even if it's not a gothic one

the signs as suburban haunts

ARIES: flattened paper boats scattered like the remains of a murdered animal along a dried up river, rundown motels with their blasted neon signs and smashed-in windows, pink streamers from some neighborhood child’s birthday party shuffling across the street like bright tumbleweed, a train rattling off into the breathless night & the trace remnants of a week old bonfire found in the middle of nowhere. 

TAURUS: chipped paint, shattered shot glasses lying across an abandoned pool table missing a few billiard balls, flyers rustling like autumn leaves against the tempestuous tides of the wind, advertising concerts & magic shows that took place in 2005, the sillage of old perfume clogging up the air, still thick as the scent of blood or wildflowers.

GEMINI: the corpse of a cigarette that hasn’t touched a mouth in months, a dilapidated playground where lost souls come out to play, threadbare curtains ripped like the wings of a dissected bird, strange red-brown stains across the hotel bedsheets, a gate grown weary with new-forming foliage & age, whining erroneously whenever maneuvered. 

CANCER: an empty casket, coffee rim imprints across hardwood tables, an old, tattered shoe lying haphazardly on the side of the road, a junkyard littered with ancient cars still soggy with stories, a pick-up with a broken windshield, a cadillac with a massacred paint job, someone’s motorcycle with blood staining the front tire, an askew portrait with eyes that follow you around the room.

LEO: a carnival horse with one eye scratched out, a daycare centre that shut down years ago, plagued with the colorful ghosts of children’s drawings still tacked to the crumbling walls, a spiral staircase that seems to shift direction when nobody’s paying attention, crunched up beer cans rolling across an empty rooftop & lichen kissing the concrete. 

VIRGO: the supermarket, flickering & eerie at night like the shadows unearthed beneath troubled eyes, owls stirring in between the murmuring trees, a single upturned grave in a cemetery that isn’t supposed to be notorious for hauntings, an old fountain still glistening with pennies that are no longer considered currency, a collapsed bottle of wine running the tiles red.

LIBRA: handprints imprinted onto fogged-up windows, red rooms crowded with developing photographs of people whose faces you recognize but cannot quite place, broken doll heads, a necklace that erupted into a sea of pearls, a deflated blow up kiddie pool collecting parched grass and critters, a busted arcade game & the laughter of people long gone still trapped inside the walls.

SCORPIO: books with grimacing yellow pages, someone attempting to sell you a cursed object on etsy, a leaky shower-head, a clock that’s stuck in time, a torn, unravelled couch sitting deserted in someone’s front lawn, candy stores that proclaim sales on expired sweets & ruddy patches of farmland. 

SAGITTARIUS: basements stacked with unwanted toys, a box of thin-mints, footsteps reverberating around the house when it’s 2 AM and you’re home alone, a burned down lemonade stand, that weird alien light in the third window of your neighbor’s house that never seems to get turned off, a certain rattling coming from the kitchen.

CAPRICORN: rain pummeling against damp ceilings, clothes ripped off the washing line, an empty aquarium, obscure little thrift stores that sell leather jackets from the eighties, gas station lights flirting with you from the distance, the alley where they say the vagabonds roam their night countries, sniffing up and dressing down and slitting the throats of angels.

AQUARIUS: those tiny coffee shops that fill you with nostalgia for places you’ll never visit, ‘JESUS LOVES YOU’ spray-painted across the sides of ramshackle buildings, an antique almirah scratched to high hell, a monster in the closet, the tunnel beneath the bridge that half the town believes is a gateway to hell, smoking up in trip mall parking lots. 

PISCES: halloween decor presented in shop windows a couple months early, visiting that lake where you heard that one kid drowned, the garage door slamming without cause or notice, storing fireflies in jars, drugstore makeup, birthday cake flavored oreos, a wheeled desk chair that seems to turn on its own when nobody’s in the office, a candle snuffed out on a windless evening.

