A Vampire Mockumentary: “What We Do in the Shadows” (2014)

 

What We Do in the Shadows” is a mockumentary film that takes the classic vampire tropes in horror and sheds a little bit of humorous light on them.

I recently watched this film for the first time (can’t believe that I haven’t seen it earlier considering my taste in movies) and I thought this film was amazing.

I am a big fan of the classic horror monsters such as Dracula, Nosferatu, Wolfman, Frankenstein, and The Creature from the Black Lagoon…just to name a few. And I loved that this film really pulled from the different classics.

There is a Dracula-esque character, Nosferatu, and the Victorian vampire (I am thinking like Louis from “Interview with the Vampire“). Not only did the creators pull from classic vampire tropes but new popular ones as well such as the young vampire bad boy and the pitting of vampires vs. werewolves which have become more prevalent in the last ten years.

Image result for nosferatu

Nosferatu” (1922)  source: Flickr

A few key aspects that stood out to me while I was watching the film includes the use of the documentary style (acting as if vampires are real and giving them cultural credit), the relevance of the ending and how it critiques the “usual” endings in horror films and lastly the popular pairing of werewolves and vampires in a single story that has taken off since the infamous “Twilight” phenomena.

Talking about the cultural phenomena of vampires in the form of a documentary fits the trend in horror and suspense films of “found footage”. A popular style that really began to pick up with the “Blair Witch Project” (1999). It is refreshing and at the same time provides the audience with the “behind the scenes” look at vampires, making them more silly and relatable than I think audiences would care to admit.

It was great to watch vampires have to fight about chores and see them deal with the mess of murder. I appreciated the Master/Slave dynamic that was used in this film as well (the old concept of vampires having human slaves that take care of them in the daylight). I get the impression this little detail among others when it comes to the vampire tropes have been neglected in recent years.

Although this mockumentary provides a lot of laughs it doesn’t actively seek to paint vampires in the popular morally-conflicted-“good”-guy-who-kills-people light. There are no blurring of lines, the vampires in this film talk about killing and we see them kill brutally. We get glimpses of their terror (and love for torture) and can imagine just how horrible it would be to come across a vampire. Overall, great movie and I would highly recommend it to anyone that wants a laugh and isn’t repelled by vampires.

Side Notes: The special effects for transforming, flying, and werewolf stuff was not that bad. I was impressed by the quality and effort that was given in making these little details “good”.

Alina’s Rating: 5 out of 5 Bats

“What We Do in the Shadows” is available for free with AMAZON PRIME


 

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-Alina

Free Hand #37 (Hitchcock’s Frenzy)

Frenzy Poster

photo source: imdb.com

 

Last night I watched Alfred Hitchcock’s FRENZY with my boyfriend Dallas. Really good movie but it’s about a rapist/murderer that kills a bunch of women…had some pretty graphic scenes and social commentary on/about women hmmmmmmm. Here’s a small poem I did today in reflection of it.


 

Hitchcock’s Frenzy

 

The empty body floats

across the water. Devoid of soul

just decaying matter. What space

does the eye occupy? As it fixes

on the body, the bystander helpless

and in shock. The magnetism of

the loss and the pain. The image

seared within the brain.


 

Thank you for taking time out of your day to read my writing!

I hope that you will return in the future!

-Alina

Fight Club: Reflection #1

Hello Readers!

I have debated on doing a reflection on Fight Club (1999) for a while now. I know I could analyze and critique hundreds of points in this film but have decided to do a small reflection on Tyler Durden’s Philosophy of Life for today. I found this short snippet labeled with this title (Philosophy of Life) on Youtube and thought it is the perfect slice from the movie to include with this post.

Youtube vid:

 

I want to address a handful of items that have stood out to me from watching Fight Club and reading the novel (published in 1996) by Chuck Palahniuk multiple of times over the years.

First,

Tyler’s Critique on Consumerism in America. In the youtube vid, Tyler comments on the evolution of man and how in modern society they have become consumers,

“We’re consumers. We are by-products of a lifestyle obsession. Murder, crime, poverty, these things don’t concern me. What concerns me are celebrity magazines, television with 500 channels, some guy’s name on my underwear. Rogaine, Viagra, Olestra.” (rottentomaotoes.com)

Tyler also advocates, letting everything go and not fulfilling society’s standards for men. Ultimately he wants revolution,

” I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who have ever lived an entire generation pumping gas and waiting tables; or they’re slaves with white collars. Advertisements have them chasing cars and clothes, working jobs they hate so they can buy shit they don’t need. We are the middle children of history, with no purpose or place. We have no great war, or great depression. The great war is a spiritual war. The great depression is our lives. We were raised by television to believe that we’d be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars — but we won’t. And we’re learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed-off.” (rottentomatoes.com)

The social critique found throughout Fight Club is relevant especially now. We are walking advertisements, branding ourselves through our purchases of clothes, cars, and food. And the products that we buy which are made for pennies, costs us $$$$ just to own. For the middle and lower class, often working two or three jobs is necessary to survive but with the bombardment of messages that tell us ‘How to be Happy’ and How to have a ‘meaningful’ and ‘fulfilled’ life, we are left scrambling to keep up with others, buying products so that we can be perceived as ‘complete’ and ‘happy’.

“You’re not your job, you’re not how much money you have in bank, you’re not the car you drive, you’re not the contents of your wallet, you’re not your fucking khakis, you’re all-signing all-dancing crap of the world.” (rottentomatoes.com)

But what Tyler reveals (and what resounds with audiences even now) is that things don’t make people happy, working shit jobs don’t make people happy, doing what we love to do (what we’ve always wanted to do) makes us happy. This is evident in Tyler’s threat to the convenience store clerk (gun to the back to his head) “What did you want to be?!” (Movie: Fight Club 1999)

Tyler pushes men and the audience to reflect on their lives. We are what society makes us and for most of us we accept this regardless of how miserable it makes us.

