Yesterday I mentioned the cool papercraft coffins at Ravensblight.com — I’ve got one on my desk as I type this. And right next to it is another papercraft model that is, if this is possible, even cooler. It’s a “Shambler” from the video game Quake. Remember that? It was the first papercraft model I ever assembled and it was relatively simple to make. Just print the .pdfs on heavy paper, ideally from a color printer, cut them out with an x-acto blade, fold and glue ‘em up with normal white glue. I became quite addicted to papercraft for a little while last summer since it’s so cheap and the models can be pretty darned fantastic.
Ravensblight.com is a fun, well-conceived and executed concept website that takes as its central metaphor a haunted town. The MOST fun part for me at least was the “Toystore” which features a couple DOZEN creepy papercraft models to print out and build.
Papercraft for those not familiar with it is a craft somewhat similar to origami in that you start with a flat sheet of paper and you end up with a three-dimensional object. But since the “rules” of papercraft allow scissors and elaborately printed paper, the object are — to be blunt– WAY cooler than origami. The technique behind papercraft is a pretty cool mixture of high-tech and low-tech. High tech computer-aided-design tools are used to create 3-d models of things… in Ravensblight’s case, for instance, mechanical bats or the tiny coffins shown above. Then another program “unfolds” the object into a 2-d surface and saves it as a .pdf. From a crafter’s perspective, it’s all low-tech simple: all you have to do is download the .pdf’s, print them with a color printer ideally on stiff paper and assemble. It’s a great rainy day activity and heck it’s a blast to have a little line of coffins on your desk!
(Female, early 40′s) My partner and I were visiting a friend of mine and her girl friend in Chicago. We went out to this strange restaurant that had a menu as thick as a phone book and it was all arranged by, for instance, the cut of meat that would be used. When the waiter took the order, he said something like “I shall do my utmost to insure your satisfaction” or something hokey like that, like that phrase was the tagline for the restaurant, something that all the waiters said.
At some point during the meal, I tried to open my laptop computer and I discovered that all of the screws holding it together had disappeared. What’s particularly weird is that the computer started to fall apart like a huge deck of cards, y’know, like a stack of computer chips and the case and the screen all sliding around. For some reason I thought the monitor might explode and even worse, I didn’t want my partner to know that the computer was falling apart. The laptop is where I have all my doctoral research stored and since my partner is the “computer-person” in our relationship I didn’t want this little mishap to spoil dinner.
So I went to the bathroom and there was a tiny, kid sized toy washbasin with an old-fashioned water pump that was bright blue, red and yellow. I decided to hide my computer in the cabinet underneath because I thought no one would ever find it there.
In the town where I grew up there was a movie theatre – the Calvin on Michigan Avenue – that was the perfect high school date spot. For $1.25 you could see two movies – one was some film on its second run so the film was always a little battered and scratched, and the other film, well, trust me, you’d never even heard of the second film on the bill. They were “straight to video” releases before anyone had videotape players. Anyway, for not too much pocket money, you could bring a date and hold hands in the dark or heck, just get away from the parents for awhile. And sometimes the movies weren’t too bad.
When I went away to college, I discovered another kind of double feature, one where not only are both movies good but when they are shown together on the same night a neat sort of “discussion” starts between the films. The first one I saw was Casablanca played on the same bill as Woody Allen’s Play it Again Sam. Though video pretty much killed the little film revue theatres, now we have the ability to make our own homerolled double features. And our double features don’t have to include snotty art house film; they can be horror movies.
The big idea for this column are suggestions for two films that might work really well together, either based on their theme, a common actor, a common situation…whatever. And the films don’t necessarily have to be “good.” Putting one film in the right context sometimes makes different aspects noticeable, and often this means that a film that might initially be dismissed as mediocre might actually have something more profound going on. Or for that matter, sometimes a film that’s passable on its own completely falls apart when shown beside another work. That’s the fun here.
We all get to play Dr Frankenstein. What are fantastic “Creature Double Features” you’ve concocted? How’d they turn out?
Zombies invaded my household awhile back and occupied my family’s attentions night after night for several weeks. By “zombies” I of course mean the addictively amusing table game from Twilight Creations. I’m not enough of a game aficianado to know the correct term for this kind of game; it is card-based but also has a board that is assembled piece by piece as the game progresses. And the coolest part of the game perhaps are the plastic zombies that serve as obstacles to the players. In the expansion sets, there are even cooler variants of these zombies including glow-in-the-dark “radioactive” zombies and zombie dogs.
The object of the game should be familiar to anyone who knows a thing or two about zombies and that is, brute survival – and since only one person can fly away on that helicopter at the end (the victory condition) the side objective is making sure that other players don’t escape before you do. The theme changes nicely based on the different expansion sets, ranging from Night of the Living Dead (zombies original recipe), Dawn of the Dead (zombies in the mall), Day of the Dead (military zombies) and on to zombie dogs, college zombies and sewer zombies. Our household has got ‘em all and they’re all great though the expansion sets, obviously require the original Zombies! game. One piece of advice I’d pass along is to pick up an extra “Bag o’ Zombies.” The number of zombies figures in the starter box isn’t really enough for even a middle sized game. And who wants to run out of zombies?