Public School Gothic

you were sent to the library a while ago but the purpose of your visit is unknown to you. “i need you to go to the library for me”. it drones on and on in your mind.

you hear the screaming down the hall at least once a day. no one says anything. we dont know what may happen if we do.

every school has a basement, or even a sub-basement. weve never been to it but we know its there for us.

the applause in the cafeteria started from nowhere, and ceased just as quickly as it started. no one knows where it originated.

its gym class. “were running today”. everyone knows that once you start running its impossible to stop.

in every school there are a few empty classrooms. sometimes you can peel back the old paper covering the windows and see whats inside, but i wouldnt recommend it.

theres an outbuilding that used to be used to heat up the school its not supposed to be used anymore, but sometimes you see smoke rising from its old chimney. youre sure of it.

school hours have been shortened due to district budget cuts. no one ever sees the teachers leave in the afternoon. we never see them leave the school.

everything goes smoothly, up until rain starts falling. the students raise their heads one by one to stare out the windows.

sometimes our school runs out of paper. we can no longer print documents or worksheets or office referrals. everything comes to a halt. even when unable to function, we must return to school.

you hear someone yell down the hallway “WHAT TEAM?” the answer is wildcats, apparently. our school mascot is a gryphon. we dont have team sports.

public schools dont have nurses offices. we cant get medicine or disinfectant for the many wounds we acquire throughout the day. we rarely have access to bandaids, yet you always hear someone say “im going to the nurses office”. where are they going?

The University of Toronto has the largest academic library system in Canada, and third in North America (behind Harvard and Yale). It is also the highest ranked University in Canada, and according to Times 2015-2016 ranking,19th in the world. 

There are 44 different libraries that belong to UofT, most of them are located at UofT’s main campus, St. George, but its satellite campuses also host a few of the less neo-gothic ones. 

The university was established in 1827 (exactly 40 years before Canada was even a country lol), and some notable alumni include Margaret Atwood (who is regularly seen wandering the campus), Frederick Banting, Lester B. Pearson, and me (soon). Alumni list does not include Drake or The Weeknd.

anonymous asked:

bsd really got me into learning about the rl authors, but ive been having trouble finding stuff about the japanese authors. do you have any recommendations for where i could start?

Ahhhh, I’m flattered you came to ask here for suggestions!  I don’t think I’m the best person to ask, honestly, but I’ll do my best to help! Since you said it was BSD that got you interested, most of my recommendations will be from the Japanese authors featured in the series~

Short Stories

This is only to get you started, a bit of a sampler for what some of the literary greats have to offer.

Rashomon & In a Grove by Akutagawa Ryuunosuke

– Akutagawa is the master of short stories, so there can be no better starter when it comes to dipping your toes in when it comes to Japanese literature. Most of Akutagawa’s works deal with exposing the egotism of man and the flaws of the human spirit. His writing may be elegant and refined, but to others it comes off as unfeeling and cerebral; you’ll have to find out for yourself where you stand.

Beneath the Cherry Trees by Kajii Motojirou

– “There are bodies buried beneath the cherry trees!” This line from one of Kajii’s most famous works is often quoted, probably because it associates the ephemeral sakura with the grotesque. Sakaguchi Ango also wrote a story with the same title, but I find Kajii’s to be the more memorable one between the two.

Separate Ways by Higuchi Ichiyou

– BSD may have you fooled, but Higuchi is actually an extremely popular literary figure in Japan, due to both the quality of her work and her all too short life. “Separate Ways” is quite a short read, but it has a heartbreaking realism most stories twice its length can’t even hope to touch.

The Human Chair by Edogawa Ranpo

– And now, we enter the surreal. Though more known for being the originator of modern mystery stories in Japan, Edogawa was also considered a master of gothic horror. Be warned, this story can be disturbing so skip this if you have a faint heart! (As an aside, Ito Junji put a spin on the tale and published a oneshot inspired by “The Human Chair“ a few years back.)

Keep reading

10

1.05 - Heart of Darkness: Every town has one. The spooky house that all the kids avoid. Ours was Thornhill, the Blossom family’s mansion, with its very own graveyard. And, trapped within its walls like some gothic heroine, was Cheryl Blossom. Still grieving for her beloved brother, Jason. Linked in death even as they were in life.

