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Steven Hickey

About Steven Hickey

Londoner, journalist, father and life-long horror fan. My love for the genre was born when I was scared witless by The Creature From The Black Lagoon when I was just a nipper and I haven't looked back since. My favourite authors include Stephen King, Clive Barker and H.P. Lovecraft. When it comes to films, I'm a fan of ghost stories, monster movies, J-Horror and especially trashy slasher flicks. The bloodier the better! You can read more of my horror musings at my blog: http://hickeyshouseofhorrors.blogspot.co.uk

Steven Hickey’s Essential Guide To Creepypasta – Part 40: Laughing Jack

creepypastaSTEVEN HICKEY’S ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO CREEPYPASTA — PART 40: LAUGHING JACK

Pennywise. 100 Tears’ Gurdy. Killjoy. American Horror Story’s Twisty. The Killer Klowns From Outer Space. Long before scary clowns started terrifying members of the public on both sides of the Atlantic, the grease paint-wearing circus ‘funny men’ have enjoyed a nightmarish relationship with horror fans. The term Coulrophobia, while not a strictly recognised specific phobia, has been coined to describe a fear of clowns. Whether this is an officially recognised phobia or not, it is one of the most common fears. You almost certainly know somebody who will use the term ‘creepy’ to describe clowns. So it will come as no surprise to any of you to hear that Creepypastas have their very own diabolical clown.

The story of Laughing Jack was first posted on DeviantArtist Snuffbomb’s page back on 3 March 2013. You can read it here: http://snuffbomb.deviantart.com/art/Creepypasta-Laughing-Jack-357523173 It’s a haunting story about a single mother caring for her five-year-old son, James, who starts to talk to her about his imaginary friend. Dismissing the talk as merely childish exuberance, the boy’s mother laughs it off. However, that night her dreams are haunted by wounded, malevolent childish figures and the old nursery rhyme, Pop Goes The Weasel. From here James’s behaviour takes a bizarre turn, and a series of strange events around the house causes our narrator to start to worry. Each time she asks James about the source of these disturbances she receives the same ominous response: ‘Laughing Jack did it.’ Finally, one dark night, after witnessing a terrible atrocity, the poor mother discovers that Laughing Jack has one last trick in store for her and James…

The reasons Laughing Jack works are plentiful. Of course, there’s the obvious elements — the uncanny valley aspect of clown visages that causes discomfort in onlookers. Clown face paint offers a unique juxtaposition in that it presents an exaggerated expression, yet also hides the true face of the wearer. It is both overwhelmingly open and a mask all at once. It is a look certain to cause a degree of confusion due to its self-contradictory nature.mThe evil clown trope (and the Laughing Jack story in particular) also utilise that Creepypasta staple of subverting and warping childhood innocence to unsettle and unnerve the audience. I’ve covered this phenomenon at length here during the course of this series, so I shan’t go into too much depth once again. Suffice to say the imagery of Laughing Jack (the toys; the hard candies; and the nightmarish theme park) plus the recurring Pop Goes The Weasel motif, all use this storytelling device to fantastic effect.

rsz_ask_laughing_jack_by_felishaus-db030qtHowever, it’s not just the obvious elements in Snuffbomb’s tale that instill fear. It also touches on the very real fear we all nurse deep inside of losing touch with reality and sanity. The protagonist finds herself unable to trust her own senses, forced to accept the impossible situation in which she finds herself as true, and even at the end unsure as to which, if any, of the story’s events are real. We all rely on our senses, to comprehend the world and to keep ourselves safe from harm. But what happens if our senses and our minds lie? In that situation, the world becomes a very, very dangerous place indeed. The story also makes very clever use of the fear that all parents feel towards protecting their child, plus the general fear of protecting those closest to you. This fear is one used in plenty of horror movies in which adults struggle to protect their children (The Babadook and The Monster are recent high profile examples of this), and in this case (SPOILERS FOLLOW) the horror is worsened with the final reveal that not only does the mother fail to protect her child from harm, she’s actually the one to inflict it.

Whatever the reason, Laughing Jack has proved to be a VERY popular pasta. So much so, in fact, that Snuffbomb returned to his story to create an origin story, which you can read here: http://snuffbomb.deviantart.com/art/The-Origin-of-Laughing-Jack-419616829

It’s an interesting tale, one that starts back on the cobblestoned streets of Victorian London and introduces an abused young boy, Isaac Grossman, Laughing Jack’s first playmate. Originally an innocent and fun figure, Laughing Jack becomes corrupted by his conduct with the boy, who in turn was corrupted by the horrors of his own upbringing. As the young and naive Isaac becomes the worst kind of monster, Laughing Jack looks on, learning, until the day he once again faces his ‘old friend’…

This story is certainly more intense than the previous one, and includes some truly sickening sadistic moments, but then that’s entirely the point of their inclusion. It’s also startlingly original. So many ‘origin’ stories feature the monster as an all-too-human moping teen. They lose so much of their mystique (see Michael Myers in Rob Zombie’s Halloween), and it can often come across as a little bit ‘Mary Sue’-ish. This is certainly not the case with Laughing Jack who remains a mystical and decidedly monstrous otherworldly entity. In short, it’s a clever, well-written expansion to the mythos that enhances the story, rather than detracts from it in any way.

With this in mind it will come as no surprise to hear that the story has struck a chord with literally thousands of fans. The growing fandom has produced numerous works of art, many of which are excellent, while the demand for more of the character — from unofficial spin-offs and crossover stories with other popular pasta icons (some of which are surprisingly entertaining, others… ahem… less so), and the ubiquitous YouTube readings. It’s a testament to the popularity of the story that there are over…. Laughing Jack videos there, with readings by all the biggest names on the scene such as Mr Creepypasta, who has covered the first story (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZSvPU8HzY8) and the origin tale (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54XPnDaCtwo)

That’s not to say that all the additional Laughing Jack material is unofficial fan fiction — far from it, as the hands-on and hard-working Snuffbomb has continuously reimagined his creation in multiple formats. One of these was the popular Youtube web-comic, Creeps, which he created with deviantartist SabrinaNightmaren. Jack himself plays a major role in the comic, and displays a more playful side to his personality, complete with dark quips and decidedly off-colour jokes. You can find the first part of the comic here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cItO2pQ3kQs

It was in the pages of Creeps that a strange offshoot of the LJ mythos was introduced — Laughing Jill. With an eye-catching visual design, the chainsaw-wielding dark clown can almost be viewed as the Jane the Killer to Jack’s Jeff. While not ‘officially’ regarded as canon, Jill has captured the imagination of a segment of the fan base, and a host of (often contradictory) origin stories have cropped up online, such as this one: https://www.quotev.com/story/4647633/Creepypasta-Origins/14 , this: https://www.quotev.com/story/5633756/The-origin-of-laughing-Jill/1 and this: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10738044/1/The-Story-of-Laughing-Jill

Unlike the antagonistic relationship between Jeff and Jane, Jill is often romantically linked to Laughing Jack, and regularly portrayed as his spouse!
Laughing Jill does seem to have caused some conflict in the fandom, with some fans (often teens) using the character to romanticise a character that many fans prefer to keep as an inhuman monster. For the most part the fans tolerate each other, but sometimes heated arguments have been known to break out between the two camps, those who are Pro-Jill and those who Anti-Jill.

Either way, it’s pretty obvious that plenty of fans are very passionate about the Laughing Jack character and the mythos surrounding him.

rsz_b61aaf161063aea425eaf5d36eaa77bbHowever, this popularity has also been linked to tragedy. On 23 July 2015, in Indiana, a 12-year-old girl fatally stabbed her stepmother, Maria Torres, then set fire to her family’s home. Later, during questioning, she claimed that she had committed these terrible crimes because Laughing Jack told her too. Media reports have likened this incident to the infamous Slenderman stabbing, in which two teenage girls brutally attacked a classmate, the crime at the heart of the acclaimed HBO documentary Beware the Slenderman.

Of course the perpetrator of the crime is a deeply disturbed individual and her actions in no way reflect those of the huge majority of the Creepypasta community who are a creative, welcoming and passionate group, many of whom have been of tremendous assistance to me in the writing of these features.

One such individual is the imaginative, outspoken and very personable Snuffbomb himself, who was kind enough to speak with UK Horror Scene about Laughing Jack, Creepypastas and his exciting future projects.

Our interview follows below.

UK HORROR SCENE: Hi Snuffbomb, please allow me to extend my gratitude for agreeing to speak with me.

SNUFFBOMB: Thanks so much for this interview! I’ve never been interviewed before.

UKHS: The most obvious first — In your own words, tell us a little about Laughing Jack?

SB: Laughing Jack is what you get when you cherry-pick all the things kids like such as clowns, toys, laughter, fun, etc. then twist and pervert them into all the things that kids fear, such as clowns, creepy dolls, darkness, jagged crooked teeth, exaggerated features and so on. He is the bump in the night in your child’s bedroom sending them into a panicked dash to your room for comfort. The thing that tells your child to hurt the cat or to break mommy’s expensive china. At the end of the day however, I think Laughing Jack is simply what he is. A clown. He wants to make the world laugh, whether they are willing to or not. He sees human life like a joke and humans as props in his routine. He is much like a child himself in a way, mirroring the same (if not somewhat distorted) views of the world where most of what he sees is new to him.

UKHS: What served as your inspiration for the character and the story?

SB: I came across Creepypasta in early to mid 2011, back when Slenderman was but a haunting whisper on forums and blogs. This was a huge inspiration, the “grit” and overall obscurity added a great deal to the creep factor in those days. The most inspiring story for me was The Rake. In fact for a week or so Laughing Jack’s “in development” name actually was The Rake, almost as tribute of sorts. I liked how visceral the character was in leaving behind mostly entrails and broken families like sick reminders of loss and terror.

On a more visual level Laughing Jack was inspired by a little known marionette stage play called The Fortune Teller. One character in particular in fact. I think anyone who looks it up will know exactly which one I’m talking about as the two bear slight similarities in appearance. As for personality and even voice, I always pictured a cross between Beetlejuice and the Crypt Keeper with a dash of Freddy Krueger for good measure. Finally, as for his powers and abilities I just like to think of him as a homicidal genie. Once released from his box all hell breaks loose, a bit like Stephen King’s IT, but less spider-monster and more circus clown.

UKHS: Which idea came to you first, the image or the story?

SB: The image certainly came first, actually about a year prior to the story being written. I originally did a rough sketch of him on a piece of notebook paper, and although I was proud of it at the time, he honestly looked like the lost member of KISS and I knew this wasn’t what I was going for. He went through several design changes before he became the clown he is today and his design is still being tweaked and tinkered with, like a painting I just can’t leave be.

UKHS: Are you a fan of Creepypasta? If so, what is your favourite Creepypasta by a creator other than yourself?

SB: When it comes to my taste in Creepypasta I definitely prefer the classics, such as The Rake and Russian Sleep Experiment. The Tall Man was one that always stood out due to its bleak, dark ending which explains that the most horrific things can still happen to the most innocent and undeserving of people. I have a few guilty pleasure pastas though as well, like Happy Appy and NES Godzilla. With Creepypasta I feel it’s less about how much it scares me, and rather more about how much I enjoyed reading it.

UKHS: Why do you think Creepypastas in general, and especially Laughing Jack, have been so popular with the fans?

SB: The stories themselves have always been the heart of Creepypasta, but I believe that it’s the visuals that really pull people in. I think most people see a picture of Slenderman, Jeff the Killer, Laughing Jack and so on first then become intrigued, which leads them to the stories and other content. I think a lot of core creepypasta fans (those who write and read the stories) dislike this.

They want their stories to stick out on their own, rather than live in the shadow of Slenderman or Jeff the Killer. Honestly, I think more people are drawn to Laughing Jack because of his personality and character rather than the two semi-average stories I wrote about him. Laughing Jack himself has grown exponentially more popular than his stories, which is why I believe the stories are often called “overrated”. I agree in a sense. Laughing Jack evolved, almost growing up in a way. He went from being this pure simple horror character to a horror-comedy icon. No longer does he make fans afraid to sleep with their lights off, but rather makes them laugh at disgusting humor and grotesque acts, all of what dark comedy has to offer. This transformation is much like the ones of horror-comedy icons you see on the big screen, like Freddy Krueger and Chucky. Horror and comedy go hand in handy really, something jumps out at you, you scream, you realise you’re not in any danger and just shrieked like a banshee in front of all your friends, and everyone laughs about it. People wouldn’t like horror if it didn’t make them feel good in some way, and that mindset is one I keep when I’m making my content.

rsz_laughing_jack_by_shadowkisses91-d5yfa02UKHS: Which writers, horror or otherwise, do you consider yourself a fan of?

SB: This may sound cliche as all hell, but I really love the writing in the old Tim Burton movies. Most films and stories focus on a normal person going on a journey of some type. The old Burton movies focused on someone odd and eccentric trying to find some sort of normality in their life — Beetlejuice, Batman, Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands. If anyone reading this gets a chance, look up “Tim Burton Hansel and Gretel”. That short film was incredibly inspirational for me and my work.

UKHS: What work of your own are you most proud of?

SB: Obviously I’m most proud of creating Laughing Jack, I often joke that he’s like my child. Honestly though, I don’t think I could point to any work I’ve done and say: “I’m proud of that!”. I see everything I do as an improvement of what came before it. I always look at my work as a critic and figure out what I did well and what could have been improved, then I revise it all and use what I’m left with to do a better job next time. If I had to pick however, I’d choose The Origin of Laughing Jack. I think It succeeds the first story in just about every way, though it is still far from perfect.

UKHS: The fans are very passionate about the character. Are there any examples of fan art, such as images, films or readings, in particular that have impressed you?

