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Saturday, 31 October 2015

The Origin of Halloween

Today is Halloween and the rounding up of the month of horror. In 2011 the National Retail Federation in the United States found that people spent around $6.86 billion, equating to $72 per person, on Halloween. Why is Halloween celebrated though? Today we will look at its origins.

One of the generally accepted origins for the modern day Halloween lies with the Gaelic celebration of Samhain (pronounced sah-in or sow-in). This holiday was celebrated throughout Ireland, the Isle of Man and Scotland although similar holidays took place in Cornwall (the Kalan Gwav), Wales (the Brythonic Calan Gaeaf) and in Brittany (the Kalan Goañv). From the sunset of October 31st to the sunset of November 31st sacred bonfires were lit and druids would burn crops and offer animals as sacrifice. The origin of Samhain had a mixture of practical and spiritual purpose. One of the key sites is the Mound of the Hostages at the Hill of Tara, Ireland, which aligns with the changing moon. Not only does this suggest that the Gaelic people operated a calendar based on the moon like modern calendars but, also serves in a practical way with them bringing in cattle and crops before the colder winter months. During Samhain it was believed that the boundaries of the living and the dead became intertwined so to stop the spirits from hurting people during the winter through famine and the cold cattle and crops were offered to them. Feasts were held so the souls of dead kin could join their families in merriment, divination games involving apples were held and people would dress up and visit their neighbors asking for food. The origin of the last tradition is thought to be down to hiding your identity from the Aos Sí (spirits). In some areas turnips were carved into grotesque faces and hollowed out to ward off the Aos Sí. 

Christian and Roman merging
By 43 A.D. the Romans had conquered much of Celtic and Gaelic lands in Europe. They in turn had their own celebration in late October to celebrate the dead, Feralia, and the day after they honored the goddess of fruit and trees, Pomona, whose symbol was an apple. Due to the similarities Roman occupiers and native Gaelic peoples would celebrate their holidays together. In May 609 A.D. Pope Boniface VI created All Martyrs Day to honor martyred Christians and just over a century later Pope Gregory III expanded it to include saints as well and moved its celebration to November 1st. It also brought a name change: All Hallowed Day. The night before became known as All Hallows Eve. Quite often early Christianity would adopt traditions and dates of local festivals (a notable example is Christmas being celebrated on December 25th to coincide with a non-Christian holiday). This can be seen happening with Samhain and All Hallows Day. Over the years Christians increasingly celebrated All Hallows Day, now called Halloween, although in Scotland and England following the creation of Guy Fawkes Day (celebrating a foiled plot to assassinate King James VI and I) it was celebrated less except for in the Gaelic areas in Scotland. In Mexico during the 16th century La Día de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead) was moved from being in the late summer to October 31st in order to coincide with Halloween. Incidentally the Day of the Dead's origin can be traced to pre-Columbian traditions used by a variety of cultures dating from 2,500 to 3,000 years ago. 

Modern Halloween
Many of the traditions in Halloween today can be traced directly to the original holiday of Samhain. The carving of jack-o-lanterns originated from carving grotesque faces into turnips to create lanterns as a ward against harmful spirits. Trick-or-treating originated from the custom of dressing up and visiting your neighbors for food while simultaneously protecting your identity from harmful spirits. Even bobbing for apples originated from the Roman-Gaelic influence of the festival celebrating Pomona. However, Halloween became so entrenched in society thanks to the United States. In the second half of the 1800s the United States saw a rise in immigration, particularly from Ireland where between 1 million and 1 and a half million left Ireland thanks to the Potato Famine. In Ireland the celebration of Halloween had continued where in the rest of the British Isles it had largely become redundant with Guy Fawkes Day replacing it as the major celebration. Thanks to this Halloween was introduced to large sections of American societies and was quickly adopted by communities to help create a closer community. By the late 1800s calls to tone down the more grotesque and frightening aspects of celebrations had an inadvertent effect by removing most of its superstitious and religious overtones, thus its appeal broadly increased. By the 20th Century Halloween had become a national holiday and especially following the Baby Boom of the 1950s its popularity increased dramatically. Thanks to the USA having a great impact on world culture thanks to the importation of American media following the 1950s the celebration of Halloween saw a resurgence in Ireland and the UK with its adoption as well in other countries which previously had not celebrated the holiday such as Germany, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. In the Philippines it has even merged with celebrating the Day of the Dead! However, Samhain has also seen a resurgence. Many people now celebrate or honor Samhain each year with festivals and games being played to honor the festival commemorating the new year.

