First Time Watching “What We Do in the Shadows”

First time watching "What We Do in the Shadows." blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. aspasiasbissas.com. Vampire, vampires, psychic vampire, Taika Waititi

Somehow I totally missed the existence of What We Do in the Shadows until a friend recently recommended it to me. I really need to start paying more attention.

If you’ve been as out of the loop as I have, What We Do in the Shadows is a sitcom about vampires and their human familiars. It’s done in a faux documentary style, along the lines of The Office. It’s also produced by Taika Waititi, who (among other things) directed Thor: Ragnarok and is the voice of Korg (the guy made of rocks). They had me at vampires, but Waititi being involved didn’t hurt. I’m only going to be talking about the pilot episode here (I’m sure I’ll be posting more in the future), and I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers.

First off, let’s take a moment to be grateful for an all-too-rare vampire comedy. The world could use more of them.

The main group includes a familiar (Guillermo), blood-drinking vampires, and a “psychic” vampire, who drains people (and the other vampires) of energy. They’re all fantastic (Matt Berry plays one of the vampires– rejoice!) The vampires arrived in the New World two centuries ago, with plans to conquer the continent. Instead they end up settled in Staten Island. This wouldn’t be a problem except that a high-ranking vampire is on his way to pay a visit and see their progress. Meanwhile Guillermo’s tenth year anniversary as his master’s familiar is coming up, and he knows he’s about to get something special for all his years of hard work and loyal service (and does he ever…).

I was excited to see the vampires exhibiting “traditional” traits, including turning into bats, climbing walls, and sleeping in coffins. Don’t get me wrong– I definitely appreciate innovations in the mythology, but sometimes it’s just nice to stick with the classics.

I also have to say that I am in complete awe of the makeup department for the job they did with Baron Afanas– I hope they won an award for it. Words won’t do it justice, so please watch the episode and see for yourself. Doug Jones, who plays the Baron also did a great job. Side note: Jones played a “Gentleman” on the brilliant Buffy episode “Hush,” which did win an award. You should definitely watch that too, even if you have zero interest in watching the rest of Buffy. And Jones will be playing Count Orlok in the upcoming remake of Nosferatu. These are good times for vampires.

Overall, this was a great introduction to the show. It kept me laughing, impressed me with its production values, and made me fall for the characters. I hope it’s around for a long time.

Have you watched What We Do in the Shadows? Let me know what you think of it in the comments…

Want more vampires in your life? Download my books…

Aspasia S. Bissas books: Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Magic, Tooth & Claw, book, books, free book, free books, freebies, freebie, free ebook, free ebooks, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, dark romance, historical fiction, gothic fiction, gothic fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, horror, dark reads, indie author, indie fiction, strong female protagonist, aspasiasbissas.com

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If you prefer paperback, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

🧿

Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com
Spoilers Ahead

“Into every generation a slayer is born: one girl in all the world, a chosen one. She alone will wield the strength and skill to fight the vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness; to stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their number. She is the Slayer.”

And it all started with one movie.

Part Clueless (before Clueless) with a touch of Heathers, and an undead element, BtVS is a fun, if not fantastic, 90s teen movie. Then again, it was never meant to be great cinema– the idea behind it was ‘let’s make a monster movie where the monster-hunter is a teenage girl, and let’s give her a silly name’ (I’m paraphrasing, if you couldn’t tell). Who would have thought that this movie would (or could) morph into an awesome TV series, with a female action hero (groundbreaking at the time), and some of the best vampires this side of Santa Carla.

Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com
Sarah Michelle Geller as Buffy in the TV series

Watching the movie, you can’t help but compare it to the (far superior) series it inspired. The movie even gives us glimpses of future characters on the show (Principal Flutie, Cordy, Giles, Spike). While I’m grateful the movie kicked things off, I’m also really glad that some things never made it to the series. There’s nothing quite so cringy as watching Kristy Swanson demonstrate Buffy’s vampire-sensing skills by moaning and clutching her stomach in faux menstrual-cramp agony every time she’s in the vicinity of the undead. I think that was supposed to represent some kind of primordial woman power. Gold star for effort, I guess, but big miss on the execution.

I’m also glad they changed the vampires significantly in the series. The vamps in the movie mostly skulk around making guttural noises, laughing maniacally, and showing off their new goth makeovers. They also have floppy elf ears. I get that the movie was supposed to be campy and goofy, but those ears are an…interesting…choice (mind you– this was well before vampires all looked like models). Aside from those issues, Benny (David Arquette) and Amilyn (Paul Reubens) are entertaining, getting a lot of the best lines in the film. Lothos (Rutger Hauer) makes a decent Master Vampire, although he would’ve been more menacing without the Halloween-costume cape.

Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com
The ears aren’t terrible, but I can’t imagine Angel or Spike rocking this look.

As for the non-vampires, while Buffy does kick ass, more or less, Kristy Swanson is pretty lacklustre, especially when you see what Sarah Michelle Geller did in the role. Swanson doesn’t really seem to get the character, and she plays a teenager as though she’s only ever read a description of one.

Luke Perry as “Pike” is actually pretty good. Both his character and his portrayal are enjoyable– I could have done with more of him.

I have nothing bad to say about Donald Sutherland as Merrick, Buffy’s original watcher. The man is a treasure. In fact, if the movie ever gets remade, I vote Sutherland’s son Kiefer as the new Merrick.

Despite my complaints, I do like this movie. It’s fun, there are vampires– what’s not to like? I think the best way to view BtVS is not as a movie unto itself, but rather as the early draft for the awesomeness that is to come. Watch it, laugh with it (or at it, as the case may be), and appreciate Buffy the series all the more.

Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com

After Amilyn has lost an arm:

Amilyn: We’re immortal, Buffy; we can do anything.
Buffy: Oh yeah? Clap!

Love a good vampire story? Download one now…

Aspasia S. Bissas books: Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Magic, Tooth & Claw, book, books, free book, free books, freebies, freebie, free ebook, free ebooks, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, dark romance, historical fiction, gothic fiction, gothic fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, horror, dark reads, indie author, indie fiction, strong female protagonist, aspasiasbissas.com

Love Lies Bleeding: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Blood Magic: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Tooth & Claw: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

If you prefer paperback, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

🧿

[Note: this review was originally posted on one of my older blogs. I’m re-posting it here with major revisions and new photos. If it seems familiar, you might have read the original version way back :)]

The Problem with Angelus

The Problem with Angelus, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com. Angel, Angelus, Buffy, vampire, vampires, gif

I’m still (re-)watching Buffy and Angel, and there’s something that’s been bothering me about Angelus…

Spoilers Ahead

First, we need some backstory.

in Buffy and Angel mythology, a vampire is made when a vampire exchanges blood with a human before killing them. The human’s soul leaves the body (presumably going off to the afterlife), and the soulless shell reanimates, inhabited by a demon that looks like the human, and has their personality and all their memories, but with an aversion to sunlight and a thirst for blood.

Angelus started out like any other vampire, but after killing the wrong girl he was cursed with a soul. Suddenly his body housed a demon and a human soul. This unnatural combination led him to spend a hundred years wallowing in guilt and remorse over what he’d done as a vampire, before finally deciding to become a broody, but useful, member of society. Oh, and he also started calling himself Angel.

But the curse had a loophole. If Angel were to ever experience a moment of true happiness, the soul would go and Angelus would return in all his murderous glory.

Over the course of both Buffy and Angel, we get to see both Angel and Angelus, and much as I enjoy the dichotomy, something about it bothers me. Angel is solitary, reserved, and thoughtful, but ready to kick ass when necessary. Angelus, on the other hand, is cruel, revels in violence, and is as meticulous in stalking and torture as the most evil serial killer. So how is this the same person?

The shows simply claim that it’s the difference between soul and no soul, but I’m not sure I buy that. The presence (or lack) of a soul doesn’t completely change your personality. At one point Angel claims he was a bad person as a human too, but from flashbacks we see he was mostly a shiftless, carousing layabout and terrible son. That’s pretty far from a cold-blooded killer (not to mention the other major personality shifts we see between Angel and Angelus). The Buffy episode “Doppelgangland” even tacitly confirms that a vampire’s personality is basically the same as the human they inhabit.

When vampire Spike gets his soul back (earned, not cursed), his personality doesn’t significantly change. He might be less likely to finish off a mortally wounded human once he gets his soul, but if you watched an episode featuring him without knowing which season it was from, you wouldn’t necessarily be able to tell whether he has a soul or not. Another vampire, Harmony, never gets a soul, but shows no significant change in personality before and after becoming a vampire. She even loves unicorns.