SB: This is a hard one to answer because I think just about everything the fans do is pretty incredible. It was really amazing to see my stories translated and narrated into so many different languages, and seeing PinkStylist do his take on the Laughing Jack makeup (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dv3E8dqi3RE) was very flattering as well. I absolutely love what Mr. Betty Krueger does with Laughing Jack in his audio dramas, I think it’s hands down one of the best interpretations of the character (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0EzTotOGhE&feature=youtu.be). As for traditional art, I could fill a book naming all those who do absolutely stunning and even horrifying illustrations of Laughing Jack. To know that my character inspired thousands and thousands of illustrations from so many talented artists across every website on the internet is really indescribable.

UKHS: While looking at your DeviantArt page I noticed a comment from you in which you voiced displeasure at a segment of the fandom that seem to have twisted your creation into a friendly (and, in some cases, sexy) pin-up. This is something that other Pasta creators, such as sesseur and Jason the Toy Maker’s Kristantyl, have bemoaned in interviews with me. Would you care to elaborate on this point here, to give the comment a little more context?

SB: This is a strange area for me. On one hand, I don’t tell anyone they can’t use my character for whatever they want, but on the other hand the weird fetish stuff makes me kind of uncomfortable. Canonically Laughing Jack is like a ragdoll and has no internal organs or genitals, so you might as well try to have sex with Woody from Toy Story. Honestly though, I just try to ignore it and let people do what they want. I don’t think the smut is shoved in other people’s faces or anything, so it’s really not a big deal.

UKHS: Sadly, this next question is a little uncomfortable, but I’d be a terrible journalist if I didn’t at least ask you about it. I was deeply shocked and saddened when I read about the Maria Torres stabbing in Indiana, especially when I read that the alleged perpetrator supposedly committed the crime ‘for Laughing Jack’. Obviously no creator should ever be held accountable for the actions of a seriously disturbed individual, so I don’t believe you have any duty to address the situation, but I just wondered if you would care to comment?

SB: It’s very unfortunate what happened to Maria Torres, and extremely unfortunate what happened to her step daughter. This case is often compared to the 2014 Slenderman Stabbing, however they couldn’t be more different.

The Slenderman incident was perpetrated by two misguided teens who knew full well the horrible crime they were committing, and the Torres incident was committed by a very mentally sick little girl who, according to the reports, begged for help days before the incident. This girl is the real victim, she was failed by everyone even after pleading to her parents and school for help. Her illness was reaching a destructive boiling point and that was going to happen whether or not Laughing Jack was a part of it. I’m very upset with the slant the media put on this incident with articles titled “Indiana girl killed stepmom to please Laughing Jack”. This is a story about a sick girl who was failed by the world and needs serious help, not one about a devoted fanatic who sacrificed her stepmother at the request of an evil internet clown. My heart goes out to all those involved in this incident.

UKHS: Can I get your thoughts on Laughing Jill?

SB: Laughing Jill was created as a spoof genderbend of Laughing Jack. She was created by me and the original artist of my old Creepypasta comic, Creeps. She was meant to be a joke, parodying the uncreative trend of making a romantic interest or sibling for a character simply by switching their gender. Laughing Jill was never meant to be anything more than a single drawing, however some of the fangirls felt differently. The original artist of Creeps wanted to develop Jill into her own character, however I strongly disagreed as I did not want Laughing Jack to have to share his spotlight with a cheap imitation.

rsz_laughing_jack_by_snuffbomb-d5wsy9wUKHS: Your artwork is incredible. Where did you learn to create such evocative images? How do you get inspiration for the creative process?

SB: First of all I would not describe my art as “incredible” but I’m glad someone out there would! In all seriousness though, I have always been a very artistic person. Art classes in middle school, creative writing and theatre in high school, film major in college, I’ve had my hand in art all throughout my life. One thing I always disagreed with all my teachers and professors about is that art has a set of rules — it has suggestions but not rules. The day that people say this one way is how all art/film needs to be made, is the day that the creative process dies. Where most desire to be a “professional artist” I desire to be an “unprofessional artist.”

I often do the opposite thing professional artists tell you to do. “Don’t write creepypastas in 3rd person” — I wrote Origin of Laughing Jack. “Use only the best makeup and materials” — I used hot glue and acrylic paint. “Make a clean convincing set and use good lighting” — I hold my set up with duct tape and use cheap $10 lights I got from Walmart. Art is about challenging rules, not coloring within the lines.

UKHS: Will you ever return to the story of LJ in the future? What else can your fans look forward to from you in the days ahead? And finally, are there any sites or projects that you’d like me to send my readers to for more of your work?

SB: I think the future is going to be bright for Laughing Jack. I want to drive him in a whole new direction and remove him from the Creepypasta scene to stand on his own as a horror-comedy icon alongside a cast of new characters I think my fans are going to love. I’ve completed production on the first episode of my new series, The Snuff Zone (You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1VDdersmGE ). It’s a comedy series starring a heavily distorted caricature of myself (Snuff Bomb) and his insanely lovably hateable, not-so-imaginary friend Laughing Jack, along with an assortment of colorful original characters.

It’s a buddy comedy series about a sociopath and a psychopath who seek fame online but can’t seem to stay out of trouble. It also features the talent of Mr. Betty Krueger as “The Producer” and BaptismOnFire as the clinically depressed and suicidal teddy bear “Spencer”. So far the first episode has puke, pee, satanic rituals, AIDS, an actual decapitated deer head, and enough subliminal messages to turn Mr. Rodgers into Charles Manson. This and a slew of new content including the controversial SnuffCast is coming real soon. I greatly encourage everyone to subscribe to me on my youtube, SnuffBomb (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClLWpLHAP-Hv-TRCgiKeEBQ) and follow me on twitter at @TheSnuffBomb to see all this great new content.

UKHS: Since the Snuffzone has going live and it seems to have found a very appreciative audience. What has the feedback been like? How does it feel to see your work finding new fans in a different medium?

SB: Well my favorite genre of horror is retro horror-comedy. The cheesy and often comedic practical effects and over the top monsters from the 80’s horror movies really inspired me in making The Snuff Zone and shaping the personality of everyone’s favorite killer clown. I’ve often said “Scaring people is fun, but making them laugh is a lot more satisfying. So why not do both?” Once The Snuff Zone went live, the fan reaction was immediate. Fans are finally seeing the Laughing Jack that they’ve been wanting to see since they first read the stories. One that can creep them out one minute, then make them smile the next.

With a refreshingly down-to-earth attitude and some very original ideas on how to build on his character’s success, SnuffBomb is ensuring that Laughing Jack will go down as one of the classic Creepypasta stories.

Be sure to check back next time when I’ll be covering another classic story — and one of the most acclaimed of all time.

Dark Web: Steven Hickey’s Essential Guide To Creepypasta – Part 39: Sally (Play With Me)!

creepypastaDARK WEB: STEVEN HICKEY’S ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO CREEPYPASTA – PART 39: SALLY (PLAY WITH ME)

As I’ve written here before in my coverage of 1999 and Where Bad Kids Go, there are few evils in the world as monstrous as those sick individuals who prey on children. It is the acts of the likes of the Moors Murderers, Fred and Rose West, and Ian Huntley that are the real world’s most disturbing horror stories. This week’s Dark Web feature is about a Pasta that combines elements of these true-life horrors with a traditional vengeful ghost story to chilling effect. This is the story of Sally, Play With Me.

The story of Sally first appeared online at author and DeviantArtist, La-Mishi-Mish’s (formerly Kiki-Hyuga) page on 29 February 2012. You can read it at: http://la-mishi-mish.deviantart.com/art/CreepyPasta-Play-with-me-287823665
It recounts the story of young Sally, a sweet eight-year-old girl who is full of the innocence of youth. However, she finds herself plunged into a nightmare when her abusive and manipulative uncle Johnny comes to visit. After a horrifying ordeal (which, thankfully, is implied rather than graphically described), she looks to tell her parents about what she went through. Unable to process what they’re being told, the girl’s mother and father enter a state of denial. Later, Johnny overhears the two discussing their concerns – and decides to punish the girl for breaking her silence. However, Sally’s story does not end there…

The writing gets a tiny bit rough at times – which is only to be expected when you take the author’s relative inexperience into account – however, the story is strong and shocking, and (like some of the very finest horror stories) there is a real sense of pathos to Play With Me. Even as she becomes something terrifying, one can never forget that Sally is a victim herself. In her own story, Sally is far from the worst monster.

rsz_past_by_isaacostaIn a lot of ways she is reminiscent of Ring’s Sadako (or Samara for those only familiar with the remake), a sympathetic innocent who becomes corrupted by the horrors inflicted upon her. However, lets us not forget that here in the West, children are regularly used to invoke fear. We have an ageing population, one that has every reason to fear the next, younger generation. After all, ultimately, they are going to replace each of us.

What’s more, young children are far less rational or controlled than grown-ups. Their emotions are volatile, their brains just alien enough to make them unpredictable, and their different view of the world makes children pretty unfathomable to a large section of adult society. Of course, corruption of youth and innocence is a huge part of the Creepypasta movement – it’s the reason why there are hundreds and hundreds of ‘lost episode’ pastas relating to children’s programmes, such as Squidward’s Suicide or Suicide Mouse, and (as far as I’m aware) not a single one related to adult programming such as The Sopranos, 24 or Breaking Bad. There’s something inherently unsettling about taking childhood, the time in which you were meant to be most carefree, most safe, and reawakening those deep dark fears that came with the times.

The official term for a fear of children is paedophobia, and the reasons for which somebody might be afflicted with it are many, but it’s clearly common enough for Hollywood to have taken notice. Spooky kids are bread and butter in horror movies, and Sally definitely falls into the spooky category. She’s also a character that has seen a predominantly warm welcome from the Creepypasta community. There are plenty of pictures of the character on DeviantArt, plus an unofficial spin-off story, Will You Play With Me?, which was posted over at Creepypasta.com by user D.S. Ozolnieks (http://www.creepypasta.com/will-you-play-with-me/). Will You Play With Me? tells the story of an unfortunate individual who happens to cross paths with Sally.

There are also plenty of those ever-present readings online, including one by the heavyweight champion of the Creepypasta Reading scene, Mr Creepypasta, (which you can listen to here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKJb4hU-4qc) and the equally impressive Creeps McPasta here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3K6X2yXL44.

This is a character who has touched, and terrified, thousands of people, and as such has taken on iconic status with some sections of the fandom.

I was lucky enough to speak with the character’s creator, La-Mishi-Mish, and she gave me some frank, brave answers to my questions, answers which some readers may find upsetting.
Our interview follows below.

UK HORROR SCENE: In your own words, tell us a little about Sally/Play With Me?

LA-MISHI-MISH: Play With Me is based on an eight year old girl named Sally. It takes place during a summer in the Sixties, and unfortunately, it will be her last summer to experience any true happiness or freedom as a child. I won’t go into full detail into the story for those who are possibly interested in reading it, but it let’s just say it does not have a happy ending. Sally, however, is your typical ‘good daughter’ who wants to make her parents happy and proud of her. And people like her never deserve what she does go through.

rsz_sally_1_by_la_mishi_mishUKHS: What served as your inspiration for the character?

LMM: Sally is 100% based and inspired off of my mother. I, again, won’t go into too much detail of her past, but my mother is a survivor of incest and many, many other things. She honestly should not be here alive after what she has been through, but I’m supremely grateful that she is. I honestly don’t know what I would do if she wasn’t here today. But despite everything my mother has gone through, she still lives every day to the fullest no matter what may come crashing down on her, and I wanted to incorporate that into Sally’s character, before and after her events in the story.

UKHS: Which idea came to you first, the image or the story?

LMM: The image came first. It wouldn’t surprise me if no one believes what I’ll say next but, my family and I are, ‘different’. Different as in we are able to see or feel spirits or anything paranormal. When I was little, I had two ‘imaginary friends’. One named Sally, the other Sarah. Sally wore pink, Sarah wore purple. Sally was a brunette while Sarah was blonde. Of course when I told my mother this, she never wrote it off as them being ‘imaginary’, but simply accepted that I, like her, could see spirits/ghosts. I don’t see them as much now, but I like to think they’re still here watching over us. Anything I do happen to see is out of the corner of my eye, my mother and brother Logan however, can see them clearly, as if they are real people.

But after I came up with my initial idea of who my protagonist would look like in my story, it was then I decided to base one of the many things my mother had gone through herself as a child, as the story itself. Albeit a far ‘tamer’ version. But my mother always wanted to ‘be’ a cartoon character in some way, so I created Sally and Play With Me in her honor.

UKHS: Are you a fan of Creepypasta? If so, what is your favourite Creepypasta by a creator other than yourself?

LMM: I’m a fan of SOME Creepypasta, but not all. If I may be honest, I haven’t been up to date with any recently popular CP’s. But if I was to choose a handful of my personal it would be these: My very first Creepypasta story I ever read, was BEN: Haunted Majora’s Mask. It’s quite a read, but definitely worth every minute you spend on it. Creeped me out to no end. Then there’s the unforgettable Jeff the Killer, Mr. Widemouth, Clifton Bunny Man, Huntsville Camping Trip, The Thing That Stalks The Fields, Eyeless Jack, Smile.Dog, Squidward’s Suicide, Cupcakes, The Willow Men, Julia Legare, Tourist Trap, LSD: Dream Emulator, Bubby the Clown, Herobrine, Disneyland 1999, Lavender Town, Russian Sleep Experiment, just to name a few. They’re all great in my opinion.

UKHS: Why do you think Creepypastas in general, and especially Sally/Play With Me, have been so popular with the fans?

LMM: I think Creepypasta itself is online scary stories that can be shared and told countless of times. People love scary stories, no matter how scary or even silly it may be. Seeing how you can use the internet for almost anything, creating and sharing something like stories would be easy to do.
I’m not sure how my story got so popular, but in a way I’m kinda honored, if not flattered it did. I’m not too confident in my written work as I am in my drawings, but it gives me some feeling of accomplishment.

rsz_sally_profile_sheet_by_la_mishi_mishUKHS: Which writers, horror or otherwise, do you consider yourself a fan of?

