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Literature / Girls on Film

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Girls on Film is a supernatural thriller web novel by VineLightnote , and the first entry in The Kindness of Devils. It can be read here.

Hardestadt Delac is a mysterious man with an affinity for finding things and people — regardless if those things happen to be intertwined with the supernatural. Hardestadt is actually much older than he looks and has a variety of powers and connections beyond the view of the normal world, setting up a business with his partner Erin Hasegawa, an intelligent, capable young woman who nevertheless wants to learn more about Delac's colorful history after so long of having been kept in the dark about it. Coming into work one morning, Erin and Hardestadt receive a call from a deeply unnerved young woman named Lydia West -– the granddaughter of a man Hardestadt personally knew -– which information that her sister Emma has been kidnapped. Hardestadt views a video that serves as the closest evidence he can find to Emma's whereabouts and finds that Emma's been made one of the centerpieces of a snuff film.


Emma has been made the most recent victim of an underground snuff porn ring run by Rich Jacobs and other vampires, and the interference Hardestadt and Erin is the only thing that can assure Emma is ever seen alive again.

The work contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg:
    • Heroic variant. Jacobs tells Hardestadt to beg for the life of a woman he's holding captive. Hardestadt does with no hesitation, valuing his pride and dignity far less than an innocent life. Jacobs kills her anyways just for fun.
    • During the final battle, Jacobs is reduced to frantically begging a furious Hardestadt for his life when they finally meet in battle.
    • Hargrove insists he won't beg for his life, but Stadt shuts him down, saying men like him always do. Sure enough, like father, like son. Hargrove dies begging for life after Stadt shuts off his life support.
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  • Arbitrarily Large Bank Account: Hardestadt is wealthy enough to own at least two houses, a vintage car, with seemingly limitless resources while being able to pay Erin a large salary. It's hinted he's saved up a lot over the course of centuries.
  • Asian Airhead: Erin, who's Japanese, is definitely not this trope. However, she puts on the act of a ditzy valley girl to lure a vampire minion into a trap. She even lampshades the trope by name.
  • Asian and Nerdy: Erin is Japanese American, loves tech, pop culture, hip hop and tabletop gaming with her friends.
  • Asshole Victim: Carl was a Neo-Nazi, a rapist and a murderer, so not many tears are shed when Hardestadt lets him have one Hope Spot before beheading him. Not many will mourn what he did to Hargrove either.
  • Bad Boss: One minion recounts a time when a vampire named Rudy almost let a girl escape. Jacobs brought him out in front of the others and skinned him alive with his claws before kicking him to the hungry ghouls in the basement. He also gouges out the eye of one of his main henchmen simply for speaking out of turn.
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  • Badass in Distress: Stadt spends half the story captured by the Big Bad and tortured to remain powerless. He only survives because his partner, Erin, goes against his instructions and saves him.
  • Bastard Bastard: Jacobs, the Big Bad, is the bastard son of Wallace Hargrove.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: When Erin meets Diego, a powerful vampire with a beef against her boss, she's able to bluff her way out of sudden death by exaggerating her monster hunting prowess and all the various abominable creatures she helped vanquish, including a bunyip. It throws Diego off long enough for Kedra to back her up and successfully scare Diego away.
    Erin: Bunyip, motherfucker.
  • Benevolent Boss: Hardestadt is an excellent employer, paying Erin very well, regardless of what her actual duties and supplying her with enough to handle her necessities for a long time if anything happens to him. Erin eventually gets annoyed with how he uses this to keep her at arms' length.
  • Berserk Button: Hardestadt sneering Jacobs is "nothing without daddy's money" is one of the few things to genuinely enrage him, as is mentioning he owes his father anything.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Hardestadt is a genuinely nice and noble person who makes a living out of helping others. But he's not above paying evil unto evil when the people in question really deserve it. Examples include, giving the Neo-Nazi, snuff film actor, Carl, a Hope Spot that he might survive the night when Stadt plans on killing him regardless, effortlessly smacking around Jacobs, who was behind the operation, before letting him be Eaten Alive by ghouls, and cutting off the life support of Hargrove, who financed the operation, and coldly watches as he begs for his life. Even Stadt worries himself at how far he'll go sometimes.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Rich Jacobs and his father, Wallace Hargrove, at least technically. The snuff film ring was all Jacobs's idea while Hargrove provided the resources and funding in exchange for being made a vampire. However, Jacobs is adamant that the operation's successful enough that he doesn't need his father anymore and is planning on letting his father die, plus his actions are the ones driving the story.
