Monday, July 29, 2013

Creepy Videos

Hey guys! I just got back from Anime Iowa this morning a little after midnight. I'm pretty out of it, so to get things rolling again I'm going to do just a quick post.

To say that YouTube has a lot of content would be a massive understatement. While its easy enough to find things like Creepypasta readings, horror game walkthroughs, and trailers for upcoming games and movies, with a little digging you can find some truly creepy videos. Here are a few of my favorites that I've stumbled across. Keep in mind that for all but one, I don't know where it's from/what the context is.

First is a supposed Japanese news cast. The reporter talks about an abandoned hospital that is a popular spot for spirit photography, and is then told that she has to explore. Things kind of go downhill from there.

Next is-- okay, I'll be honest. I have no idea what this is. It is pretty unsettling, however.


This next one is ( I believe) an amateur-made clip, although the title claims that it's real. It's done incredibly well, and brings to mind the works of Junji Ito.


Finally, a short movie called There Are Monsters. It never really explains things, but it doesn't really need to- the mystery adds to the film. Bit of a warning: there are a handful of mild jump-scares.


There's a lot more to find online. Just be warned: you'll probably end up on the weird side of YouTube.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Just a Message

I probably won't be able to make a real post for at least a day or so. I have a bunch of ideas in the wings, but right now I'm working on stuff for my two panels at Anime Iowa, and I also work every day between now and the day we leave. 

I'll try to get as many posts done as possible before AI, since I'm not sure if I'll be able to get anything done while I'm there. And hey, if pigs are flying and one of you guys happens to be going to AI, come say hi! I'm running the "Obscure Yet Awesome" and "Horror in Japan" panels, and I'll be dressed as Art Slave (because I've had no time to make a real, not-completely-obscure costume). I'll probably end up turning my "Horror in Japan panel into a novel-length pretty in-depth post afterwards, so say the beginning of August.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

6 Horror Games I Can't Wait to Play (and 4 I Never Will)

This is gonna be a long one. Also keep in mind that some of the games have links to their wiki or wikipedia page, which have spoilers.
When I tell people I love horror games, I often get the response "You HAVE to play (game title)!" I'll look it up, and have one of three reactions: "This looks AWESOME!", "Meh, it looks ok." or "NOPE." And since no one really likes hearing about so-so games, I'll be listing the games that provoked the other two reactions. Now, while all of the games I'll never play have been released, only two of the ones I can't wait to play have. I just haven't played them yet because I'm broke right now. -_-u

                                                         Games I Can't Wait To Play

#1: Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs

Amnesia: The Dark Descent is one of my favorite games of all time, so when I heard that they were making another game in the series I fangasm'd. In this game, you play as Oswald Mandus. After returning from an expedition to Mexico that failed badly, he falls ill and is plagued by fever dreams of a strange machine. When he wakes up, months have passed-- and he hears a machine somewhere come to life... 

Now, I've always found pigs (adult pigs, not piglets) slightly creepy, especially the noise they make (don't ask me why, I have no idea). So the idea of being pursued by some pig-related monstrosity that makes that sound and behaves like the monsters in the first Amnesia freaks me the hell out. The new company that's making this (The Chinese Room) has said that they want it to be like the last game without feeling like a carbon-copy, so it'll be cool to see what they add to the series.

Among the Sleep has one of the most unique premises in recent horror games. You are a 2 year-old child. One night, something odd is going on in your house, and you escape your crib to figure out what it is. Unlike other horror games that aim for a visceral kind of horror, this game keeps it simple with dream-like worlds and subtle (yet still frightening) detail. Personally, I find that silhouette with the umbrella (our antagonist, I'd guess) very freaky and threatening-- I can imagine seeing it at the end of a dark road wobbling unnaturally towards me (a mental image I will deeply regret the next time I walk home from the bus stop in the dark). It's nice to find a game with an enemy that's not "zomgclawedmonstrosity/bloodsplatteredzombie/psychoghost". 

This game seems like a strange dream, though I suppose that's very intentional, and visually it reminds me of the works of Dave McKean and Henry Selick. Susan Ashworth, a 40 year-old cat lady, commits suicide. Her restful death is interrupted by an old woman, the Queen of Maggots, who wants Susan to kill five "Parasites": five psychotic and murderous people. The Cat Lady looks stunning-- and very disturbing.

#4: Daylight

Daylight is a new take on a classic premise: you wake up in an abandoned hospital with no idea how you got there and only your cellphone to help you explore and escape. While it may sound like a "been there, done that" idea, this game looks very cool. It'll be interesting to see what new ideas they bring to it.