I hope you enjoyed reading. For more information please follow this link: It gives a lot of extra interesting information which I have not mentioned in this post. Next week I'll be doing an alternate history scenario so in the meantime I hope you have a nice Halloween, Day of the Dead or Samhain! 

Friday, 23 October 2015

Real life inspirations for Horror Fiction

Welcome back to our continuation of the month of horror. The above painting was painted c.1560 as a reproduction of a 15th century portrait. The subject would partially inspire one of horror's most famous characters. Many horror books, films and even video games have at least some inspiration from real life people or events. This week I shall go through some of the real life inspirations for the media that have caused our nightmares.

Bram Stoker took inspiration from a real life figure when writing his 1897 novel Dracula. The aforementioned portrait is of the man who partially inspired Stoker: Vlad III aka Vlad the Impaler. Stoker had already formulated his novel by the time that he had read Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia with Political Observations Relative to Them by William Wilkinson but the book had a profound influence on Stoker. The book had a section on Vlad III who had been known for his cruelty in his wars against the Ottoman Empire, many of the tales of his cruelty come from Western sources however. He earned the title of 'The Impaler' for reportedly having between 40,000 to 100,000 people impaled on stakes. His other atrocities included razing towns to the ground, taking sadistic pleasure in torturing captives and mutilating women (we do know these atrocities did take place because Russian and German sources say the same thing although his enjoyment of the atrocities could very well be embellished). Some sources report that Vlad would stand under an impaled body and use a cup to gather up some of the blood leaking down the stake, when an enemy came close enough he would then drink from the cup (again this may be embellished). Stoker took inspiration from Vlad the Impaler's fondness for stakes, sadism and violence and implemented it into his novel. His vampire lord would come from Vlad the Impaler's home of Transylvania and his main antagonist went from being called Count Wampyr to Count Dracula, Dracula being the patronymic name of Vlad's family. Thus horror history was made. 

Silence of the Lambs
Thomas Harris's novel and film adaptation are highly regarded as the best psychological horrors. The plot revolves around FBI agent Clarice Starling who must utilize the mind of cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter to catch serial killer and kidnapper Buffalo Bill. Harris has revealed that Buffalo Bill is an amalgamation of multiple serial killers. In both the novel and the film Buffalo Bill kidnaps women, starves them and then skins them in order to make a 'suit' for him to wear. This modus operandi is similar to that of serial killer Ed Gein who would exhume bodies and make trophies out of the body parts, even making a female skin mask. Buffalo Bill also pretends to be injured to get women to help him, the same method which real life serial killer Ted Bundy used to kidnap his victims. Bill killed his grandparents in the same way as Edmund Kemper did. After he kills his victims Buffalo Bill inserts a moth into their throat before throwing them into a river, just as the Green River Killer Gary Ridgway did to his victims. Bill is based on a further two serial killers but arguably the best known character from the series is based on a real killer. Hannibal Lecter made his debut in Harris's novel Red Dragon (and his film debut in Manhunter with Brian Cox playing the serial killer) and in 2013 he revealed that the inspiration for Hannibal Lecter came from Alfredo Ballí Treviño. Treviño was a doctor who had murdered a close friend and mutilated his body. Harris had years later interviewed him for Red Dragon.

Jaws by Peter Benchley is a mixture between a slasher film and Moby Dick with a small town sheriff hunting down a man-eating Great White shark. In 1975 Steven Spielberg adapted it and became one of the biggest summer blockbusters of all time. Although Benchley has denied this several people have claimed that Jaws was inspired by a series of shark attacks on the Jersey Shore in 1916. Over a period of just a few days a shark attacked five people, four of whom tragically died. Here it is easy to see why many believe that this influenced Jaws. Over the last fifty years sharks have been driven perilously close to extinction through hunting and now Peter Benchley is a leading campaigner for their conservation.

