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Vampire Mob
Tonight's Webseries Presentation

VAMPIRE MOB

Starring: John Colella, Reamy Hall, Marcia Wallace, Kirsten Vangsness, Rae Allen, Chris Mulkey, Elizabeth Beckwith

Written and Directed By: Joe Wilson

See It Here: http://www.vampiremob.com

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?

MOZZERELLA GARLIC BREAD.

Also known as “the vampire goombah’s dilemma.”


Pairs Well With...

VAMPIRE MERLOT.

Yes, Vampire Vineyards is a real winery.  And maybe it really is “just” merlot.  Maybe.

“We are all famous to a few people.”


It doesn’t take much brain matter to guess that Vampire Mob is going to be about a vampire who also happens to be a mobster.  But if you think it’s a noir style drama about a constant struggle for ultimate power, you’ll have to guess again.  Instead, it’s a comedy, and a highly relatable one, at that.

The webseries follows the life of Don Grigioni (John Colella, Girl Walks into a Bar), a mob hitman who went vamp, figuring it would solve a lot of problems (like being worried about getting shot) and make him a hit with the ladies forevermore.    What he didn’t count on was the fact that being a vampire is an incredible pain in the ass.  For one thing, you have to haul in what looks to be a few quarts of blood every night, and while he figured that being a hitman would make “grocery shopping” easy, it turns out that the mob murder business has taken the same downturn as the rest of the economy.  And then there’s the eternal consequence of getting hungry enough one night to bite his own wife… Now that’s double the blood, plus being nagged by the same woman not just for a few decades, but for all of eternity.  Could life in undeath get any more frustrating than that?

Why yes; yes, it could…

I really like the concept behind Vampire Mob.  It takes the currently well-worn vampire and mafia frames and flips them upside-down with a splash of funny practicality tacked on.  During the first season, it also takes one of the most tired genres in visual entertainment – the sitcom, thankfully sans laugh track – and spices it up with something fresh.  Come the second season, it goes more the mob dramedy route, with less emphasis on laughs (though they’re still around) and more on the edge of drama.  Foundation: excellent.

Tack on to that some truly wonderful writing.  The subplots are well conceived, and the brilliantly blunt dialogue is a riot when it’s supposed to be funny, and sharp when it needs to make a point.  Within the first few minutes of the first season’s first episode, I was laughing hard enough that I almost spit my drink all over the keyboard, and for almost all of the second season’s last episode, I was on the edge of my seat.  That’s skill, and that’s range.

I admit that I was at first worried about the chosen method of storytelling, which is done reality/journal style with the assumption being that it’s always Don’s nephew holding the camera and that everyone being filmed is aware of it.  Generally speaking, I think that the past decade has run that gimmick into the ground and down to the Earth’s core, but in the case of Vampire Mob, it works.  I suspect that this is because the real reason for using this method is to allow Don to talk to the audience (under the guise of talking to his nephew), and that for the most part, the characters don’t act like they know the camera’s there, even when they’re actively acknowledging that the camera’s there.  With that said, the reality/journal method of storytelling also has the effect of making Vampire Mob work as a radio play: you can turn away from the screen and catch everything that’s happening storywise without actually having to watch.  (Not that I suggest this, mind.)  So if motion by narration bothers you, this may be an issue.  For me, though, given how well it’s all done?  Storytelling: cool and fun.

It also helps to have a first-rate cast.  There aren’t people who crawled out of their parents’ basements; these are pros who decided to do something different and have some fun with a project that doesn’t involve a big studio.  (Hold that thought.)  If you’ve watched TV in the past few years, you’ll recognize these people, be it from “Criminal Minds” or “Boardwalk Empire” or something else.  The biggest standout also happens to be playing our hero by default: John Colella as Don Grigioni.  What I like best about him in Vampire Mob is that he takes a very relaxed approach to the character, even though Don is pretty much always tense about something.  Colella doesn’t force the goombah persona like so many mob-role actors do, and he absorbs the vampire part of his character as though it’s just another part of being a regular guy.  Because of that, Don is very approachable by the audience and very easy to relate to, and makes a good focal point to pin a story around.  As for the rest of the cast, I have no complaints there, either.  Acting: very good, with special kudos for the “everyman” approach and for generally impeccable comic timing.

At this point, it should go without saying that the production values aren’t a problem here; frankly, they exceed most of what you’ll find on Tru TV, et.al. nowadays.  As long as you don’t mind the look of a handheld camera that doesn’t shake much, you’re fine.  Production: good.

The only pitfall I can see some viewers running into involves the length of the episodes, which officially track at four and half to six minutes, though roughly ninety seconds of each is taken up by credits.  (Credits with cool music, I might add; very nice to hear Mindi Abair for the opening!)  For the longer ones, things tend to flow okay, but the short ones can feel like they cut off abruptly just when the audience has finished settling in.  Understanding the nature of the production, there’s really not much that can be done about it, but if you’re not used to the webseries groove, it can be jarring.  Forewarned is forearmed; I think you’ll find the overall story to be worth it.

Bottom line, if you like vampire and/or mafia stuff and want to see what happens when both genres get turned into something both hilariously plausible and dramatically sharp, Vampire Mob is definitely worth checking out.



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The Rundown

Season One | Six Episodes, 4.5 – 6 minutes each


Think of Season One of Vampire Mob the same way that you’d think of the pilot episode of a normal television series.  The purpose here isn’t so much to tell a complete story as it is to introduce the central characters and set the scene.