The artwork on the cards graphically illustrates the action of the card. In fact there are a couple cards whose illustrations are so intense that my daughter insists we take them out of play. The only drawback to the game that we’ve found is that the board sometimes ends up snaking out larger than our table, especially when adding an expansion set. The remedy that we’ve found is to push all the furniture to the edges of the room and play on the floor!
In short, Zombies! is a blast. Games without an expansion set seem to take a little over an hour which is a nice length for an evening’s entertainment — with an expansion set or two… well, don’t start one of those if you don’t want to be occupied til the wee hours. And heck, Zombies! or any table game is a great excuse to shut off the TV and actually look at the members of your household.
(Male, early 30′s) I don’t know if this is exactly a nightmare but it was really annoying. I was outside trying to cross this yard to someone’s house and there were all of these huge bats swarming around trying to attack me. Their wingspan was probably three feet across and they were covered in short, dark colored hair. And the weirdest thing about them is that their entire face was one big suction cup. Somehow I knew that they wanted to affix that suction cup right over my face and then drain out my vital fluids. I kept swatting them away and that seemed to be good enough to keep them out of my face. In the dream, I didn’t get to the house but then I didn’t get the life sucked out of me either.
From Australia, with love. Imagine this cheery little warning tucked between ads for, I don’t know Quantas airlines and Vegemite.
The whole perspective of this public service announcement is weirdo-creepy, ain’t it? The image of the Grim Reaper as a bowler knocking down human pins in some dank Goth bowling alley just twists and turns in my head like a hungry corpse-worn. Compare and contrast, won’t you? this little video tidbit with the image of death as a chess player in Bergman’s The Seventh Seal.
(Male) I had my own farm which is something I’ve wanted for most of my life. I was just out wandering through the fields when I came across a gray tarp. Underneath the tarp were eggs that were white and roughly the size of watermelons. I thought to myself “This can’t be good” and I thought for a second about smashing them. They were so large they looked like dinosaur eggs. However, before I could act, one of them hatched and hundred of tiny snakes came out. They weren’t much larger than earthworms but they were black and there were hundreds of them, maybe a thousand or so. I knew they weren’t good.
I retreated to an outbuilding. It wasn’t quite big enough to call a barn but it had bales of straw all stacked up. The snakes followed me which was my plan. I took down a hunting bow and nocked a piece of straw in it and sent it sailing off into the mass of snakes. I skewered one right through the skull like I was an archery pro. In fact, in the dream, I think I was supposed to be an archery pro. I kept shooting off pieces of straw that kept killing the snakes, one by one. The area in front of the barn looked like a weird patch of grass because there were all those tiny snakes in their death throes struck through the head with pieces of straw. The straw stuck up straight and waved gently back and forth like it was blowing in the wind.
Though it was impressive and though I was able to shoot just about every second, it became evident that the whole strategy was flawed. If I kept killing them only one at a time, I wouldn’t be able to kill enough of them fast enough to keep them from over running me. The mass of snakes kept advancing, closer and closer.
My suspicion is that anyone reading The Daily Nightmare would also be interested in the creepy-fun merchandise offered at “PushinDaisies.com” My personal favorite is the anatomically correct human heart made from a whole pound of chocolate (dark or milk) — though I’m also attracted to the cupcake tins shaped like skulls. Prices don’t seem too bad either.
(Female, early 40′s) I was trapped with a group of human survivors inside a school building. We were battling giant robots like nothing I’ve seen before. They were fifteen to twenty feet tall, they had round faces like an analog clock and their heads were part of their round bodies. They had legs with wheels on the bottoms so they could move very fast and their arms were very long and had guns and pinching claws on the end. Their arms reached all the way from their shoulders down to the ground. Some robots look like metal people but these didn’t. They were just heartless killing machines. Did I mention they were trying to kill us in any way possible at any opportunity?
There was a herd of them circling the school.. There was something we could build that could eliminate the robots but they knew about it too. One of the essential pieces was this special rock. It was as big as my hand and it was dark black, like obsidian or something. We had the rock but the robots had killed the people who were carrying the rock. We had to get it back to have any chance of survival. So someone drove a bus around the school building and when it passed by the doors we had to take turns running and jumping into it to get inside. It had to go around several times because we couldn’t all get on at once. The bus couldn’t stop because that would attract too much attention. There were also delivery trucks at the school that were unintentionally helping us because they robots had to avoid them.
We were also trying to separate the robots from each other because one of them had the rock and we knew we couldn’t destroy them all. We got this one robot alone and then we crashed our bus into it. The robot fell over. Some of us got off the bus and grabbed the rock from the claw. But we had to get back in the school then because that’s where the rest of the device we were building was. We started running toward the school but that attracted the attention of the other robots. They started speeding toward us and shooting at us. Before we made it there, I woke up.
