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

It Comes At Night (2017) Review

ican1It Comes At Night (2017)

Dir: Trey Edward Shults
Stars: Joel Edgerton, Carmen Ejogo, Kelvin Harrison Jr, Christopher Abbott, Riley Keough, Griffin Robert Faulkner, David Pendleton

Released 7 July in cinemas by Universal Pictures

The world has been devastated by a lethal, highly contagious disease. In the aftermath of the outbreak, Paul (Joel Edgerton), his wife Sarah (Carmen Ejogo) and their son Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr) have managed to create some semblance of a life for themselves in their heavily protected isolated rural home, yet they still mourn the loss of Sarah’s father, Travis’s grandfather. Even so, their very survival is reliant on following a strict list of rules and precautions from which they cannot deviate. However, one night the family are disturbed by an intruder in their home and, after subduing him and taking him captive, learn that the man, Will (Christopher Abbott) claims he is desperately foraging for supplies for his own family.

Paul is then faced with a series of impossible decisions that will have him questioning his own humanity.

Aside from the record-breaking Get Out, has there been a genre film this year more heavily hyped than Trey Edward Shults’s It Comes At Night? A darling on the festival circuit, yet subject to some backlash from some early viewers, I can see both points of view.

Sadly the marketing and even the title of the film are somewhat misleading. A lot of fans were led to believe It Comes At Night was some of sort of horror/mystery, the sort of project M Night Shyamalan might have penned a few years ago. Yet it is no such thing.

ican2However, what it IS is a fantastic film in its own right.

Shults’s film is a claustrophobic, devastating masterpiece and one of the finest pictures I’ve seen this year. It looks exquisite, with camerawork that is truly mesmerising at times. The visuals – along with an unsettling soundtrack that is truly worthy of high praise – cultivate a deep and permeating sense of dread that runs throughout, ratcheted up during some truly terrifying nightmare sequences. Seriously, these sequences are unbearably tense and make for some of the most genuinely frightening moments I’ve seen on the big screen this year.

It’s a story about battered, damaged human decency and the consequences of decisions. It’s a film with a message, a sort of visual poem, and it is one that is guaranteed to provoke a strong visceral reaction in audiences.

The cast are uniformly incredible, with Edgerton and Abbott at the fore, both absolutely nailing their roles as men we sympathise with and yet come to fear in equal measure. Ejogo and Riley Keough are fantastic too, delivering nuanced performances that show both actresses’ considerable range. Harrison also delivers as the most decent and innocent character in the film, but even his Travis is not without fault. It’s these human faults, not just in Travis but each and every character that drives the story. The disease, as terrifying as the idea of it is, is simply a McGuffin. It is what this mysterious virus has caused these people to come that truly drives this story.

ican3It’s a story that is personal, sentimental, heartbreaking and beautifully told. I don’t believe this will be a film for every taste – I’m sure some viewers may find it a little slow-moving or unnecessarily abstract in some sequences, but those who do connect with it will genuinely relish the experience. I’m not sure that It Comes At Night is even a horror film (although it contains sequences that will horrify even the hardiest of viewers) but I am sure that in this reviewer’s eyes, it is quite simply brilliant.

A must see.

9/10

Wish Upon (2017) Review

wu1WISH UPON (2017)

Dir: John R Leonetti
Stars: Joey King, Ryan Phillippe, Sydney Park, Shannon Purser, Mitchell Slaggert, Ki Hong Lee, Elisabeth Rohm, Sherilyn Fenn

Released 28 July by Orion Pictures

Clare (Joey King) is a teenager who has plenty to deal with. After her mother committed suicide before her eyes when she was little, her father Jonathan (Nineties star Ryan Phillippe) has struggled to make ends meet, resorting to scavenging for valuables in dumpsters. This makes Clare a target for bullying from the popular kids at school and leaves her without the confidence to pursue her unrequited crush on handsome fellow student Paul (Mitchell Slaggert).

But this all changes when her father discovers a curious music box – one that Clare soon learns has the power to grant wishes. After turning her fortunes around, Clare is living a charmed life… until she realises there is a price to pay for each wish.

I think it’s best to cut to the chase and state that Wish Upon is very much a teen horror movie. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, but if you’re expecting the complexity and emotional depth of a Babadook or The Witch, you will be disappointed. This is Blumhouse-style horror, nothing more and nothing less.
Instead Wish Upon is a fun update on The Monkey’s Paw for the Pokemon Go generation.

wu2A blend of Wishmaster and Final Destination, with a little The Craft sprinkled in for good measure, director Leonetti delivers a film that looks great and even manages to deliver a couple of moments of surprising gore and spookiness. Yes, this does include a couple of feeble jump-scares, but we’re now at the point when I feel those are inevitable in a new release. One effectively tense sequence during a thunderstorm is a real highlight.