Confession time: I adore Slender Man. I was introduced to it by TV Tropes, and I loved seeing how it grew from two fake paranormal images and a quote into this sprawling mythos. However, I was never really interested in the Slender games, until I saw the trailer for this. This is a fully realized, more polished version of the game. It looks gorgeous, and it's really cool to see the proxies in it. 

This project sounds absolutely awesome. The idea is that it figures out what you're afraid of, and changes based on that to deliver a unique experience (hopefully it does so a hell-of-a-lot better than Silent Hill: Shattered Memories). There's not a lot known about the game because this project is just getting on its feet, but it's already gained a lot of attention through Reddit. 

Games I Will Never Play

#1: Ao Oni

The plot is simple enough: four teenagers decide to explore an abandoned, thought-to-be-haunted mansion to look around, and end up having to run around avoiding the Oni. The reason I refuse to play it is simple: THAT FUCKING FACE! I can see why some people find it funny, and I've gotten a little used to it after finding images, but there's something disturbing and just plain wrong about it, and the idea of it popping out of nowhere freaks me out like nothing else.

#2: Harvester

Harvester proclaims itself "the most violent adventure game of all time", and while that's probably no longer true, its absolutely bizarre. The violence is cartoonish, but behind it is deranged and full of mind-screw (and not the good kind). The phrase "batshit insane" works very well.

#3: SCP-087

I hate stairs in large buildings. 9 times out of 10, they have creepy lighting, stained floors, and an atmosphere that promises bad things to come. And while I love the SCP Foundation, this particular SCP always freaked me out. Don't get me wrong, this is probably a really good game, but I'm too chicken to try.

I have no idea why this pushed my "NOPE!" button the way it does. It seems like a decent game. In it, Hui-Min sneaks into the school after class is over to leave a White Day gift for his crush, So-Yeong. He find out that he, So-Yeong, and her friend Ji-Hyeon are all trapped in the school. They need to escape and avoid the Possessed janitors and ghostly entities that want them dead. Like I said, I have no idea why it bothers me, but I have no intention of playing it. That being said, I may end up watching a reaction-walkthrough.

Actually, I might do that for SCP-087 as well.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

My Personal Ghost Experience

For this post, I did a lot of (mostly fruitless) research. I had no idea what the store was called, and only knew where it was because mum remembered. After a great deal of searching online, we found it, but it turns out that in 2012 they started a huge remodel and added a whole bunch of new stores. I don't know if the main general store is still there (I can't afford the long-distance call to find out). I couldn't find any interior photographs from before the remodel and after the 1900s, so I need to go purely from memory. As an added pain in the ass, it's nearly impossible to find any useful or in-depth information about it. Almost all the helpful-looking links 404'd on me-- seriously, try Googling it.

My mum's dad's side of the family owns a house by a lake just outside of Garrison, MN (close to Lake Milacs), and they're kind enough to let the family use it. We usually visit for one week every summer.

A couple years ago, mum had picked up a local publication that listed historic sights all over Minnesota, and found one we could visit on our way home: in Aitkin Minnesota, there was an old general store called Butlers that had been around since the 1900s. It had a display that showed what stores back then looked like, and mum thought it sounded very cool, so on the way home we took a detour to visit it.

It looked really weird: brick walls, beat-up floor. It had a really strange atmosphere, too. I can't really remember everything they sold, but I can remember Nana (my mum's mum) looking at pillow cases that had blue printed patterns on them that you're supposed to embroider over. Bored out of my mind, I decided to check out the basement.

(and you know that can't end well)

For the sake of clarity, I've made a crappy Microsoft Paint map of the basement. Please keep in mind that this event was almost 10 years ago, so it's hardly exact.

On the wall at the top of the stairs was a sculpture of sorts-- someone had turned leather and fur into an Eskimo face. That face came straight from the depths of Uncanny Valley, and made me wonder what kind of weirdo would make it, let alone put it in their house.

In the basement, they sold fabric. There was one lady at the desk to cut fabric and write out slips, but other than that it was just us. Fabric doesn't interest me in the slightest, though, so while the others looked I went into the side room.

The Display was at the far end of the room. The walk felt very long, and for the first time in my life (and the last so far) I got the very strong feeling that I was being watched. My instincts were screaming at me to leave, but I kept going. I could pinpoint where the thing watching me was standing (see the X on the map), and in my mind I saw an image of a faceless woman in an old-fashioned blue dress with a white apron and black hair in a bun-- though at the same time I got the impression of some shadowy demonic figure, as if it were trying to project the image of the woman but failed to do so.

