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.

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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

“Dark Shadows” TV Series (1966-1971)

For the last couple of months I have been completely obsessed with the classic TV series “Dark Shadows” that originally ran from 1966 to 1971. I was skeptical of “Dark Shadows” at first since I was one of those people that went and saw Tim Burton’s revamped movie that came out in 2012. I remember having my hopes up pretty high that I might like this Burton movie but by the end of the film I was completely let down, rolling my eyes at the over-the-top silliness that I was witnessing. Now I have begun to think that the silliness may have been on purpose.

I decided to start watching the TV series after getting tired of re-watching my favorite shows on Netflix. What a ride! This show is a horror fueled soap opera that has too many plot lines to sum up in one sentence. So far I am on season four which involves some time travel (hahaha) but I plan on finishing the series in the next few weeks.

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Barnabas Collins  Photo Source: mentalfloss.com

Main Story Line

In the town of Collinsport, the Collins family is the oldest and probably the wealthiest with a family history that is unsettling and mysterious. The series starts when Barnabas Collins (a family member who was turned into a vampire at the turn of the 19th century) is released from his imprisonment (chained up coffin) with the help of Willie (a criminal of sorts with loose ties to the current Collins family). The first few episodes establish the Collins family, the current family members and characters that are key to the main story line.

Note: An interesting parallel that I noticed in the first season is the “Dracula-esque” vampire elements. Barnabas’s attire, history, and mannerisms all reflect the classic vampire icon Dracula played by Bela Lugosi in 1931. Just goes to show that the vampire’s traditional qualities were really cemented into popular culture.

Each episode is about 30 minutes long with anywhere from 3-5 minutes of introduction with the standard opening credits including an update from the latest episode. In these short episodes the mysteries of the Collins family and the evil-doings of Barnabas are slowly unraveled.

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Characters:  Roger and Elizabeth Collins, Victoria Winters on Right    Photo Source: Streamline

The acting is usually over the top, and the camera work is not the greatest. I often noticed that the camera will jolt left or right suddenly when trying to follow characters moving around the room, or will even go out of focus sometimes. These aspects add to the series cheesy and campy feel, and while at first this drove me nuts now it keeps me laughing and on the lookout to notice these consistent mess ups.

WIKIPEDIA INFO ON DARK SHADOWS SERIES : SEASON BREAKDOWNS AND RECEPTION

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Character: Angelique   Photo Source: pinterest.com

Since I am not done with the series yet and I have become aware there are actually a few feature-length films that were released as well I might take my time deciding on a definitive rating. If anything I would say my rating will only be based on the plot structure and coherence of the main story.

If there are any fans of campy horrors films I would definitely recommend this series.

And if you are familiar with this show and you want to start up a convo or want me to talk about some aspect in particular to “Dark Shadows” leave your comments below!

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-Alina