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Return of the Night Watchers

Literature / Mind / Television / May 1, 2014

It was apparent at Austin’s annual SXSW Film earlier this year, that there is a new movement in play with independent cinema and television, a revitalization of gothic literature for the masses.

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Independent films such as What We Do in the Shadows and Only Lovers Left Alive premiered this year, while new tv shows such as El Rey Network’s From Dusk Till Dawn and Showtime’s Penny Dreadful join HBO’s True Blood in the blood lust. Although numerous vampire films and shows have been inspired by Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula (1897) and the unauthorized film adaptation Nosferatu (1922), there’s a new dawn of Dracula films taking the spotlight away from the zombie craze with a much more mature approach. As Josh Hartnett mentioned at the premiere Q&A for Penny Dreadful, created by John Logan, there are similarities that exist between our current era and the era as it existed more than a hundred years ago during the start of the industrial Victorian age. The innovations of technology bring untold powers that are both mythical and perplexing to the masses, yet aside from the spectacle, there is also the darker and more horrific psychosis towards the death of tradition and the fear brought with change.

What Penny Dreadful shows, is the vicious reality of our fears and how we approach death, either running from it or facing the truth head on. There is a deep aspect within monster films that reveals a darker reflection of society itself, preying upon the weak, and in this particular series set in the 1800s with little to no electrical light, The shadows are rightfully feared in this graphic series.

 

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There’s a humorous side to the fear that lurks in the shadows, and this is explored in Jemaine Clement’s mock “documentary” film What We Do In the Shadows, playfully teasing the darker nature of Vampires as if they were a bunch of roommates and prone to human nature. In my comparison, it does for Vampires and other gothic lore what Shaun of the Dead did for the zombie genre. Like Only Lovers Left Alive, it allows human emotions to shine through the characters who have to deal with each other in this eternal battle between themselves and those they consume around them. As Jemaine states, you’ll love these characters despite their “murderous” affect.

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As Tilda Swinton stated at the SXSWFilm premiere of her film Only Lovers Left Alive, directed by Jim Jarmusch, her film used gothic mythology to focus on love and the revolutionary act of kindness, which despite its simplicity, is still relatively uncommon in our world. What vampires symbolize in this fashion is the eternal nature of relationships and the idea of getting along with someone for who they are, accepting their vices. When we give kindness to others, we can also accept a kindness for ourselves.

 

Photography by Andy Gonzalez Diaz

Written by Rick Canfield

Rick Canfield

Richard holds a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts from The New School of Public Engagement and now attends the MS in Media Management program. Member of the San Antonio Association of Hispanic Journalist, Richard freelances for various publications within and outside of San Antonio. Aside from film, he also enjoys art, video games, science fiction, retrofuturism, Mesoamerica, social activism, and computer graphics.


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Rick Canfield
Richard holds a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts from The New School of Public Engagement and now attends the MS in Media Management program. Member of the San Antonio Association of Hispanic Journalist, Richard freelances for various publications within and outside of San Antonio. Aside from film, he also enjoys art, video games, science fiction, retrofuturism, Mesoamerica, social activism, and computer graphics.




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