Spooky Things: Halloween Video Collection

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Well, would you look at that. Halloween is here! Every Friday for the last three weeks, I’ve been taking a look at some creepy pieces of art (a graphic novel, a video game and a music band), that are perfect to look into for the holiday. And I thought I’d wind this series down with a handful of fun little short films and animations from around the internet.

Happy Halloween – Amador Valenzuela 

Starting us off is a trippy blend of live-action and animation, as we see a man swallow some candy and, uh… Well, let’s just say he has a really good time.

Pumpkin Scrap – Graham Annable 

A quick little treat from the animator know as grickle, this animation gives us a glimpse at a new method of neighborhood rivalry.

MEOW! – Cyriak Harris and Sarah Brown

This one’s a few years old, but it’s worth a look if you haven’t seen it yet. Animator Cyriak and illustrator Sarah Brown take us to a city overrun by the cutest little zombie kittens you’ve ever seen. By the by, if you’re looking for more twisted and disturbing animations, Cyriak’s channel is pretty much all about that.

(Warning: Don’t let the cuteness fool you! There is plenty of blood, brains, intestines and other gruesome stuff in this video. So, you know, NSFW, and all that jazz.)

Invasion – Olivier Patté

Seemingly using the technique of redrawing and animating a series of real photographs, this animation sees civilization crumbling in the presence of some kind of demonic force… from space! Hey, it’s dark, unnerving and it looks cool. That’s all I need.

(Warning: this video does contain a brief sex scene in the middle. Barely anything is shown, but this is probably NSFW, anyway.)

Ready Err Not – Flying Lotus and David Firth

This one was released just today! Some of you may remember that I had talked about Flying Lotus’ new album You’re Dead! a little over a week ago. Well, now David Firth has directed an insane music video for the track from the album, “Ready Err Not”. It’s a very twisted, intricately detailed and creative video, however…

(WARNING! WARNING! WARNING!: This is, far and away, the most violent, disturbing, gross and DEFINITELY NSFW video in this post. Honestly, as cool as the video is, I had to seriously question whether or not I should show something like this in a blog post. But, for this Halloween, I chose to make an exception. Again, this is Not Safe For Work! Watch at your own risk!)

Halloween! – Daniel Cordero

And finally, as a palate cleanser for the nightmare you may have just witnessed, a brief and adorable animation primed and ready for e-card status.

Happy Halloween, everyone! Whether you’re partying, looting for candy, or sitting at home watching It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!, make sure you have a good one!

Spooky Things: Creature Feature

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You know, when it comes to music to listen to on Halloween, my searches haven’t proven to be particularly fruitful. For the most part, my options are limited to cheap compilation CD’s full of second-rate cover songs. That and, of course, “Thriller”. But I have found one band providing unique and clever alternative music formed around the spirit of the holiday. Enter the world of Creature Feature, if you dare!

A collaboration between L.A. composers Curtis RX and Erik X, Creature Feature takes it’s influences from all things creepy. Classic horror movies, terrifying tales of the macabre and even the oddly unnerving music of the carnival. It’s all fair game. A combination of rock and electronic elements help to set the music apart and give it it’s own identity.

It all comes together to paint a very Tim Burton-esque picture of the dark and the paranormal, with a heaping dose of fun tossed in for good measure. The band has released two full-length albums and a couple of singles since their debut in 2007. And people are taking notice. The band has built up a loyal cult following, one that eagerly anticipates each new release.

What more is there to say? Creature Feature is a cool band offering something unique to the music landscape: a supernatural romp that simultaneously sounds pleasantly retro, yet thoroughly modern.  A perfect fit for any Halloween party.

You can check out Creature Feature at their official site, where you can listen to, and purchase, each of their songs. Their music is also available for download on iTunes and Bandcamp.

Spooky Things: “The Vanishing Of Ethan Carter”

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Let me get this out of the way before I talk about what game I recommend for this October; I do not do jump scares. At all. I don’t enjoy horror movies, I don’t play many horror games and you can forget about convincing me to go into a haunted house attraction. I can, however, enjoy dark, supernatural stories with creepy atmospheres. And that’s why, today, I’m talking about the recently released indie game, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter.

Developed by the independent Polish studio, The AstronautsEthan Carter places you in the shoes of Paul Prospero, a detective with the ability to sense paranormal activity. Through his eyes, you investigate the town of Red Creek Valley to find the titular child, who requested your help before, well, vanishing. Along the way, you’ll solve puzzles, gather clues and communicate with the dead, as you come to find out more and more of a dark, ancient force corrupting the town.

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It’s telling that, upon starting a new game, the first things that show up on screen are the words, “This game is a narrative experience that does not hold your hand”. True to it’s word, you start out wandering in the forest with very little instruction. It may take you half-an-hour or so to formulate a game plan, but once you start accomplishing something, it all clicks into place.

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The biggest selling point for this game is the atmosphere. Ethan Carter is one of the most aesthetically beautiful games I’ve ever played. Nearly every second of gameplay would be worth photographing. More impressive is that the entire world of the game can be traveled without a single loading screen ever popping up. The game doesn’t forget where the roots of it’s story are, though. This idealistic country-side town is made all the more eerie with the supernatural, occult-centered events.

So as much as I’ve been raving about the game up to this point, it may surprise you to know that I haven’t beaten it, yet. Why, you ask? Well, let’s go back to the start. I don’t handle jump scares very well, and, despite the lack of indication anywhere that there would be some, there are some.

The section of the game I’m talking about is a side maze in the mines. It looks like something you can skip, but you come to find out that you cannot complete the game without completing all of the side activities. So my game abruptly ends there. It would be nice if The Astronauts could patch in some kind of work-around option for the more squeamish, because I know I’m not the only one.

However, if that’s not an issue to you, than I highly recommend this game. It’s beautifully atmospheric, the puzzles are creative, the crime scenes are fun to solve and the story is intriguing right up to the end. It’s an enormously impressive debut effort from The Astronauts and I’m very interested in where this new studio goes from here.

You can check out The Vanishing of Ethan Carter on Steam by following this link.

Spooky Things: “Anya’s Ghost”

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All Hallow’s Eve is a-coming, and whether you’re planning on partying this year, trick-or-treating at the age of 27, or sitting it out all-together, it’s always fun to take a look at the creepier-crawlier side of things. So that’s just what I plan to do. On every remaining Friday in this October, I’ll be taking a look at anything regarding a more supernatural subject then our standard affair. Starting us off is a wonderful graphic novel that I just recently discovered: Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol.

Anya’s Ghost tells the tale of a teenage girl named (you guessed it,) Anya, a Russian immigrant who sees herself as the sort of black sheep of her private school. Her best friend is kind of a jerk, she can’t seem to get the attention of her crush and she’s rather self-conscious about her look. One day, just as it’s all starting to overwhelm her, she ends up falling down a large hole in the middle of the forest.

It’s there that she encounters the titular ghost. A friendly-looking woman who’s been dead for over ninety years. After Anya is rescued, the ghost decides to tag along, developing a friendship with Anya while trying to help her improve her everyday life.

This is one really well told story. The dialogue is intelligent and witty, the main character is easy to root for and the story is charming, even while building up to a genuinely creepy third-act. The artwork is also top-notch. The black-and-white coloring suits the story well, and each character is well designed, while sporting an impressive range of expression.

Since the book was published in 2011, it’s won an Eisner Award and a Harvey Award, and it definitely deserves them both. Smart, eerie, charming and funny, Anya’s Ghost is an engaging read. If you haven’t read it yet, I recommend you seek it out.