LMM: I don’t read much literature (I’m more into manga), but from what I remember, one of my favorite authors was Laurie Faria Stolarz and her book series, Blue is for Nightmares. I unfortunately only got up to a certain point in the series because I couldn’t find the rest of the books, but from what I remember it’s a wonderful series. I highly recommend it to anyone who is into mystery novels.

UKHS: What work of your own are you most proud of?

LMM: That’s a tough question, I’m very hard on myself at times with my artwork, whether it be drawn or written. But right now I am pretty proud of my Play With Me story. I never expected a silly little story I made in honor of my mom would get popular in any form. Art wise? That’s a little tough because, there’s tons of pieces that I personally feel proud of, but too many to list on here.

UKHS: The fans are very passionate about the character. Are there any examples of fan art, such as images, films or readings, in particular that have impressed you?

LMM: Yes actually, I do have a few favourites that I’d be happy to show you.
http://mio-m3.deviantart.com/art/Sally-638350582
http://a-b-b-a.deviantart.com/art/sleeping-beauty-640341677
http://isaacosta.deviantart.com/art/Past-601597215
http://tokami-fuko.deviantart.com/art/PLAY-WITH-ME-569240024
http://delucat.deviantart.com/art/Cosplay-Creepypasta-Jeff-The-Killer-with-Sally-556864766
http://havenrelis.deviantart.com/art/Sally-progress-pics-546588727
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3K6X2yXL44

UKHS: Your artwork is incredible. Where did you learn to create such evocative images? How do you get inspiration for the creative process?

LMM: Awah, thank you so much haha, I’m flattered to hear that. I first started drawing when I was five. I always loved watching my aunt Cheyenne draw little comics and characters, so when I turned eight I wanted her to teach me how to draw. She taught me the basics, but after that I’ve been self taught. I wish it was easier to ‘print’ out the images one can visualise in one’s head, but when my art does come close to it, it’s a great accomplishment. My inspiration almost always stems from my emotions to my music that I listen to. A simple song can easily spark up many upon many ideas for pictures.

UKHS: Will you ever return to the story of Sally in the future? And what else can your fans look forward to from you in the days ahead?

LMM: I’m actually in the process of giving my Play With Me story a sort of ‘reboot’. Not to replace the previous story, mind you, just to have a little fun to add more to it and see if the public will like it. I will admit that I could have done lots more to my story, but regardless of what anyone says about it, I am happy with how the story turned out. I don’t know if you’ve read my fan story Origin of Eyeless Jack (http://la-mishi-mish.deviantart.com/art/Origin-of-Eyeless-Jack-363990065), but I also plan on creating one for BEN: Haunted Majoras Mask. They have nothing to do with the original, of course, but they too are also for fun. And in the future, I just hope people enjoy what I continue to post up in my gallery, whether it be literature or artwork.

rsz_sally2UKHS: And finally, are there any sites or projects that you’d like me to send my readers to for more of your work?

LMM: Well, there’s obviously my deviantART page: La-Mishi-Mish.deviantart.com, that’s where I post most if not all my work. Then there’s my artblog over on Tumblr, http://artofakiki.tumblr.com. And finally, if one is even interested, my YouTube channel. I have tons of old videos of my first years on YouTube itself, but now has small voice acting tidbits of the Five Nights at Freddy’s animatronics and other shenanigans. Just search up ‘La Mishi Mish’ and you should be able to find me with no problem (UKHS: the channel is here: https://www.youtube.com/user/HyuugaKiki100). With my current living conditions, I am unable to upload constant videos on my channel, but hopefully one day that will change.

UKHS: Thank you for speaking with me.

Sally is one of those Creepypasta characters who has become an integral part of the scene for several fans. Join me next time when I’ll be speaking with the creator of another iconic web-horror character…

Dark Web: Steven Hickey’s Essential Guide To Creepypasta – Part 38: The Puppeteer

creepypastaDARK WEB: STEVEN HICKEY’S ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO CREEPYPASTA PART 38: THE PUPPETEER

A few weeks ago I wrote about the popular DeviantArt original character (or OC, to use the parlance of Creepypasta creators), Jason the Toymaker.
Jason is a perfect example of the nature of DeviantArt OCs. He is a terrifying, visually striking character who has drawn more than his fair-share of (sometimes unwanted) fan adoration. This week I’m returning to DeviantArt for another such character, one that is was actually heralded by Jason’s creator, Kristantyl, as her favourite Creepypasta. This is the story of The Puppeteer.

The story of The Puppeteer was first posted on DeviantArt in July 2013 by his creator, BleedingHeartworks. You can read the story here: http://bleedingheartworks.deviantart.com/art/Creepy-Pasta-The-Puppeteer-387722714

In the story an unnamed narrator talks about experiencing an overwhelming feeling of loneliness and then paranoia upon going to college. Finally, after the narrator has succeeded in withdrawing from any all contact, a chance encounter on a stairwell leads to a heart-rending, frightening conclusion. The story is a good one, and I can imagine that lots of Creepypasta readers are of the same age as BleedingHeartworks’ protagonist, which will help the reader to relate to the character’s plight.

What’s striking is the fact that, despite being the title character, The Puppeteer is used sparingly in the story. This is a very intelligent storytelling device, as few things frighten as much as the unknown. We are given a description of the villain, a hint as to his motives, but the character never wears out his welcome, is never overexposed. This smart storytelling drew a lot of attention to the character, prompting the author to pen a sequel, The Puppeteer II: Motherly Love, which appeared over at DeviantArt on 5 December 2013. You can read that story here: http://bleedingheartworks.deviantart.com/art/The-Puppeteer-II-Motherly-Love-418003926

It’s the story of a young boy (later revealed to be named Zachary) and the struggles he faces growing up with an abusive alcoholic for a mother. To escape the misery of his day to day existence, the boy conjures up a host of imaginary friends to play with. But as he gets older and outgrows these childhood fantasies, one of these friends refuses to fade away. A familiar golden eyed entity… I think an argument can be made that this story is actually a sequel that surpasses the original tale. There is clear growth evident in BleedingHeartworks’ writing style and the story itself is more substantial.

rsz_puppeteer__character_sheet_by_bleedingheartworks-d6urhndOnce again, The Puppeteer is kept shrouded in mystery, which — when combined with the number of visually striking images of the character that BleedingHeartworks was producing — saw the character’s steadily growing hordes of fans clamouring for some more information. In response to this demand, BleedingHeartworks created character sheets, a document detailing the Puppeteer’s relationships, and, in October last year, a proper origin story. You can read it here: http://bleedingheartworks.deviantart.com/art/ORIGIN-STORY-The-Puppeteer-639586140

It’s always risky revealing an OCs origin, as it comes with a chance of souring the mystique surrounding the character. However, as origin stories go, The Puppeteer’s is a pretty good one. It is revealed that the character was born Jonathan Blake in 1974, a normal boy with a normal family. As he grew he became interested in the Arts, especially theatre, but these dreams were placed on hold as his parents often worked long hours and he was forced to watch his younger siblings. Finally, however, he was able to attend High School, where he joined the drama club. It was here that he met pretty budding ballet dancer Emra, with whom romance soon blossomed.

Emra was Jonathan’s rock during his frequent bouts of depression, while he lent her the moral support and strength to stand up to her overbearing parents. However, as graduation drew near, it was these same parents that would drive a wedge between the young lovers. They gave Emra an ultimatum: either she would break up with Jonathan or they would refuse to subsidise her dream to become a dancer. Forced to choose between her love and her dreams, Emra chose her dreams and ended the relationship. Needless to say, Jonathan did not take this well…

These sequels are more than just continuations of the Puppeteer’s story, they are genuine expansions, each adding characters who would go on to become a huge part of the Puppeteer’s lore. Both Zachary and Emra now serve their puppet-master in his plots to ensnare future victims. It’s a rich story that has been developing and evolving, plus it comes with dozens of high-quality and quite fantastic pieces of art, all of which can be found in BleedingHeartworks’ Puppeteer gallery over at DeviantArt here: http://bleedingheartworks.deviantart.com/gallery/46973406/T-H-E-P-U-P-P-E-T-E-E-R
It can come as no surprise that the fans have embraced the character and the story. This has created an established audience for artists and other creative types, who have produced a wealth of fanart (including some great readings by Creepypasta’s biggest name narrators, such MrCreepypasta: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZUc03enccs)

It’s hard to ascertain what exactly makes the Puppeteer such a frightening character. Obviously the graphic descriptions of broken bones caused by his spiteful actions are the most attention grabbing, but it is MO of stalking and taking advantage of the lonely and the depressed that is his most frightening characteristic. Manipulative and cunning, the Puppeteer is a character that will take advantage and target an individual when they are their lowest ebb. As all people will experience a time when they feel outcast or alone, this is a truly scary proposition.

I was lucky enough to be able to speak with the mind that created this monster, BleedingHeartworks. Our interview follows below.

UK HORROR SCENE: Hi BleedingHeartworks, thanks for agreeing to speak with me. First, in your own words, tell us a little about The Puppeteer?

BLEEDINGHEARTWORKS: The Puppeteer as a character is a vengeful spirit with the intention to feed off the energy of human beings. In order to do that, he forces his victims through emotional turmoil, causing them to slowly slip into madness and eventually suicide. The Puppeteer is very manipulative, often presenting himself as a friend to others. He’s very self-absorbed and will only do things in order to gain things for himself. Despite that, he’s a very calm and peaceful ghost, but when provoked can end your life at an instant. He can produce golden-glowing strings in order to keep his victims at bay during the kill.
The Puppeteer does not always work on his own however, as he’s gained the help of two puppets of his, Emra (Created by Highwind-Valor) and Zachary. They work in a similar way as the proxies work for Slenderman.

UKHS: What served as your inspiration for the character?

BH: During the time of the creation of the character, I was heavy influenced by two indie-horror games; The Cat Lady and The Crooked Man. Both of these games spoke about suicide and depression, something that I wanted to translate a story about as well.

rsz_1rsz_cp_couple_canon__puppeteer_and_emra_by_aiuta31-d91vhu4UKHS: Which idea came to you first, the image or the story?

BH: For me, when creating characters the visuals usually comes first. I always have some kind of theme or a specific item or look I want to create a character around. With Puppeteer, I didn’t draw him until a few weeks into the progress. I kind of lingered around his purpose and characteristics for so long, the visuals managed to come alive of it’s own inside my head. The first drawing I did of him was together with Sally (Play With Me), since Kiki-Hyuga was helping me out with the story during the first weeks of the progress. After that drawing, I started up the story. And it just kinda escalated from there.

UKHS: Are you a fan of Creepypasta? If so, what is your favourite Creepypasta by a creator other than yourself?

BH: Absolutely! Even though I’ve been going in and out of the fandom for a few years, I’ve always come back somehow. It’s as if I’m unable to really let it go, and it’s even harder when so many people like what I do. My favorite creepy pasta creator is Emthesmall, another author who’s created Starvation of Angels, one of my favorite creepy pastas up to date. She’s also a very dear friend of mine and we can spend hours talking about horror and creepypasta, creating stories and characters together.

UKHS: Why do you think Creepypastas in general, and especially The Puppeteer, have been so popular with the fans. For the Creepypasta genre, I think a lot of comes with that a lot of readers can find themselves in the stories and relate to the characters. For The Puppeteer, I think (and hope) it’s about the same.

BH: I know there’s been a lot of followers saying that they can relate to both the main characters and the Puppeteer, which I think matters to a lot of people. For me, the fascination for the genre comes from knowing that all of the content comes from the ordinary people, the single person and creators as a whole. Nothing has gone through company-eyes and everything comes from the single heart of creation. It’s the mainly the only reason why I got so attached to Creepypasta in the first place. I love the people and the passion that comes through into creating.

UKHS: Which writers, horror or otherwise, do you consider yourself a fan of?

BH: I’ve always been a huge fan of Stephen King and Gaston Leroux. Despite not always coming back to specific writers, I usually always end up reading up on time period horror stories, sort of the victorian-era gothic stories.

UKHS: What work of your own are you most proud of?

BH: Besides Creepypasta and The Puppeteer, I have a few other things I work around and one of them being my own universe and world for my own Dungeon World campaign. Even though I haven’t let a lot of people in on this project, I’ve spent roughly two years in creating my own fantasy setting for role-play purposes. I’ve done everything from creating stories to characters, to nature to lore. Maybe one day, I’ll wrap it all up together and post more of what I have done during these two last years. Maybe.

UKHS: The fans are very passionate about the character. Are there any examples of fan art, such as images, films or readings, in particular that have impressed you?

BH: I’ve had a few fan fictions and pieces of art that has completely blown my mind. I’ve always said that The Puppeteer is what the fandom makes him, as many people adapts their own ideas and thoughts to his character and that’s what I feel makes him special. I love it when people come up with their own headcanons for him, as well as relationships and stories and I love it even more when they want to share it with the rest of my followers. I’ve always made sure to let people know when I appreciate their creations, especially since I know they will let me know that they appreciate mine.

One thing that I will always come back to and love so much, is the song ”Golden Strings” created by my friend, Youtube Madame Macabre which is a fan-song created for Puppeteer (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLWcNPhHFBE). To have an actual original song dedicated to your character is the coolest things to happen to a creator, especially for me since I always let music have a big part of my inspiration.

UKHS: When I interviewed Kristantyl about Jason the Toy maker, she named the Puppeteer as her favourite Creepypasta. How does it feel to get that sort of recognition from fellow creators?

BH: That’s amazing! Just as every other artist out there, I worry a lot about what others think about my art and pieces. I think between creators, we can understand the pressure that comes along with having something of yours become popular among a fandom. And when you hear such words coming from someone else you equally admire, it’s one of the best feelings ever.

UKHS: Your artwork is incredible. Where did you learn to create such evocative images? How do you get inspiration for the creative process?