Nightmare on Elm Street
Nightmare on Elm Street is one of the best known horror movies of the 1980s and with the idea that you are not safe in your dreams it has had a terrifying lasting legacy. It was also inspired by real events. In 1981 eighteen Cambodian refugees tragically died in their sleep despite being of good health. The Atlanta's Center of Disease Control looked into Sudden Unexpected Death Syndrome for an answer and found that they had seemingly died thanks to a nightmare. Fourteen Times magazine has put this down to Bruanda Syndrome, an extremely rare genetic syndrome that can cause death in sleep that is triggered through extremely traumatic experiences. The refugees had this syndrome and had barely survived the Killing Fields which was one of the worst cases of genocide following the Holocaust. Wes Craven saw this in the L.A. Times and became inspired for a horror movie. Three years later Nightmare on Elm Street was released.

The Strangers
This 2008 horror movie revolves around three masked assailants who break into a couple's house and assault them 'because they were in'. This may seem far-fetched but it had inspiration from a real life event. Charles Manson had established a small cult-following and believed that an apocalypse was coming through a race war. In 1969 over a period of five weeks Manson and his followers went on a murder spree killing seven people including pregnant actress Sharon Tate. As of writing he is still serving a life imprisonment in Corcoran State Prison, California. Years later his actions would inspire this film.

The Exorcist
William Peter Blattys's novel terrified the world over when it was released and when it was adapted to the cinema screen it terrified the world once again. The Exorcist remains one of the most heavily regarded and greatest horror novels and films. Blatty was actually inspired by a real exorcism. While studying at Georgetown University in 1950 he heard about a story of a young boy in Cottage City, Maryland the previous year. When he came to writing his novel the boy was changed to a girl and the setting was changed to Washington D.C. which is near to Georgetown University. Father Merrin is also based on a real life person. British archaeologist Gerald Lankaster Harding had done excavation work in the cave where the Dead Sea scrolls had been discovered. Blatty had later met him in Beirut and there Father Merrin was born. 

The Last of Us
The Last of Us is without a doubt one of the greatest video games of all time. With great gameplay, visuals and characters it deserved every award that it got. The constant antagonists of the game are zombie-like infected humans with a taste for human flesh, all of whom are infected with a fungus. The game developers gained some of the inspiration for The Last of Us from a real life fungus featured on a David Attenborough documentary. The Cordyceps fungus is a type of fungi which infects an arthropod (normally ants) and grows inside them. It takes over their brain and eventually grows through the arthropods' body to infect another arthropod with its spores. Normally when the carapace bursts the unfortunate arthropod dies. The developers saw this and became inspired to adapt it for their zombie plague. Note as well in the opening you can see stock footage of the Cordyceps fungus infecting ants and other arthropods.

The Hills Have Eyes
The Hills Have Eyes was one of Wes Craven's first horror films and has been established as a cult classic. It revolves around a family who break down in the desert and are set upon by a patriarchal clan of cannibals. This is a unique entry on the list as it is the only one to have had major debates about its source of inspiration actually existing. Wes Craven was partially inspired by Sawney Bean. Bean was a the patriarchal head of a clan formed by multiple cases of incest and living in Bennane Head. They attacked travelers who crossed into their territory and cannibalized them; around 1000 people were supposedly eaten by the Bean clan! When James VI found out he ordered a manhunt for them and they were soon found, sent to Tolbooth Jail in Edinburgh and executed. Several historians have doubted the validity of the Sawney Bean story due to a lack of any reference in newspapers or letters at the time that it was supposed to take place. 

