My favourite vampire movies

Ah, October. The most magical month of the year. The leaves are turning, the winds are howling, and Halloween is just around the corner.

One of the things I enjoy doing in October is to bundle up inside, with someone I love, cinnamony snacks and a pot of chai, and watch spooky movies. Most of the spooky movies I like seem to be vampire movies. These are my favourites:

Only Lovers

Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

This is not just one of my favourite vampire movies, but one of my favourite movies of all time. It’s a beautiful story about two long-term lovers and how they survive in the modern world. The characters, atmosphere and soundtrack are fantastic. I can never get enough of watching this.

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Interview with the Vampire (1994)

What goth does not love this movie? Who has not fallen in love with the brooding, dramatic Louis, perfectly devilish Lestat and deceptively sweet little Claudia? This movie celebrates everything we love about vampires with all the flair and panache it can muster. After twenty-three years, it remains unrivalled.

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Låt den rätte komma in / Let the Right One In (2008)

Like Only Lovers, it’s primarily a love story. It’s also highly driven by the characters and atmosphere. The protagonist is quiet 12-year-old Oskar, who is relentlessly bullied at school and obsessed with true crime. He meets a mysterious girl who is new in the neighbourhood. Coincidentally, a string of violent attacks start to occur at her arrival. The horror is certainly there, but as a whole it’s breathtakingly beautiful.

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Wir Sind die Nacht We Are the Night (2010)

With all the brooding vampires around, it’s refreshing to see vampires who enjoy, and even revel in, being vampires. More so when those vampires are women. In Wir Sind die Nacht all vampires, in fact, are women. Doesn’t that make for an intriguing premise? And isn’t Wir Sind die Nacht a killer title?

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Nosferatu (1922)

A classic. I have seen this several times in a theatre setting with live music and every time it scared the shit out of me. No vampire movie has scared me quite like the almost century-old Nosferatu. It’s all in the atmosphere and portrayal of the vampire.

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Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

If I believed in guilty pleasures, that’s what I would call this. The special effects, the acting, the soundtrack, the costumes; It’s all completely over the top and ridiculous, but I love it.

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Hotel Transylvania (2012)

I’m not generally a fan of (children’s) animated movies, but my girlfriend suckered me into watching this. I was pleasantly surprised. It’s a really cute story about a young vampire girl, her hilariously overprotective father, and a human boy who she falls for. In an interesting twist, the monsters in this world are scared of the humans, instead of the other way around.

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What We Do In the Shadows (2014)

Another kooky one in the mix. This is a mockumentary style film that follows a group of vampire roommates in their daily (nightly?) lives. It shows their struggles of dividing up the chores, getting dressed without a mirror, having to feed on massive amounts of blood and other ordinary things. It plays with the clichés in the genre brilliantly.

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Series Review – Girlboss

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Girlboss is about twentysomething misfit Sophia and how she builds her vintage clothing business, Nasty Gal. While building her business, she has to deal with a hernia, unsatisfied customers, neglected friends and other vintage sellers who disagree with her methods. The show is full of colourful characters and fantastic fashion.

From the beginning the main character, Sophia, is insufferable. She walks over everyone else to have her own way, acts like she knows absolutely everything and expects others to be endeared by her quirks. Her best friend, Annie, is not much more likeable. This made the first couple of episodes hard to get through. And yet, there was something about the show that made me keep watching.

The story was intriguing enough and the aesthetic fantastic. Watching Sophia go through all that vintage clothing, while well-dressed herself, inspired me to go back to my favourite thrift shops and experiment more with my own style myself. Also, to get my bangs cut again. And go to San Francisco.

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Her entrepreneurship was very inspiring too. She’s not a girl you expect to succeed, but she turns out to be highly resourceful. She actively solves problems and is shown to have good business sense. Together with showing her vulnerability, she becomes a lot more likeable over the course of the series. In the final episodes I was happy to see her succeed with her business and really felt for her when she was unexpectedly betrayed.

Unfortunately, only snippets of the building of her company are shown. Most of the storyline seems to be about Sophia’s personal life, her relationships and struggles (unlike what the trailer suggests). I would have liked to see more about the business side of it. The best episodes are the ones which center on some facet of Nasty Gal, like ‘Ladyshopper99’ in which Sophia goes through every resource to satisfy a disgruntled customer. The ones which are more about Sophia’s relationships, like ‘Top 8’ and ‘The Trip’, I could have done without.

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The humour in the series is here and there. Sometimes it’s hilarious, like in the dialogue or in the portrayal of certain characters. Other times it completely misses the mark. In the already mentioned ‘Top 8’ for example; I kept waiting for those outlandish flashbacks to become funny, but they never did.

It was inconsistent in tone too. The text messages and sales popping up on the screen, to name some, seemed out of place. Those didn’t fit with the rest of the tone/aesthetic the series was going for. In ‘Vintage Fashion Forum’ the incorporation of the internet was brilliant though. I loved how they showed the interaction between the characters on the forum and in the chatroom.

If you like stories about female entrepreneurs, vintage fashion and Wes Anderson type humour, give Girlboss a shot. Even if you don’t love the main character, you may find yourself binge-watching it late into the night.

Series Review – The Lizzie Borden Chronicles

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I don’t usually watch shows on a whim. Television series are an investment in time and attention. I usually want to make sure that I spend my time and attention well. So I’ll browse through IMDb, gather reviews and question people who’ve already watched it. This kind of research is also an investment in time, I know, but that’s not the point. Point is, I like to know that a show is good before I watch it.

One night, I saw a series called The Lizzie Borden Chronicles appear on Netflix. That title, the beautiful cover picture and Christina Ricci’s mischievous smirk were all that I needed. I watched two episodes that very night.

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Oh, it is glorious. The characters, costumes, setting, storyline, dialogue… Perfect.

It starts with Lizzie Borden getting acquitted from the murder on her parents, to the outrage of the town. She and her sister get difficulties with the inheritance. Lizzie goes out of her way to fix those difficulties and start anew. At first you feel sorry for her, but it soon becomes apparent that she needs nobody’s pity. It was such a delight to see how consistently Lizzie solves all her problems. Christina Ricci is at her best in this role. She effortlessly goes from a cold-blooded killer to a sweet, innocent girl and back again. Completely steals the show.

Of course, the other characters and performances are fantastic as well. Like Emma Borden. I did not find her that interesting in the beginning, but halfway through the series she won all my sympathy. Poor Emma has to endure so much from her psychotic sister.

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The storyline gets increasingly absurd, which only adds to the fun of the show. It goes from a legal fight over an inheritance, to a private investigator’s ill-fated quest to prove Lizzie’s guilt, to difficulties with local gangsters, to dog abuse in the neighbourhood. There are even two genuinely touching romantic subplots. This show goes in so many directions, but somehow it all works together, for the first six episodes. Unfortunately, it does not keep up this momentum for the last two episodes.

The last two seem awkwardly tacked on, after the main storyline was resolved in the sixth. A lot of new characters and a new setting are introduced. The main characters are on a new journey, which starts and ends abruptly. It would have been so much better if those two episodes had been fleshed out in a second season. Then we could also have enjoyed the performances of Michelle Fairley and Chris Bauer for longer. What a waste to only feature them, and the characters they played, in one or two episodes.

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Other than that, nothing negative to report about The Lizzie Borden Chronicles. I can highly recommend it. If you enjoy dark period pieces, black humour, quirky anti-heroes and detective-type stories, do check it out.

Rating: 8.5/10