BH: Thank you! Art has always come natural for me and it’s always been there for me as a way to express myself when words isn’t enough. From an early age, I was always the kid who would rather stay inside and draw by myself than be out and socialize with others. My autism made it difficult for me to interpret what others said and harder for me to tell people what I actually meant. The simplicity of art is what kept me to it and always had. So art became a very personal, emotional thing for me. I endlessly pushed in personal things into my art, it didn’t really mattered if it was a ’mindless’ fantasy piece or something more of a personal nature. Things that will always inspire me ranges all over the place, from video games to series, to the simple nature to everyday things such as music. I can get inspiration from conversations, when I’m out with friends, alone. My mind just won’t stop bugging me about it.

rsz_the_puppeteer__new_character_sheet__by_bleedingheartworks-d8jdu61UKHS: Will you ever return to the story of The Puppeteer in the future? And what else can your fans look forward to from you in the days ahead?

BH: I probably will. I always find myself coming back to him and keep coming up with new stories to work out. The possibilities are endless. As of now, the projects I have in mind are a few other stories, one short-film, a comic and a music video for a friend that involves The Puppeteer and his two helpers.

UKHS: And finally, are there any sites or projects that you’d like me to send my readers to for more of your work?

BH: Nothing more than just my DA, really. http://bleedingheartworks.deviantart.com

As BleedingHeartworks explained, the tattered puppet follower Emra was actually created by fellow DeviantArtist Highwind-Valor. Now an established part of the Puppeteer’s story, the creepy marionette-like character is just as creepy and visually striking as her former lover.

I’m really happy to be able to say that I was also able to dig a little deeper into the character as Highwind-Valor was kind enough to speak with me. You can read our interview below.

UKHS: The most obvious first — in your own words, tell us a little about Emra and her role in the story of The Puppeteer?

HIGHWIND-VALOR: Emra is Puppeteer’s first true creation, she is his muse, his masterpiece. At first she plays the role of his proxy, going out to find new lonely victims to turn into puppets. When Puppeteer realizes how fragile she is (she not a very well made, she falls apart/scratches very easily), he leaves her in an abandoned theatre. The place that she now calls home. She stays there by herself for the most part, playing mother to Puppeteer’s proxy Zachary. That’s the short synopsis I can give without making this a long answer haha.

UKHS: What served as your inspiration for the character?

HV: The character herself was inspired by my love for the theatre. I feel that this is shown through her design, and through most of her story.
Some of the other aspects of her character was inspired by my ex-girlfriend and her terrible parents. I would use a word worse than terrible, but even that would be putting it mildly. They were so controlling, and that is what Emra never gets throughout most of her story, control. She doesn’t get control of her own life, and assumes that she can’t even make her own decisions. Any control she does try to take ends with some sort of hard consequence.

UKHS: Why did you choose to contribute to the story of The Puppeteer?

HV: When Bleedingheartworks and I started talking, it wasn’t too long after Puppeteer was created. She asked if I wanted to make a character to role play with her online, and here we are. I didn’t think I would get so invested into her character, I also never thought she would ever gain traction in popularity.
Emra was actually the first character I had made and fleshed out since early high school, and I made Emra in my junior year of college.

UKHS: Which idea came to you first, the image or the story?

HV: A mix of both. Bleedingheartworks and I talked about what could potentially happen if I made a character. We talked about what could happen if I made a male character, which I was originally going to do. Then we talked about the potential of a female character, and then it just sort of snowballed from there.

rsz_pupandemra2_by_ivydarkrose-d9c6shtUKHS: Are you a fan of Creepypasta? If so, what is your favourite Creepypasta by a creator other than yourself?

HV: It depends, there’s always a good side, and a bad side to every fandom, and Creepypasta is no different. Creepypasta has been known especially for the bad fandom, fortunately for me, most of my experiences within the community have been good. My good experience stems from being interested in horror, mainly Eighties horror, followed by the classics such as Frankenstein or the Werewolf. There wasn’t a huge following for that when I first started roaming the internet way back when; maybe I wasn’t looking in the right place? Who knows.

Creepypasta served as a gateway for me to make friends whose interests were not limited to creepypasta, but the horror genre as a whole. That’s why I am a fan, because I could make friends who I could geek out about horror with, and in turn we could make our own horror stories to share. There are a lot of creations that I love within the community, but you have to sift through a lot to find those well thought out/put together creations. Just like you have to sift through a lot of people before you will find your true friends.

My favorite creepypasta right now is one that actually hasn’t been published anywhere, yet. My best friend, Max, whom I met in high school, decided to try their hand at making a creepypasta. After seeing how much fun BleedingHeartworks and I were having creating the story that surrounds Puppeteer and Emra, Max told me about their new character named John, during a car ride over to Seattle.

I was enthralled the whole ride, asking questions to learn about the story behind this twisted character, who I hope will be introduced into the community soon.
The thing about John is he legitimately scares me. He is a very religious man, but he is one of those that takes it too far. There are people in this world so crazed by the power of religion that it makes his story legitimately scary, to me at least, to see how far a man would go in the name of god. Either way, as far as I know he is still a work in progress. Max has been working on him and his story for a good two years now. BleedingHeartworks and I are constantly trying to encourage her to keep working and post it for people to see and enjoy.

The other piece of content I am still a fan of is Marble Hornets. I remember how scared I was when I first started watching it. I believe they were around tape 30 or 40 when I came crossed it, and I binged it. At first it was the fear that excited me with it, then what it ultimately boiled down to was the story. The story of a couple friends just trying to make a movie, and everything going wrong in a way that would ruin their mental state forever. I was such a big fan of it that I actually helped Madame Macabre (https://www.youtube.com/user/xMadameMacabrex) make full music video for her fan made song for Marble Hornets titled To The Ark, producing all of the visuals to try and emulate the series the best I could.

UKHS: Why do you think Creepypastas in general, and especially The Puppeteer, have been so popular with the fans?

HV: I honestly think it originated with the mystery. In terms of Puppeteer, not a lot more than his story/design was put out there when he was first released. After a year or so, Bleedingheartworks released his origin story. It was a gradual thing which is good, because: 1] It keeps the fans interested in the mystery, and 2] It gives the creator time to sort out details. To this day Bleedingheartworks and I continue to develop our characters together. Figuring out various plot lines that may or may not have happened.

UKHS: Which writers, horror or otherwise, do you consider yourself a fan of?

HV: I’ve been a fan of Wes Craven, and Stephen King ever since I first got into horror. Freddy Vs. Jason is the first horror movie I watched without being completely terrified of it, and that got me into watching the ANOES/Friday the 13th movies. Which, in turn, got me into looking up more and more.

UKHS: What work of your own are you most proud of?

HV: That’s actually a pretty hard question. I pretty proud of Emra, both story and design I have put a lot of effort into over the years. I just need to make more content for her now haha. It’s hard looking at your own work

UKHS: The fans are very passionate about the character. Are there any examples of fan art, such as images, films or readings, in particular that have impressed you?

HV: I have received a couple of pieces of fan art, and it gets me excited when people get excited about Emra. From traditional to digital illustrations, an MMD model, I even received a beautiful doll that a friend made of her. (The Emra doll actually stays on my desk which is pretty neat!)
Really, the talent is endless and I am so glad that people share their art with me! It truly means a lot.
http://aiuta31.deviantart.com/art/CP-COUPLE-CANON-Puppeteer-and-Emra-547344652
http://ivydarkrose.deviantart.com/art/MMD-The-Puppeteer-and-Emra-564667841
http://kingdomwielders.deviantart.com/art/Upcycled-Art-Doll-Emra-615545932
http://thebleedingtears.deviantart.com/art/Emra-632247701

UKHS: When I interviewed BleedingHeartworks about The Puppeteer, she spoke very highly of you and your work with Emra. How does it feel to get that sort of recognition from fellow creators?

HV: It feels odd, for a lack of a better word. I’ve never gotten so much attention for something I’ve created, I’m so used to just being in my own corner creating things that people don’t really look at haha.

UKHS: What else can your fans look forward to from you in the days ahead?

HV:In terms of Emra, I am slowly but surely working out a concept for a video explaining her origins. Outside of that, I have delved into the art of making movie reviews. In each review I portray of a character of mine, Leviana, who commentates on the movies. And these movies tend to be bad b-level movies, so it makes for some pretty entertaining content.

UKHS: And finally, are there any sites or projects that you’d like me to send my readers to for more of your work?

HV: Honestly, I always have work going on. Whether it’s my own projects, or a project I’ve been asked to be apart of. Granted, it takes me forever to get content posted but you can always keep an eye out on my pages.

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/UmbrellaBoatStudioTV
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Highwind_Valor
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/UmbrellaBoatStudio/

In the story of The Puppeteer and Emra we see a positive example of the collaborative nature of Creepypasta. It is a project by two talented and imaginative artists who were able to further inspire each other to greater things. It is this type of relationship that makes Creepypasta such a unique and exciting form of horror storytelling, one that is fluid, ever-shifting and evolving not just with the creators, but also with the audience.

As an aside, I find it fascinating that BleedingHeartworks mentions with the creator of another Creepypasta icon, ‘Play With Me’s’ Sally, while The Puppeteer was first forming. I’ve a feeling we’ll be reading more about that story very, very soon…

Dark Web: Steven Hickey’s Essential Guide To Creepypasta Part 37: An Exclusive Interview With Creepypasta Wiki’s Mr Dupin

DARK WEB: STEVEN HICKEY’S ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO CREEPYPASTA

PART 37: AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH THE CREEPYPASTA WIKI’S MR DUPIN

creepypastaAlong with Creepypasta.com, Reddit and 4Chan, one of the best resources for quality Creepypasta stories is the Creepypasta Wiki. With strict quality guidelines that are rigorously enforced by a number of highly-respected admins, all of whom regularly write and contribute their own stories to the Wiki. One of the most esteemed of these is long-time contributor, MrDupin, a writer with a number of very, very good stories to his name. This week, rather than look at any one story, I thought I’d talk to a true expert in the field and, I’m so grateful that MrDupin was kind enough to talk to us.

UK HORROR SCENE: Thanks so much for agreeing to speak with me. First, can you tell my readers a little bit about yourself, the creepy pasta wiki and your role there?

MRDUPIN: I am MrDupin, I’m studying Computer Science and I love writing and reading stories (especially mystery and horror). I’m also an administrator on Creepypasta Wiki, a place where writers can contribute their own horror stories for others to read. As an admin, my main role is to make sure the stories posted on the wiki are of a certain quality. I’m also working on generally maintaining the wiki, editing stories, helping out users and stuff of that nature. All in all, my role is to make the wiki an enjoyable experience for readers and writers alike, helping people improve their writing and doing my best to get aspiring writers exposure.

UKHS: What is it that drew you to creepypastas?

MrD: I always loved writing, ever since I was very young. My problem was that there was no place where I could post stories for others to read. When I found out that people on the internet were writing and posting stories online, I wanted in. I wrote and posted a couple of stories on Creepypasta Wiki, gave some feedback to some other writers, edited some work and that’s when I decided this was a place worth spending my time on.

UKHS: Why do you think creepy pasta resonates with the fandom?

MrD: Horror in general appeals to a lot of people. For some reason, people like getting scared. Creepypasta managed to bring that horror in short, digestible bits. At first they started as really short stories you could easily share around the internet to scare your friends, but with time they evolved into a more serious form of literature. A lot of very good writers try their hand at the genre and that only elevates the material. So, people who come for the quick scare of the day stay for the quality of the stories.

UKHS: What are your personal favourites?

MrD: Oh, I have too many to list here. I’ve been reading stories for a very long time and I have compiled a whole list of my favourites. Currently the number of stories on my list sits at about 50. If anyone wants to read these stories, they can go at my profile page on Creepypasta wiki. They are some very good works that I highly recommend. (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/User:MrDupin) I will now try to give a quick overview of my absolute favourites.

Of the most well known stories, probably my favourite is Psychosis. The feeling of paranoia in the story was something very foreign to me when I first read the tale. A great writer that has contributed a lot to this wiki is Humboldt (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/User:HumboldtLycanthrope). He has written a ton of bone-chilling tales, but if I had to pick my favourite, it would be The Number of Darkness (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/The_Number_of_Darkness). That story, simply put, is hard hitting. It takes demonic possession to the next level.
Another phenomenal writer, who was also an admin on the wiki for a long while (and recently got his position back), is Empyre (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/User:EmpyrealInvective). He can write in a very wide range, from hair-raising horror to stories with melancholical undertones. Some of my favourites of his work are A Small Piece of Lead (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/A_Small_Piece_of_Lead), a very emotional piece, and It Breathes, It Bleeds, It Breeds, one of the greatest parasite stories on the internet (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/It_Breathes,_It_Bleeds,_It_Breeds).

For me though, the best writer on the wiki is WriterJosh (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/User:WriterJosh). I just can’t recommend his stories enough. His story, Shut That Damned Door (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/Shut_That_Damned_Door) is, for me, the best story on the site. It took a concept so simple and familiar, shutting a door closed, and twisted it into something purely terrifying.

_thumb_51a1cd2e-69d3-4c50-9c9a-b20145b3f6d3UKHS: I’ve covered a lot of classic creepypasta stories for these Dark Web features. Can I ask your opinion on some of those that I have covered here before?

MrD: Before I begin, I want to say that most of these stories are stories that stain the image of the creepypasta genre. Currently we have stories that are far superior to most on the list. It is very unfortunate that the garbage came before the silk, so now we are stuck with people thinking “Jeff the Killer” is any good.

Jeff the Killer (all versions, including JtK 2015)
The original is a terrible pasta, that unfortunately became the face of the genre, with thousands of angsty teens and pre-teens flocking around it with fan-fiction and countless spinoffs. We tried to remedy that a little by running a contest for a remake, which produced the JtK 2015 story. The new version is vastly better, even though it is dragged down by the plot. Banning (the winner) did a fantastic job with the material.

BEN Drowned
I remember when I first read it, I couldn’t sleep for days. Maybe it’s because I was young, but the video was terrifying. The story, not so much, but the video was very good horror.