You know, I’m surprised that Mulder and Scully in California never feels right to me, no matter how many episodes and stories are set there, and how good many of them are. I’m surprised because California is a deeply strange and unsettling place and you’d think that it would fit them. Film noir is set in California and Buffy is set in California because they draw upon this strangeness, the sense of sunny, plaster edifices built on top of rot. Small town California fits them, I suppose, the broken-down rest-stop Americana that you can find across the country. The desert fits them, the eerie Martian emptiness of it. But California isn’t liminal or mysterious, exactly, it’s melancholy because it’s broken in a very human way. Cults in California are sad and scary (Scientology, for one), made by humans, offering a modern sort of fulfillment. They don’t tap into a charming or tantalizing mysticism. The X-Files mysticism is hopeful and playful and a little ridiculous. Jackalopes and Jersey Devils. It doesn’t work when it traffics in aesthetics that are either too old or too new. California is too new, no matter how long people have lived there, and its aesthetic has to do with the used car salesman underbelly of that. But Florida is not. Florida works. It has California’s human weirdness but with a bizarre kind of gravitas. Massachusetts works. Kansas works. But Europe doesn’t work. And the Deep South doesn’t work, in a way I can’t explain. True Blood and Anne Rice could do bayou mystique because vampires are old and they belong there. Southern gothic and european gothic are connected by that stone and gargoyle and wrought-iron mood, the almost Lovecraftian sense that impossibly old and inhuman things are lurking in the deep. The X-Files isn’t about that kind of dread. It’s more about the hope that there are in fact more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy because wouldn’t that be terribly sad if not?

australian nsw north coast gothic
  • the pacific highway is constantly upgrading. the roadworks never end. the road stretches into the distance, quiet. there are no workers, but the machines still dig.
  • you log into facebook. people you may know has updated. a girl is friends with your cousin. your cousin is friends with your boss. your boss is friends with the girl’s brother. they all live three hours away. they all know who you are. you do not know them.
  • Grafton is inland, but there is nothing to the east. do not ask what is there, only pray you will never find out.
  • city people ask you where you’re from. you tell them the name of your town. they have never heard of it. neither have you.
  • the villages on the coast brag about the beach. you visit, once. the ground is covered in sand. seagulls tear hot chips from your fingers.the people are covered in sand too. none of them wear shoes. there is a vacancy in their eyes.
  • don’t linger too long at the Taree service center. everybody is dressed in yellow and red. the town is yellow and red. yellow and red sponsors the town. yellow and red owns the town. yellow and red is the town. Taree is McDonalds.
  • the islands off the coast are empty. only one has a lighthouse. we say nobody lives there. we know that it blinks at night.
  • choosing a university is difficult, even with your regional points. you could brave the cold winters of Armidale, or escape to the drunk paradise of the Gold Coast. quick, you only have 3 seconds to decide, or Lismore will be your only option.
  • Mullumbimby doesn’t exist. Iggy Azalea never grew up there. The beaches were beautiful, but it couldn’t escape the shame. Mullumbimby doesn’t exist.
  • the Great Dividing Range looms over you. waterfall way is the only way up to Dorrigo. your parents warn you never to go west alone.
  • state of origin night, and all the houses are painted blue. all the faces are painted blue. except for the children. they don maroon. they have never known victory.
  • your local shopping centre has no escalators, if you even have one at all. you buy your clothes from target country. unless you live in Coffs Harbour. in that case, good luck.
  • it’s July, and the hipsters, goths, indie girls, and tired dads swarm up the highway. they ask you for directions. splendour, they say. it’s in the grass. you only nod blankly. there is no splendour here. only mud, and rain.
  • there’s a roundabout in the middle of the highway. and a 40km school zone. this is the main route between Brisbane and Sydney. only the strong will survive Urunga to Nambucca.
  • Russell Crowe’s house in Nana Glen is empty. he only ventures home to visit his parents. there is nobody living there, but that doesn’t stop the sightings.
  • You visit Casino for Beef Week. You see the Beef Queen crowned. You clap, as the cows surround the regent. All hail the queen of beef.
  • you wait at your local bus stop, for the once-a-day service. it never comes. it was never going to.
  • working a shift at your local bowling club, you notice the customers ageing. they age, and you are afraid. everyone is old. they all order chicken schnitzel. you must send them to Port Macquarie. it is the only place for them.
  • everybody loves the big banana. you are proud of the big banana. everybody wants to visit the big banana. nobody wants to leave the big banana. nobody is allowed to leave the big banana. everybody want to stay at the big banana. everybody must stay at the big banana. it’s a whole bunch of fun.
  • you moved to the north coast when you were young. you know your way around. it becomes your home. soon, you forget any other places exist. you stop visiting Brisbane or Sydney. you have never been further north than byron bay, never past the nymboida, you are scared to step foot in forster-tuncurry. you were born on the north coast.
3

