12 Regular Human Facts About What We Do in the Shadows

Harvey Guillén, Kayvan Novak, Natasia Demetriou, Matt Berry, and Mark Proksch in What We Do in the Shadows.
Harvey Guillén, Kayvan Novak, Natasia Demetriou, Matt Berry, and Mark Proksch in What We Do in the Shadows.
FX Networks

If you're looking for laughs in your next binge-watch, you'd be hard-pressed to find something better than FX's What We Do in the Shadows, a mockumentary horror-comedy TV series about four vampires living a mostly mundane life in Staten Island. The series, which was born from the brains of Flight of the Conchords's Jemaine Clement and recent Oscar winner Taika Waititi, delivers an absurdist version of the worries vampires might face in their day-to-day (non)lives in 2020.

The series is dark and hilarious and feels like what might happen if the Dunder Mifflin team from The Office worked together for 1000 years ... and fed on humans. If you're not already watching it, you should start. Right now. For the rest of you, here are some things you might not have known about the Emmy-nominated series.

1. What We Do In the Shadows began as a short film, and has turned into a franchise.

Kayvan Novak and Harvey Guillén in What We Do in the Shadows
Kayvan Novak and Harvey Guillén in What We Do in the Shadows.
FX Networks

A lot of people know that FX's What We Do in the Shadows is a small-screen spinoff of Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement's 2014 movie of the same name. What fewer people realize is that that movie was an expansion of their 2005 short filmWhat We Do in The Shadows: Interviews With Some Vampires, which starred the same core cast as the feature. Nor do they know that the FX series isn't the movie's first small-screen spinoff: Wellington Paranormal, a series about a New Zealand police department dealing with otherworldly events of all stripes, was the first TV show to air as part of the What We Do in the Shadows universe. It premiered on New Zealand's TVNZ 2 in July 2018.

2. What We Do In the Shadows avoids CGI whenever possible.

What We Do in the Shadows treads a fine line of disbelief because it has to feature supernatural transformations while maintaining the authenticity of a documentary. That's one reason why the show's creators prefer to employ practical effects as much as possible and why there's no character created entirely from CGI. "One of the movies we really talked about a lot when we were conceiving the show was Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula, where he went back to really doing as many effects as possible in-camera and figuring out ways to do that," writer/executive producer Paul Simms told /Film of one of the series's inspirations.

3. Taika Waititi's disdain for shaving is one reason he doesn't star in What We Do In the Shadows.

(Back row L-R) Harvey Guillen, Kayvan Novak, Natasia Demetriou, Jemaine Clement, Paul Simms, Matt Berry, (front row L-R) Stefani Robinson, Taika Waititi, and Mark Proksch of the film 'What We Do in the Shadows' pose for a portrait at SXSW in 2019.
The cast and creators of What We Do in the Shadows at SXSW.
Robby Klein/Getty Images

Fans of the 2014 What We Do in the Shadows movie have asked why the series doesn't follow the same group of vampires we met there: Viago (Waititi), Vladislav (Clement), Deacon (Jonny Brugh), and Petyr (Ben Fransham). The answer, according to Waititi, was partly due to finding a creative reason to explain why that particular group of vampires would have moved to America. But it was also partly motivated by Waititi's disdain for shaving.

"I don't like shaving, clean shaving, my face," Waititi told Thrillist. "I had to [do] that every day for that character. I don't like putting makeup on. I don't like the feeling of it on my skin. I know that sounds insane, but that was one of the reasons I was like, 'I don't want to be in the show.' I hate shaving."

4. What We Do In the Shadows follows The Lost Boys's rules.

If you find yourself wondering what the boundaries are for the vampires featured in What We Do in the Shadows—What happens if they're exposed to daylight? Do they have to be invited into someone's home? What's the deal with garlic?—look no further than The Lost Boys, Joel Schumacher's iconic '80s vampire flick. "We stay pretty basic '70s/'80s vampire rules, with a little bit of '30s," Clement told IGN. Unfortunately, one of Waititi's favorite rules—about banishing a vampire from your village by stealing its socks, filling them with garlic, and tossing them into the river—somehow didn't make the cut.