Psycho, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, American Horror Story and House of 1000 Corpses
All of these films, TV shows and books have one character based on a real life serial killer. He also serves as one of the killers who inspired Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs. That killer happened to be Ed Gein. Gein inspired Leatherface (Chainsaw Massacre), Bloody Face (Horror Story), Norman Bates (Psycho) and virtually every antagonist in House of 1000 Corpses. His actions of making trophies from body parts exhumed from coffins, and the fact that he is known to have murdered two people, helped inspired countless of media's most terrifying villains. 

Thank you for reading. There are many, many more horror franchises inspired by real life events (The Conjuring just to name another) that could keep this list going for a long time. I hope I'll see you next time for the last week in the month of horror! 

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Review: Dracula (1931)

Continuing with the month of horror it is time to step into the Golden Age of Cinema. In 1931 Universal Studios released Dracula based off of the novel by Bram Stoker. This was not the first time that Dracula had been adapted to film, during the 1920s Nosferatu: A Symphony of Terror was released in Germany based off of the novel but had to have many names changed to avoid copyright infringement. As one of the classic monster movies made by Universal, alongside Frankenstein, The Wolf Man and The Mummy Dracula is a key horror movie for, not only fans of the genre, but cinema goers everywhere. 

The plot resembles that of the novel fairly well and has become well known among the general populace. A solicitor named Renfield (played by Dwight Frye) visits Transylvania to broker a property deal with the elusive Count Dracula (played by Bela Lugosi) despite the pleas of local villagers. It quickly transpires that Dracula is a vampire who bites Renfield and makes him his slave. Renfield manages to smuggle Dracula to England where he is sent to an asylum while Dracula goes around as a respectable nobleman. He makes the acquaintance of several upper class Londoners, John Harker (David Manners), his fiance Mina (Helen Chandler) and Lucy Weston (Frances Dade). Meanwhile Dr Van Helsing (Edward van Sloan) finds out why Renfield is acting in a peculiar way and has to team up with Harker to save Mina from being made a vampire before it is too late. 

Like the novel that it is based on the plot is quite captivating. With a simple premise it pulls it off effectively. Compared to many modern vampire films the plot to Dracula moves at a slow pace but this is not detrimental to the film. Instead of continuous plot progression, such as in The Lost Boys, Dracula allows a slower pace to build up tension making key plot points to play off well. A key scene is when Dracula is leaning over Mina ready to bite her. Instead of a few seconds of him biting her you see Dracula slowly creep up on her, slowly lean over her allowing tension to build up. You become so tense to see if Dracula bites her or is interrupted by a character allowing further enjoyment of the film. There are lots of talking in the film also benefiting to the plot. It helps build up atmosphere without appearing dull. Although easily the best dialogue is between Van Helsing and Dracula. Both are aware of each other's true identities but their polite demeanor does not betray it. It seems to be a battle of wits. The only downside to the plot is the end (due to the popularity of the film it is given that Dracula is slain). Thanks to 1930s censorship how Dracula meets his end seems rushed and unimpressive which hinders the overall feeling of accomplishment.

The acting is good but the acting of Bela Lugosi, Edward van Sloan and Dwight Frye overshadows the other actors. Bela Lugosi as Dracula is staggering. His thick accent, slow methodical voice and small devilish smile is exactly what you imagine the vampire lord to be like. His stare is unbelievable. Lugosi is known for his hypnotic stare and in Dracula it truly hypnotizes you. Near the start of the film when he says 'Children of the night. What music they make.' when referring to wolves howling is unnerving. He is a man to be feared. Lugosi as Dracula has actually influenced other portrayals of Dracula. Lugosi used his native Romanian accent which almost every version of Dracula since has copied and his gentlemanly looks in contrast to his hideous portrayal in the novel can be directly linked to Lugosi playing the vampire. 
Frye as Renfield is so melodramatic that it is captivating. His juxtaposition from a smart, Victorian gentlemen at the start of the film to a raving lunatic at the end shows how good he is as an actor. The scene where he cries for rats is so dramatic that it becomes unnerving. Sloan as Van Helsing again is phenomenal with his austere initial image and how he still sounds professional despite talking about fantastical creatures. Few actors could have pulled it off so believably. The rest of the acting is good but not spectacular. Compared to other Universal horrors like Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein and The Wolf Man none really stand out and leave you with a lingering lasting image. 