The cast are all competent at worst, with King carrying the bulk of the film’s emotional weight admirably. Last seen by genre fans in The Conjuring, she is developing into a very impressive actress. She is ably backed up by the supremely likeable trio of standout co-stars Ki Hong Lee, Shannon Purser and the scene-stealing Sydney Park, who is certainly a face to look out for in the future. It certainly helps that each of the characters gets to recite well-written and often very witty dialogue from Barbara Marshall’s sharp screenplay.

There’s also some eye-catching production design on display, especially in the sinister music box which feels like a nice mix between the creations of Guillermo Del Toro and Hellraiser’s infamous Lament Configuration puzzle box. I imagine a line of replicas will be forthcoming and will make a significant amount of cash!

wu3However, the film does have some flaws. It isn’t the most original of plot lines (at times lifting quite heavily from the superior films that came before) and the story is perhaps a little too simple, missing some opportunities to be cleverer. Also, some emotional beats miss their mark by some distance (every cool-dad-saxophone scene is excruciatingly cringe-worthy) and, sadly, the ending is heavily telegraphed and marred by some iffy effects work.

Nonetheless Wish Upon is an enjoyable way to spend 90 minutes, and I imagine it will go over very well with youngsters who are only just discovering the genre.

Perhaps the biggest compliment I can pay it is that Wish Upon feels like a fun, intriguing, opening chapter of a new sleeper franchise – and I will certainly be on board for any further instalments.

6/10

Dark Web: Steven Hickey’s Essential Guide To Creepypasta – Part 42: The Russian Sleep Experiment

creepypastaDARK WEB: STEVEN HICKEY’S ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO CREEPYPASTA – PART 42: THE RUSSIAN SLEEP EXPERIMENT

There are a small handful of Creepypasta stories that have taken on an almost mythic quality with fans. Stories that are so highly regarded, so captivating, that they become an integral building block of the community. I’m not just talking cool characters (which is arguably the appeal of the likes of Slenderman or Jeff the Killer), I’m referring to stories that capture the imaginations of the reader and become a form of internet mythology, actually disseminated as fact by some.

One of the most popular – and chilling – of these is The Russian Sleep Experiment.

The earliest incidence of it online that I can find is this post on 8 August 2009 at Rip&47’s WordPress blog here (https://rip747.wordpress.com/2009/08/08/russian-sleep-experiment-the-best-short-story-ive-read/) However, I have also seen claims that it was first posted on 4chan by a user named Orange Soda in May of that year (http://i.imgur.com/l9znS.png) The story itself details a scientific experiment conducted in Russia in the late 1940s. The subjects of the experiment were prisoners, extracted from jail and promised their freedom in exchange for their participation, if they were to stick at the project for the full 30-day duration.

rsz_russian-sleep-experiment-1The doctors conducting the experiment had a simple aim — to test a stimulant gas designed to keep subjects awake and simultaneously monitor the effects of sleep deprivation. Five inmates were selected and sealed within an airtight chamber, where they were observed via a two-way mirror.
The first few days passed without incident, however, the subjects’ attitudes changed around Day Five. First they became irritable, then paranoid as they turned on one another. On the ninth day some of the subjects started to scream, running back and forth gripped with a manic energy. More disconcerting still was that some proceeded to rip the pages from the books provided, plastering them to the two-way mirror using their own excrement. And then they fell silent.

Unable to monitor the events inside the chamber, the scientists were unsure how to proceed. Finally, after three days of silence, they communicated with the subjects via the intercom, saying that they were entering the chamber to test the microphones and, should the subjects comply with the researchers’ instructions, one would be granted his freedom. A single voice replied: ‘We no longer want to be freed.’ Finally, after two further days, the experiment was aborted and the scientists (along with their armed guards) entered the chamber. However, they were not prepared for what they would find inside…

The Russian Sleep Experiment is a fascinating pasta with a lot of cool hooks for readers. Like many early pastas, it was circulated as a true story for some time. There were a number of decidedly unethical medical experiments conducted both during and just after the Second World War, in a host of locations including (but not limited to) the Soviet Union. The film Experiments in the Revival of Organisms depicts a number of disturbing 1940s experiments conducted by Russian researchers, including one which saw a machine used to keep a decapitated dog head alive.

