Story Pile: Bloodthirsty Hearts

I feel like pre-emptively, there’s a lift I have to ask of you. Bloodthirsty Hearts is a horror podcast. Wait, no, it’s a horror fiction podcast. Wait wait wait no, no, it’s a horror comedy fiction podcast. Oh, wait, no I missed a bit, it’s a horror comedy fiction podcast about zoomers engaging with popular media that feels definitely like it’s millenial stuff.

Did I scare you off?

There is a chance that you never listened to radio plays growing up. You aren’t the kind of person who finds it adorable, charming and narratively acceptable to hear characters giving semi-naturalistic dialogue that’s meant to handle transitions and setting and reacting to oh no! there’s a monster in the room! We’re going to scream in a way that won’t blow out the mic or clip the audio, while still trying to convey meaningful emotion!

I think, inherently, there’s a strong chance, that just this whole form of media, is a hard no for you. And that’s okay. You should not imagine that anything I say about Bloodthirsty Hearts is going to change your mind about it. It is 100% exactly what it is, and it’s not about to elevate the form. If you don’t like fiction podcasts, this is not going to change your mind, and it’s a very classic example of it.

Also I guess, spoiler warning, but nothing too explicitly important, just generalities until right at the end where I mention the way that a plot point is woven around other things. If you’re immediately curious to check it out, and want to talk about it, you can check it all out, for free. I liked it! I think that if you like the style it’s projecting, yeah, it follows up on it, and that’s good!

Bloodthirsty Hearts is about Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans.

I mean it’s not, it’s about Harry Potter fans.

But reealllly it’s kinda about being an anime fan. Or no, not even that. You know what I’m being unclear, and glib, like clippy dialogue.

Anyway. Bloodthirsty Hearts is a story about a gaggle of girls who, at one point in their tween years, were united by their interest in a series of Edgy Tween To Teen Aged horror-fantasy-adventure stories, Bloodthirsty Hearts that are full of all those things that kids like in those books like adventure and drama and deniably racy sexy bits, you know the things they like if they weren’t Animorphs fans, since we like traumatising body horror and heavily deniable nonbinary centaurfucking. Then, we fast forward a few years and these tweens are now teens and teens are complicated and relationships are different and they’re not friends any more, and the big convention for their childhood interest is tomorrow and and and —

Look, the moving parts of the story are really obvious to kick off. Teens who had drifted apart go to a convention for their favourite horror franchise and it turns out the franchise is real and now their love of the franchise and their trust in one another has to keep them alive while they grapple with a sudden existential horror and get to watch the people around them getting munched for a variety of narratively important reasons.

It’s exactly the kind of story you get looking at the label and it’s good at it, and I liked it a lot!

I always have this thing about teenage focused media, where I think about how a lot of the stuff I parsed as a teenager, that was about ‘young people’ I was meant to relate to was always, even in the webcomic era of stories being crafted with less of the publishing structure around, about adults making stuff for teenagers. I remember joking that Homestuck is an underdiagnosed Gen Xer passing on their brain worms to a millenial audience who didn’t know they were dealing with a single person’s very specific idea of a story rather than an actual meaningful treatise from an expert position about those things, and also, hi, you have these kinks now.

The thing is, to me, what Bloodthirsty Hearts reminds me of is not the story of a now, not a current event of how youths today engage with the kind of media they do. It’s kinda a 1990s feeling story to me, as it might be if the primary people producing it have a teenage experience of the early 00s and late 90s, rather than a focal experience that’s currently contemporary. It’s not like it’s anachronistic, but it’s just that the kind of thing it is feels anachronistic. It feels ultimately, like something that got a movie production that was kinda shitty, that paid adult actors were showing up for a convention that really, ultimately, couldn’t even do a good job faking not being shitty idiots.

So it’s about Buffy The Vampire Slayer. But Buffy The Vampire Slayer — a 90s horror action comedy instrumental to culture and a generation of creators despite almost every single thing that resulted from it being an immense disappointment — is a TV show, not a book series, so what if it’s actually about say, Terf Wizard Cops Stop Wizard With A Nuke, which oh look at that, it’s also about being an immense disappointment.

There are two competing threads I felt running through my fingertips as I listened to Bloodthirsty Hearts, one of the first things I put on my podcast player at normal speed in five years. One of those threads is the way that a group of girls who love and care about a piece of media confront, one after another, every single figure in that work’s creative pipeline and every structure of their life disappoints them and then as a direct result winds up eaten by a gargoyle vampire, but the gargoyle vampires are also bad. Anyway, the point is for that, that the books aren’t good, the movies aren’t good, the girls are good and them finding what they loved about it is their communal space and sharing that space and enjoying the books together. That! is! Good! Shit!

The other thing the story is about is gay yearning and how useless teenagers are at communicating and I’m not joking or exaggerating and it resolves well.

Anyway uhhhh yeah.

Bloodthirsty Hearts. Surprisingly good, considering it has peeing on yourself as a comedy plot point. Multiple times.