Every town has one. The spooky house that all the kids avoid. Ours was Thornhill, the Blossom family’s mansion, with its very own graveyard. And, trapped within its walls like some gothic heroine, was Cheryl Blossom. Still grieving for her beloved brother, Jason.
                                     Linked in death even as they were in life.

2

❝Every town has one, the spooky house that all the kids avoid. Ours was Thornhill, the Blossom family’s mansion, with it’s very own graveyard. And trapped within its walls, like some Gothic heroine, was Cheryl Blossom, who’s still grieving for her beloved brother Jason. Linked in death even as they were in life❞

“Every town has one, the spooky house that all the kids avoid. Ours was Thornhill, the Blossom family’s mansion, with its very own graveyard. And trapped within its walls, like some Gothic heroine, was Cheryl Blossom, who’s still grieving for her beloved brother Jason. Linked in death even as they were in life.”

(What aesthetics can I request?)

oct2pus  asked:

Since I saw your post on WTF and homestuck, what would you even recommend to try and simulate a session of sburb?

I wouldn’t try to simulate a session of SBURB. To my mind, any effort to play SBURB by its own rules - even OOC ones - is counter to the themes of the source material. That the rules of the game are your enemy is not exactly a deeply hidden subtext!

If I wanted to play a game about playing SBURB, however, I’d definitely go with Chuubo’s Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine. I’ve covered the reasons why - in response to a question very similar to this one, in fact - in a previous post. In a game that was specifically about struggling against SBURB as a construct, I’d likely use the Gothic or Fairy Tale genre rules, depending on what aspects of that struggle I wanted to focus on.

8

Every town has one, the spooky house that all the kids avoid. Ours was Thornhill, the Blossom family’s mansion, with it’s very own graveyard. And trapped within its walls, like some Gothic heroine, was Cheryl Blossom, who’s still grieving for her beloved brother Jason. Linked in death even as they were in life.

ICHF Key Concepts: The Four Horrors

I’ve been writing Iconic Characters of Horror Fiction articles for over a year to a modest amount of success, and in that time I’ve covered a lot of strange territory - both in the number of different characters I’ve written about, and in the number of weird personal theories about them and the horror genre in general that I’ve shared in the process.  While I feel I’ve barely scratched the surface of what I want to do with this series, I have come to the point where I feel some of those weird theories need their own article.  So allow me to present to you the first ICHF Key Concept article!  And what better to start off with than my moderately popular genre taxonomy: the Four Horrors.

When it comes to Academic literary criticism, the horror genre is mostly uncharted territory.  I was fortunate to have a college that offered two courses on horror literature - I mean, they both focused almost exclusively on British horror literature that was published before the 20th century, but y'know, baby steps and progress and all that.  One of the things I was surprised to learn in those courses was that, as far as literary critics are concerned, there is no distinction between Gothic Horror and Horror in general - all horror is gothic, apparently.  As an amateur scholar of horror stories, I felt that was INCREDIBLY wrong, and so I began working on a more accurate description of the horror genre - one that allows for more diversity.  One that recognizes multiple modes of horror.  A taxonomy, if you will.

I ultimately settled on dividing Horror into four main subgenres, each of which can be divided into even more subgenres on top of that.  Let’s find out more about them, shall we?

Gothic Horror

We’ll start with the only officially recognized horror genre, the Gothic.  Part of the reason I protest it as the ONLY form of horror is that, according to literary critics, it’s a very narrowly defined genre - one that cannot contain all the horror stories we’ve come up with in our history.