The Problem with Angelus, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com. Angel, Angelus, Buffy, vampire, vampires, Harmony, unicorns

In the Angel episode “Eternity,” Angel is drugged so that he feels a chemical high (which they call “happiness” for the sake of the plot), Until the drug wears off he’s right back to being Mr. Murder-Death-Kill, as though a switch were flipped. You’d think he’d still be able to exert his own will, at least a little, to keep Angelus from completely taking over. He didn’t even lose his soul that time. Yes, it’s a TV show about vampires and demons, but it doesn’t make any sense. Not to me, at least.

Maybe having a soul forced on him was traumatic for Angel, causing his personality to fracture. Maybe the demon inside him is particularly strong and malevolent. Maybe it really is only human guilt that keeps Angel from totally going off the rails. Maybe I’m way overthinking this.

What do you think about Angel/Angelus and his split personality? Do you have your own theories about the difference a soul makes? Share in the comments…

Want more vampires? Download my books…

Aspasia S. Bissas books: Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Magic, Tooth & Claw, book, books, free book, free books, freebies, freebie, free ebook, free ebooks, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, dark romance, historical fiction, gothic fiction, gothic fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, horror, dark reads, indie author, indie fiction, strong female protagonist, aspasiasbissas.com

Love Lies Bleeding: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
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If you prefer paperback, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

🧿

Buffy and Angel

Buffy and Angel, blog post by Aspasia S, Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com.  Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel the Series, vampire, vampires, the slayer, Joss Whedon

I’m a Buffy/Angel fan going way back. They’re shows I reference frequently and re-watch whenever I can. I’m re-watching them now.

Spoilers Ahead

For those of you unfamiliar, “Buffy” is the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as well as the heroine’s name. Buffy (the character) is one of a long line of exclusively female vampire slayers magically imbued with powers like fast healing and super strength. The show started out as an allegory for the trials of high school and got more mature, and darker, as the series went on.

Angel (the series) is a spinoff of BtVS. Angel (the character) is the rarest of the rare: a vampire with a soul. Unfortunately, he loses his soul if he experiences a moment of “true happiness,” which he does with Buffy. If any of you were traumatized when The Doctor and Rose got split up, just know that it was nothing compared to the scene where Angel gets his soul back. Then prepare yourselves for heartbreak #2 when, at the end of Season 3 of Buffy, Angel realizes he and Buffy will never work, so he leaves her for good. He ends up in L.A., starting a new life as a private detective/helper of the helpless. Angel arguably has a better cast than Buffy, and aside from a few hiccups along the way, ended up as the more interesting show (imo).

I’ve just started Season 4 of Buffy (her first year of college) and Season 1 of Angel. Parts of the shows have held up well over time, other parts not so much. Buffy is especially problematic, with fairly minor– but still there– homophobia, fat shaming, slut shaming, token diverse characters getting killed off, and outright sexist dialogue. In one episode Buffy herself says Wesley (an adult man) screams “like a woman,” and compares Xander and Angel to a pair of bickering “old women.” Part of that was the culture at the time. You probably couldn’t find a show in the 90s that didn’t include some cringe-worthy dialogue or storylines. And most of us didn’t even notice. We were steeped in it to the point that it didn’t stand out.

But part of it might also have had something to do with the showrunner, Joss Whedon, who– if you haven’t heard– has had several accusations of bullying/abusive behaviour levelled at him by actors, including some that worked on Buffy and Angel. I believe these actors– they have nothing to gain by coming forward. What sucks for the fans, though, is that Buffy was groundbreaking at the time. A female lead who…kicked ass? What’s commonplace now was new and awesome back then. Whedon claimed to be a feminist, and the fans thought he was an ally. We were wrong.

I don’t, however, think we should give up on these shows because of an association with an allegedly awful person. Besides, Whedon was far from the only person working on his shows, and to ignore everyone else’s contributions is basically throwing out the baby with the bath water. I know I’ll always keep watching. l now notice the problematic and cringey parts, but I’m still here for all the good parts (which are the majority). Because, even after all these years, Buffy still kicks ass.

Were/are you a fan of Buffy and/or Angel? How do you think they’ve held up? Share in the comments…

Want more vampires? Get my books…

Aspasia S. Bissas books: Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Magic, Tooth & Claw, book, books, free book, free books, freebies, freebie, free ebook, free ebooks, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, dark romance, historical fiction, gothic fiction, gothic fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, horror, dark reads, indie author, indie fiction, strong female protagonist, aspasiasbissas.com

Love Lies Bleeding: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Blood Magic: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Tooth & Claw: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

If you prefer paperback, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

🧿
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