5. The comedy in What We Do In the Shadows relies as much on moments of silence as it does on jokes.

Kayvan Novak, Matt Berry, and Natasia Demetriou in What We Do in the Shadows (2019)
Matt Berry, Natasia Demetriou, and Kayvan Novak star in What We Do in the Shadows.
FX Networks

The script for each episode of What We Do in the Shadows is a starting point for lots of improvisation, which is something the actors take full advantage of, whether that's with a funny line or an awkward look. "This show has taught me a lot about often saying nothing," star Natasia Demetriou, who plays Nadja, told Collider. "It's not about one person. It’s about a room full of people, and making all of that balance and bounce off of each other. Actually, the best stuff comes from silence sometimes."

6. What We Do In the Shadows films during "vampire hours."

The irony of filming characters that can only exist at night is that the cast and crew end up working vampire hours to get the work done, too. Since the show is also largely improvised and requires a lot of footage, it can be an exhausting process. "We’d nap all the time," Waititi told The New York Times of the show's late-night schedule. "I’d see a couch and be like, 'There’s my couch.' Matt Berry is also a huge napper. On the sets, we’d scope out the beds. And I’d be, 'Oh, that’s mine.' And then I’d come in and Matt would be in it."

The main issue with Waititi and Berry's love of naps, according to Clement, is that beds aren't always easy to find on the set of What We Do in the Shadows. "Usually when you have a house set, there’s bedrooms with beds. But there’s no beds on this, because it’s coffins," Clement told The New York Times in the same interview. "There’s nowhere to sleep. So everyone’s got to really search."

7. Colin Robinson's "Energy Vampire" came out of an inside joke—and is one way to sneak some daylight shots into What We Do in the Shadows.

Though What We Do in the Shadows sticks to many already-established pop culture rules, one way it innovates the vampire myth is with Colin Robinson—Mark Proksch's day-walking "energy vampire," who feeds on sucking the life out of a room. The idea for including this new kind of workplace-loving creature came from Clement, who told The Hollywood Reporter that "energy vampire" is "a term I’ve heard used to describe people who are difficult to talk to, and I've definitely been cornered by these people at parties. Those people that you feel you need to be saved from, and the longer you’re in [the conversation] the more difficult it is to get away. It was just taking that to the supernatural level."

Colin Robinson's presence also brings some literal light to the show by allowing for daylight scenes. "It's a great way of having things set in the day, because it's one of the things that drove us nuts during the film is it was night shoots and never seeing the daylight," Waititi told Thrillist. "You end up feeling like a vampire."

8. Mark Proksch improvises much of Colin Robinson's dialogue.

Proksch has embraced his role as What We Do in the Shadows's resident bore—and much of the character's dialogue comes courtesy of the actor directly. "The shame of it is that we have so much more stuff with him that we couldn’t fit in," Clement told The Hollywood Reporter about the extra footage of Proksch that doesn't make it into the show. "A lot of it’s not on the page, he can just do that endlessly. We were like, ‘Just say boring things to this person,’ and we never got to a point where he’d run out. He’s such a funny guy, but I do wonder how this is gonna affect parties for him.”

9. What We Do In the Shadows hosted an epic gathering of pop culture vampires.

"The Trial," from season 1 of What We Do in the Shadows, is a glorious, cameo-packed episode featuring an all-star lineup of actors who have previously played iconic vampires on TV and in movies. Tilda Swinton (Only Lovers Left Alive), Evan Rachel Wood (True Blood), Danny Trejo (From Dusk till Dawn), and Paul Reubens (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) are among the episode's guest stars—all of whom make up the Vampiric Council, which decides the fate of their fellow bloodsuckers. Wesley Snipes chimes in via Skype as well, playing his Daywalker character from the Blade movies (and is even accused of being a vampire hunter).

10. Cate Blanchett wanted to make a cameo in What We Do in the Shadows, but Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement had to turn her down.

While preparing for "The Trial," Waititi and Clement tossed out a dream list of actors they wanted to convince to make cameos, without really believing they'd get any of them to say yes. Somehow, Cate Blanchett's name ended up on the list, and she was apparently game to be involved. But Waititi and Clement only wanted known pop culture vampire actors, so they had to say no, with Waititi telling her: "But you can’t, because you haven’t been a vampire. Those are the rules!"

