Craig J. Clark — Oct. 26th 2015
For the first time in recent memory, werewolf aficionados have two films featuring our favorite furry monsters to choose from in theaters this Halloween. True, they’re both more family-friendly than some might like, but PG werewolves are better than no werewolves.
First up, there’s Hotel Transylvania 2, the sequel to the hit animated film from 2012. I haven’t seen either, but Steve Buscemi does return to voice Wayne, the harried family wolf who has his paws full keeping his rambunctious pups in line. And since Hotel Transylvania 2 has continued to pack ’em in a month after its release, there’s every reason to believe we’ll be getting a Hotel Transylvania 3 in short order.
Less assured of a follow-up is Goosebumps, which brings to life all of the creepy crawlies cooked up by R.L. Stine in his book series of the same name. I had aged out of the target audience long before Stine’s books first came out in the early ’90s, so I’ve never read any of them, nor have I seen the television shows, specials, and videos they spawned. (Nope, not even The Werewolf of Fever Swamp.) That didn’t prevent me from enjoying the film, though, especially since said werewolf gets a fair bit of play. True, he’s a purely CGI creation (as are most of the monsters in the film), but he has a good design going for him and he’s party to some of the film’s most suspenseful sequences.
In addition to the werewolf, which gets about five minutes of featured screen time (not that I was keeping track or anything), Goosebumps also unleashes an abominable snowman (the first of Stine’s creations to escape from his manuscripts), a vindictive ventriloquist’s dummy named Slappy, an army of garden gnomes, the Invisible Boy, a giant praying mantis, a squad of space aliens with freeze rays, a gaggle of ghouls, some scarecrows, a mummy, a scary clown (is there any other kind?), and many others. That should be enough to satisfy just about any monster fan.
On the opposite end of the spectrum in that regard is the horror anthology Tales of Halloween, which received a limited release in conjunction with its bow on VOD. The main draw for me was the participation of Dog Soldiers director Neil Marshall, who contributes the best segment (“Bad Seed,” about a killer jack-o-lantern), but the IMDb keywords page also promised a werewolf that the film failed to deliver, so I have submitted a request to the site to have it removed. And I’m using this space to let potential viewers know there are no werewolves in Tales of Halloween. Maybe if there were, it would have actually gotten a wide release.