I did look at the display, but not for long. Finally, I listened to my instincts and hurried back upstairs.

When I asked my siblings about it, they had both gotten the impression that the empty room was very crowded, as well as feeling that they were being watched.

Now that they're remodeling, I wonder if the construction has agitated whatever was down there?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Creepy Music

I've always been a music lover. One of the many things that fascinates me about music is its ability to evoke emotion. Everyone has, at some point, listened to music to cheer up or get pumped up for something. But has anyone else out there listened to a creepy song and watched their normal surroundings turn sinister?

Here I've listed eight songs that are creepy as hell, and very cool.

The Little Toy Shop, by Makkon

Ghosts, by Japan

Theme from Higurashi no naku koro ni

Metallic Monks from Fallout 1, 2, and New Vegas

Walking Into Darkness by Miyuu

Hisoka Norowareta Tsukiyo no Kioku aka Hisoka's Song from Descendants of Darkness (Yami No Matsuei)

Gollum's Song from The Two Towers

Genesis Song, from Suicide Circle

Friday, July 12, 2013

Meticulous-- a short story

I know I already made a post, but since it was so small I decided to do the next one tonight as well.

I found the rough draft of this in my closet the other day, having completely forgotten it. It's a short story I wrote for my high school English class, and it's much, much better than the other old writings I found. So I've typed it up, editing it slightly. It's a lot different from my current writing style, but I think it makes a great creepypasta (though it was written before I'd discovered creepypasta)-- and I might even post it on other sites.

If you're wondering what my teacher thought of it, I think she liked it. She likened it to American Psycho, which is a little odd since I've never seen or read it. I forget now what inspired me...