11. Arj Barker's jacket in What We Do In the Shadows is a nod to An American Werewolf in London.

Arj Barker, Bobby Wilson, Hannan Younis, and Kelly Penner in What We Do in the Shadows
Arj Barker stars in What We Do in the Shadows.
FX Networks

"Werewolf Feud," the third episode in season 1, sees the foursome get into a low-key battle with neighboring werewolves (not swearwolves), which is when we meet Arjan (Arj Barker), the leader of the local werewolf crew. If something about Arjan's puffy jacket looks familiar, that might be because it's a nod to An American Werewolf in London, John Landis's 1981 classic horror comedy. Barker, with his feathery haircut, even looks a bit like American Werewolf star David Naughton.

12. What We Do In the Shadows constantly reminds us that vampires are humans, too.

The source of comedy in What We Do In the Shadows is obvious, but the depth is a bit more subtle. For one, it features people who are so old that they're cosmically and tragically bored. Beyond that, it's constantly mining both humor and sadness from the fact that these are all people: They were once humans, and now they're something less romantic than we think.

"Humans are so [expletive] stupid and boring and lazy, that given the gift of immortality, you’d never get around to doing anything," Waititi told The New York Times. "You’d just put off everything. People that have been alive for 5000 years, going: 'I’ve got forever to learn how to play violin. Why start now?' Humans, they still carry on human nature into being an undead creature. All those hang-ups stay with you."

7 Top-Rated Portable Air Conditioners You Can Buy Right Now

Black + Decker/Amazon
Black + Decker/Amazon

The warmest months of the year are just around the corner (in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway), and things are about to get hot. To make indoor life feel a little more bearable, we’ve rounded up a list of some of the top-rated portable air conditioners you can buy online right now.

1. SereneLife 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner; $290

SereneLife air conditioner on Amazon.

This device—currently the best-selling portable air conditioner on Amazon—is multifunctional, cooling the air while also working as a dehumidifier. Reviewers on Amazon praised this model for how easy it is to set up, but cautioned that it's not meant for large spaces. According to the manufacturer, it's designed to cool down rooms up to 225 square feet, and the most positive reviews came from people using it in their bedroom.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Black + Decker 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner and Heater; $417

Black + Decker portable air conditioner

Black + Decker estimates that this combination portable air conditioner and heater can accommodate rooms up to 350 square feet, and it even comes with a convenient timer so you never have to worry about forgetting to turn it off before you leave the house. The setup is easy—the attached exhaust hose fits into most standard windows, and everything you need for installation is included. This model sits around four stars on Amazon, and it was also picked by Wirecutter as one of the best values on the market.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Mikikin Portable Air Conditioner Fan; $45

Desk air conditioner on Amazon

This miniature portable conditioner, which is Amazon's top-selling new portable air conditioner release, is perfect to put on a desk or end table as you work or watch TV during those sweltering dog days. It's currently at a four-star rating on Amazon, and reviewers recommend filling the water tank with a combination of cool water and ice cubes for the best experience.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Juscool Portable Air Conditioner Fan; $56

Juscool portable air conditioner.

This tiny air conditioner fan, which touts a 4.6-star rating, is unique because it plugs in with a USB cable, so you can hook it up to a laptop or a wall outlet converter to try out any of its three fan speeds. This won't chill a living room, but it does fit on a nightstand or desk to help cool you down in stuffy rooms or makeshift home offices that weren't designed with summer in mind.

Buy it: Amazon

5. SHINCO 8000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner; $320

Shinco portable air conditioner

This four-star-rated portable air conditioner is meant for rooms of up to 200 square feet, so think of it for a home office or bedroom. It has two fan speeds, and the included air filter can be rinsed out quickly underneath a faucet. There's also a remote control that lets you adjust the temperature from across the room. This is another one where you'll need a window nearby, but the installation kit and instructions are all included so you won't have to sweat too much over setting it up.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Honeywell MN Series Portable Air Conditioner and Dehumidifier; $400

Honeywell air conditioner on Walmart.

Like the other units on this list, Honeywell's portable air conditioner also acts as a dehumidifier or a standard fan when you just want some air to circulate. You can cool a 350-square-foot room with this four-star model, and there are four wheels at the bottom that make moving it from place to place even easier. This one is available on Amazon, too, but Walmart has the lowest price right now.