  • Big Damn Heroes: In the climax before Hardestadt is used in one of Jacobs' videos, Erin and her allies, including the turned women, bust their way into the set and set Hardestadt free, allowing them to turn the tables against Jacobs.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Lampshaded by the Big Bad then played straight anyway. Jacobs is intelligent enough to take precautions against Stadt getting free and hurting him, and also recognizes Stadt will always be trying to find away to escape the torturous death Jacobs is planning for him. However, he arrogantly assures Stadt he won't get free and kill him. Does it even need to be said what happens later?
  • Boomerang Bigot: Jacobs is pretty free with his racism against Hispanics. This is despite that he's Hispanic or Latino on his mother's side.
  • Bruiser with a Soft Center: Anthony and Orson, Kedra's enforcers, are two very large, very strong vampires who are perfect gentlemen to innocents and thoroughly revolted by Jacobs' snuff film ring.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Wallace Malcolm Hargrove is BoldTech's founder, who exploits his position to supply Jacobs with women and pays off the right people to keep them from asking questions.
  • Curbstomp Battle: For all his strength, Jacobs never formally learned to fight. When he goes up against the exhausted, but still dangerous and far more experience Hardestadt, Hardestadt casually beats him into a cringing, begging wreck without even trying.
  • Dark Lord on Life Support: Wallace Hargrove, a Corrupt Corporate Executive who finances his bastard son's snuff film operations, but is on life support and can die at any moment. Sure enough, all Stadt has to do to kill him easily is turn off the life support.
  • Death by Irony: Jacobs has made a career out of creating snuff films. His ultimate fate is being Eaten Alive by the ghouls he used for body disposal, the entire thing caught on a security tape he had installed, essentially making him the star of one last snuff film.
  • Dirty Coward: When things go south, Jacobs tries to simply flee Hardestadt wrath than face his wrath and even shoves his last remaining henchman into harm's way just to slow Hardestadt down.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Hardestadt is eerily calm, described as 'marble and ice' when he kills Hargrove by disconnecting his life support, watching him beg for his life without a flicker of expression.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Averted. The murdered pornographic actresses' deaths are treated with complete gravity and horror, with Hardestadt remembering the name of the victim from the tape he saw, even using it as a reminder to Jacobs at the end.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Jacobs' schemes are technically enabled by his father, Hargrove, but is by far the more dangerous of Hardestadt's enemies, with goons at his beck and call and enough wit about him to subdue and keep Hardestadt as his prisoners for days, necessitating Erin's direct aid. In comparison, Hargrove is an ailing old man incapable of posing any real threat to Hardestadt outside of his connections and is easily killed in the final part of the story when Hardestadt disconnects his life support. Jacobs knows this, as well, and is fully intending on withholding the nifty effects of vampirism from his father, opting to wait for him to kick the dust before inheriting BoldTech himself.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Jacobs makes a habit of referring to Hardestadt as Hardy-Boy, just to get under his skin and be as big a dick as possible. Stadt awesomely corrects him at the end before dropping him to his death in the ghoul pit.
    Stadt: And one more thing. The fucking name is Hardestadt.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Subverted. At first it appears that Hargrove may genuinely care about his bastard son, Rich Jacobs, even going so far as to save his life by getting a vampire to convert him when he's in danger of dying of a disease. After Hargrove finds out Stadt's killed him he shows no concern, and reveals the boy was always only a means to a legacy at first, and then immortality later. Stadt is shocked by the callousness of his reaction.
    Stadt: Wow, Hargrove, here I thought you had one redeeming quality.
  • Everyone Can See It: Kedra calmly notes how obvious Erin and Hardestadt's feelings for one another are, which sends Erin into sputtering disbelief.
  • Evil Old Folks: Hargrove is in his 70s, enables Jacob brutal crimes and has quite a few of his own.