It doesn’t feel like much of a stretch for the experiment described to have been conducted in this era, particularly by a regime notorious for the harsh manner in which it treated political adversaries. Much like Where The Bad Kids Go, it is a story aimed at Western, primarily American readers, and relies a great deal on their lack of experience with the East to boost its believability. ‘Something that horrible could never happen here in the “civilised” West,’ readers might think. ‘But over there, in those dark, cold, alien, lawless countries that have seen such terrible trouble and turmoil? Well, that’s a different matter altogether…’

Except it really isn’t.
The Russian Sleep Experiment is a work of fiction. It’s a clever and well-written one, but it is fiction nonetheless. As well as the flaws its own narrative (the KGB wasn’t actually officially formed until 1954, the number of prisoners doesn’t tally up at the end), there are actual, documented cases of sleep deprivation that have not lead to incidents of superpowered, undead, poetry-spouting uber-monsters.

In 1964 San Diego man Randy Gardner stayed awake for 264 hours (that’s 11 days). He became a little dizzy, had trouble with his concentration and short-term memory and even reported the odd hallucination. He did not eat himself. That same year Toimi Soini of Hamina, Finland, stayed awake for 276 hours, an effort that saw him included in the Guinness Book of World Records right up until 1989, when the entry was removed amid fears that people attempting to break the record could cause harm to themselves. Nonetheless the BBC has since run a blog by Cornish man Tony Wright in his attempt to stay awake for 266 hours more recently (http://www.bbc.co.uk/cornwall/content/articles/2007/05/15/aboutcornwall_sleeplessdiary_feature.shtml), while unverified reports claim that a woman from Cambridgeshire, Maureen Weston, actually went without sleep for a staggering 449 hours (that’s 14 days, 13 hours) as part of a ‘rocking chair marathon’. Not one of these individuals has since been reported as ripping out their own internal organs or speaking on behalf of the darkness at the heart of human nature.

Yet even with these facts easily findable online, the story gained plenty of traction. Some just liked it as a horror story, posting it to the Creepypasta Wiki on 16 August 2010 (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/The_Russian_Sleep_Experiment), while others have questioned its validity, such as those who posted it to Reddit’s WTF sub multiple times. One of the earliest examples as this post by redditor thatguynamedguy, posted on the evening of 2 March 2010 which drew plenty of speculation from the community (https://www.reddit.com/r/WTF/comments/b8ev3/russian_sleep_experiment/)

In 1 October 2013, YouTuber IReadCreepyPastas posted a reading  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEwbfnCpKA4&feature=youtu.be) accompanied by a series of spooky black and white photographs, which have become an iconic and intrinsic part of the lore around the story. The most striking of these is that of a deranged, grinning ghoul, said to be one of the subjects of the RSE. This image is often touted as photographic evidence of the horrifying events described in the story. I can understand how it could be quite compelling proof to those already unnerved by a legitimately scary story, but once again, this ‘evidence’ can be quickly discredited.

The picture is actually one of a Halloween decoration named Spazm, which is available here (https://www.costumesupercenter.com/products/animated-spazm-prop) among other places. It’s not quite so frightening when looked at more clearly — a clear example of the power of using a good filter on your images! Despite the overwhelming evidence to disprove the Russian Sleep Experiment as a factual account, the story is still widely circulated and remains one of the most popular creepypastas to this day. It captures the imagination of the reader and, in some cases, even inspires further works of deeply unsettling art.

These range from the usual YouTube readings, such as this classic by the inimitable Mr CreepyPasta (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1EW4r6Kiiw&feature=youtu.be), which has clocked up an astonishing 848,000+ views since it went live on 24 November 2011.

rsz_russian-sleep-experiment-spazmFellow YouTuber Creeps McPasta loves the pasta so much that he even penned an unofficial sequel to the story, The Russian Sleep Experiment 2, which he narrated on his channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6JvgOsZy54
However, one of the Russian Sleep Experiment’s greatest legacies is that it served as the inspiration for the quite fantastic novella of the same name by UK author Holly Ice, which you can read about here: http://www.russiansleepexperiment.net . Published by Almond Press in August 2015, The Russian Sleep Experiment is a fantastic expansion on the original pasta, one that remains faithful to the source material, effortlessly addressing (and in many cases rectifying) the flaws of the original.

