21 April, 2013

Here's why I like Hemlock Grove.

Hemlock Grove is Netflix's second and latest offering in terms of original content. Yesterday, on my double shift at work, I was able to get through the first four or five episodes.
I have this horrible habit, though, thanks to the internet, where I have to watch a movie or TV show and have the Wikipedia and IMDb pages open while I do. And so it's while I'm watching Hemlock Grove that I'm seeing where there a lot of critics who either hate it or hate it less than the guys who really hate it.
Me? I'm down. I don't think it's fantastic but as I'm a fan of werewolf mythology, I take what I can get.
Firstly, the werewolf, over the past decade, decade and a half, has been the easy villain in the Hollywood vampire lore. They hunt in packs, painted as savage and remorseless, and just murder the shit out of every living thing in their way and then, while in their human form, have this whole "fuck it" attitude and the audience is expected to hate them.
Werewolves, if you're new to the territory, actually don't want to murder the shit out of anybody. What's that movie with Kate Beckinsale? Am I even spelling her name right? Those movies that she's in with the vampires versus the werewolves, then those godawful neutered-movie-monster affairs by that Mormon housewife whose titles I dare not speak, I try to stay away from those because I don't want to see some bullshit where the werewolf is painted as a psychopath who waits for a particular moon phase to murder with impunity. And, yes, I'm saying that I have my suspicions of what those are about but I have not actually seen them. Feel free to correct me or tell me that I should really see those. I won't see them.
And then there's that werewolves are hard to write because they lack rules. Vampires have a ton of rules to be used, played with, twisted... Vampires, we know, can be killed only by sunlight or by a stake through the heart. OOOrrr, a stake through the heart and decapitation. They can move through locked doors but only after you grant them an invitation one time. They are vulnerable to garlic, silver, and holy water. They may not pass over running water. And then there's some other rules I'm missing. Long and short of it, though, is that vampires are appealing to writers because the rules are already laid out, half the writing is done. All of the character development and plot twists are right there in the rules.
Werewolves? Three rules: Full moons, a silver killing implement, and kill the werewolf that bit you to break the curse. That's it.
A new vampire story needs only a fresh coat of paint. A new werewolf story needs to maybe reinforce the foundation, along with some new windows, maybe a room extension here or there... You may as well knock the whole fucker down and start from scratch.
Go back to the eighties, for example, and check out the variety between movies like An American Werewolf in London (did away with the silver), Sliver Bullet (featured a mad priest as a werewolf), Wolfen (did away with the eastern European lore and introduced movie goers to a Native American mythology), the ssssuuuuppppeeeerrrr cheeseball The Howling (played to the hilt straight orthodox werewolf mythology). Go back and check out the Lon Chaney Jr. version of The Wolfman. Those are superb werewolf movies and not one of them plays the same.
I also have a vague recollection of Fox's Werewolf. I remember that being bad ass. Homie had a pentagram on his hand that would bleed before he turned.
And lately, all werewolves have been are easy villains to kill off because they threaten vampires and humans alike and blah blah fucking blah.
And then comes along Hemlock Grove on Netflix and I see the trailer and I think, "Thank. Fuck."
Now, if you haven't seen it, Hemlock Grove has to do with werewolves as much as The Dark Knight Rises had to do with Batman: They're there, they're talked about, but when they show up, it's like a goddamned cameo. But maybe that's what we need right now. After all, how often is the moon full?
And the show doesn't rest on its laurels. It actually takes on a Dark Shadows bent. You remember four years ago when I told your sorry ass about Dark Shadows, right? That show had ghosts, demons, vampires, werewolves, witches, Cthulhu mythos elements... It was weird as shit and awesome as hell. That was a show to watch. And, right now, Hemlock Grove is bringing that shit back.
You know what this show is giving you?
Werewolf gypsy kid.
Bodies ripped in goddamned shit hell ass half. ON THE REG.
Vampire dude that doesn't even know he's a vampire. (How the hell can he not know!? Fuck!)
Seven foot tall Frankenstein girl with a creep-ass bug-eye and she glows and why the hell are her hands bandaged?
Famke Janssen doing a serviceable to shitty Cockney accent.
Lili Taylor looking hotter than she did in Factotum.
A creep-ass genetics R&D facility in a skyscraper in the middle of got-damn nowhere.
And - wait for it - some whacked the shit out clandestine Catholic thing called The Order of the Dragon or something.
Look at that fucking list. Werewolves, vampires, frankensteins, genetic mutations, Catholic conspiracies, beautiful women. All rolled into one? Why in hell did they not name this Dark Shadows II?
Well, probably because it's taken from the book, Hemlock Grove. And producer Eli Roth (the guy who did those Hostel movies) is doing his damnedest to slay the ever living daylights out of that sparkle-vampire-teen Mormon B.S. The high school kids in Hemlock Grove fuck indiscriminately, they snort coke and smoke dope, they drink coal miners under the table, and they cuss classier than I can.
Now, no. This is not going to be the best show ever. The best show ever was The Wire. But, as far as monster shows out there, this puts True Blood to shame. In trying to describe this show to Georgie, I eventually had to tell her, Look, Ture Blood is made for girls, Hemlock Grove is made for guys.
There're no gothy elements to this and it moves along at a relievably faster clip than The Walking Dead. There's plenty of gore where it's needed and when the show hits its slower moments, they pack those moments with intrigue. It's keeping me glued, at any rate.
Look, right now, we have some options for monster TV series.
True Blood (Is that still going?) is a show about sex with some vampires.
The Walking Dead is a show about people bickering with some zombies.
Hemlock Grove is a show about werewolves with a werewolf.
So there are some critics that hate on it, so what? Maybe they want more sex and bickering to say it's about human drama or something. I want a goddamend werewolf show and this show delivers that and a lot more.
You want guts, gore, and a detective story? Well, damn, son, this puts Bates Motel in a paper bag and smacks it with a dowel rod.

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