  • Eye Scream: Jacobs casually gouges out the eye of Brett, one of his men, for speaking out of turn. Hardestadt and Diego also have an enmity going back to when Hardestadt quite gorily relieved Diego of an eye.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Hardestadt fails to recognize snipers posted at Hargrove Prison and gets shot in the chest and the head for his troubles.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Jacobs acts like a fun-loving, jovial frat boy as he rapes, tortures and murders his way through life. When he "plays nice" by giving Stadt a burger to regain his energy, Stadt calls him out on just trying to lure him into a false sense of security so it hurts more when Jacobs subjects him to more torment.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: Kedra and her associates, Anthony and Orson, in particular. Kedra is a Reasonable Authority Figure whose friends with Stadt, and she and her men are all disgusted upon finding out about the snuff film operation. Not just because it violates the masquerade, but on genuine moral grounds.
  • Game Face: Vampires gain golden eyes and fangs for these. Hardestadt's eyes turn gold or red and his teeth all grow very noticeably sharp and pointy.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Hardestadt references his 'father' at points and states to Jacobs he's half devil. though subverted when he makes other comments that imply he's not even half human at all.
  • Happily Married: Anthony, Kedra's vampire enforcer, was turned by his husband Tom, who he's still very happily together with.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Hardestadt does arm himself with guns, but his weapon of choice is a basket-hilt schiavona broadsword. Given the presence of supernatural beings, this is rather justified.
  • Hope Spot:
    • Hardestadt tells Carl if he can answer two our of three questions and do him a favor, Carl gets to go free. Carl gets two right. The 'favor' is to bring one of his victims back from the dead, which makes Carl realize how utterly fucked he is.
    • Kedra allows one of Jacobs' captive minions to think he has a way out of his predicament should he cooperate. She promptly orders him beheaded the second she's decided he's exhausted his usefulness to her and tells Erin to save her pity for the people he killed.
  • Horror Hunger: When Hardestadt is starving beyond reason or so badly injured his body cannot heal properly, he begins to see any living thing as 'just flesh' to be consumed and used as fuel to the point of going berserk, something Jacobs attempts to exploit and film with an innocent woman.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Erin Hasegawa considers herself Hardestadt's sidekick at first, but is extremely driven, intelligent and dedicated to her job. She even saves her far more experienced boss's life with little to go on.
  • I Have a Family: Carolina, a woman Jacobs tries to feed to a ravenous Hardestadt begs that she has a son. Hardestadt manages to get himself under control as a result.
  • Immortality Immorality: Hargrove will happily provide his son with everything he needs to create a snuff film ring, just so long as his son carries through on his promise of turning him into a vampire so he can stay alive. Though, Hargrove does admit at the end that he was happy with what his son did to the women he provided.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Hargrove is sick with one of these, the exact nature of his disease never revealed.
  • In-Series Nickname: Jacobs snottily nicknames Hardestadt "Hardy-Boy" and "Hardy" which Hardestadt loathes, to the point of thinking he needs to find a complete edition of the series to beat Jacobs with it.
  • Insistent Terminology: Hardestadt playfully refers to Erin as his sidekick, to which she tends to retort back with "partner." Later on, he begins using partner fully.
  • Jumped at the Call: Erin met Hardestadt when she was threatened by a Brahmaparusha that intended to drive her mad and eat her alive. Hardestadt rescued her, prompting her to go to him herself and say she wanted to help others just as he'd helped her.
  • Mad Artist: Rich Jacobs views the snuff films he makes as true works of art, and takes pride in all of the grotesque ways he has girls tortured, raped and killed.
  • Madness Mantra: When consumed by his Horror Hunger, Hardestadt reflects on a 'promise' he made to a mysterious 'her' in the past and begins chanting "survive survive survive survive!" as he frantically tries to justify devouring an innocent, terrified woman to himself as it's "only one."
  • Mysterious Past: Hardestadt has a colorful, checkered history and a variety of experience with countless supernatural creatures, but we don't get many of the specifics. Hardestadt keeps Erin in the dark about a lot of this to her irritation, something he acknowledges and vows to fix in the future.
  • Nice Guy: Hardestadt is a genuinely nice, compassionate, completely nonjudgmental guy to most everyone he meets unless they cross lines or threaten him.
  • Noodle Incident: Hardestadt and Kedra make reference to a time they worked together, half a century ago in Alabama. Neither elaborates on the details.
  • Occult Detective: Hardestadt is a half-demon who investigates supernatural threats and mysteries with the help of his partner, Erin.
