When it comes to certain holidays, I tend to be more proactive than most people. Talk to anyone who knows me fairly well and they’ll attest that I’m the kind of guy who has his Christmas tree up the first week of November. It’s just part of who I am. For certain holidays, I like to draw out the festivities and the spirit in my own unique way.
One of those holidays happens to be Halloween. I’ve always been fond of Halloween and its various spooky themes. While I don’t decorate my home the same way I do with Christmas, I still try to get into the spirit. A big part of that spirit involves watching a bunch of horror movies and Halloween specials.
To that end, I’ve always had my share of favorites. A good slasher movie like “Friday The 13th” and the original “Halloween” is usually a good place to start. Plenty of shows also have great Halloween special, like the many Treehouse of Horror episodes from “The Simpsons” and “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”
In more recent years, I’ve grown fond of some newer entries into my Halloween themed watch-list. Movies like “Happy Death Day” and “Hubie Halloween” have quickly become personal favorites of mine. But for Halloween this year, I’d like to offer another show that has steadily worked its way into my Halloween viewing list. It’s an animated series on Netflix called “Castlevania.”
Now, this is not a new show, relatively speaking. This show actually began airing in 2017 and when it began, it only had three episodes. Even though I watched those episodes and liked what I saw, it wasn’t even that clear that it would continue beyond that.
There was a good reason for that. This show was based off a video game by the same name. If you owned a Nintendo or Super Nintendo system back in the early to mid 1990s, you probably heard of “Castlevania” the game. And it was a damn good game, as well. It was often held in high regard for its gameplay and its monster hunting themes.
But since it emerged in the early era of gaming, it wasn’t particularly known for its story. I doubt it was ever at the top of anyone’s list in terms of video game franchises that deserved an adaptation. It certainly doesn’t help that video game adaptations have a rather nasty legacy of being terrible, regardless of whether they’re animated or live action.
Despite those limitations, Netflix dared to invest in “Castlevania.” It dared to give this franchise some full-scale world-building, taking iconic characters from the game and fleshing them out in a meaningful way. And the end result was truly remarkable.
This isn’t just a series that makes for good viewing during Halloween.
This is a legitimately well-written, well-developed show on every conceivable level.
Yes, it still has the armies of monsters, goblins, and demons that made the video game so iconic. But it also has a genuinely compelling story with genuinely well-rounded characters. Trevor Belmont, Sypha, Alucard, and even Vlad Dracula himself are given distinct, multi-layered character arcs that are all distinct. They all exist in a dark, flawed, and corrupt world set in Medieval Europe. It’s not a world driven by good or pure evil. Everything exists in varying shades of both. And everyone has agendas, goals, struggles, and burdens.
It’s also a show that really hits the ground running. It’s not a slow build towards the action. Within the first few minutes of the show, an innocent gets burned at the stake and Dracula goes on a grief-fueled rampage against the whole of humanity. It gets bloody, violent, and dark very quickly, all of which feel very appropriate for Halloween. But it also has moments of heart, introspection, and melodrama.
Seriously, there are moments within the brutal violence that are genuinely heartbreaking. But those moments only make the horror themes work even better.
The early seasons were good. That, I never denied. But once the later seasons came out and really completed the story, “Castlevania” became much more than a video game adaptation that didn’t suck. To me, it became a perfectly crafted horror story that maximized the appeal of vampires, magic, goblins, ghouls, and monsters.
Seriously, what more could you want from a Halloween story?
While “Castlevania” was never marketed as a Halloween story, it definitely checks most of the necessary boxes. So, if you’re looking for something new to add to your Halloween watch list this year, give Netflix’s “Castlevania” a watch. Even if it doesn’t get you into the Halloween spirit, it’s still a damn good show.