Setting and Filming
 The set design is amazing. Intricately detailed and overwhelming in magnificence the sets are mind blowing. The cobweb in Dracula's castle alone adds such level of detail to the film. You feel that you are in a Gothic castle and the tropes of a haunted castle such as cobwebs, fog and long shadows add to the foreboding atmosphere that the film presents. It is easy to see why this film helped establish those tropes in the popular culture. Director Tod Browning has definitely used this to his advantage. The long shot of Renfield looking up the staircase to see Dracula slowly descend creates an awe inspiring and yet uneasy feel to the film's atmosphere. Even lighting is done to great effect with the long shadows in the opening and ending helping create unease, that you are in Dracula's domain, and how Bela Lugosi's eyes are highlighted by the light while the rest of his face is hidden makes his stare even more effective.

The music is well done. Using an excerpt from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake actually works to the films' benefit. Turning a song of grace to one of chills helps make a stunning atmosphere to terrify the audience. Dracula was made in the early days of sound film so the makers of the film did not know how much musical score to use in case it put the audience off. Hence at many times of the film there are long silences which now would be filled with music. This turned out to be a good choice with it effectively building up tension. As with the earlier mentioned scene when Dracula goes to bite Mina there is a long pause in the music. Thus it creates a tension that you want broken. With music Dracula has shown that sometimes less is more.

In conclusion for its great music, phenomenal acting from Lugosi and Frye, detailed setting and good pacing but with mediocre acting from other cast members and a seemingly rushed ending I give Dracula 7.8/10. Being one of the Golden Era Universal monster movies it set up many expectations of what a horror movie could do. For any fan of horrors, or anyone wanting to get into horrors, who wishes to watch a Universal horror Dracula is one of the first films that you must watch.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Top 10 Creepypastas

Warining: This post may contain text and imagery that readers may find disturbing/scary. Discretion is advised. Continuing with our month of horror for October this week we'll be looking at a recent horror phenomenon from the last few years: Creepypastas. Derived from the internet slang 'copypasta' creepypastas are fictional internet horror stories designed to disturb and terrify. Like their predecessors of folk stories and urban legends they have been scaring us in the darkest parts of the nights. Today I'll be going through my personal top eleven, (there was one that I felt I couldn't leave off the list), creepypastas.

11. Jeff the Killer
Jeff the Killer is easily one of the most popular creepypastas. I do enjoy the creepypasta but find there are others which are more creative. It is still creative and the good narrative of the creepypasta meant that I could not leave it out. The story revolves a young teen named Jeff who moves to a new town where he and his brother is bullied. When Jeff stands up to the bullies they later retaliate by smashing a bottle of vodka on him and set him on fire. When he wakes up his mind breaks after seeing his reflection. He cuts off his eyelids and murders his parents however, when his brother (who he loved dearly) wakes up Jeff whispers to him 'go to sleep'...

10. My buddy Sandman
My Buddy Sandman is a little known creepypasta which is both creative and believable. It even has accompanying (edited) pictures to go with it but only the photo above can I show due to the graphic natures of them. The plot centers around a college student whose friend (the titular Sandman) is making a video game called Warlocke with a few friends. Sandman is processing several images to be used in-game. He tells the Narrator that Warlocke is a fantasy RPG built on two premises, gore and nudity, and he wishes his friend to try it out. The Narrator does to find a basic video game with very gory images in it which gradually become more and more disturbing. Eventually we find out the origin of the video game's images...

9. Annie96 is typing
This is a creepypasta that I've only recently found out about and the way it is set out, as well as how realistic it is, has made it an overlooked gem. The premise is simple: two friends (annie96 and mcdavey) are on a chatroom late at night talking. It is revealed that annie96's parents have gone away and left her alone for the weekend. However things become sinister when annie96 starts hearing strange sounds outside. When she sees someone in her garden all hell breaks loose. The story of annie96 is simple but effective and the twist at the end adds another sinister edge to the story making it one of my new favorite creepypastas.

