You shouldn’t judge a DVD by its cover, at least not if it’s Dear Dracula. Looking to all intents and purposes like just another average-ish kids’ animation with a star-studded list of voices, this film, based on a graphic novel of the same name, is a highly enjoyable little revelation.
The best way to describe this short movie is an homage to the classic monster movie characters – It takes a light-hearted swipe at the wimpy Twilight vampires of our modern age and reminds us of classic cinema, in the days when monsters were actually scary!
Sam is a young boy, obsessed with monster movies, who lives with his grandmother and his best mate – a spider called Webby. One day, Sam asks gran if he can have a Dracula figurine, to which she suggests he drop Santa a line – maybe he’ll get one for Christmas?
This kid, however, is no dozer, and decides that Halloween is way closer, and it makes much more sense to pen a letter to Dracula instead. Drac is delighted when he gets Sam’s letter and, excited to meet his diminutive fan, shows up at his house to surprise him.
It’s a journey of discovery for both, however, as Sam soon realises that Dracula isn’t the scary icon he once was. He’s got self-esteem issues. Hell, people aren’t even afraid of him anymore. Bad news when that’s your raison d’etre.
Sam decides he’s the guy that’s going to get Dracula freaking people out again and, at a Halloween party in the local neighbourhood, Dracula tests his new skills and realises a bit of confidence was all he needed to return to his shadowy former self. He’s not the only one – Sam, too, learns that he’s not the black sheep he thought he was and starts to get a bit of swagger of his own.
The message for the young children Dear Dracula is clearly made for is, ‘Be yourself’, fine and dandy. But grown-ups and horror fans will also find plenty to love here; the voices are great, particularly Goodfellas’ Ray Liotta, hugely charismatic, who gives it his all with a Bela Lugosi style Count. For someone with the career he has, Liotta’s clearly not tackled this as if it were a relatively insignificant note to his career which, given his back catalogue, is kind of nice.