In a very clever move, Ice steers clear of the pseudo-supernatural mumbo jumbo of Orange Soda’s story, instead focusing on the personalities and relationships of those involved in the experiment. The novella is split into three sections, each taking a very different approach to describing its horrors. The first chapter focuses on the subjects, especially the stoic Mikhail and his optimistic comrade Alexei, their lives in a hellish Siberian prison camp and the selection process that sees them taken away to the shadowy Dr Glukhov’s laboratory.

The second chapter is the one that will be most familiar to fans of the pasta, detailing the events of the experiment from both the point of view of the subjects and via Glukhov’s log. The final chapter focuses on one of the researchers, Luka, in the days after he returns to his isolated rural home in the frozen Russian countryside. Luka has been left with physical wounds from his ordeal, yet it is his mental scars that are deepest. Can anybody truly survive the Russian Sleep Experiment?

As a published author, Ice is a wonderful wordsmith and her take on this story is captivating, compelling and very, very disturbing. As a professional writer her product is so much smoother and better-structured than your average pasta, which is often the work of enthusiastic amateurs.
The novella shows intelligence, tight plotting and some genuine emotional heft. In short, it really is a must read. You can buy it direct from the publishers here: (http://www.russiansleepexperiment.net ) or via Amazon for Kindle: (http://amzn.to/2rSczzb)

I was blown away by the novella, so I was delighted when the kind folks over at Almond Press arranged for me to speak with very talented and charming Ms Ice.

Our interview follows below.

UK HORROR SCENE: Hi Holly, Thanks so much for agreeing to speak with UKHS. First, please tell my readers a little about your novella?

HOLLY ICE: The Russian Sleep Experiment novella is loosely inspired by the Creepypasta of the same name. My publisher and I wanted to pay homage to the original story but create our own interpretation of what a disturbing sleep experiment could be like. We wound up downplaying the supernatural angle in favour of the science, for example.

It was exciting for me to explore the idea of human experimentation within the cold war, as I have family from that region of the world and had read a lot about the history of the area during the world wars. I wanted to get into the setting and explore the areas this experiment could have taken place in, plus the characters and character conflicts which may have arisen. As a result, the focus is on the psychological impact on the characters more than the horror of the sleep experiment itself. Because of this, I explored the narrative in terms of before and after – where the characters were coming from and how they put their lives together after the experiment (or didn’t). This required my characters to have families, loves, hopes, and their own motivations to participate in the experiment.

There’s a greyness about everybody, from the scientists to the labour camp prisoners and the experimentees. There’s no pure evil here. It’s human decisions and failings behind this experiment.

rsz_russian-sleep-experiment-bookUKHS: Why the Russian Sleep Experiment? Were you familiar with the story before you started the project?

HI: I was actually approached by the publisher. They wanted to support a novella loosely inspired by the short story and came to me with the brief as I had worked with them before. It was a bit of a departure for me. I had previously written sci-fi, romance and fantasy stories but this was my first in-depth foray into horror fiction. However, while writing the book, I realised horror gets at the core of what I love to write about – the unknown, and the magic, or trepidation, it so often brings.

UKHS: By focusing on different narrators, each of whom plays a different role in the experiment, you were able to give a very human face to an otherwise quite out-there horror tale. Was it this element of the story that most fascinated you? What was your motive behind telling the story in this way?

HI: Thank you! Yes, it was this element which most inspired me. The human angle was not fully explored in the short story because the focus was different – a philosophical, internal message questioning the core of what a human is. For this message to work as well as it did, the short story author needed the characters to represent everyone that read the story, and so they avoided giving too many individual character details. I wanted to explore individual lives and motivations, the real-life story behind what these people may have experienced in the historical context, and the implications of this story never getting out into the history books.

UKHS: Are you a fan of Creepypastas? If so, are there any others that you like?

HI: I think Creepypastas are generally great reads. Many create or perpetuate urban legends, and most are atmospheric encapsulations of horror that are perfect for an evening read – if you’re not too keen on sleep! I don’t have any particular favourites as I’m still relatively new to the horror genre and have much more to read.

UKHS: Who are your favourite writers? Who inspires your style most?

HI: That’s a really difficult question, particularly because I came to horror late. I was inspired to write by fantasy and crime, so my favourite authors are people like Naomi Novik, Laurell K Hamilton and Enid Blyton, but my years in university instilled a great love for the Gothic. Henry James’ Turn of the Screw was a particular favourite for me during my GCSE and A Level years. I also really enjoyed Carmilla, one of the first interpretations of the vampire story. I have no idea who I most resemble in terms of my writing style. I don’t consciously try to imitate anyone, so much of this will come down to my subconscious mind and the associations readers bring when they come to my work.