Polybius
This one is one of the first creepypastas, and it shows clearly how the genre started out. Myths and conspiracy theories with a tint of horror. It is the realism of this pasta that made it stand out.

Mereana Mordegard Glesgorv
I never understood what the fuss was all about. The video in particular is plain boring, could never get through it.

Suicide Mouse
I never liked this one. I am not particularly fond of “Lost Episode” stories and the like, so this didn’t get to me. It is basically Squidward’s Suicide in a different skin. I guess people like seeing the dark side of innocent cartoon artists.

1999
This was a good enough story. The problem I had with it is that it dragged on for way too long. For some reason, the author is still adding to it. This is a prime example of a work the creator shot dead by overdoing it.

rake01The Rake
Humans have long loved cryptozoology. That’s why myths like the Loch Ness monster, Bigfoot, Unicorns etc. exist. “The Rake”, in an age of technology, managed to capture the imagination of the crowds not because of the plot itself, which is nothing special, but because of all the images that surfaced around it and spread like wildfire. This pasta is an internet mythos through and through.

The Holders Series
The most interesting thing about the series is the way the stories are written. They all have a certain tone that holds for all the parts (at least those I’ve read). As they are all pretty much the same though, it was no wonder their popularity fizzled out.

Expressionless
This is the definition of a story using the uncanny to its advantage. As a plot it’s nothing special, and it is the image that carries the whole story. I would go as far as to say the plot severely drags the image down. A more experienced writer could have written a short story that, coupled with the image, would have been a masterpiece for the ages. Instead we get this, which is good enough, I guess.

Jane the Killer (both versions)
Have not read it, didn’t even know there were two versions. I understand it’s a Jeff spinoff. If I were to take a guess, I would say it is garbage.

PENPAL
Have not read it, but I’ve heard it’s very, very good.

The Smiling Man
This is a very good story. It balances right down the line of weird and realistic, and that’s what makes it so scary and unsettling.

Bedtime (and sequels)
The first Bedtime is a very good pasta. I remember when I first read it I had trouble sleeping. Even though I was pretty young at the time, I still believe it is a very good read. The rest of the entries were unnecessary in my opinion. To me, it felt like the writer was simply riding on its success and wanted more. They are not badly written, but they are a massive letdown. Sequels very rarely work, not in movies, not in books and not in creepypasta. Especially for a story that has been told.

UKHS: Now I’d like to talk to you about some sub-genres and trends in the Creepypasta community. One of the largest and most popular Creepypasta trends has been Slenderman tie-ins. What are your thoughts on the whole Slendermania thing?

MrD: Slenderman itself is creepy, especially the first images of him that originated from the SomethingAwful forums. The Slenderman myth grew in popularity as the years passed, and that growth unfortunately and inevitably gathered a fanbase that derailed the myth with fanfiction, sexy drawings and their absurd addiction with anything Slenderman. Among these pieces there are bound to be some gems, but overall said work is below average, to say the least. So, even though Slenderman is creepy, the stuff that came with its popularity is garbage and stains this icon of creepypasta.

UKHS: We’ve briefly touched on Lost Episode pastas. What are your thoughts on these? Are there any that you feel are successful?

MrD: The main issue I have with said pastas is that they are focused too much on the cartoon/show itself. Usually what they do is take a cartoon, add a crazy/disgruntled artist, add gore/macabre/grotesque art by said artist and that’s it. That’s the formula for pretty much any Lost Episode pasta out there. Personally, I don’t find this format enjoyable. It is boring and stale, so I can’t say I have seen any that creeped me out or entertained me in any way.

What I would like to see in the genre is a new take, where the focus isn’t on the cartoon, with the gore and stuff, but on something else. An idea I had for a story in the genre is this: Somehow someone finds a taping of an episode that didn’t air. Watching the episode, the viewer finds something out of place. Maybe a message, or even spots something happening on the background. The viewer, who has their curiosity piqued, starts investigating and the spotlight shifts away from the episode and onto the investigation. This direction hasn’t been explored much in the genre and that’s a shame, since I believe it holds a lot of potential.

UKHS: The bane of most serious pasta fans is the still ongoing trend for videogame-pastas. Once again, can I ask for your thoughts on these? And are there any that you feel tell a compelling story?

MrD: Videogame-pastas are very similar to Lost Episodes. It’s just the medium that changes. One story that I enjoyed was the ever-so-popular BEN Drowned. I don’t know if it’s because I was younger, but the video and music were really creepy.

UKHS: It seems that (on DeviantArt) in particular, lots of creators are keen on producing a cool, iconic character. Some have become very popular among fans (Laughing Jack, Eyeless Jack, Jason the Toymaker, The Puppetmaster, BloodyPainter etc). What are your thoughts on this trend?

MrD: The lack of creativity in that area of the internet is astounding. Everything is a carbon copy of Jeff the Killer with only a few tweaks here and there. The creators of this kind of stories are usually very young and they want to express their angsty self on paper, but they can’t find a better way than coming up with an ultra-violent character. I don’t have much more to say on this. It’s a shame that the image of creepypasta has been spoiled by works like these.

UKHS: It seems to me that the latest recognisable trend is that of rituals or games, such as the Midnight Man, 11 Miles and Three Kings. It’s arguable that these could well have seen their genesis in the Holders series. Can I ask your opinion on that, plus the current resurgence in ritual/game pastas? Are there any that you enjoy?

MrD: I believe ritual pastas has been around since the beginning of the genre. It can even be traced back to the ‘share-this-message-100-times-or-Bloody-Mary-will-visit-you’ messages. Someone took this silly idea and turned it into a proper ritual guideline. Somehow they caught on. Probably because they are easy to read, with bulletpoints and instructions and stuff. The Holders series certainly played a part in shaping this genre. Especially the ritual pastas that are location centric. The problem with all the Holders-inspired stories though is that the series has a distinct “voice”. Most of them have a unique narration style which is what made them so popular. Other ritual pastas have tried to replicate that success, but it’s next to impossible to do without an identity. I can’t remember any ritual pasta that I enjoyed.

UKHS: What do you feel makes a good creepypasta?

MrD: It isn’t easy to define what makes a story good. What is undisputable, is that a creepypasta needs to scare/unsettle/creep out the reader. In some occasions, a creepypasta can be sad, but it has to have some unsettling element for it to be good as a creepypasta. The way for a story to be creepy differs from story to story. There is the horror of the unknown, the horror of the uncanny, suspense, mystery, madness and the list goes on.

Any route the writer goes, one way to enhance the horror is the characters in the story. Fleshing out the characters is very important and oftentimes a flat character can bring down a horrifying plot. The location is key too. Sometimes the setting alone can carry an otherwise mediocre story. All in all, reading about interesting characters and locations/scenery is a very important support to horror. Language and vocabulary is also extremely important. The right word at the right place can work wonders for a story, while a story with bland use of the language oftentimes falls flat. There are a ton of things that factor in the excellence of a creepypasta. It is the job of the writer to build his idea into a proper story that will hopefully be good.

UKHS: Which writers, horror or otherwise, do you consider yourself a fan of?

MrD: From horror, I love Edgar Allan Poe, HP Lovecraft and Ambrose Bierce. One of my favourite writers is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The Sherlock Holmes tales have to be my absolute favourites. Recently I have taken a liking to Maurice Leblanc too, who wrote a series of short stories about an ingenious thief, who basically is Sherlock Holmes on the other side of the law.

When I was younger I loved the works of Valerio Massimo Manfredi, who has written some amazingly suspenseful work. From the wiki, I love the works of Humboldt (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/User:HumboldtLycanthrope), Banning (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/User:Banningk1979), Empyre (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/User:EmpyrealInvective) and WriterJosh (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/User:WriterJosh), to name a few. Outside of literature, I love the work of Michael Sipser in Computer Science and Gaston Bachelard in Science Philosophy.

Wiki-wordmarkUKHS: You’re very active at the Creepypasta Wikia. What is it like being a part of that community? What advice would you offer to other people who want to get involved over there?

MrD: The community of the Creepypasta Wiki is very dear to me. I love hanging around and having a laugh with the guys and gals. Also, because we are mainly a literature community, the advice and opinion sharing on horror and all things literature is a nice change in a world that doesn’t seem to stop anymore for the writing arts. If you want to get involved, just hop over and have fun. Engage in discussions, joke around and be yourself. You’d be surprised by how open we are to newcomers. People can slot right in, our common interest and love for horror making for a smooth entrance to the community. Also, as the place is a wikia where a lot relies on community help via volunteer work, you are more than welcome to help around by fixing mistakes in stories and stuff like that.

UKHS: You’ve also written some fantastic stories over at the wiki. Which stories of your own are you most proud of? What advice would you offer to other writers?

MrD: I love reading and writing micropastas, so basically I’m proud of any (barring a couple very bad stories) work of mine that is shorter than 500 words, even the ones I haven’t posted on the wiki. If I had to pick a single one, it would have to be Twitching and Convulsing (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/Twitching_and_Convulsing). For some reason I am very creeped out by people twitching and twisting their bodies in weird angles, and this story plays on exactly that fear. Granted, the whole story is one single scene, but I think for what it is it works very well.
The main advice I would give to new writers is be patient, read stories and practise. If you love reading and writing and you are willing to put in the work, you will improve in no time. We even have a Writer’s Workshop (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/Board:Writer%27s_Workshop) where you can post your work to receive feedback and we also have some blogs on Writing Advice (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/Creepypasta_Wiki:Writing_Advice). Basically if you want to become good, read and write as much as you can and eventually you’ll get there.

UKHS: Finally, with the likes of Channel Zero and the recent proposed Machinima Clive Barker’s Creepypasta show, it seems that Creepypasta is really becoming mainstream. What do you think the future holds for Creepypasta?

MrD: I believe the quality of the stories in the genre will continue improving and it will eventually become a proper part of mainstream literature, commanding more respect than it does now. More than anything, creepypasta is storytelling for and from the common folk and coupled with the increase in quality, creepypastas will be reaching more and more people as time goes on. I’m very thrilled for the future of this novel art form.

Come back next time when I’ll be speaking to another respected creator from another breeding ground for Creepypastas — DeviantArt.

Slasher House 2 (2016) Review

14368789_1267178763315526_1562502904226346982_nSLASHER HOUSE II (2016)

Dir: MJ Dixon
Stars: Francesca Louise White, Luna Wolf, Sophie Portman, Jamie B. Chambers, Sam Cullingworth, David Hon Ma Chu

Released by Mycho Entertainment.

Red (Francesca Louise White, taking over the role from Eleanor James) is still hunting her father, The Demon (Jamie B. Chambers), the serial killer who slaughtered her family. Aided by tech-savvy assistant Luse (Sophie Portman), she investigates a number of murders, hoping each one will lead her to her nemesis. On one of these cases that she saves the life of stripper Amber (Luna Wolf), an individual who goes on to become a valuable ally. After crossing paths with a team of heavily armed operatives obsessed with capturing slashers, Red once again finds herself in a series of pitched battles against a host of monstrous adversaries — each leading her one step closer to the truth about the mysterious Slasher House…

Something that has struck me with MJ Dixon’s Mychoverse series of horror movies is his visual style. Think slashers by way of Argento, with a striking colour palette of blood reds and other-worldly greens.   Slasher House II takes his unique style to the next level, with the bright wigs of female leads, Red and Amber, making them look more like anime heroines than live-action characters.

With more money spent on this than his previous films, the fruits of Dixon’s labours are clear to see. As well as enhanced production values in the look of the film, it’s also reflected in some ambitious effects sequences from Bam Goodall (the Gravestone puppet is very cool, while the scenes with Molly Bannister’s, ahem, friends are another triumph) and some great fight choreography. However, if you’re more used to larger budget horror such as Blumhouse’s output, this may seem a little rough.

13769509_1216502365049833_7221261266634105140_nNevertheless, SHII marks a new kind of Mychoverse movie, with a more action-packed, Blade-esque feel. There are some excellent set-pieces in which White shows impressive martial arts moves — but that’s not all she offers. She delivers some great one-liners with a snarky, world-weary ease that makes her Red a very different character to James’s helpless amnesiac from the previous film. Wolf brings humanity and humour to the movie. She’s got an inherent likeability that marks her out as one to watch. While Portman doesn’t have as much screentime as the other two ladies, she makes the most of it.

Dixon writes fine dialogue and tells a suitably satisfying story for his cast that successfully expands on and encourages viewers to revisit Slasher House. It offers twists and turns, while the non-linear structure adds some depth to the storytelling process. I love that this is movie builds on the Mychoverse mythology, including shoutouts to its predecessor while blowing the story wide open to make a bigger, more complex world.
However, this may pose a problem for casual fans in that it relies on the viewer knowing the original movie, characters and mythos. If you haven’t seen it (or the other Mychoverse movies), you might struggle to make sense of this.

Speaking of these stories, viewers of the previous movie will be aware that several of Slasher House’s villains received their own spin-off films in the form of Legacy of Thorn, Cleaver: Rise of the Killer Clown, and Hollower. So, even though we’ve had no official confirmation yet, it’s probably safe to assume that we’ll see more of these new movie maniacs. I’d most like to see a Gravestone solo flick. His scenes were so marvellously executed, Dixon already has the framework to create a must-watch slasher/comedy.

13710015_1211177188915684_1585350713468624285_nMJ Dixon is a fan of horror, sci-fi and action, and all the cool genre-blenders that combine these. His are films by a fan, for the fans. The Mychoverse is a love-letter to the genre… and Slasher House II might just be the best example yet. It’s fun, witty and furthers the rich mythos of the Slasher House universe. Think Blade II meets Halloween with a little Anime thrown in.

I would recommend this movie just on Mycho’s sheer ambition, but it’s a genuinely good film and one I implore you to check out.