Gothic Horror demonizes the old, primitive, and ancient parts of our history.  The horror in a Gothic story comes from the past - a crime committed in the olden days, or an ancient evil that has survived despite the passing of time.  In Gothic horror stories, evil is something that humanity has to grow out of - it its destroyed by progress and discovery.

Monsters in Gothic Horror stories tend to be either undead creatures (like ghosts, zombies, vampires, etc.), mythological monsters (dragons, sphinxes, etc.), or humans that are turned into a more “primitive” creature (Mr. Hyde, Werewolves, etc.).  Decay and degeneration are the main tools of Gothic Horror - the audiences is presented with vivid images of rotting bodies, both literal and metaphorical.  Evil is defeated in Gothic horror stories by uncovering the truth and civilizing the old world - society must progress to keep the dead wickedness of the past buried.

Some of the subgenres of Gothic Horror include Ghost Stories (where the spirit of a deceased person must be put to rest by discovering the horror that killed them in the past), Vampire Fiction (stories with vampires in them), and the Imperial Gothic.  The later is particularly interesting to me and relevant to my Four Horrors concept, as the Imperial Gothic is sort of the bridge between Gothic Horror and the other three horror genres.  You see, while the Imperial Gothic still claims that horror is rooted in the past, it adds on the idea that said horror is being brought back to the present BECAUSE our “progress” in the present is, in fact, a barbaric retread of our ancestors’ mistakes.  It claims that modern man is backsliding, and the old defeated horrors of yesteryear will roam free as a result.  Other horror stories will take the genre even further from there.

Detective Fiction also has its roots in Gothic Horror stories, but whether it still counts as a horror genre or evolved into its own animal altogether is debatable.  I personally wouldn’t count most detective tales as horror stories, but it’s interesting to note their connection.

Examples of Gothic Horror Stories: The Castle of Otranto, Frankenstein, Dracula, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”

Cosmic Horror

Cosmic Horror was the first horror genre to split off from the Gothic entirely (in this little concept of mine, which is not law).  In many ways, it seems similar to its parent.  Heroes in Cosmic Horror stories often try to uncover the truth behind a supernatural mystery, and it often involves exploring some horrifying and primitive relics of the past.  However, while uncovering the truth solves things in a Gothic horror tale, it only makes things worse in a Cosmic Horror story.

Cosmic Horror does not demonize the past.  Instead, it demonizes existence itself.  The universe is a cold, uncaring place that is beyond human comprehension, and as such it is also beyond caring for humanity.  Evil is rooted in the very fabric of reality, and built into the utter apathy and indifference our world has for us.  Madness, confusion, and miscomprehension are the main tools of these stories - our ability to see the world around us and not understand the meaning of it keeps the reader ill at ease, especially when that world grows increasingly awful and terrifying.

The main monster of a Cosmic Horror story is the… *sigh* eldritch abomination, whose good name as an archetype has been sullied by people applying it to any and all monsters.  At one point, though, eldritch abomination was a phrase that meant something - specifically, a “monster” whose anatomy and nature cannot truly be comprehended by human minds, one who is almost thoughtlessly destructive simply because we are utterly insignificant to it.

We’re probably going to need a new word for that archetype soon, since people seem to love calling any and all monsters that are even remotely strange “eldritch abominations” these days.

Cosmic horror stories rarely offer their heroes a way out - if one does manage to defeat the evil, it is always temporary, and the hero is generally scarred beyond repair by the experience if they survive at all.  One is only safe from the horror if one is ignorant of it - and even then, “safe” only lasts as long as the horror remains ignorant of us as well.

Examples of Cosmic Horror Stories: The Cthulhu Mythos stories, most Slender Man stories, Burrgrr, Awful Hospital, Hellstar Remina, Uzumaki, The Thing

Atomic Horror

When the Imperial Gothic Horror genre suggested that our progress may be unleashing the horrors of the past, it laid the seeds for the third main horror genre to blossom.  Atomic Horror takes things a step further by suggesting our progress will make its own evils - evils the likes of which humanity could never have experienced in the past, for they could only be made by unleashing the newfound powers of modern technology.