           His office was his castle, his stronghold. Adrian had chosen a large, second-floor room, one with wide windows that soaked up the sunlight. Nothing within that room was out of place, not even a paperclip.
            Just like the office, Adrian himself was impeccably neat. His suits were perfectly pressed, his nails manicured, his golden hair cut short and fashionably. He sat behind the desk every day, well-sculpted fingers drumming on the glossy cherry wood surface.
            That was his life; perfection mirrored in his environment, appearance, work. That was how he was perceived. It was a perfection he cultivated, one he'd spent his whole life attaining.
            He had just finished a tall caramel coffee, just thrown the paper cup into the metal waste-bin besides his desk when there was a knock on the door. Adrian's face tightened in frustration, an expression that was gone as quickly as it had come.
            “Come in.” he said smoothly. A short, middle-aged woman, thin and cheerful, entered the room: the cleaning lady. She was the only person who'd seen the inside of his office regularly, as Adrian lived alone. She was kind and motherly, and completely dull.
            “Good morning!” she said with the enthusiasm and cheer of a kindergarten teacher. “I hate to interrupt, but I was hoping to get to cleaning that attic of yours today.” Her voice grated on his ears like a fork scrapped across a ceramic plate. Even so, he smiled- that charming smile that endeared him to so many women (and some men).
            “Sure, sure. You'll need the key then.”
            The woman nodded. Adrian opened the top, left-hand drawer of his desk and produced a tarnished key, dropping it into her palm.
            “And what about that room up there?” she asked with barely-restrained curiosity.
            Adrian paused. That room had never been cleaned, at least not since he'd hired her.
            “It could probably use a good scrub.” he said with a laugh. “But I have no clue where the key ran off to. Somewhere up there, I expect.”
            The lady nodded and began to leave.
            “Wait.” Adrian stood and headed for the door. “Let me come with you. It's been forever since I've been up there. I want to see what's hiding away.”
            “Of course!” Her enthusiasm waned a bit, but she hid it well. Anyone else wouldn't have noticed.
            As they walked up the stairs, he ran his finger along the dark banister. The farther up they went, the dustier the banister became. Adrian pulled a pure white handkerchief out of his pocket and wiped the dust away. He then folded it into a small square and tucked it away in his breast pocket.
            The cleaning lady was silent and tense at first, but after a time she seemed to relax. Behind her eyes, Adrian could see her making assurances. Perhaps she felt that he was suspicious?
            Adrian smiled again. She smiled back.
            Finally, they reached the top landing. The woman clattered with the door, opened it, and took a hesitant step inside. Adrian followed. The dust hit his sinuses almost instantly, making him sneeze.
            “Let's get some air in here.” he suggested. The lady (what was her name? Adrian wracked his brains without success) walked over to the small window that overlooked the front lawn and forced it open.
            The attic was dim, and it took a few minutes for their eyes to adjust. Boxes and furniture were littered across the floor, and dust coated everything. Slight footprints could be seen if one looked hard enough, but both Adrian and the woman (Alana? Alicia?) were distracted by the volume of antiques.
            “What a mess!” she tutted.
            “It's one hell of a job.” he said, glancing around. “I don't envy you, Addie.” She nodded and smiled.
            At least he'd gotten her name right.
            Addie lifted something that looked like a strange mixture of an oar and a baseball bat- small, dented, and heavy.
            “Strangest bat I've ever seen.” she muttered. Adrian laughed and took it from her.
            “It's a cricket bat. An old find from my last trip to England.” He swung it underhand, knocking an invisible ball across the attic. “Like so.”
            “Ah. Well, I've never been a big sports fan.” she said apologetically, and moved on to something she found more interesting.
            Swinging the bat had left a smear of dust on his pants leg. Adrian clenched his fist tightly. His manicured nails dug into his palm, leaving half-moon indentations.
            Addie walked over to the far wall. Beyond that wall and the old steel door was a separate room. She watched it intently, as if she expected someone to burst through at any moment.
            “Let me try...” Adrian felt around the ledge above the door until he found the a key. It was cold and heavy, and strangely clean. He handed it to Addie with a smile, snapping her out of her daze.
            “Oh. Right.”
            While she tried the lock, he waked back quietly and shut the window.
            “I'm having a little trouble with this.”
            Adrian returned to the door, and with a little effort, got it to open.
            There was no doorknob on the other side, only a bolt, and the wood was scratched and dented. They stepped inside, their shoes making a light clang on the bare steel floor.
            “What is this? She asked, almost in a whisper. Much to his delight, her over-the-top cheer had fully vanished, leaving behind fearful apprehension.
            “A disappointments room.” he said with the air of a teacher. “They say that in the 18th and 19th century, families would keep their mentally ill up here, hidden away from the world.”
            “That's terrible.”
            “Compared to the asylums of the time, it was a mercy.”
            They stared into the pitch black room in silence. After a long while, Adrian cleared his throat.
            “Should I turn on the light?”
            Reaching over, he flicked the switch, and light flooded the room.
            Addie let out a strangled cry, frozen in place.
            Sitting limply against the wall was a human form. Male or female, she couldn't tell: it was a human skeleton, skin stretched tightly over the bones. It watched her silently, sunken and empty blue eyes barely moving.
            Behind her, Adrian flexed slightly. He picked up the bat and swung it in a smooth arc, bringing it down on Addie's head. She collapsed in a twitching heap, blood pooling around her. He dropped the bat and glanced at the thing across the room.
            “You've got company now!” It watched a little stream of blood flow towards it. “Don't worry, I'll clean this up later.”
            As he locked up the disappointments room, he glanced down at his shirt. Speckles of blood had soaked into the pure white fabric. He tensed, knowing that the shirt was ruined. With a little burst of speed, he descended the stairs and turned into the spacious bedroom. Removing the shirt in one smooth movement, he rolled it up and dropped it into the waste-bin. He opened the wardrobe, revealing a line of identically crisp dress shirts, and pulled one on. Opening the drawer, he pulled out a pair of crisp slacks and changed into them, tossing the dusty pair with the bloody shirt.
            Then he paused, running his hand through his hair. In his head, he ran over what he knew. When did Addie usually arrive? Who knew her? Had someone seen her come?
            More importantly he thought as his agitation subsided, and he slid back into his usual calm demeanor, I need another cleaning lady.
            He smiled at his reflection in the wardrobe mirror, watching his world click back into place and his cultivated perfection resume control.
            Returning to his office, he sat in the chair rather like a monarch on their throne, surveying his desk.
            Not a paperclip out of place.
            Picking up the heavy pen, he pulled a piece of paper from his file drawer and crossed the name Addie Wilson off the list.

            “Leave it to miss sunshine to ruin my morning.” He chuckled, then dialed the next number on the list.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Psychology of Creepiness

Today's post is a short one, and fascinating rather than creepy.

While poking around the internet for future material, I found this video on reddit's /r/scared shitless page. It's an interesting look into what makes us consider things creepy, and how the creeps differs from a generic fear reaction. I've loved being creeped out for as long as I can remember, so it's cool to see that feeling explained.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Creepy Hidden Object Games

Among the many inexpensive indie games you can find online, hidden object games are one of the more common. While some don't try to be anything other than a game of I Spy, most combine the hidden object scenes with some kind of story and some elements from point-and-click adventure games. I've played a ton of these games, and luckily for me a huge percentage are (or at least try to be) spooky and atmospheric. So for today's post, I'm going to talk about four of my favorite games.