UKHS: Which work of your own are you most proud of? Why?

HI: I’m most proud of my current work in progress, a fantasy series loosely inspired by old Welsh poetry which refers to King Arthur as a soldier involved in a supernatural world rather than a King. I’ve mixed this loose idea with Arthur rising from the dead into the modern world. This event coincides with a number of deaths in rural Britain which may be linked to the Fae.

The first book in this particular series, While I Slept, is one I have been working on since 2012, on and off. I’ve learned a lot in the production process, particularly about structure, and am proud of the progress I have made as a writer. I’m also really enjoying blending cultures and creating societies. It’s a complex process but one I’ve become fully immersed in. I’m hoping it comes together as I want it to in the next year or so, and I am hopeful the sequel will come together much more easily. I tend to move on from pieces once they are published and put my passion into the next project on the horizon, so this favourite will likely change in future!

UKHS: Would you consider returning to the RSE story in the future? Or possibly adapt another online horror story?

HI: I don’t think so. For me, the story came to a logical end in the Siberian wilderness. I also don’t think I would reinvent another online horror story unless something really hooked my attention. As much as I enjoyed the experience, readers come to reimaginings or reinventions with expectations based on earlier editions. That’s completely natural and expected, but I’d like to focus on other areas going forward, and not in the horror genre exclusively. As well as the fantasy series, I’m currently working on a number of horror short stories which (fingers crossed) will be out in the next year or so.

rsz_holly-ice-author-small1UKHS: Where is the best place for my readers to find out more about your work and upcoming projects?

HI: Readers can find my published works on Amazon, with my novella available on a number of other online retailers, including ibooks and kobo, with PDFs available direct from my publisher’s website for the book here: http://www.russiansleepexperiment.net/
To keep up to date with upcoming projects, readers can check my author website’s work in progress page http://www.hollyice.co.uk/works-in-progress
The site has a mailing list to update readers on new publications here: http://www.hollyice.co.uk/mailing-list

I’m also on a number of social media sites, including:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Holly_emma_Ice
GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/HollyIce
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HollyIceTheAuthor/
Wordpress: https://hollyemmaice.wordpress.com/

UKHS: Thanks so much for speaking with us!

As well as literature, the Russian Sleep Experiment’s very visceral visual nature lent itself to film adaptations.
One of the most highly-regarded of these is Let Me Out, an italian web-series that actually sticks pretty closely to the original plot of the story. You can find the first episode here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAUFAB8ID2g&list=PLS1tY8LybT6Tjck9G6QaqyqoDjJLsYBMs

However, arguably the finest cinematic adaptation of the story is Framed Pictures’ The Russian Sleep Experiment, which you can watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zr4C_cLgXR0

Helmed by talented director Timothy Smith and starring a great cast of actors including Gary Brunner, Michael Bugard, Zach Ross and Brett Solferino, the 28 minute short film looks fantastic and manages to tell a story that, while it differs in some aspects, absolutely nails the tone of the original. Originally released early last year, the film has recently been posted to YouTube to watch for free and has already racked up nearly 50,000 views.

I’ve become quite the fan of Horror Shorts in recent months, and Smith’s film is a sterling example of what the ambitious filmmakers currently plying their trade on the scene are capable of.

I was lucky enough to speak with Timothy Smith about the creation of his film. The interview follows below.

UKHS: Hi Timothy, and thank you for agreeing to speak with UK Horror Scene. So, what drew you to The Russian Sleep Experiment?

TS: I wanted to make a film about The Russian Sleep Experiment because it had so much interesting content for a story. Since it was written in log forms it left a lot of creative freedom to develop characters.

UKHS: Why do you think fans enjoy the story and your adaptation of it?

TS: I think what draws fans to the story (as well as what drew me to the story) is that RSE is a unique approach to the psychological thriller genre. While the blood and guts are a staple in the genre, the setting of a post-WW2-era Russian experimentation camp is a bloody playground that may have never been explored in a horror film before.

UKHS: Are you a fan of Creepypasta? If so, what are your favourites?

TS: I’m a huge fan of Creepypasta, RSE attracted me to the following years ago. My favorite Creepypasta currently is The Song and Dance Man.

rsz_10351302_779404245471643_6669191330715530978_nUKHS: Your adaptation is very faithful in terms of tone and feel, but there are some plot changes. Would you care to explain your decision-making process?