8/10

Night of Something Strange (2016) Review

rsz_112819375_994557477247045_1782208119961988031_oNIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE (2016)

Dir: Jonathan Straiton
Stars: Rebecca C. Kasek, Trey Harrison, Michael Merchant, Toni Anne Gambale, John Walsh, Tarrence Taylor, Nicola Fiore, Wayne W. Johnson, Janet Mayson, Kirk La Salle, Al Lawler

Released by Hurricane Bridge Entertainment. See it at the Horror-on-Sea Film Festival on 21 January at 5.30pm.

Night of Something Strange opens with a messy sequence in which we discover the origin of an STD that transforms its victims into ravenous rapist-zombies(!). From here we meet a gang of youngsters on a Spring Break road trip. There’s good girl Christine (Rebecca C. Kasek), her best friend Carrie (Toni Anne Gambale), Carrie’s obnoxious boyfriend Freddy (Michael Merchant), nerdy Jason (John Walsh) and pothead Brooklyn (Tarrence Taylor). On the way to a party destination, they choose to stop over in a seedy motel. Also at the motel are bad chick Pam (Nicola Fiore) and her tough boyfriend Dirk (Trey Harrison) who are hooking up for a night of passion. However, unbeknownst to our horny high-schoolers, the infected necrophiliac who kickstarted this whole mess is on his way to the motel…

Inside the first six minutes of Night of Something Strange we are treated to a prolonged sequence of necrophilia, a man urinating in a woman’s face before he violently rapes her, a bloody wound complete with arterial spray and somebody ripping out an unspecified, but gore-soaked part of a woman’s genitalia with his bare hands, then eating it. Then the film REALLY gets going.

rsz_14917277_1155870461115745_3324279579145028734_oIf that sounds a bit much for you, then you should probably steer clear. Night of Something Strange is a shocking movie that is full-on, in your face, and legitimately disgusting at times… and THAT is why it is so good. Think classic Eighties splatter horror-comedy Night of the Creeps crossed with the excesses of South Park — NoSS is chock-full of gross-out moments, from sexual misadventures to a veritable explosion of body-fluids. As such, it’s absolutely hilarious!

It certainly helps that these moments are brought to life with visual effects and make-up far more impressive than NoSS’s modest budget might lead to you expect. But over-performing is pretty much the norm for this movie.

Take the cast — I think it’s safe to say that most of the leads in the movie probably won’t be immediately recognisable to many viewers, but that doesn’t stop them from knocking their performances out of the park. Harrison does a tremendous job of delivering some killer tough-guy lines with a straight face, while the impressive Kasek shows some real potential as a future Scream Queen. Gambale shows real dedication to her craft with a couple of her scenes, as does the simply fantastic Merchant. It is Merchant’s crass Freddy who very nearly steals the film. Merchant is brave, utterly shameless and throws himself into his role with gusto. He’s awesome! Elsewhere, Fiores clearly has fun playing the witchy Pam and she’s a joy to watch.

rsz_12513692_1002519173117542_1525579911595151897_oOf course, the actors are only as good as the material they’re given to work with, and the writing team of director Straiton, Ron Bonk and Mean Gene deliver great dialogue, some brilliant set-pieces and a plot with some pretty out-there twists. The violent monsters are suitably terrifying villains, especially the menacing Wayne W. Johnson as the lead undead sex-fiend, Cornelius. As the zombies mutate even further later in the flick, their genitalia transforming into lethal weapons, they become reminiscent of the ‘sickos’ in Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse segment, Planet Terror, and, along with the laughs and outlandish action, the film even manages to pack in some well-crafted scares and some intense sequences.

This is all under the steady guidance of director Jonathan Straiton, whose keen eye for a good shot is a massive contributing factor to the success of NoSS. Bravo sir!

rsz_11157579_843957512307043_3862393676166830435_oAn unapologetic fist (or perhaps another body appendage) in the face, Night of Something Strange takes your typical Eighties splatter horror flick, sticks it in a blender with some late Nineties gross-out humour, and produces a heady, hilarious, horrific cocktail that really does need to be seen on the big screen with a crowd of laughing, shrieking, gasping genre fans. This is the ultimate horror party movie and it needs to be seen the right way!

7/10

Dark Web: Steven Hickey’s Essential Guide To Creepypasta – Part 36 NES Godzilla

creepypastaDARK WEB: STEVEN HICKEY’S ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO CREEPYPASTA
PART 36: NES GODZILLA

There can be few subgenres of Creepypasta that have fallen so far in the eyes of fans as Videogame Pastas.

When the first few such stories appeared on the Creepypasta landscape, they had a huge impact. Genuine hits such as BEN Drowned (covered here: http://www.ukhorrorscene.com/dark-web-steven-hickeys-essential-guide-to-creepypasta-part-3-ben-drowned/) saw dozens, then hundreds of imitators, of varying degrees of quality. Seen as cutting edge at the time, the genre soon became stale, with a number of derivative and poorly crafted stories directly contributing to their decline in popularity. However, there can be no denying that those stories forged during the early days of the Videogame Pasta boom were ground-breaking, and in some cases, technical and creative triumphs. Perhaps the most impressive of these is digital artist CosbyDaf’s NES Godzilla Creepypasta.

Posted to one of the early breeding grounds of Creepypasta, the Bogleech forums back on 23 April 2011(http://z3.invisionfree.com/bogleech/index.php?showtopic=1896), you can read the first part of the full (and VERY lengthy) story at the Creepypasta Wiki where it appeared on 11 April 2012: http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/NES_Godzilla_Creepypasta/Chapter_1:_Earth_%26_Mars

rsz_godzilla_creepypasta_tribute_by_lucidstillnessIn it CosbyDaf tells the story of Zachary, a young boy who is a big fan of classic NES games and kaiju movies. Now a teen, he’s able to relive both of these childhood pleasures when his friend Billy locates a copy of the classic Nintendo beat ‘em up, Godzilla: Monster of Monsters.
Upon plugging the cartridge in, he soon starts to notice some odd glitches in the game — such as some different monster characters, ones that should not have been in the game. After defeating the boss character Titanosaurus, he then proceeds to the third level, however, rather than be named Jupiter as it was in the original game, it was renamed Pathos.

What makes the story truly astonishing is that CosbyDaf has created a series of convincing and exquisitely crafted ‘screenshots’ of the game.
Throughout the story we are presented with regular visual depictions of the game’s events that illustrate and clarify everything ‘Zach’ describes from the game. The sprites, the backgrounds, even some very basic animations, all of them are the creation of (or at least altered/doctored by) CosbyDaf. From a technical standpoint, it’s a tremendous achievement, and that’s before you even get into the later chapters where the work becomes more complex and intricate.

The story continues in Chapter 2: Pathos (which you can read here: http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/NES_Godzilla_Creepypasta/Chapter_2:_Pathos).
Featuring yet another character that shouldn’t have been in the game, Biollante, this is even more unsettling when Zach realises that the first movie appearance of Biollante was actually a full year after the release of Monster of Monsters. However, if that was unsettling, the chase sequence at the end of the level during which we are first introduced to a nightmarish red creature is downright terrifying.
Following a narrow escape, Zach progresses to the next level — Trance (read the third chapter here: http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/NES_Godzilla_Creepypasta/Chapter_3:_Trance).

whatthe-png-webpThis introduces a new element to the gameplay, a bizarre ‘quiz’ level in which a strange disembodied face asks a number of questions answerable with a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. These vary from mind-numbingly mundane (‘Do you like dogs?’) to hugely inappropriate and upsetting (‘Have you been molested by a family member?’). The level continues to provide an assortment of bizarre enemies, strange locations and, ultimately, the return of the red demon.

This level is followed by Chapter 4: Dementia (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/NES_Godzilla_Creepypasta/Chapter_4:_Dementia ), then Chapter 5: Entropy (Part 1) and then Entropy (Part 2). You can read both chapters here: http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/NES_Godzilla_Creepypasta/Chapter_5:_Entropy_(Part_1) and here: http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/NES_Godzilla_Creepypasta/Chapter_5:_Entropy_(Part_2)

It is during these chapters that we are given an insight in Zach’s life, a tragedy that befell him in the past and the frightening notion that the monster within the game, Red, might be sentient… and aware of whom it is tormenting.

From here follows Chapter 6: Extus (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/NES_Godzilla_Creepypasta/Chapter_6:_Extus), Chapter 7: Zenith (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/NES_Godzilla_Creepypasta/Chapter_7:_Zenith), and Chapter 8: Finale — a two part climax to the tale in which Zach is forced to play for his very life against the malevolent Red (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/NES_Godzilla_Creepypasta/Chapter_8:_Finale_(Part_1) and (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/NES_Godzilla_Creepypasta/Chapter_8:_Finale_(Part_2)

The epic story concludes with a final Epilogue (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/NES_Godzilla_Creepypasta/Epilogue) in which Zach attempts to discover the origin of — and reveals the fate — of the titular game cartridge.

The story was subsequently posted to its own blog, which is sadly now defunct, and then to a mirror blog in March 2012 (http://nesgodzillacreepypasta.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/chapter-1-earth-mars.html).

Prior to this, CosbyDaf posted an image of all the sprites from his story to his DeviantArt page (http://cosbydaf.deviantart.com/art/The-Cast-272693251) back on 6 December 2011. This was very much welcomed by fans of the story, as it gave them all a chance to get a better look at the creatures/characters of NES Godzilla, not least of which the sinister (and immensely popular) Red.

rsz_thumbnail_solomon_matt_frankAs a design Red is especially effective, with his multiple forms encompassing several prime phobias (including a decidedly arachnid, ‘scuttling’ form). Reports claim CosbyDaf has admitted that the design of Red was heavily influenced by that of another Nintendo villain, Giygas, the primary antagonist of classic SNES titles EarthBound and EarthBound Beginnings. In many ways, Red (or the Hellbeast as the character is regularly referred to throughout the story) can be seen as a kaiju embodiment of Earthbound’s lead villain. However, it can also be claimed that Red is based on a mythical movie that never was, the rumoured 1978 flick Godzilla vs The Devil.

This story sprang up following a report by Ed Godziszewski which appeared in Japanese Giants #5. The report claimed the film would be a joint venture between Toho and UPA Productions., based on an American script, with a whopping budget of $4 million and a runtime of 110 minutes. It was also stated that Godzilla was to face off against a number of terrifying monsters that included a giant spider, a giant fish and a giant bird, culminating in a climactic brawl between Godzilla and Satan himself.

However, the following year in Japanese Giants #6 ran a follow-up report about a trip to Toho studios, where producer Tomoyuki Tanaka denied the existence of the project. Nevertheless, the news of this non-film spread quickly and is still in circulation to this day. Of particular note to fans of NES Godzilla Creepypasta are the reported forms of Godzilla’s adversaries: a scuttling spider, a gigantic fish and a swooping bird. All of which represent forms that the monstrous Red assumes, a being whose very appearance and ‘home’ level make it very easy to assume that he is the devil himself.

In fact, so impressive was Red that when Sunstone Games announced their intention to create a videogame AND playing card game entitled Colossal Kaiju Combat, after the company asked fans to nominate and vote for monsters to appear in the game, Red and fellow NES Godzilla Creepypasta creation Solomon were both accepted to appear in the title. CosbyDaf was quite delighted by this development, as was evidenced in his blog post of 6 January 2013 (http://nesgodzillacreepypasta.blog.com/2013/01/06/red-enters-kaiju-combat/).
Sadly developments with Sunstone’s project seem to have stalled since then, but we can all wait in hope that the game will see the light of day.

Colossal Kaiju Combat isn’t the only gaming property to embrace CosbyDaf’s creations. YouTuber and programmer, Iuri Nery has announced that he is creating a playable version of the game, even posting a gameplay video on 4 April 2015: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQ6J_a1gDZo
Sadly, like Sunstones game, he has since announced that this project is also now on hiatus, leaving gamers to wonder about what could have been.

So why has there been such a strong reaction to the property? First, I think it cannot be stressed enough how much the excellent attention to detail appeals to fans of Godzilla, of which there are plenty. The character is iconic, and fans love to see stories with the big guy done right. There are multiple Toho characters included, giving fans of the franchise an opportunity to see what these kaiju could have looked like in a follow-up title to Monster of Monsters. Of course, the pasta gets by on more than just being good fan-fiction to Toho fans. It’s well-written, boasts those incredible graphics and SPOILER ALERT: even bucks the pasta trend by having a definite and very final climax in which good overcomes evil.

Or does it? For on 11 December 2013, CosbyDaf started to produce a sequel, Godzilla: Replay, in which another boy, Carl, tracks down the now legendary Monster of Monsters cartridge and proceeds to play through. However, this time the game is different, adapting to its new victim, and introducing a new, nightmarish adversary…

You can read the existing chapters here: http://allone-works.com/ngc/index.php/2016/05/03/prologue/, http://allone-works.com/ngc/index.php/2016/05/03/chapter-1-the-earth/, http://allone-works.com/ngc/index.php/2016/05/03/chapter-2-gelid/, http://allone-works.com/ngc/index.php/2016/08/26/chapter-2-5-passwords/, http://allone-works.com/ngc/index.php/2016/06/16/chapter-3-corona/, http://allone-works.com/ngc/index.php/2016/08/14/chapter-4-amorphis/, http://allone-works.com/ngc/index.php/2016/08/14/chapter-5-tempest/.

rsz_thumbnail_the_cast_by_cosbydaf-d4icrgjHowever, there has been a very long delay since that fifth chapter, and it seems that, like the aforementioned titles, it may be on an indefinite hiatus for now. But never fear, CosbyDaf has said that he still knows what he’d like to do with the story, so here’s hoping that one day we will see the end of Carl’s playthrough.

Rather than badger CosbyDaf to finish this sequel, it might be better for fans to show him some gratitude for the iconic pasta he produced? And create an iconic pasta he has indeed, as it is one that is still read, spread and commented on time and time again throughout the web.

