to the gelled boy and becomes annoyed as he seems to have put very little effort into being a vampire (he seriously just has fangs with his normal clothes). This results in him getting hypnotized into acting like a literal chicken for the rest of the night, which is actually funnier than it really sounds. Sam finally starts to approach Emma, panicking slightly until his buddy Webber scares off the cheerleaders again. He stumbles verbally a bit, but ends up talking to her and they hit it off as the party goes on and Drac gets to scare all the kids.

It's all in the eyes.
He bids Sam farewell as he and Mirrou head back home, leaving his coffin as he says he will be back to visit, leaving our movie to finish with Emma and Sam playing happily as his grandma watches on wondering how she lost two days. Hypnotism is a bitch. That's our film, short though it may be. I have to say, while it doesn't hold a candle to other Halloween fare like Scary Godmother's Halloween Spooktacular or The Halloween Tree, this was actually a fairly charming little watch. It didn't really break any new ground, but I did admire the message of learning to love yourself and be confident in who you are. The animation, while not really competing with things like Hotel Transylvania, isn't terrible and comes off as charming. The acting was actually pretty good too, even with Ray Liotta as a Dracula who didn't sound like he was was New Jersey.

Unlike some other works he's done that we won't talk about right now.
Emilio Estevez even seemed quite charming as Mirrou, the hapless henchman who just wanted to see his master be happy. Ultimately, while it's not a too of the line animated feature, this is a fun little thing to watch with whatever kids you have in your life. That is, so long as those kids aren't like that worse examples in this film, as those kids will likely be too busy trying to grow up too fast and humping the faces of their victims in the newest Call of Duty game. It might not become a Halloween staple, but it's a nice little time waster, at the very least. So, until Jason Voorhees shows up to help me deal with my anxiety, I'll be here writing about the grooviest of ghoulies. Later days, bleeders.

I imagine this how Emilio looks whenever he gets news about his brother, Charlie.

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