Based on the film of the same name from 2014, What we do in the shadows has made a completely unique claim in the television landscape. The mockumentary horror comedy plays a group of Staten Island vampires (Kayvan Novak, Matt Berry, Natasia Demetriou, and Mark Prosch as our “emotional vampire”) and their welcoming, wannabe vampire human companion Harvey Guillen on their quest to assert vampire dominance in the human world. Of course this is one Jemaine Clement/Taika Waititi common, things rarely go as planned, with the eccentricities of these vampires dry and fun getting in the way time and time again.
If you’ve loved the three seasons of the FX comedy so far, but need to sink your fangs into other shows like it, we’ve got your back (just invite us in first; vampire rules and all). Here are 7 shows that What we do in the shadows, some of which are horror comedies, some of which have the same awkward energy that are all worth your time.
Ash vs Evil Dead
Developed by original Evil death franchise teachers Sam and Ivan Raimi, and bring back the groovy charm Bruce Campbell as his incomparable hero, Ash vs Evil Dead plays as a breathtaking sequel and bookend to the trilogy that originally ended with the 1992s Army of Darkness. Campbell’s Ash Williams begins the series, broken by his terrible misfortune, but has to come to terms with taking his chainsaw and boomstick again when the forces of evil become too pronounced to bear. Over the course of three seasons, Campbell is joined by famous faces like Ted Raimi and Lucy Lawless (frees himself perfectly to this world as you can imagine) along with new, adorable heroes like Ray Santiago and Dana DeLorenzo. The motley crew enters into all sorts of blood-soaked horrors, all marked by the insane humor perfected so well by Raimi — while taking the time to explore the consequences of being ashes, to boot.
The only “horrors” presented in Conchord’s flight, HBO series about the titular New Zealand comedy band (Clement and Bret McKenzie), is of the cringe-inducing, socially awkward, “everything goes wrong” variety. But New York off Conchord’s flight feels the same as New York of What we do in the shadows, and not just because these two shows share Clement and Waititi as key creative architects (however, that’s certainly a big part of why you get this rec). Like Shadows, Concord contains delusions that try to achieve a great goal — in this case, become world-famous musicians — despite their own stupidities and peculiarities. While Jemaine and Bret try their best to book concerts, get girls and reign in their clueless manager Murray (Rhys Darby, current), the show explodes into surreal musical tracks to increase how it all feels in their minds. Welcoming, catchy and more than charming, Conchord’s flight is crucial show for those who dig the low-key comedy of Clement and Waititi.
Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace
Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace is that kind of cult hit, a seasonal wonder that if you are on board with its very odd wavelength, will instantly become your new occupation. With a deep bench of exquisite British comedy talent (including Shadows‘Berry, who proves here that there is no line reading he can not decimate), Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace presents a fake show within a fake show about the fake author Garth Marenghi (Matthew Holness), which I can specify as “Stephen King meets Ron Burgundy. Marenghi was such a literary horror phenomenon that he got carte blanche to make a 1980s TV show, ‘Darkplace’, of which he wrote, directed and starred in all the episodes. These episodes are crammed with gags, targeted camp and some of the funniest visual humor you’ll ever see.And on top of that, the show’s framing unit is a retrospective of “Darkplace,” with Marenghi and all the other (fictional) actors giving extra context and irony to the awful show they have made. Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace is such an achievement with specific, targeted comedy.
The Espookys, like What we do in the shadows, is a horror-comedy filled with a specific willingness (need?) to be “quiet”, to ground even the most surreal situations in character-driven pathos. Creators / stars Julio Torres, Ana Fabrega, and Fred Armisen create an immediately intoxicating world influenced by writers as diverse as Ed Wood and Wes Anderson, all told in Spanish with subtitles. Next to important artists Bernardo Velasco and Cassandra Ciangherotti, the on-screen team makes “creepy tableaux”; fake scenarios of horror and doom to trick their clients into thinking they are real. Each mission provides The Espookys a wide playground of imagination and natty production design, while also resetting the small, human causes of all these shenanigans. Deadpan stupidity at its absolute best, The Espookys plays by its own impeccably constructed rules.
Before CW became home to DC soap operas and Archie sign fucking, Reaper effortlessly took the aesthetic and narrative goals of CW’s previous network, WB and UPN, and ran it into a natural end zone. Plays something along the lines of “if Buffy the Vampire Slayer was really for pop-punk, “the horror-comedy finds everyone unhappy Bret Harrison trades in his dead end job in a Home Depot store for a concert working for the real, literal Devil (Ray Wise, perfection). As one of the Devil’s “Reapers”, Harrison tracks down guilty souls with a new set of supernatural forces that bring them back to Satan as they struggle with a simultaneously budding consciousness (and endanger his slack best friend Tyler Labine and workplace romance Missy Peregrym). Message blowing daffy humor with nostalgia-inducing 2000s vibes, Reaper is TV equivalent to an extremely sour pointed head.
Another What we do in the shadows spin-off from Waititi and Clement — in fact, this show aired in New Zealand before FXs Shadows aired here! Does that mean TV WWDitS is technically a spin-off of Wellington Paranormal? My head is spinning!
Which means I have to call the people in Wellington Paranormal, now airing in the United States on The CW. The goofball cops (who first appeared briefly in the film) in the horror comedy mockumentary are called to paranormal, supernatural and creature cases that give the series elements of The X files and Reno 911! And while Wellington gives you exactly what you want and expect from another Waititi / Clement horror comedy series, it plays at a somewhat zippier and wilder pace, willing to go wide in a way differentiated from the more subtle FX show (while still retaining the wonderful, awkward charm prevalent in so much of Waititi and Clement’s work). High-voltage stupidity, impressive SFX makeup and an extension of an already well-specified world Wellington Paranormal on your must-watch list.
Your beautiful face goes to hell
I love how What we do in the shadows dives into the bureaucratic details of usually intriguing genre tropes. Your beautiful face goes to hell takes that impulse and centers it as its premise and asks us, what if Hell was a boring office space with a white collar? Granted, it’s a live-action Adult Swim comedy, which means it packs lots of more chaos, gore, outlandishness and performative surrealism than your slower pace Shadows episode. But if you prepare properly and tense yourself up for the wild 11-minute rides that make up the horror comedy, you will find that it always boils down to this inherent, irresistibly ironic premise: Hell is other people you have to work on. make Hell work.
KEEP READING: Harvey Guillén teases ‘What We Do In The Shadows’ season 3 and discusses his journey to the Hit FX series
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