In other words, evil is rooted in the present/future in an Atomic Horror story, rather than in the past like in a Gothic tale.  Many Atomic Horror stories try to temper this aspect of their genre by emphasizing that progress is only bad when it is unchecked and uncontrolled - while scientists may make a monster, they can also be the ones to find a way to stop it.  The progress in question doesn’t have to be scientific, either - industrial development schemes or military campaigns are just as likely to create a monster in Atomic Horror as a mad scientist’s experiments.

There are (at least) four main monster archetypes in Atomic Horror stories: the Prehistoric Monster (creatures from the past that are taken out of their rightful time and place by humanity - an archetype that Atomic Horror took from Gothic Horror stories and made its own), the Mutant (a creature that is made by humanity meddling with nature), the Robot (a machine that can operate without human assistance, often with deadly purposes), and the Alien (a creature from another world - often acting as a dark mirror of humanity, showing us how awful we could end up if we don’t change our ways).  Mutation and dissection are the main tools of Atomic Horror stories - we are horrified to find that our “progress” requires us to destroy the current world to build an awful new one in its place.

To stop evil in an Atomic Horror story, one has to change the way humanity is progressing - either stopping the progress itself, changing its direction, or simply reining it in a bit.  We have to rethink what we are doing and consider the effects we have on the world we run - or else the end will always have a question mark.

Two of the subgenres within Atomic Horror include the Alien Invasion Genre, where monsters from outer space invade earth with superior technology, and the Kaiju Genre, where humanity is attacked by a literally gargantuan monster because of our violation of the natural order.  Kaiju stories sometimes leave the horror genre altogether, but I personally think most still stay within its boundaries.

Examples of Atomic Horror Stories: Godzilla, Them!, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, The War of the Worlds (1953 film), The Blob, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Fly


Slasher Horror

Finally, we have Slasher Horror.  Born out of the exploitation films of the 70’s an 80’s, Slasher Horror doesn’t focus on the past or the future very much.  While it shares an existential dread with Cosmic Horror, it looks inward for evil rather than outward.  It’s not the universe that is evil, necessarily, but rather humanity itself.  Something in the human condition is sick, twisted, and, with rare exception, predisposed to wickedness.  Slasher Horror holds one thing as true: humanity needs to be punished, and oh how cathartic it is to watch that punishment unfold.

Slasher horror demonizes humanity itself, and it does so by presenting a cast of almost completely unlikeable and one dimensional characters.  Humans aren’t necessarily moustache-twirlingly evil in Slasher stories, but they are selfish to a ludicrous extent.  They ignore drowning children, have sex even as their friends are being slaughtered in the next room, and rarely trade words with each other that aren’t petty insults.  When a character is introduced in a Slasher story, they are almost certainly designed to make you desire their death.

However, there is generally an attempt at making an exception to this rule in most Slasher stories.  You will normally find at least one character who is unique in that they care about other people and, y'know, aren’t shitty human beings.  This is your hero, and they have the enviable task of stepping over a very low bar to become the least wretched person in your story.

“Monsters” are rare in slasher stories, as most tend to go for an anonymous killer instead - some ominous masked man who picks off the other awful people one by one, often in increasingly preposterous ways.  When one of these killers survives long enough, they may gain an identity - and since this tends to involve surviving several definitely lethal injuries, they often become undead monsters as well.

The main tool of the slasher movie is gore.  Splattering organs, buckets of blood, and impossible wounds are the gross out of choice, and often play less like horrifying scenes and more like money shots in a porno.  Slasher Horror is all about catharsis - while other stories may want to horrify you, Slasher tales let you indulge your darker desires for a time.

Evil is defeated in a slasher movie when the hero loses almost everything and, in desperation, finally snaps and raises a hand against the awful nature of humanity - in a literal fashion, i.e. by killing the slasher.  This violent act may also be why few heroes in Slasher stories survive coming back for a sequel - by killing the slasher, they have become another wicked person who selfishly put their own life above others.