The first is Brink of Conciousness: Dorian Gray Syndrome. You play as Sam Wilde (which I found a bit uncreative, but admittedly most of the people who play this game will probably have never heard of The Picture of Dorian Gray, let alone be familiar with Oscar Wilde). A popular journalist, Sam has just caught public attention with his article about a recent serial killer in which he makes speculations about the killer's mindset. This turns out to be a bad idea, as the killer happens to read the paper and take offence at Sam's attempts to profile him. So, sticking with the classics, he kidnaps Sam's girlfriend and leads Sam on a hunt through an old house-- the killer's.

This serial killer likes to make "art" out of his victims, treating them almost like dolls (Muraki Kazutaka would be proud). As you explore the old house, you stumble across each of his installations and learn what each one did to piss off our charming psychopath. This back story is not terribly unique, but the game more than makes up for it in visuals and genuinely creepy moments.

See the speaker above the door at the end of the hall? These things are everywhere, and the killer uses them to communicate. For the most part, he muses about the latest victim you found or taunts Sam. But some time into the game, he puts on a little "radio drama" that makes him seem more like The Joker than your average Hollywood serial-killer.

This game was very cool, and definitely worth playing. And be sure to try the extra chapter that unlocks after you finish the main game! You get to explore an abandoned theme park, and it comes to a rather shocking end...

The next game, Phantasmat, is more of a classic spooky story. It has a broken-down, waterlogged feeling to it, and a bit of a ghost-story vibe. (Off-topic: I spent the whole game thinking that The Girl reminded me an awful lot of Candy Quackenbush from Abarat)

You're driving alone when some ghostly interference causes you to crash. After a trek through the woods you find an old hotel that, while it looks abandoned, has three rather strange occupants. The Girl (none of the characters are named) begs you to unravel the mysteries of the town.

It turns out the hotel itself is the only part of the town that's left-- the rest is completely flooded. The Hotel Owner and the Old Lady don't seem bothered much by this, adding to The Girl's suspicion. You need to figure out not only the town's past, but the pasts of these characters as well.

Putting the pieces of the puzzle together is a lot of fun, and it's rather satisfying, too.

Ah, Sacra Terra: the one that really got me obsessed with creepy hidden-object games. Before this, I had only played a handful of ordinary or fantasy hidden-object games. After this, I went hunting and got every creepy one I could afford.

You wake up in an abandoned hospital room strapped to a gurney. Once a mysterious force frees you, you start to explore the compound. As the mysterious force -a winged girl named Angel (again with the face-palm inducing names!)- guides you, you learn about this creepy and beautiful place and the cult that lived here. You also learn that it's not just the two of you.

Said cult seems to have unleashed the demons of the Seven Deadly Sins, which you need to defeat. True, some of the methods are rather obscure, but it's an adventure game at heart: moon logic is to be expected, and there is absolutely no shame in having a walkthrough on hand.

The ending is not only cool, but downright epic. And there's an unlockable chapter that takes place before the main game that's also very cool.

Finally, we have Shiver:Vanishing Hitchhiker. Of all the games on this list, this is by far the creepiest, and the only one that is downright scary at times. This goes beyond "spooky and atmospheric" and right into "creeping around a Silent-Hill-esq town with a flashlight, feeling like something's going to pop out at you at any moment but it never does" territory.

It begins with that classic ghost story: a mysterious hitchhiker vanishes, leaving something in your car, and you go to return it. What you find is an abandoned town, and no sign of where the girl went. As you explore, you discover that there's far more wrong with this town than meets the eye.

Although you can't tell from the pictures, the scenes are photo-realistic. The sounds in the background really set me on edge, and the soft background music would sometimes crescendo in a way that had me expecting jump-scares that never came. Sometimes you're left with only your flashlight to go by, which also left me expecting something to change creepily or something horrible hiding in the shadows. Another interesting mechanic is being able to take a photo of a scene and see something that's not actually there. This acts as clues to what you need to do, but sometimes the photos are very, very creepy.

Whether or not you're a fan of hidden-object/adventure games, this is well worth a playthrough if you enjoy creepy and atmospheric games.

These four are my favorites, but there are many, many more hidden-object games that are well worth the money (generally $6-10, but the sites that sell them have sales all the time so they can go as low as $1). And with a definite lack of mainstream horror games that are more than just gory first-person-shooters, these indie games are worth their weight in gold.

And one last tip: Anything by Alawar Games (they made Sacra Terra, for instance) is worth a try. (Well, their hidden-object games at least. Their puzzles and sim games look a little stupid to me)