TS: Probably the most notable change I made for the film from the story is regarding the prisoners. In the original story they were Russian prisoners of war held by their own country. I personally found it to be much more interesting to make the prisoners Nazi war criminals as it adds a bit of irony to their torturous capture. I also wanted to avoid the cliché of the purely evil Nazi and made them a bit more humane which I personally find more terrifying. If we can sympathize with monsters then what does that say about us?

Another change I made regarding the prisoners is that there are three instead of five in the original story. I chose three for aesthetic purposes and since none of the characters in the original story had names or characteristics it was an easy decision to make.

UKHS: What were the major challenges of adapting the story? And what were your favourite moments during the filming/editing process?

TS: The major challenge in filming this short was the planning. We had a very tight budget and had to stretch the money as far as we could. Since time is money in film (and everywhere else) we had to shoot the whole 28-minute film in two days. It was a sleep experiment for the cast and crew as we stayed awake for 2 days straight to get everything we needed. The shooting process, while exhausting, was by far the funnest and most enjoyable time I’ve had onset. Despite the dark melancholy content of the story, we had lots of laughs and ridiculous banter on set. Maybe we were getting slap happy from the sleep deprivation?

UKHS: Do you have any plans to adapt any other creepypastas into short films?

TS: I would like to make another short based on another Creepypasta in the near future. The fan-base of Creepypasta has been very supportive and being able to contribute to such a wonderful community is incredibly rewarding. I’m currently working on an original short film that is currently in the pre-production phase.

UKHS: And finally, where is the best place for my readers to find out more about your work and upcoming projects?

TS: You can follow us on our youtube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCK4qB18nDgz17UZZV8wonBw) and Facebook page
(https://www.facebook.com/rsefilm/).

UKHS: Thank you once again.

TS: Thanks so much for the questions. I’m incredibly grateful for the morbid curiosity!

Even today, The Russian Sleep Experiment is finding a new audience and collaborators. On the IMDB there is a listing for a Russian Sleep Experiment movie, currently in production in Australia, due to be released this Halloween. Perfect for viewing after you’ve finished setting up your Spazm decoration!

A strong story that has inspired arguably greater works of art, The Russian Sleep Experiment looks set to remain popular for many years to come.
Join me next time when I shall be covering not just a story, but a whole lore adopted and embraced by the pasta community.

Until then, sleep well.

Dark Web: Steven Hickey’s Essential Guide To Creepypasta – Part 41: Normal Porn For Normal People

creepypastaDARK WEB: STEVEN HICKEY’S ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO CREEPYPASTA – PART 41: NORMAL PORN FOR NORMAL PEOPLE

Hey Dark Web readers, sorry for the lengthy delay between features, but I’m glad to be back with a look at one of the most disturbingly believable web horror stories out there.  This story is Normal Porn For Normal People.

The story was first published on 7 June 2011 by DeviantArtist CosbyDaf, the same creator who gave Creepypasta fans NES Godzilla, as featured here at Dark Web before (http://www.ukhorrorscene.com/dark-web-steven-hickeys-essential-guide-to-creepypasta-part-36-nes-godzilla/).

For those unfamiliar with the story, it takes the form of a first-hand account of a casual web-browser who receives a strange unsolicited email. The email contains a simple message:

Hi there found this site

is very nice thought u might like

normalpornfornormalpeople.com

pass it on, for the good of mankind

rsz_npfnp1 Acting despite his better judgement, the narrator clicks on link and finds himself at a rather shoddy and decidedly basic web site. The page consists of a large block of text, headed by rather strange tagline (Normal Porn for Normal People, A Website Dedicated To The Eradication of Abnormal Sexuality) a rambling rant that at first seems a dead end.

However, on closer inspection each separate word of this text is revealed to be a hyperlink, each leading to a video. At first these appear to be bizarre but harmless, but as the storyteller and other web visitors begin to explore the site in more depth, these videos become increasingly unnerving, leading to a final shocking scene…

You can read the full story here: http://cosbydaf.deviantart.com/art/Normal-Porn-For-Normal-People-212168120

As most of you are reading this feature on the internet, I think it’s safe to say that you are pretty tech-savvy. Also, as web-browsers, I’m pretty sure that plenty of you will have previously disappeared down the rabbit warren of clicking on questionable links, following ‘click-baity’ heads until you inadvertently click on that one last link that takes you to a dark corner of the web that you really wish you could unsee.

