This review is sponsored by the wonderful Dr. Rebecca Kinney of BGSU!
Run Time: 91 Minutes
Director: Genndy Tartakovsky
This film does little to engage with any major cultural identity themes. However, the film does address important notions regarding representation, stereotyping, and the Other.
Summary: Dracula has kept his daughter, Mavis, away from humans for her entire life and goes into overprotective mode when she falls in love with one.
- Name calling, threatening language-“Fool,” “lame-o,” “I will suck every ounce of your blood,” “idiot,” “jerk,” “stupid,” “shut up”
- Visible weapons – axe, pitchfork, fire, spears, torches
- Slapstick violence
- Monster violence-monsters lose their heads/body parts, get pitchforks through their heads, are on fire, get electrocuted
- No gore
- Character death
- The Invisible Man pinches Dracula’s butt without Dracula’s permission. While this action is depicted as comedic in the film, touching a person without their consent is inappropriate.
- Accidental touching of the bosom of a (presumably) female skeleton
- Visible buttocks
- Shirtless male vampire
- Bar visible in the background of a scene
- Wine/wine glasses
- Dracula challenges traditional gender roles regarding masculinity. For example, he sings, changes diapers, and he is the primary caretaker for his daughter, Mavis.
- At one point in the film, Dracula needs the help of the Werewolf Kids. Winne, the only pup who appears to be gendered as the girl of the lot, is the only werewolf kid who is able to help Dracula save the day by detecting Johnny’s whereabouts. This is important because women and girls are often the damsels in distress in the media rather than the ones who help save others.
- There are a few minor characters of color.
- A mariachi band is briefly present in the film.
Sexual Orientation: N/A
- Various body types are present throughout the film. For example, most of the monsters, many of whom have grotesque bodies, are depicted as kind, loving, and fun. For example, Frank (reminiscent of Frankenstein’s monster), who is large-bodied, is one of the first monsters to accept Johnny when they find out that Johnny is actually a human. This is significant because grotesque bodies are often depicted as immoral in the media.
- The male gaze is present multiple times throughout the film. For example, when a feminine zombie walks in front of masculine zombie construction workers, they all stop their work to gaze at her as she walks past.
- Outside of Mavis, the few major and minor female characters included in the film are unlikeable or insignificant. For example, Aunt Eunice (who is a caricature of traditional femininity with heavy makeup and long nails) is depicted as nagging and annoying.
- Throughout the film, there are multiple interactions with shrunken heads that hang on the castle’s doors to act as “do not disturb” signs. The shrunken head that hangs on Mavis’ door, voiced by Luenell and coded as of color, interacts regularly with Dracula, but is unable to move from its location (contained to a “space”). At one point in the film, Dracula silences the shrunken head because it appears to “talk back” to him. This is significant because the shrunken head on Mavis’ door often challenges Dracula’s actions and authority, making him feel guilty for his overprotective parenting style.
- The majority of the characters appear to be heterosexual.
- Quasimodo Wilson, who appears to have a visible disability, is depicted as evil in addition to being a grotesque. For example, Quasimodo, who has yellow eyes, pointy features, and an excessively curved spine, tries to capture and cook Johnny (the human) on multiple occasions.
- Fatness is depicted in a negative manner when Dracula comments that humans are getting fatter to overpower the monsters. Further, this scene perpetuates the stereotype that all Americans are fat-bodied slobs as a result of food consumption.
- Mavis conforms to feminine body ideals (thin, tall, smooth skin, etc.). This is significant because feminine leads tend to conform to hegemonic body ideals rather than challenge them.
Suggested talking points
- Mavis and Jonathon “have their zing,” or fall in love, almost immediately after meeting one another. The film depicts the “true love” (heterosexual romance) trope (and generally ultimately marriage) as one of the most significant occurrences in a woman’s life, and the characters in the film rarely question a woman’s decision to marry a man (even if the couple only know each other for short period of time). While love can result in happiness for a person, the film depicts heterosexual love as the means to achieve freedom and happiness.
- Fear and loss are major themes in the film. Dracula fears the Other, humans, because at one point in time the humans feared him (the humans’ Other) and killed his wife because of their fear of monsters. The film explains how the Other is constructed (stereotypes) and how the fear of the Other can have detrimental consequences. For example, when Johnny, the human, asks Dracula if he is going to suck his blood, Dracula explains that vampires drink blood substitutes and not human blood. This interaction, and many others similar to it, suggests that if humans and monsters took the time to listen and understand one another, then perhaps it would reduce the fear between the two groups.
- Dracula has raised Mavis by himself since she was an infant. It is important to remember that family units can take different forms and that the traditional family unit (one father and one mother) is just one of the many ways that a family unit can exist.
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