  • One-Man Army: Give Hardestadt a sword and watch numbers stop mattering against him. At the climax, at about half strength, he tears through Jacobs' entire force of vampires without even getting a drop of blood on him.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Hardestadt does not believe in sparing Neo-Nazi vampires, coldly asking Carl to return one of his victims to life as a condition for sparing him and not caring at all when Carl begs for his life. Jacobs suffers worse when Hardestadt throws him to his own ghouls after breaking his leg. Hargrove suffers no better, with Hardestadt turning off his life support and watching him slowly choke to death.
  • Perky Goth: Erin tends to dress in dark clothing and dyes her hair with red highlights, along with multiple piercings in her ears but remains pretty cheery and upbeat.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain:
    • Carl Schmidt and a number of the snuff film ring 'actors' are vampire Neo-Nazis who are flagrantly racist as you can expect.
    • Rich Jacobs himself refers to a Hispanic victim as a 'spic' and a 'dirty border hopper' as well, despite his pretense that he doesn't care about race, and that he's Hispanic or Latino on his mother's side.
    • Wallace Hargrove who's funding the entire operation is a misogynist and rapist.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "Usually this is where I'd say give me your boss, put your weapons down and nobody gets hurt. But tonight's a little different. Tonight, every single one of you dies." from Hardestadt to Jacobs' men. He is not joking.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Hardestadt looks like he's in his mid to late twenties, but is centuries older. He also makes references to being thousands of years old as well.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Hardestadt's eyes are usually violet. When they turn red, it means he's let his 'devil blood' out, and someone is very likely going to die.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Kedra, one of the Miami Council, is a businesslike, but pleasant vampire who is absolutely revolted by the tapes, Neo-Nazis and gives her help to Hardestadt and Erin alike.
  • Sadist: Rich Jacobs is a brutal, vicious sadist who gets off on the pain of others; both physical and emotional.
  • Serial Rapist: In addition to the vampires actually making the snuff film makers, the end reveals that Wallace Hargrove has assaulted and raped many women himself.
  • Ship Tease: Erin and Hardestadt are partners, friends and despite his issues with keeping her at length, they can bicker like a married couple and it's clear they care deeply for one another, with Erin confessing she loves him at the conclusion (which Hardestadt admits he reciprocates.) Granted, it's ambiguous if either means it romantically or platonic.
  • Shout-Out: Wallace Malcolm Hargrove could be considered one to Malcolm Hargrove from Red vs. Blue a a similarly corrupt businessman, but the author stated it was a coincidence.
  • Smug Snake: Diego, one of the Miami Council, and an enemy of Hardestadt, tries to present himself as an Affably Evil reluctant villain trying to kill Erin and Lydia to uphold the rules, only for Erin to launch into a vicious tirade against him, revealing him as a venal coward when the older and stronger Kedra intervenes against him.
  • Spoiled Brat: A much darker take on this; Jacobs was pampered by his illegitimate father Hargrove as a child and receives almost everything he needs to set up his operation directly from Hargrove even in the present day. By the time Hardestadt meets him, Jacobs is a swaggering, smug asshole who wholly believes he can get away with the production of mass torture and murder because of his father's resources.
  • Straight Gay: Anthony, one of Kedra's top enforcers, mentions offhandedly he was turned by his husband Tom.
  • Straw Misogynist: Hargrove is one of these, seeing women as only things to be abused, exploited, or raped for his own benefit. This is a major reason why he's providing for Jacobs' snuff ring as well.
  • Supreme Chef: Hardestadt is a master at cooking delicious meals, something Erin considers a major perk of her job. He even says he gets a sense of genuine fulfillment from making good meals.
  • Take That!: Pepe the frog's status as a racist symbol is mocked when neo nazi vampire is noted to have a badge of a "cartoon frog" which Hardestadt repeatedly mocks.
  • Torture Always Works: Thoroughly averted. Kedra disdains torturing a captive and says it's completely useless in getting workable information.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Not many people react to Hardestadt's white-haired, violet eyed appearance. Justified due to his ring, which holds a minor enchantment to keep anyone from thinking too hard on his appearance unless he allows it.
  • We Help the Helpless: Hardestadt and Erin make a career out of saving innocent people from supernatural threats, though Erin notes they rarely get paid for it.

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