Since the episodes are so short, I’m going to resist doing a play-by-play.  (After all, I am still encouraging you to watch them yourself.)  Instead, here’s a quick highlight reel:

Episode One:  This one ends with the funniest one-sided phone conversation I’ve heard in a very long time.  That Jerry guy with his “show about nothing” was never as entertaining as this.

Episode Two:  The little pitfalls of day-to-day life as a modern vampire are fascinating; even refreshing.  It’s cool to hear about the non-Gothic version of life beyond death.  And after seeing Kirsten Vangsness as a wonderfully geeky free spirit on “Criminal Minds,” it’s hilarious to see her here as the uptight sister who doesn’t swear and who certainly doesn’t approve of vampirism.

Episode Three:  This one’s the weak link in the chain, consisting primarily of asking directions from someone we assume to be a vampire hooker.  Kinda funny, but short, and feels like forced filler.

Episode Four:  The concept of the organic blood dispensary alone is worth the price of admission here.  When the answer to the question “what’s that smell?” turns out to be “the herbal division downstairs,” the quirky awesomeness is taken to the next level.

Episode Five:  Theoretically, it’s the shortest episode of all, but it doesn’t feel that way.  Comedy episodes featuring the mother in law are always boom or bust prospects; this one’s a boom.  “I just think we should have discussed it longer.”  That’s awesome.

Episode Six:  It’s cliffhanger time.  After meeting up with “the action on the side” (and no, there’s no peeking; Vampire Mob is TV-MA, but not that kind of TV-MA), the audience gets set up for the drama that will be Season Two.  This one’s less about laughs than it is about plot, but that’s fine.  It’s there to make you want to watch the next season, and its mission is well accomplished.




Season Two | Eight Episodes, 6.5 – 9 minutes each


Episode One:  Talk about a game changer.  Last season was all about the humor and the vampirism; this episode very much wants to remind you about the mob end of things.  Sure, there are a few jokes (my favorite is the use of “VHS” as a synonym for “gone and forgotten”), and there’s no forgetting that our hero is a vampire, but drama is king here.  With that said, the transition is a smooth one that doesn’t at all feel out of line with what came before, and John Colella is just as convincing playing a bruiser as he is playing for laughs.  Consider my interest freshly piqued.

Episode Two:  Back to funny, but it’s a darker funny.  I think we can officially call this a dramedy now.  With that said, Retta is a scream as the fence’s wife, to the point where you hope her character recurs on a regular basis.  (Doesn’t happen; at least not this season.)  Her exchange makes up for the rather flat “getting past the guard” routine at the end of the episode, which gets old pretty quickly.  Your second highlight happens in between: Reamy Hall does the family drama thing very well indeed.

Episode Three:  The first half is one of the classic modern mob scenes: a card game where everyone’s got a hand going but no one’s actually talking poker.  It’s like a blue collar successor to old school noir dialogue, flavored with some Bolognese sauce.  Fun stuff.  Then it’s back to work and back to business, wrapping up with news about what happened in the first episode.  But really, nothing’s going to beat that card game this time around.

Episode Four:  This one waxes a bit philosophical on the edge of a fang as both Don and the Missus get judged by others for becoming vampires.  John Colella’s chat with the priest is good stuff, but Reamy Hall’s ice fest in the butcher shop is hands down the best moment of the season thus far.  Just… wow.  There is some comedy to be found amidst the drama, thanks to the deadpan philosophy of the butcher, who’s best line describes pets like so: “They’re like having kids that shit outside.”

Episode Five:  Very nice callback to the castle o’ blood ‘n’ herb from the first season, though it plays very differently when not played for laughs.  And if you thought having the mother-in-law move in last season was a definition of Hell, now Don’s own mother has dropped by, and she’s even more of a handful.  This episode pushes the story forward very well, but I honestly can’t pick out any standout moment.

Episode Six:  This is where the cast reminds you that they’re all damn good dramatic actors.  Yeah, a long not-quite-argument at a family dinner table where half the family doesn’t even eat food may not be what you signed up for, but the story does have to move, and this is how characters acquire depth.  Besides, Joe Wilson is quietly flexing some directorial muscle here; I felt like I was sitting right at that table with everyone else, and squirmed a little every time you’d imagine Don would.  Highlight goes to the director for showcasing his cast and quietly showcasing himself, with a second to Marcia Wallace for the way she plays her line about getting used to things, which speaks volumes more than what’s in the script.

Episode Seven:  Well, this was all unexpected.  Yeah, we knew we’d eventually run into the guy who tried to shoot Don at the start of the season again, but the conversation that follows – slam-bang sharp, by the way – is way different than I would have thought it to be, and I usually pick up on the weird angles ahead of time.  The familiar face Don runs into in the middle of said chat is also a surprise, but even that doesn’t trump the surprise of who actually wanted Don shot in the first place.  I’ll happily trade the jokes for sharpness like this.  It’s popcorn time.

Episode Eight:  I am not spoiling anything about the season finale.  I’m just going to say that, even though you knew it already, John Colella and Reamy Hall rock, and as far as the writing and direction… hot damn.  Yeah, this season was a big change from the first, but it works.



Vampire Mob is an “Indie TV” webseries, and they mean it.  There really is no studio, and there really is no commercial backing.  This series is funded by its audience, through handy donation links you’ll find on their website.  Should you decide to watch it and further decide that you like what you see, please consider yourself encouraged to click those links and show your appreciation.

- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, April, 2012

Updated May, 2012


You can email Ziggy at ziggy@cinemaontherocks.com. You can also find us on Facebook.


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