8. Normal Porn for Normal People
This unusual titled creepypasta is possibly one of the most disturbing creepypastas for not only the subject matter but also how well written it is making it a realistic creepypasta. The plot revolves around the Narrator receiving an email from an anonymous user with the link to On a whim he checks the link to see a badly made website with the tagline 'Normal Porn for Normal People, A Website Dedicated to the Eradication of  Abnormal Sexuality'. After seeing that the first video is simply a woman making peanut butter sandwiches for a man to feed a dog for thirty minutes he decides to watch the others to see if the others are just as bizarre. What follows are several videos filmed in decrepit rooms which become more and more visually disturbing. The final video has a tied up woman being mauled by a shaved chimpanzee. Normal Porn for Normal People turns from one of the most bland creepypastas to one of the most memorable and believable thanks to what we can find on the darker side of the internet. It is definitely not for the faint-hearted.

7. Smile dog
Smile Dog can be considered a chainmail creepypasta with disturbing imagery to boot. The plot revolves around an amateur writer who goes to visit an old woman who had informed him about a possible story. When he arrives he finds the woman has locked herself in her room, crying about dreams and visions stemming from a floppy disk with smile.jpeg on it. It is revealed that the woman was one of many people who saw the image on the jpeg. It had since been passed around the internet through chainmail but no real image of it can be found; only photo replicas such as the one above. It supposedly shows a smiling husky. However, the picture slowly becomes more distorted and demonic looking with Smile Dog appearing in your dreams telling you to spread the word. Insanity ensues and eventual death thanks to the supernatural torment of the Smile Dog. The only way to save yourself from the constant torment inflicted upon you is to send the photo to someone else. Supposedly the original photo was of the devil himself...

6. Slender Man
Slender Man is easily the most famous creepypasta receiving notoriety through the video game Slender: The Eight Pages and it even influenced two girls to try and murder their friend in 2014. Slender Man originated on the Something Awful forum as apart of a photoshop competition. What followed was internet history. The story of Slender Man is that he is a tall man in a suit who follows you around. He can cause electronic appliances to malfunction when near and can cause depression, anxiety and sickness on the person that he is following. Then you disappear. Like the bogeyman he will follow children and take them away, a few photos being all that remains of them... A supernatural being omnipresent and omnipotent when he chooses you there is no escape.

5. Candle Cove
Candle Cove starts off on a forum of people discussing their childhood shows. One user mentions Candle Cove and slowly other forum users mention how they remember watching that program. Only airing a few episodes it had almost faded out of their mind but they note how odd the show was. The main villain, the Skin Taker, would wear a coat made out of human skin and they all remember how one episode was just the screams of anguish, especially from the main character. When they ask their parents about it all that they said was that they would change the channel to watch Candle Cove but sit in silence for half an hour watching static... 

4. Lavender Town Syndrome
Any fan of the Pokemon games will know about Lavender Town, a town where Pokemon trainers go to bury their deceased Pokemon or to fight ghost type Pokemon like Gastly. All the time the eerie Lavender Town music would be playing. This creepypasta involves the music to of the signature town. Supposedly in the Japanese version of Pokemon Blue and Red there was a second note sheet that could only be heard when the headphones were plugged into the Game Boy. This had a negative side effect with the music causing the kids who heard it to graphically hurt themselves, gouge out their eyes and even try to kill themselves. When it was found out the games were recalled. Although easily debunked it is somewhat believable considering that an episode of the Pokemon anime inadvertently caused seizures in Japan. With the eerie backstory and music along side it the Lavender Town Syndrome is a strangely fitting creepypasta.

3. Where bad kids go
With today's propaganda in the media Were bad kids go is a creepypasta that is very close to home. It involves a journalist who remembers watching a TV show in wartime Lebanon that had a series of graphic images to scare children into going to bed on time, not stealing food from the fridge etc. Each episode would zoom in on a rusted, bolted metal door with the words 'That's where bad kids go' and the sound of feint agonizing screams. Sixteen years later the journalist finds out where the door is an investigates. Inside the journalist finds feces, fingernail scratches on the walls and bone fragments. On one wall was a caged microphone... Living in a world where war crimes are easily committed, messages can be distributed at long distances and the line between fact/fiction being blurred Where bad kids go is an eerie reminder that the world has a very dark side to it.

