'Transylvania' Director Prefers His Monsters Funny
By David Weiner
Gather the ghouls around the TV, iPad and laptop: Hotel Transylvania is out this week on Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack with UltraViolet, and the film's director, Genndy Tartakovsky, tells ETonline the formula behind the film's success, how comedians like Adam Sandler got serious behind the scenes -- and provides a sneak peek at Hotel Transylvania 2!
Still a self-proclaimed "kid at heart," the Russian-born, Chicago-native Genndy cut his teeth over such shows as Star Wars: Clone Wars, Samurai Jack, The Powerpuff Girls and Dexter's Laboratory during his animation career. Hotel Transylvania is his feature film debut, and the fast-paced family flick is populated by the greatest, most famous and fun monsters of all. Ironically, Genndy says he was afraid of them all when he was a kid.
"It's funny, because when I was growing up I was actually really scared of horror movies," he says. "I never wanted to watch them, but at the same time there was this mythology of Dracula and Frankenstein and Wolf Man that I really like, so I got all my monster entertainment from Abbott and Costello, really."
That classic comedy duo was famous for their big-screen run-ins with all of the classic Universal Monsters in such films as Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein and Abbott & Costello Meet The Mummy.
"That's why I think this movie was a perfect fit for me, because I always like my monsters to be funny," explains Genndy, "and also the father-daughter relationship and the chance to bring Dracula to a new generation."
The 43-year-old director says that working with Sandler and such comedians as Andy Samberg, David Spade and Kevin James in the voiceover booth gave him insight into the craft that he hadn't seen before.
"That part of it is really interesting because what I found is they're all very funny people, but then when it comes to comedy they're very serious about it," he says. "A joke is very precious, and it's kind of like a science. … It was really amazing to see them craft a line and adjust it."
One of the reasons why Hotel Transylvania was a hit at the box office has to be Genndy's deft handling of the slapstick humor with heart, and his mission was to craft the story for the whole family, not just kids.
"I've been doing kids programming in TV for like 20 years, and the one thing that I've learned is you really never want to make it for children," he says. "To be sincere and to be honest about it, we always have to make it for us, you know? … I always follow that rule."
Genndy knew that he was on the right track at the film's test screenings: "It was great to turn and see a kid and their parent laughing at the same thing," he recalls. "When the kids laugh, it just makes you feel so good, because kids are honest, you know? There's no polite laughter."
With Hotel Transylvania under his belt, Genndy's efforts are now focused on an all-new, CGI-animated update of Popeye, but he offers a little insight on the in-the-works Hotel Transylvania 2.
"They are just starting to write it, but I think it's probably expecting [to fit in] a lot more," he says, adding, "Still a lot of big, broad humor, and still trying to figure a way to fit in all the heart also."
In addition to watching Hotel Transylvania, fans can now be treated to hours of monstrous entertainment through three different interactive bonus options: the all-new Monster Party App, letting fans create their own personalized digital monsters; the Monsterize Me app on Facebook, allowing Facebook users to alter their picture with monster-inspired teeth, eyes and more; and the all-new Hotel Transylvania feature for the Goldrun Mobile App, allowing fans to take and share photos of themselves standing next to their favorite characters from the film (Available for both iOS and Android devices).