CosbyDaf was kind enough to agree to answer a few quick questions about NES Godzilla Creepypasta for the readers of UK Horror Scene. The interview follows below:

UK HORROR SCENE: First, please allow me to extend my compliments to you, I really am a fan of your work. The most obvious question first – what served as your inspiration for the series?

COSBYDAF: The Super Mario 64 creepypasta and The Poltergeist movies — particularly the idea of creatures from other dimensions interacting with humans through technology. Video game creepypastas are notorious for being low quality but I’ve always thought there was some intriguing potential with it. I think back to earlier days in gaming, when it was mostly sitting along in a room, mentally escaping to this different world for a few hours, it could be a hypnotic experience. I liked the idea of trying to escape reality only to encounter a different one that’s worse.

UKHS: Are you a fan of Creepypasta? If so which authors/stories do you like?

CD: I used to spend a lot of time reading but not as often anymore. Although I’m always eager to view/read something that’s creepy. I don’t really keep track of specific authors. The best creepypasta I can recall reading was Willow Men (http://www.creepypasta.com/willow-men/).

UKHS: The sprites in your stories are really impressive. How did you create them? And what came first, the images or the story?

CD: The vast majority were drawn entirely in MS Paint XP. Over time I began to use Paint. XP for certain things, like making different color palettes and transparency for the water levels. The organic parts were made by pixelizing gory images with Irfanview and drawing body parts onto them.
The images were made first. and then the story chapters were written later, but there wasn’t a big time gap between them.

UKHS: The sequel story, Godzilla: Replay, has been placed on hold as of late. Will you return to the series in the future? What else can your fans look forward to from you in the days ahead?

CD: I’ve been focused on many different things since then. But I never cancelled it because a lot of people are still interested, and I still remember what I was going to do with it. But it’s a lot of work to be done and I’m trying to earn money. Right now I’m doing the sprite work for a video game, it is kaiju related and there is a level which will definitely give NGC vibes. So hopefully that will turn out well.

UKHS: The fans have really embraced the story. Why do you think it has been so successful?

CD: It owes a lot to the Godzilla franchise, of course. There also wasn’t a creepypasta with accompanying images throughout the story before. The surrealism and variety in the creature design got a lot of people’s interest.

rsz_thumbnail_red-heroUKHS: Are there any examples of fan art that have impressed you?

CD: This is my favorite, it was made by a friend of mine: http://lucidstillness.deviantart.com/art/Godzilla-Creepypasta-Tribute-410704657 . I’ve added a lot of fan art to my DA favorites (which you can find here: )

UKHS: Both Red and Solomon were to be included in the Colossal Kaiju Combat game. How did that make you feel? Have you had much interaction with the game’s creators?

CD: It was very exciting at the time. I really appreciate the fan’s support in allowing that possibility to happen. I had talked with the game’s creator, regarding their redesigns, basically I just wanted them to look as close to the originals as possible. They turned out good.
But it doesn’t look like the game will ever see completion. You might see those two appear in something else though…maybe.

UKHS: And finally, something a bit more fun. From reading NES Godzilla Creepypasta it’s obvious that you’re a big kaiju fan, so… what’s your favourite kaiju movie?

CD: Godzilla vs Destoroyah.

CosbyDaf has created a legitimately iconic creepypasta, one which is quite rightly held in high esteem by connoisseurs of Creepypasta.

Join me next time when I’ll be doing something a little different with this feature, and taking the time to speak with not just a prolific and talented Creepypasta author, but one of the most respected voices over at the Creepypasta Wikia.

Pitchfork (2016) Review

unspecifiedPITCHFORK (2016)

Dir: Glenn Douglas Packard

Stars: Brian Raetz, Lindsey Nicole Dresbach, Ryan T. Moore, Celina Beach, Derek Reynolds, Carol Ludwick, Addisyn Wallace, Daniel Wilkinson

Released by Uncork’d Entertainment in the US on 13 January. UK release TBC.

Hunter (Brian Raetz) is a young gay man who has recently come out. He is now travelling across the country to his parents’ farmhouse home, hoping to rebuild his relationship with his father, Wayne (Derek Reynolds), who is struggling with the revelation. For moral support — and with the promise of a wild barn dance — Hunter travels with a large group of friends. The night of the party comes and personal revelations threaten to destroy friendships… but as the group is reeling, a mask-wearing, fork-handed psychopath (Daniel Wilkinson) attacks with terrifying ferocity. As the bodycount mounts the group faces a fight for survival. Who will last until morning?

There are few things as exciting when watching indie movies as that feeling that you’ve discovered a talent who is going to go on to make a big splash. Pitchfork is packed with such individuals. Director/co-writer Glenn Douglas Packard is certainly among these. From the atmospheric opening sequence, during which a camera swoops through corn fields as a breathy voice sings ‘He’s Got Whole World In His Hands’, the film is a real treat for the eyes. Cinematographer Rey Guttierez ensures that the movie looks better than its humble indie roots might lead you to expect.

15665681_239714283116088_8026690676146962274_nThere’s a nice reason for Hunter and his pals to be heading to the countryside and shows some wit by Packard and fellow writer/producer Daryll F. Gariglio, although I did have a slight issue with the pacing. After an obligatory early kill scene, I felt the movie became a little derailed by a lengthy sequence in which we received some character development and a fun but unnecessary barn dance. These scenes aren’t bad per se, but they fail to continue to cultivate the atmosphere of dread fostered earlier. Luckily, when Pitchfork reappears, Packard is quick to reinstate that same creepy atmosphere.

While I mention that early kill scene, it, along with a couple of others, is one that does feel a little lascivious in the way it depicts the female form. I know there’s a history of titillation in slasher flicks but I do feel that a couple of the shots were a little gratuitous.
Leading man Raetz is another of those talents from whom I expect to see more in the future. He’s likeable and a decent actor. The same can also be said of the lovely Lindsey Nicole Dresbach, who has scream queen written all over her.

15621970_239713629782820_881264707710373854_nI also loved the work of Celina Beach, and I’m pretty sure a large part of this comes from her considerable charisma. On a similar note, Ryan T. Moore also delivers as jock Matt, while none of the rest of the youngsters let the side down. One of the real surprises of the film was the excellent young Addisyn Wallace. It’s great to see such confident work from an actress her age. Elsewhere, Daniel Wilkinson is brilliant as Pitchfork. Sure, the role is largely brought to life through physical gestures and movement, much like your classic slasher villains, but Wilkinson adds a number of frightening ticks and twitches to his character, and his depraved antics make him seem legitimately out of his mind.

He’s aided by the striking character design. The effects work on the titular pronged attachment that replaces his left hand is great, while Wilkinson’s lean, rangy physique helps him stand out. However, while I was a big fan of this look, I do think some viewers may find the ‘furry’ mask a little goofy. Perhaps the execution could have been better? Of course, a decent cast are only as good as the plot they have to work with, and this story has some nice twists and turns, plus it affords us some good set-pieces. There’s not too much graphic gore on display, but there are a couple of sustained torture sequences that are seriously intense.

15590170_239713789782804_4385783501945955202_nAll in all, Pitchfork isn’t a perfect slasher movie but it is very good. It may have its flaws, but there is more than enough here to warrant checking the film out when it is released on Friday 13th January — and on that date, how can you NOT want to give a promising new slasher a chance?

7/10

Dark Web: Steven Hickey’s Essential Guide To Creepypasta Part 35: An Exclusive Interview With Vincent Vena Cava

creepypastaDARK WEB: STEVEN HICKEY’S ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO CREEPYPASTA
PART 35: AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH VINCENT VENA CAVA

Usually these Dark Web features focus on a single story, or a connected series, but this week I’m going to do something a little different. Instead I’m going to focus on the work of a single author, one of the most successful and popular writers of Creepypasta the genre has produced — Vincent Vena Cava.

With a wealth of work to his name, including iconic pastas such as The Pastel Man, A Favor For a Favor, Picture This and the ongoing (and fantastic) Wendall Lane Diaries, the LA-based author has caused quite a stir with his fiction, gaining recognition and approaches from several huge media companies, including 20th Century Fox (when he wrote The Eye of Ra, which was part of a viral marketing campaign for the movie The Pyramid) and Starz. He has also been published multiple times, including the inclusion of his stories Right On Time and Picture This in a new short story anthology, The Creepypasta Collection: Modern Urban Legends You Can’t Unread, that hit the shelves at Barnes & Noble (the last remaining major book franchise in the US) last month. (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-creepypasta-collection-mr-creepypasta/1123556473)
All of this in just four short years since he first started publishing work on the web under the Vincent Cava name.

Recently he saw a project successfully funded on Kickstarter that combined his talents with those of genre YouTube heavyweight Mr Creepypasta and top artists Chris Oz Fulton, Maja Cornvall and Teo Gonzalez. The resulting Creepypasta Comicbook (of which I’m a backer) is a fantastic debut effort and fans are eagerly anticipating subsequent issues from the team.

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve had the tremendous pleasure of conversing with the amiable, humble and supremely talented Cava, asking him about his influences, storytelling processes, several of his most notable stories and what the future holds.
Our interview follows below.

vvc1

Vincent Vena Cava

UK HORROR SCENE: Hi Vincent, and thank you so much for agreeing to speak with me. First, I’d like to ask you some general questions about your influences, before asking specific questions about some of your stories, including The Pastel Man, Right On Time and your Wendall Lane Diaries series. I hope that’s OK?

VINCENT VENA CAVA: No problem, I’d be happy to answer your questions — and btw, you just named two of my worst stories! Haha! Is that what people know me for? Good God.

UKHS: Oh dear, you are too harsh on yourself, they’re all fine stories! May I ask which two you’re least happy with? As an aside, some of my favourites include The Hall Monitor, The Job, Selfie, The Ocean’s Cool Air and Little Black Bugs. I expect a few of those will be the subject of future features should you be happy to speak with me about them!

VVC: Thanks! The Pastel Man is the first thing people really noticed me for and I’m sure I’ll be tied to it forever, haha. I believe the story has weak stakes and the prose is pretty amateur. I’ve been working for years to hone my craft since I decided this was something I wanted to make money doing and I feel like I’ve gotten better since then. Right on Time is just fan service and if you aren’t familiar with Jeff The Killer then, in my opinion, the story is sort of weak (maybe even confusing?), but it is what it’s supposed to be. I am fond of Wendall Lane though.

UKHS: Here are my first few questions, they’re non-story specific, but should give my readers more of an idea about you as a writer. Which writers, horror or otherwise, do you consider yourself a fan of?

VVC: I’m a fan of so many authors! Some of my biggest influences are Vonnegut, Lovecraft, King, Heinlein, and Philip K. Dick.

UKHS: Do you consider yourself a fan of Creepypasta?

VVC: I’m a fan of anything that has to do with horror, but I’m not entirely sure what Creepypasta even is. It’s such a fluid word. It seems like everyone has their own definition of “creepypasta”. What makes something creepypasta? Is it only stories featuring certain characters? Is it only scary stories? Who says what’s scary? Does a story have to appear on specific websites like r/NoSleep or creepypasta.com to make the cut?

Last I checked, the author of The Martian, Andy Weir’s, short story The Egg is featured on creepypasta.com. I don’t think he posted it there, nor would I call it horror, but is it a creepypasta nonetheless? To me, are you a fan of creepypasta is a difficult question to answer because I don’t even know how to go about defining it.

UKHS: What work of your own are you most proud of?

VVC: I’m really happy how people reacted to A Favor for a Favor. I’ve since given it a little rewrite and I think it’s a better story now. Picture This was a really therapeutic story to write so I was happy when people responded well to it. I’m also pretty proud of the graphic novel I just took to Kickstarter.

UKHS: What is your favourite Creepypasta by an author other than yourself?

VVC: Hard to answer that question, so I’ll stick to writers who are generally known for online horror. Anything by Matt Dymerski, T.W. Grim, Michael Whitehouse, and IPostAtMidnight is usually great. I think they’re all really polished writers. Anything by them won’t disappoint.

vvc2UKHS: You’re a prolific writer, regularly releasing stories to the web. How do you keep the creative juices flowing? Is writing a process that you enjoy or is it more about getting your stories out there to an audience?

VVC: Keeping the creative juices flowing isn’t a problem. I have more stories in my head than I can write. The slowest part of my process comes from crafting my prose and trying to develop a unique and interesting narrative that will fit with what I’m writing. Writing isn’t just about telling people a story. It’s about HOW you tell them a story. A lot of young writers don’t realize that. When you do it correctly, your prose can be poetry.
And most importantly…
Read. Read. Read.

You have to read if you want to be a good writer. And you have to read great writers. I get people asking me what to read. Don’t just read horror. Read Hemingway, read Melville, read James Joyce, and Asimov, and Clarke. Read Oscar Wilde, read Doyle, and London. Read non-fiction too! Read, read, read. Great stories can inspire you….you get the picture.

UKHS: Why do you think Creepypasta resonates so much with the fandom?

VVC: I think a lot of the fans of these online, user generated horror stories are younger or at least became fans when they were younger. This…trend is like a gateway for a lot of young people. It can introduce them to the world of literature and I think that’s wonderful. Many times, these stories are not written for children so of course there’s always intrigue for kids when it comes to taboo subjects.

UKHS: These fans have flocked to some characters, who really have become iconic to the community, such as The Rake and Jeff the Killer, a character you incorporated into your story Right On Time (you can hear Mr Creepypasta’s narration of the story here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uu9NvCTJbHs ) What inspired you to write a story that contributes to the Jeff the killer mythos?

VVC: I just wanted to pay a little fan service. Jeff is a popular character and people are usually excited to hear a new Jeff story. I figured why not try my hand at a little fan-fiction. I don’t know if I’m actually contributing to the “Jeff mythos”. I don’t really consider any Jeff story to be canon. There are so many tales written by so many people. But that’s cool. It makes the character and his personality somewhat amorphous. He isn’t really defined by any set of rules and whoever is writing him can put their own spin on it.

UKHS: What drew you to the character?