This was a dream straight out of Kafka. I was visiting another country where I could speak the language but it isn’t my native tongue. My room was right next to the train station, I knew when my train would be leaving and I knew the place was never very busy so I didn’t bother to saunter over there until nearly departure time.Â The train must have been something like a commuter train because I didn’t have an assigned seat, I didn’t actually even have a ticket. I thought naturally that I would be able to purchase one and step aboard. But the train station was absurdly crowded. There were people everywhere and long, long line snaking around queues everywhere.Â Standing in one of the lines was a colleague from work, actually a bit of a rival. He seemed in charge of a huge brood of schoolchildren who were also waiting for a train and incidentally clogging up the queues for tickets.Â I stood in a different lines, several in fact, fruitlessly; once I got to the front I discovered this was, say, a window to buy caramel popcorn not train tickets. I was starting to panic.Â I went inside the station which was pitch black.Â A young man I know was there, someone who is confined to a wheelchair in both real life and in the dream.Â He couldn’t get his chair through the turnstile so I helped him through and got him safely to his train.Â But there was no place where I could buy a ticket for myself.Â As I remember there was also a display set up inside the station where the history of rail travel was told in dioramas. There were no lights illuminating these displays and I was even more pressed for time. I raced outside again.Â The crowds had thinned and I finally was able to purchase a ticket though this itself was a hassle because the agent wanted exact change and wouldn’t settle even when I wanted to pay too much.Â Finally with ticket in hand I started running toward the train.Â It was a small train, maybe three cars pulled by a steam locomotive.Â There were train conductors stepping off the stairs.Â It was clearly ready to depart.Â I still had a small hill to run down to catch it.Â I thought if I could get the conductors’ attention, they might hold the train.Â I yelled but my voice was thin and tinny.Â I started to take off my hat to wave it and catch their attention when I realized that I had tucked dozens of slips of paper under the brim of my hat and as I removed my hat, they all cascaded to the ground.
One magazine that is essential for eccentric do it yourselfers is Make. What makes it particularly interesting to a reader of the Daily Nightmare is that Make is putting out a special Hallowe’en issue with all manner of cool creepy projects. Pre-order now and it’ll be shipping in August.
Would I kid about something as… weird as this? Samsonite makes a model of luggage that is shaped like a human rib cage. The “Hero 20″ Upright” is a sleek one-piece mold and it comes in black or “ivory/bone.” The design is oddly compelling but am I the only one who thinks it might draw a bit of the wrong kind of attention in these paranoid times, especially in the ultra-paranoid environment of air travel?
Still did I mention that I really kind of want one?
(Female, middle-aged) It was so scary and so sad. The dream was one of those visions where I could only see things; I couldn’t interact or stop them.
…I couldn’t stop them…
There was a woman, blond, slender, relatively young. She had five small children of different ages. She wanted to go out or do something that wouldn’t have been possible with them so she handed them each a clear plastic bag and told them to crawl inside. The children were all very obedient and they did as they were told even though a couple of them said they were scared and started to cry. She told them they could poke a little hole in the bag but not too big. It was clear she wanted them all to suffocate.
Then the dream just faded.
Several years ago, I dined at “Transylvania House,” an eastern European restaurant that served honest, nourishing peasant food — I had a hauntingly delicious bowl of tripe soup as an appetizer–with all the tawdry ambiance that its strip mall location allowed. Crammed in between the entrance and the kitchen was a man with a guitar and an amp who serenaded diners with tunes like Monster Mash and the theme from the Munsters. He was fantastic. I dropped a few bucks in his tip jar when we left and I picked up one of his promotional stickers. He went by the name of Creepy Clyde.
I came across that battered sticker the other day and scanned the internet to see what Clyde was up to. Evidently quite a lot. Check out his website:
Clyde hosts a movie series and has produced a cd of his original tunes. His nicely polished work is a loving pastiche of “safe” TV horror personalities — like my home-town favorite Sir Graves Ghastly — and cheery monster pop like Monster Mash. He’s just so darned good-natured about the whole thing too that he almost makes me feel like a kid again. Check out the commercials for his shows up on YouTube for a taste of what he does.
(Male) Two chain link fences ran up and down this green yard. They were only probably 6 to 8 inches apart. My conscious mind figures that there must have been a property dispute. The owner on one side erected a fence where he thought the boundary was and the owner on the other side did the same. Trouble was, a nest of snakes had taken up living in this “no one’s land” between the fences.
They were relatively small snakes like garter snakes, black and there seemed to be dozens of them. For some reason I thought these were the young and that there must be larger adults still hiding in the nest. But I just didn’t know exactly where the nest was. It was my job to kill them all though. Someone considered them a deadly pest.
I climbed the fenced and eased my way down between the fences. It was extremely tight. I was wearing my steel toed boots which are a little larger than my street shoes so I had to splay my feet out to fit in the narrow area. And I started stepping on snakes. I crushed their heads with the heel or the toe of my boot. I’d kill a couple with my right foot and a couple with my left foot.
And then I lost my balance. I fell over between the fences and got myself wedged in there pretty well. I was wearing cloth gloves so they weren’t going to give me any protection. And I started to panic because I couldn’t get myself back up to a standing position and I was finding it hard to breathe as well. Just then I looked down and saw an opening in the grass. I had fallen directly on top of the snake’s nest. Inside it were two huge snakes at least as big around as my wrist with heads the size of my fist. I started to yell but I woke up.