Buy it: Walmart

7. LG 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner; $699

LG Portable Air Conditioner.
LG/Home Depot

This one won't come cheap, but it packs the acclaim to back it up. It topped Wirecutter's list of best portable air conditioners and currently has a 4.5-star rating on Home Depot's website, with many of the reviews praising how quiet it is while it's running. It's one of the only models you'll find compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant, and it can cool rooms up to 500 square feet. There's also the built-in timer, so you can program it to go on and off whenever you want.

Buy it: Home Depot

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The Maestro: 10 Facts About Ennio Morricone

Peter Tea via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0
Peter Tea via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

Famed composer Ennio Morricone died on July 6, 2020 at the age of 91, leaving behind a body of work that eclipses the idea of “productivity” itself. It’s not just that Morricone composed thousands of hours of music for hundreds of movies. It’s that he managed to create so many original, indelible moments over and over again, in such a broad variety of genres for so long, without acquiescing to repetition or compromising his creativity. The last, best comfort to take in his absence is the thrilling—and rather intimidating—volume of music he left for us to revisit and, more likely, discover while celebrating his legacy in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead.

In spite of his seemingly constant presence in the film industry for more than 70 years, there are many details about Morricone's life and career that even longtime fans may not know. In honoring the man and the artist, we’ve collected a handful of facts and figures about the Oscar-winning composer and his vast, incredible, and unforgettable body of work.

1. Ennio Morricone made music for 85 of his 91 years.

Ennio Morricone was encouraged to develop his natural musical abilities at a young age—he created his first compositions at age 6. He was taught music by his father and learned several instruments, but gravitated toward the trumpet. When he was just 12 years old, Morricone enrolled in a four-year program at the prestigious National Academy of St. Cecilia in Rome, where he was born, and completed his studies within six months.

2. Ennio Morricone's career primarily focused on film, television, and radio compositions, but he also worked in popular music.

Morricone’s professional career began in 1950 as an arranger for jazz and pop artists. He helped compose hits for a diverse slate of stars including Nora Orlandi, Mina, Françoise Hardy, Mireille Mathieu, and Paul Anka, whose song “Ogni Volta” (“Every Time”) sold more than 3 million copies worldwide.

Morricone later worked with Pet Shop Boys, k.d. lang, Andrea Bocelli, and Sting. From 1964 to 1980, he was also part of Gruppo di Improvvisazione Consonanza (or “The Group”), an ensemble focused on avant-garde improvisations. Although it was reissued a few years ago, original copies of their 1970 album The Feed-back once fetched as much as $1000 on the collector’s market.

3. Ennio Morricone hit the ground running as a composer—and never slowed down.

Many of Morricone’s first efforts in the movies were as an orchestrator for more established composers, but he quickly joined their ranks. Between 1955 and 1964, when he created his breakthrough score for A Fistful of Dollars, he either orchestrated or composed (or both in some cases) some 28 film scores. During this time, he was already working with Michelangelo Antonioni (L’Avventura), Vittorio De Sica (The Last Judgment), Lucio Fulci (twice!), Lina Wertmüller (I basilischi), and Bernardo Bertolucci (Before the Revolution).

4. Ennio Morricone helped turn A Fistful of Dollars into a worldwide classic.

When Sergio Leone hired Morricone for his first Western, he’d already embarked on an iconoclastic journey, referencing Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo. Leone’s initial “concession” was to evoke Dimitri Tiomkin’s score for Howard Hawks’s Rio Bravo in its music. Morricone combined ideas from Tiomkin’s music with an arrangement of folk singer Peter Tevis’s cover of the Woody Guthrie song “Pastures of Plenty” to create what became the opening title theme. The music won the Silver Ribbon Award for Best Score from the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists and forged a longtime partnership between Morricone and Leone.

5. During their heyday, Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone worked in a way that was virtually unprecedented outside of musicals.

The music in Leone’s films is at once one of their most distinctive features, and also one of their most inextricable. Later in his career, Morricone explained that he would often compose portions of the music for Leone’s films before shooting began, and then scenes were staged and shot to match the timing and rhythm of the composer’s music. “That’s why the films are so slow,” Morricone joked in 2007. His use of so many then-unconventional instruments, including electric guitars, the mouth harp, and sound effects like gunshots redefined the musical landscape of the genre, while Leone razed its traditional morality tales to explore darker, more complex stories.