I’m not just talking the more stomach-churning internet phenomena such as ‘2 Girls 1 Cup’ or goatse.cx, or even the more unsavoury gross-out sites. No, as it’s title might suggest, Normal Porn For Normal People brings to mind the more disturbing and extreme erotica sites out there. Arguably the biggest strength and greatest aspect of the internet is that it is free, easy to access and barely policed, allowing people to share art and ideas quickly and without fear of persecution. However, this comparative lawlessness is also the most dangerous aspect of the World Wide Web.

It’s no secret that a vast amount of illicit, illegal and immoral material is shared via the internet. From sites spewing bigoted and hateful rhetoric to terrorist guides on how to create explosives to the sickening images recorded by paedophile rings, it’s a sad fact that, as well as being a tremendous source of information, the internet also houses the very worst of humanity.

With this in mind, the site described by CosbyDaf in his story is chillingly realistic, and as such the tale itself becomes more believable. I’ve written about how much more frightening a story becomes when you are given reason to believe that it might be true, and that you might also find yourself falling victim to the horrors described within. Normal Porn For Normal People cleverly combines the bizarre and the grotesque, qualities that ‘extreme web surfers’ will be all too familiar with.

The imagery described in the videos is unsettling, moving from almost comically surreal to utterly repulsive with a slow and steady escalation of tension.
What’s more, CosbyDaf cleverly refrains from robbing the story of its mystery, of neatly explaining each and every part. Instead the creator of the site, its purpose and the mysterious forces that seem to be intent on keeping it hidden are never explored, never revealed. The author encourages the reader to use their imagination, a storytelling trick which has always proven to be one of the strongest tools available to horror writers.

NPFP3It doesn’t matter how great a writer is at describing and detailing atrocities — the reader will always imagine something far more upsetting, far scarier, because they will tailor the story to match (and manipulate) their own worst fears. In short, Normal Porn For Normal People is an exceptional creepypasta that is wonderfully written and works on multiple levels.

Fans have flocked to the story, and with good reason.

As Redditor TatchM wrote in a post about why Normal Porn For Normal People is so scary: It relies on less common tropes than a lot of other creepypastas and the ones it does use are done relatively subtly. It makes it seem less formulaic and thus more believable. What really makes the writing clever is that it does not leave clear answers. It provides a lot of evidence of what is going on with the site, but it does not draw conclusions because the narrator has limited perspective. This allows the reader’s imagination to try and fill in the blanks. The subtext might be lost on some people, but for others it will cause their minds to race and they start putting the pieces in place. I know I spent 10 or so minutes doing as much.

As an example of one way the subtext can be interpreted for those who may not have picked up on it: Let’s start with the title. Normal Porn for Normal People. The first thought when reading that is to assume “normal” means “common.” However, if you interpret “normal” as a group (normies if you will), like gay or trap is for gay porn and trap porn, then the title takes on a different meaning. It then implies that the site is a fetish and the filmier(s) are sharing their home movies as a cry for help. It basically can be seen as a collection of home fetish movies.

dianna.avi implies that the filmer or an associate of his gets off on the interviews. Stumps.avi implies that the filmier enjoys watching people do mundane or repetitive tasks. It puts peanuts.avi, and tonguetied.avi into perspective. privacy.avi, lickedclean.avi, and useless.avi also shows an interest in voyeuristic behaviour. Of course, the tagline “Normal porn for normal people, A Website Dedicated To The Eradication of Abnormal Sexuality” could be seen as a cry for help. The creator of the site uploaded it and sent a bunch of emails stating “pass it on, for the good of mankind” as a confession; a hope that he/they would be found and caught. The “eradication of abnormal sexuality” might mean their incarceration before they could hurt more people as is shown in useless.avi and implied in jimbo.avi and stumps.avi.

Well, that’s at least one interpretation of the subtext. Even if they do not pick up on the subtext, there are still enough off-putting events to creep people out. It’s a good balance.