VVC: The character’s popularity is what drew me to him. Haha!
People like reading Jeff stories, I like writing stories, so why not try writing a Jeff story?

UKHS: Your Jeff is less sympathetic than the version traditionally portrayed, he’s almost a force of remorseless destruction than a human, a lot like John Carpenter’s original idea for Michael Myers in Halloween. What inspired you to portray the character in this way?

VVC: To be honest, I never found the character to be very interesting and the broken emo kid thing isn’t all that scary. That’s the problem a lot of people have with Jeff, which is why I decided to write around him. He couldn’t be the protagonist in Right On Time. Protagonists don’t give you nightmares. I believe the character can be frightening, so long as you move away from the “woe is me” stuff. If you want him to be scary, don’t let the audience into his head. You have to strip away anything that makes him human. Make him a monster. That’s why Michael Myers works. And let’s face it, the Jeff character is basically an amalgam of slasher movie clichés. I just followed the trend.

UKHS: What do you think the attraction is to Jeff for Creepypasta fans?

VVC: I think most Jeff fans are pretty young. He’s an antihero, he’s counterculture. He plays by his own set of rules. If someone upsets him, he stabs them. I see why teenage girls and boys are into him.

vvc3-pngUKHS: Do you have any further plans to feature Jeff in your stories?

VVC: Not right now. I’d rather not write a ton of Jeff stuff, but maybe in a future comic book.

UKHS: Are you happy with Right On Time?

VVC: I think Right On Time is good fan-fiction. The problem with it is that you need to know who Jeff The Killer is for it to make a whole lot of sense. Otherwise, it’s just an interesting story with an “out of nowhere” twist. If you don’t know what Jeff The Killer is, you might read it and wonder what the hell just happened. What did he mean by “go to sleep”?

UKHS: Do you have any plans to write stories featuring any other existing Creepypasta characters? (Excluding the Rake — who Vincent covered as part of his Wendall Lane Diaries series AND for the Creepypasta comicbook)

VVC: Yeah sure. I’d love to write more stories based off some of the Internet’s more popular characters. It’s fun for me. I have no plans at this moment, but if it’s something people would be interested in then I’m game for it.

UKHS: I mentioned the Creepypasta comicbook just now. I recently received my PDF copy of the comic and I wanted to extend my most heartfelt congratulations on what is a really great read. You must be very, very proud of it! Any news on whether there’ll be an issue 2? I’d certainly be onboard if so!

VVC: Thanks for backing the comic! Glad you’re enjoying it. Unfortunately our distributor (backerkit) had some trouble with ios mobile devices, but I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it. We definitely want to put out a second comic, but first and foremost we want to focus on getting out all the rewards first. We’ll probably have a second comic up next year, hopefully twice as long.

UKHS: The Rake plays a major role in one of the stories in the Creepypasta comic that you have created with MrCreepypasta. I understand you spoke with Bryan Somerville (who I’ve interviewed for this Dark Web series before: http://www.ukhorrorscene.com/dark-web-steven-hickeys-essential-guide-to-creepypasta-part-28-the-rake-re-visited/) about adapting the character for the comic. How was it working with him?

VVC: I didn’t really work with Somerville on the comic. I just asked him for the OK and gave him a short summary of the story, then he signed a contract giving me permission.

UKHS: The Rake is one of the more recognisable Creepypasta beasties, and you created one of your own with monstrous Pastel Man. (Read the story here:  http://www.creepypasta.com/pastel-man/) His story is one that feels very much like an old-fashioned morality play. Was that your intention?

VVC: The Pastel Man is most definitely a morality play. All of my work fits those themes.
I very rarely write about good vs Evil . It is my belief that we all exist on a moral spectrum —  No black and white, just shades of grey. That’s why most of my characters are inherently flawed. I also believe that an antagonist with a more sympathetic reason for doing bad is much more compelling than one who just wants to eradicate all humanity or kill a protagonist  because he’s a bad guy. My protagonists also usually only act out of self-preservation rather than altruism. They aren’t heroes. But they are more relatable… in my opinion at least.

UKHS: It’s one of your earlier stories and earlier you stated that you weren’t entirely happy with it. Would you ever consider re-visiting the story either with a sequel or rewrite?

VVC: As for my dislike for the story, I believe that it’s prose is lacking compared to what I can do now and the protagonist could probably use a bit more motivation. He is, in my opinion, almost too ‘guilty’. I am heavily considering giving the story a rewrite. I am also considering revisiting The Pastel Man in the second Creepypasta comic.

UKHS: Speaking of comics, you have a great descriptive writing style that really lends itself to visuals. Do you have any more plans to explore graphic novels/comicbooks?

VVC: As for other comics, I’m working with an artist on a project called Nightmare Sketchbook that is supposed to be out first quarter 2017

vvc4UKHS: One of your more recent projects to draw considerable recognition from the fans was the Wendall Lane Diaries. In your own words, how would you describe the series?

VVC: The Wendall Lane Diaries are centred around a house where reality is broken. It’s a paranormal hot spot much in the same way the Bermuda Triangle is. One might encounter ghosts, monsters, reality warping paradoxes if they stay there long enough.  The occurrences are random. The only thing they have in common is that they’re confined to the house and the property it sits on. I recently worked with the cast of Ash Vs The Evil Dead to put out five new stories in the series, narrated by Bruce Campbell, Lucy Lawless, Ted Raimi and others.

UKHS: I’ve heard the stories via MrCreepypasta’s YouTube Channel (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL3vq3HFjqkVkZabGSM02I8G960DBHu9xh) and just wanted to compliment you on how awesome they were. Bravo! I just wondered if you could give my readers a little insight into how the collaboration with Starz came about?

VVC: Starz was interested in promoting their show Ash Vs The Evil Dead so they contacted YouTube creator Mr. Creepypasta to read original stories. They wanted the stories to be loosely connected. Since he’s not a writer, he asked me if I’d be interested in writing them. The whole thing was really intense, I had about two weeks to crank out five stories for the series. In the end it was a fun opportunity to meet the great actors of the show and to speak with horror icons like Bruce Campbell.

UKHS: And finally, where is the best place for me to send my readers to get more news on your work? Are there any preferred links for me to send my readers to read your literature?

VVC: I’m so stupid, I don’t have a landing page haha. But I’m all over social media. Twitter, Facebook, youtube, snapchat, tumblr, Instagram, ect. Every account is @vincentvenacava . Hope that answers your questions!

UKHS: It really does, thanks so much.

As one of the more senior and respected members of the community, Vincent Vena Cava’s story shows that, if you’ve got the talent, Creepypasta really can lead to great things. Come back next time when I speak with another creative talent who’s been on the scene for a long time about one of the oldest, yet most recognisable and complex pastas ever.

Steven Hickey’s Top 10 Horror Films 2016

Steven Hickey’s Top 10 Horror Films 2016

Just a quick word to start, this has been a very tough list to compile, mainly due to the consistency of the output in the genre this year. I’ve seen very few poor horror movies over the past 12 months, but by the same token, I’m not sure there’s been a real, stand-out obvious modern classic along the lines of The Babadook, It Follows or Crimson Peak. At different points throughout the year each of my top five occupied the top spot (and there is some debate as to whether at least four of them are even horror movies!).
With that in mind, allow me to present my 10 personal favourite horror films of 2016.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Under The Shadow, The Eyes of My Mother, 31, Hush, The Shallows

10. BLAIR WITCH
Dir: Adam Wingard
Stars: James Allan McCune, Callie Hernandez, Corbin Reid, Brandon Scott, Wes Robinson, Valorie Curry
Honestly, if the rest of the film was as good as the last 15 minutes or so of Adam Wingard’s surprise sequel to the 1999 hit, there’s a very good chance that it would be sitting at Number One on this list. Unfortunately, this film is not as groundbreaking as its predecessor and some of the characterisation falls flat.
However, I really do think that the climactic sequence within the confines of that familiar house in the woods is arguably the most terrifying and chillingly effective horror scene of the year, one that single-handedly buys the movie a place on this list.

hollwer9. HOLLOWER
Dir: MJ Dixon
Stars: Adam Dillon, Becca Talulah, Nicholas Vince
UK-based micro-budget maestro MJ Dixon has created something astonishing with his Mycho-verse horror franchise. From Slasher House to its sequels Legacy of Thorn and Cleaver, these connected films show tremendous imagination and visual flair.
And Hollower is quite possibly his best effort yet. A taut, lean psychological chiller with a trio of great performances from Dillon, Talulah and Vince, it’s also the most mature and frightening film from Dixon yet. The bar has been raised for Slasher House II — if it lives up this one expect to see that movie on this list next year.

8. PHANTASM RAVAGER
Dir: David Hartman
Stars: Reggie Bannister, A. Michael Baldwin, Dawn Cody, Angus Scrimm
Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm series is one of the most creative horror series there is. There were times when I thought this final chapter would never come.
Then Ravager arrived and somehow managed to be both perfect and disappointing. It gave the fans a real sense of closure, presenting a ballsy, brave conclusion to the tale of Reggie, Mike, Jody and, of course, the sinister Tall Man. Yet as a standalone film for the uninitiated it lacked frights and a sense of cohesion.
But that’s Phantasm for you, a dream-like paradox, tonally uneven but full of heart. We may never see its likes again.

the-witch-poster17. THE WITCH
Dir: Robert Eggers
Stars: Ralph Ineson, Anya Taylor-Joy, Kate Dickie
I’m bracing myself for flak here. The critically acclaimed genre movie of the year was visually spectacular, very deep and different to everything else and… well, a bit dry. There can be no faulting the look of The WItch, the tone, the nightmarish imagery or the stunning performances (everybody in this film is incredible, even the goat!). But I found the story a little flat and ultimately, didn’t care enough about the characters. I’m sure this will be the top horror flick for plenty of people and I can understand that decision – but it was a little too cold and detached for me.

6. TRAIN TO BUSAN
Dir: Sang-ho Yeon
Stars: Yoo Gong, Soo-an Kim, Yu-mi Jeong, Dong-seok Ma, Eui-sung Kim
28 Days Later on a train in Korea. So I wrote in my review of this absolutely brilliant zombie flick back in October and that description is still so apt.
It’s intense, frenetic and breathes fresh life into a subgenre that, like its undead monsters, has been shuffling towards obsoletion. It’s gory, pulse-poundingly action-packed and it doesn’t relent for a single moment, yet still manages to weave a sentimental story about a fraught father-daughter relationship as it does so. A genuine triumph.

conjuring25. THE CONJURING 2
Dir: James Wan
Stars: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmigia, Frances O’Connor, Madison Wolfe
Much like its predecessor trumped big studio horror rival Insidious: Chapter 2, its sequel surpasses this year’s Ouija sequel and Lights Out. It packs more frights, more heart and some seriously impressive film-making from modern-horror master James than either of its big rivals and delivers some of the very best spooky moments of the year. I can’t be the only fan to hope that Wan’s franchise about real-life demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren runs and runs – if the next film is even half as good as this we have a real treat in store.

4. DON’T BREATHE
Dir: Fede Alvarez
Stars: Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto, Stephen Lang
Sometimes the most simple premise delivers the most effective results. Fede Alvarez’s nail-biting thriller about three burglars who pick the wrong house is a perfect case in point. Built around a powerhouse performance from Avatar tough-guy Stephen Lang, this is a film that is utterly gripping and will have you on the edge of your seat throughout. It also boasts a couple of seriously out-there plot developments that do a wonderful job of establishing the robbers’ blind-victim as far less sympathetic and one of the most intimidating screen characters of the year. A must-see.

the_monster_poster3. THE MONSTER
Dir: Bryan Bertino
Stars: Zoe Kazan, Ella Ballentine
This was a film that flew under my radar, then slapped me square in the face when it arrived. Another deceptively simple tale about an alcoholic, The Monster is about a neglectful mother, the tumultuous relationship she has with her damaged young daughter, and a fateful night in which their car strikes, well, a monster. A moving and layered character piece is told in flashback throughout the ongoing game of cat and mouse, the film is both heart-breaking and heart-stoppingly tense. What’s more the central pair of Kazan and Ballentine are amazing. Powerful and brilliant.

2. THE GREEN ROOM
Dir: Jeremy Saulnier
Stars: Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Joe Cole, Alia Shawcat, Callum Turner, Patrick Stewart
Assault on Precinct 13 with a punk rock band. A good siege movie is tough to pull off. This is an excellent one. Notable for being one of the brilliant Anton Yelchin’s last roles before his tragic death, this is a tight and surprisingly bloody thriller which ratchets up the tension to nearly unbearable levels and refuses to let up. The cast is fantastic, the direction assured and the plot utterly riveting. For a long, long time, this was my favourite film of the year and remains one that I whole-heartedly recommend.

i-am-not-a-serial-killer-movie-poster-2016-10207764011. I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER
Dir: Billy O’Brien
Stars: Christopher Lloyd, Max Records, Laura Fraser, Karl Geary
This is not a perfect film, and I’m not sure if it’s even a horror movie, but of all the flicks I’ve watched this year, few have had such a strong effect on me. You’re better off going in not knowing anything, but this darkly comic tale about a borderline psychopathic teen who comes to believe a murderous monster may be operating in his town is hilarious, frightening, disturbing, achingly hip and utterly unlike anything else you’ll see this year. Both Lloyd and Records are awesome and so is this film. These reasons, and so many more, are why I crown it the best of 2016.

And finally
DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE YEAR
SADAKO V KAYAKO
Dir: Kôji Shiraishi
Stars: Mizuki Yamamoto, Aimi Satsukawa, Masahiro Komoto, Masaki Saisho, Elly Nanami
In truth, Sadako v Kayako really isn’t that bad a film. The problem is that, considering the source material, it should have been brilliant. I absolutely love the Ring series and I’m a huge fan of the Ju-On franchise, and this just doesn’t get close to the heights of either of them. It doesn’t help that the titular battle gets just a couple of minutes of screentime, and ultimately this just feels like a terrible missed opportunity.