Now this is only one aspect of Tyler’s seemingly evolving philosophy which eventually leads to acts of Terrorism that (pre-9/11) are intriguing acts on their own. Tyler wants to dismantle the corrupted society of modern man and free the oppressed.

In these messages, the novel and film have become a legend and cultural icons for the working class and men. Tyler Durden as a character has become a mythical figure that inspires revolution and freedom of thought in the oppressed modern society. He asks us to question our lives, what we value and our roles in society. He asks us to FIGHT BACK.

Tyler has become more than a literary presence but an ideology that has spread across the world inspiring men and women to act, and create their own ‘Fight Clubs’ (real or in other forms). This creation, Fight Club, is a remarkable achievement for Chuck Palahniuk and still inspires readers (and watchers) today.

 

There is also the discussion that Fight Club (film and novel) is for specifically male audiences. As a woman, I agree only partially with this discussion since almost everything I love is labeled ‘masculine’ by culture that I love. I can see the critique on the male role in society, I see comments on ‘hyper masculinity’ and what it means to ‘be a man’. I can see ties to the struggle of self under the pressure of society (in regards to men) and I can see that the only female role: Marla Singer represents the ‘hitting bottom’ female counterpart to Tyler (give her credit, she ‘hit-bottom’ way before Tyler and lives in it).

As a woman appreciating the film and text of Fight Club, I take away the social critique and acknowledgement of male roles in society, the grittiness (and violence, love that too!) and deep resonance with the aching modern soul that is so perfectly articulated in this legendary story. I would never advocate to change Fight Club for female viewers but I would argue against people that say Fight Club is ONLY for men.

This is only a small reflection, and I labeled it appropriately ‘PART #1’ for a reason. I want to expand more on Fight Club and plan to add more to my discussion sometime this weekend.

 

other sources: https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/fight_club/quotes/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0137523/?ref_=nv_sr_2

 


If you are reading this, Thank You for taking time out of your day to read my writing and I hope you return in the future!

-Alina

 

PLEASE LEAVE ANY RESPONSES OR SUGGESTIONS BELOW IN THE COMMENTS!

T2: Response and Reflection

WARNING: SPOILERS ALERT

T2 Trainspotting Poster

(source: imdb.com)

The shots, cuts and camera angles used in T2 reflect the style and tone of Trainspotting (1996). Paired with a gritty soundtrack that ranges from classics-remixed or toned down- from Trainspotting and contemporary music, the film exudes in its technique the theme of T2; nostalgia and coming to terms with your past.

Returning to Edinburgh, Renton decides to make amends and pay back his friends whom he betrayed twenty years ago (except Begbie, who he avoids at all costs). What he finds is Sick Boy and Spud doing exactly what they were doing when he left, and Begbie still in prison (soon to break free).

T2 follows Renton and the crew ‘getting together’ one last time in an epic junkie battle of revenge and heart wrenching flashbacks of adolescent beginnings. Emphasizing on nostalgia for a past that has died and gone to junkie heaven, T2 artistically echoes key moments that made Trainspotting  unforgettable; ‘Choose Life’ speeches, Renton colliding with vehicles, Begbie and his love for violence, Spud as the loved and innocent junkie of the crew and Sick Boy (Simon) still working as a con artist and thief. Although it echoes similar actions in Trainspotting, it does not feel like T2 is copying these actions in an attempt to ride the waves of what made it popular in the first place. The repeated or similar actions feel like they stand on their own, echoing maybe the message that sometimes you are always doomed to repeat yourself.

What is added to the mix is the role of Veronica, a young twenty something whose expertise in sex and her partnership (girlfriend?) with Sick Boy puts her at the center of an old man dog fight over events that probably happened when she was just a toddler. Veronica in the book Porno (by Irvine Welsh, and sequel to Trainspotting) has more parts and prevalence as a sex worker who later works for Sick Boy in his venture of creating Pornographic films above his bar. These parts are changed and toned down in the movie T2 and Veronica is portrayed as a possibly more ‘clean’ woman to audiences but in the end she does exactly what she does in Porno; taking the torch from the generation before her of “First there is opportunity, then there is Betrayal.”(imdb.com). I think by toning down Veronica in T2 Danny Boyle may have taken into consideration just how much grit and slime audiences can take (creating an R-Rated film versus a neon flashing NC-17).

Although I was curious from the instant I heard about T2 and after reading the book Porno just how much of book would be in T2, I am satisfied with this cookie cutter version which is easier to swallow for most, although I definitely craved more of the book in the end.

Overall, T2 holds true to Trainspotting as an art device used for social critique and exposure of the disgusting but often real underbelly of modern life (a predominant trait of Irvine Welsh’s works). With added references and use of today’s technology and comments on how ‘conning’ can’t be done like how it used to be, T2 shows the evolution of  addiction, lies, and thievery in our present day in a heart-wrenching story of opportunity and betrayal among best friends.

 

I could write more on T2 and go into depth on certain key scenes/aspects that stood out to me but I will have to think about this. I do plan on seeing T2 again and in the theatre so I can enjoy the big screen experience and if after watching it for a second time I do decide to do another reflection I will post one, probably longer (long long read) and in a couple of weeks.

 

(sources: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2763304/?ref_=nv_sr_1, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0117951/?ref_=nv_sr_2 )


 

If you are reading this Thank You for taking time out of your day to read my writing. I hope you return in the future!

-Alina