2. Ben Drowned
Ben Drowned has a simple premise used in the past but done to great effect. With accompanying images and even videos the idea that this creepypasta is real becomes somewhat more plausible. Our narrator buys a copy of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask at a yard sale and decides to play it. They find a previous save file called Ben and decide to play it. He makes his own save file (called Link) and begins a new game. Occasionally however some characters call him Ben instead of Link. After trying out a glitch the game starts acting up with most characters vanishing and the game text saying 'You shouldn't have done that'. As the game glitches more frequently, more aggressive text is directed at the player and being constantly followed by a statue our narrator does more research. Ben, the previous owner, drowned and is now haunting the game. This is a very badly done summary but I strongly advise you to read it. I cannot do the creepypasta justice here.

Before we get to number one here are a few that narrowly didn't make the list: Squidward's Suicide, Suicidemouse.avi, Abandoned by Disney, Russian Sleep Experiment. The Rake and Herobrine.

1. 1999
A good premise, believable tone, disturbing imagery and the fact that it is written like a blog makes 1999 my personal favorite creepypasta. Our author starts writing about a TV channel that could only be picked up by local aerials and aired in at specific times, normally late at night. It made cheap TV shows in a rundown house in the Canadian woods. One called Booby featured someone's hands pretending to talk while another featured Mr Bear, a man in a bear costume who would talk to children on set. The programs start becoming darker in tone, Mr Bear started to use abusive language and the children became more and more distraught. Years later the author starts investigating the TV channel once more to find details of kidnapping, murder and Satanic rituals. Like with Ben Drowned I cannot do 1999 justice on here and the revelation at the end is truly gripping. For a good scare that makes you eager for more I would strongly advise 1999 for any creepypasta lover.

Friday, 2 October 2015

[Redux] What If: Night of the Living Dead actually happened?

As a horror movie fan the month of October is full of horror related media. Last year throughout October I did a month of horror where each post had something to do with the horror genre. To start this year off I'm remaking one of my past alternate history scenarios. Night of the Living Dead by George A. Romero is one of the greatest horror movies of all time and has left a major impact on the zombie movie with World War Z and The Walking Dead being directly inspired by it. What if though the events depicted in Romero's hit film actually happened?

Initial Outbreak
From the opening of Night we can assume that the outbreak occurred rather rapidly. On the 1st October 1968 (the date of the film's release) in rural Pennsylvania. Immediately hundreds of people become infected as they are set upon by the infected and those who manage to escape either hold themselves up in farms or otherwise form armed posses to keep order. Within the first few days in certain areas the posses quarantine the infection and start burning bodies (such as at the end of the film) until the National Guard is called in to fully deal with the problem. As conflict erupts between the Guard and the posses what was left of the infected manage to bite more people. Quickly organization between the posses and National Guard break down as many of their own number turn and start biting one another. The government starts covering up the infection and installing a curfew in Pennsylvania to avoid a panic and to limit the infection but to no avail. Quickly the infected start to overrun the state and the populace start fleeing to neighboring states such as Ohio and New York. Hundreds of infected turn to thousands and thousands turn to hundreds of thousands. As Manhattan gets overrun by the infected the government comes clean and announces a state of emergency. The National Guard is brought in to keep the peace but riots from the non-infected and the ever growing hordes of the undead cause the Guard to be quickly overran. People take to the highways inadvertently carrying the infection across the United States making the infection even worse. 