This smart plotting and skilled writing saw the story’s popularity soar. In October 2011 it was posted at the very highly regarded Creepypasta Wiki (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/Normal_Porn_for_Normal_People), where it undoubtedly found thousands more readers. Following that it spread to Reddit, first appearing at r/WTF (https://www.reddit.com/r/WTF/comments/oryk2/this_is_most_wtflike_story_youll_ever_read_its/?st=1Z141Z3&sh=81a033a5 ) on 22 January 2012. It subsequently appeared on the more traditional horror fiction/Creepypasta subreddits, including r/NoSleep on 19 March 2012 (https://www.reddit.com/r/nosleep/comments/r36yf/normal_porn_for_normal_people/?st=1Z141Z3&sh=81a033a5) and r/Creepypasta on 15 April of that same year (https://www.reddit.com/r/creepypasta/comments/sawr0/normal_porn_for_normal_people/?st=1Z141Z3&sh=81a033a5).
A sure sign that a pasta has hit the big time, the ubiquitous Mr Creepypasta reading was posted on YouTube on 22 April (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTucWL05zV0). It’s a particularly good one too.

rsz_npfnp2Bizarrely, on the very same day that the story was posted on r/WTF, the domain normalpornfornormalpeople.com was registered. The site has since gone live and very closely resembles that in the story. It is run by one ‘Dr Richard Van Buren’, who claims to be a part of ‘The Need for Normalcy Project’. ‘Van Buren’ claims to be the true creator of the site, claiming that the pasta is in fact a fictional/exaggerated account of his own true work. There has been quite a mystery about this ‘work’, revealing the site to actually be part of an ARG — an ARG that rather rudely piggybacks on the story created by CosbyDaf.

In many ways this is the ultimate compliment — Normal Porn For Normal People has become such a huge cultural phenomenon that people have become inspired to write and present their own version of the mythos.

But let us never forget where this story originated — CosbyDaf, the creator who has given creepypasta fandom two of its most enduring stories.

CosbyDaf was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to speak with UK Horror Scene about the phenomenon that is Normal Porn For Normal People. Our interview follows below.

UK HORROR SCENE: First, in your own words, can you tell my readers a little about Normal Porn For Normal People?
COSBYDAF: A url is sent to a guy by mistake, and he looks at a bunch of videos that he really shouldn’t have.

UKHS: What served as your inspiration for the story?
COSBYDAF: It used to be fairly common (and still is to an extent but more regarding the deep web) of clicking suspicious links and seeing something that the person really wishes they hadn’t seen. I liked the idea of it starting out non-criminal, yet unsettling at first, and then the content escalates.

UKHS: Are you a fan of Creepypasta? If so, what are some of your favourites?
COSBYDAF: Yes, though lately I’ve gained more of a fondness for listening to stories about people’s (supposedly) real experiences with incidents of high strangeness. Tied into that subject is my new favorite Creepypasta. Get some popcorn, it’s a long one.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhkgXOUDetc

UKHS: Why do you think Creepypasta, and especially Normal Porn For No People, is so popular with readers?
COSBYDAF: Normal Porn, unlike NGC, is fairly close to something people can experience in real life. I’ve definitely had experiences where I clicked a link to watch something, only to wish later that I could unsee it. Unfortunately, you can’t delete events from your memory like you can with an internet browser. As I mentioned before, there’s a concern about stumbling into hidden evil on the internet.

Also I saw this mentioned a while afterwards, people would ask if the website was real on places like Yahoo Answers, only for their question to be deleted. The actual reason being because it’s pertaining to a porn site, but this happened to coincide with how the story ends, and this led to a lot of people thinking it was a real thing. I can’t take credit for this, it was completely unintentional, but it gave me a good laugh when I heard about it.

UKHS: The fans are very passionate about the story. Are there any examples of fan art, such as images, films or readings, in particular that have impressed you?
COSBYDAF: Not really, I hadn’t been searching around for fan content as much. I might be missing out.

UKHS: While doing my research on your story I discovered the ‘real’ NPFNP site. I can see it was opened significantly after the publishing of your story. Can I please get your thoughts on the site?
COSBYDAF: I’m not a fan of it. Nobody asked my permission to make the site. And from looking it over, it seems to be some mad scientist roleplay thing that discounts the original story as an “inaccurate telling”. Meh.

UKHS: And finally, will you ever return to the story in the future?
COSBYDAF: I did have ideas for a sequel, particularly another disturbing ending video. Though I kept thinking that it would be uninspired to write basically the same thing over again, and the “I’ve seen disturbing videos” type story has gotten a bit stale since the original came out. And I’m sure the majority of the audience would prefer that I put the effort into completing Godzilla: Replay, rather than starting something else!

Of course Normal Porn For Normal People isn’t the only pasta to inspire readers to adapt and embellish on the story in their own way. If anything, this ‘communal’ quality is one of the best qualities that the scene has, it means that these stories belong to each of us, especially when dealing with older pastas where the original author might be unknown or no longer active.

Come back next time when I’ll be looking at another creepypasta that has provoked much thought and adaptation from artists — one which is widely regarded as one of the greatest pastas ever written.

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