6. A Fistful Of Dollars spawned a lifetime of awards.

Morricone won his only competitive Oscar just four years ago, and had previously received an honorary Oscar in 2007. But after that recognition from the Italian National Syndicate of Journalists, he racked up hundreds of nominations and awards from the Motion Picture Academy (five other nominations), the American Film Institute (four), the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (six nominations, three wins), the Grammys (five nominations and four awards including their Grammy Hall of Fame and Trustees Award), and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (a Career Achievement award and a win for his score for Once Upon a Time in America). Somewhat predictably, much of the work he did in “genre” films, even the acclaimed “Spaghetti Westerns,” was marginalized at the time, but went on to be appropriately recognized and reevaluated for its impact and artistry.

7. Ennio Morricone was both a critical and a commercial success.

Morricone's work with Leone raised his profile as a formidable collaborator for filmmakers and gave him worldwide chart success. His score for The Good, The Bad and The Ugly sold more than 2 million copies, and the soundtrack to Once Upon A Time In The West, his fourth collaboration with Leone, sold approximately 10 million copies worldwide. It remains one of the top five best-selling instrumental scores in the world today. To date, Morricone has sold more than 70 million records worldwide.

8. Ennio Morricone’s partnership with Sergio Leone was exemplary, but he wasn’t the composer’s only frequent collaborator.

From A Fistful of Dollars to Once Upon a Time in America, Leone’s final film, he and Morricone always worked together. While working primarily in Italy, he often teamed up with Sergio Corbucci and Sergio Sollima, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Bernardo Bertolucci, and Dario Argento, among others. After being courted by Hollywood, Morricone began developing long-term partnerships with American and international filmmakers like Brian De Palma, Warren Beatty, Samuel Fuller, and Roland Joffe. By the late 1970s, he was working with John Boorman and Terrence Malick, and by the 1980s and ‘90s, he was regularly collaborating with John Carpenter, Barry Levinson, George Miller, and Pedro Almodóvar.

Beginning in 1988, Morricone began working with Giuseppe Tornatore on the Oscar-winning Italian film Cinema Paradiso, and subsequently worked on all of Tornatore's other films, including 2016’s The Correspondence and the director's commercials for Dolce & Gabbana.

9. Quentin Tarantino championed Ennio Morricone’s work even before the two of them ever worked together.

Quentin Tarantino’s films are always an exciting pastiche of past and present influences, and he has used cues from Morricone scores in many of his films, beginning with Kill Bill: Volume 1 and 2. Tarantino first hoped to work with the composer on Inglorious Basterds, but when the timing couldn’t be worked out, the filmmaker utilized eight older tracks by Morricone on the soundtrack.

Morricone composed the song “Ancora Qui” for Django Unchained, but it wasn’t until The Hateful Eight that he composed a full score for Tarantino, who still used archival tracks—namely, some unreleased cues from his score for John Carpenter’s The Thing—to expand the film’s musical backdrop. In 2016, Morricone won his first competitive Oscar for his work on Tarantino's film after being nominated six times over the course of nearly 40 years. Morricone also earned an Honorary Oscar in 2007 "For his magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music."

10. Morricone’s discography remains an embarrassment of riches—at least, whatever’s left of it.

Though the extent of the loss hasn’t been reported, Morricone’s was among the work reportedly destroyed in the 2008 fire on the Universal backlot where the company’s Music Group stored original recording and master tapes from some of the world’s best-selling artists. But Morricone recorded more than 400 film scores throughout his career and more than 100 classical pieces, not counting the thousands of pieces licensed for use. More and more of them have been restored and re-released digitally, on CD and vinyl. Meanwhile, his work continues to elicit as strong reactions from moviegoers as the images they were originally written to accompany.

Yo-Yo Ma released an album of performances of Morricone pieces in 2004 that sold more than 130,000 copies. His work tested and redefined the boundaries of film composition, what instruments could be used, and how music and imagery could work together to tell stories and generate powerful feelings. And each listen of those recordings, whether of transgressive experimentation, pointed drama, or lush sentimentality, honors Morricone's enormous talent and evokes his irreplaceable spirit.