Collapse of governments
As the infection spreads the government recalls the army from West Berlin, Okinawa, South Vietnam and any other place where the US had military presence. However there would be mass desertions from the army with soldiers not wanting to possibly shoot their own friends and family as well as large amounts of disinformation coming from conflicting news stories. Washington DC is soon overrun and the government relocated to NORAD where Richard Nixon is sworn in as President. This would largely be futile considering that the continental United States would have fallen to the undead. People would flee north into Canada whose government soon collapses. Considering where the outbreak originated and that it borders heavily populated Quebec the infection would soon rapidly spread into the capital. The remnants of the Canadian government would relocate to the United Kingdom. In the south people would run to Mexico taking the infection with them. Poorer roads compared to the United States and Canada would mean that the infection would spread less rapidly in Mexico but soon the Mexican government would fall as well. Nations in Europe, Asia and the Caribbean would bar entry of flights and ships from the Americas to stem the tide of the infection although Japan, France, West Germany, Israel and the United Kingdom would see low level outbreaks. Quite likely these nations may be able to control the outbreak due to the fact that only one or two people would be infected instead of the huge hordes that attacked Canada and Mexico. Guatemala and Belize may see some outbreaks on their borders with Mexico although it is difficult to tell how large these outbreaks would be.

Life under the undead
In the United States, Canada and northern Mexico we would likely see images similar to that in the sequels to Night of the Living Dead. Where the living once roamed such as malls (like in Dawn) the undead would aimlessly prowl around looking to eat live humans. Those still alive would live the rest of their lives either as nomads, going the dystopian city to dystopian city looking for food and fuel while all the time avoiding the undead hordes, or would form small micro-societies in fortified towns or large buildings (like malls in Dawn, army bases or prisons like in The Walking Dead). In some of these micro-societies there may even be strong tensions that could lead to race riots. A year before Night was released eight race riots had broke out over the assassination of Martin Luther King, and the entire cast of Night were deeply distraught about how fellow actor Duane Jones had been treated in the past. In areas where issues over race had been prevalent likely riots would break out, thus compromising the safety of the settlement and further spreading the infection. In southern Mexico and the border areas, which were more rural, the uninfected would have a better chance at surviving as there would be fewer zombies to contend with. Likely the Mexican government might even relocate there and start to push back against the undead. Meanwhile scattered around military bases in the United States we would see something similar to Day of the Dead. Generals would try to make failed attacks to thin out the undead population while using any scientists to find a cure. A mad general or captain, like Captain Rhodes in Day, may crop up but with the collapse of the normal hierarchy they would last long. Meanwhile in NORAD the President would vainly try to bring the army bases together to fight back against the undead with limited or no success.

The rest of the world
With the United States, Canada and Mexico gone it is hard to tell what the history of the world would be like. Whether the Cold War would end or another member of NATO, like the UK or France, would fill the void left by the United States it is difficult to tell. We can tell though that there would be an economic slump and possibly even a global depression following the removal of the United States from the world economic scene. International politics would depend entirely on if a powerful member of NATO took over from the US in their foreign policy tactics. However, a few things can be certain from this scenario. Communist China would gain international recognition in the UN as it took until the Nixon administration for it to get a seat on the Security Council. South Vietnam would also fall to communists as without US intervention the successive regimes in the South could can up by themselves. There would be an international scheme set up by the WHO to find a cure for the virus funded by multiple rich nations. Eventually this would peter out as they hit brick wall after brick wall trying to find a cure and global opinion starts to put the infected nations to the back of their minds.

Years into the future
 As the years drag on the number of the undead slowly start to decline. With people trained to avoid the bites and generations being born in secure facilities the undead cannot build their population up any higher. A fight back starts to occur with it being most successful in Mexico thanks to an established government in the south. City states like in Land of the Dead would crop up as figures of central authority although some would be true democracies while others would be despotic like in Land. The central government would have less control over these areas due to the lack of an army, poor communication and the fact that they have no real way to exercise any form of central control. Farming would start to return outside the facilities but these would be under armed guards, to shoot zombies and possibly dissenters in the despotic cities. Foreign armies would land on US and Canadian soil to aid in the clearing of the undead. Areas such as Alaska and Newfoundland would be the first to be zombie-free, however large cities like New York, Chicago and Toronto would remain infested for possibly decades. For the rest of the US, Canada and Mexico an almost feudalistic, rural life would happen for the most of the population by the year 2010 although it would be constantly dominated by the threat of the undead...