Examples of Slasher Horror Stories: The Halloween series, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series, Friday the 13th series, the A Nightmare on Elm Street series, the Saw series, Behind the Mask: the Rise of Leslie Vernon, the Scream series

The Axis of the Four Horrors

skeletonphonic was the first to make an axis out of my four horror genres, so credits go to him for the idea for this visual.

If you look at my four horror genres, you can see that there are two pairs of apparent opposites.  Gothic Horror vilifies the past, while Atomic Horror villifies the future.  Cosmic Horror claims the universe is evil, while Slasher Horror claims evil is inherent to humanity itself.  We could use this axis to try and force existing horror stories into one of these four genres - for example, the more a story vilifies humanity, the more Slasher it is.  Simple, right?

Well… no.  See, these pairs aren’t actually opposites.  A story can vilify the past AND the present - hell, that’s basically what the Imperial Gothic does.  Likewise, humanity being evil doesn’t necessarily mean that the universe itself isn’t evil too.  A horror story could hit all four points on the axis.

If one were to graph horror stories on this axis, I think it would be smart not to do it with a simple point.  Instead, show how far a given story stretches in each direction - some may lie firmly in one direction, while others may stretch into two, or three, or even all four.  It could be an interesting experiment for more mathematically included horror scholars than myself to try.

Problems with the Four Horrors

While I obviously like this little division of the horror genres, and have found it very useful in my writing about Horror in general, I can’t say it’s flawless.  It’s mostly based on Western literature, specifically English language literature, and as such there are A LOT of horror stories out there that could theoretically not fit anywhere on this axis.  That’s a major problem that I can’t address entirely on my own - even a glutton like myself could never read every horror story ever made, or even MOST of the horror stories ever made.

Academics might also argue that my division is forced.  A lot of Slasher and Cosmic Horror stories have an evil of the past as part of their story - the murder of Jason Voorhees, the ancient cult of Cthulhu, etc.  We could force them into the Gothic, and then kick Atomic Horror stories out of the Horror genre and into Science Fiction (which a lot of critics do).  I think that’s too simplistic, but y'know, I’m not God.  I’m just a weirdo who thinks too much about horror stories.

There are other taxonomies as well.  Some have divided horror into Supernatural and Radcliffian tales - Supernatural Horror has a horror that is, obviously, supernatural, while Radcliffian Horror reveals that the horror was man-made all along (think Scooby Doo).  Others have divided Horror into Thrillers and Creature Features - Thrillers involve a mundane, realistic threat, while Creature Features have monsters in them.  Or we could divide horror between its two sibling genres, Sci-Fi and Fantasy - Sci-Fi Horror, Fantasy Horror, and Mundane Horror for those tales that don’t have a supernatural element.  There are probably a billion ways we can divide the genre.

But the Four Horrors work for me, and they’ve helped form ICHF into what it is.  They won’t be leaving this blog any time soon.

(For those interested in the little mascots I made for this essay, here are their names: Count Gothic, Cthon Cosmic, Doctor Atomic, and Sam Slasher.)

Stardew valley gothic.

The crops here grow within days, almost visible to the naked eye. They’re always warm to the touch, even on cold autumn evenings.

The months seem like days. You think you’ve been here a week. Its been 3 months. No one seems to notice here.

The children never age. You’ve been here four years and they’ve never grown. They watch you as you pass. Their eyes are empty.

Eyes track you from the bushes, small and sharp. Are the gifts you leave them offerings in exchange for rewards, or sacrifices? You’ve finished the centre yet you still feel them behind you. They aren’t done yet.

Gus boasts he knows everything about the town. You ask him and he simply smiles. He knows many secrets, still and dark and old. He pours you another drink and says nothing.

Shane rebuffs you coldly, but his eyes are frightened. He knows something too. 

Don’t go near the wizards tower. Don’t talk about the wizards tower. Don’t think about the wizards tower.

Your spouses baby is born in two weeks. It moves like an insect in the corner of your eye. You cradle it and tell yourself you love it. Theres something under its skin. 

You see mer people in the sea. They never approach the bay. They never eat fish from here. They sing at night, and the song is a warning.

Everyone drinks here. Its easier to ignore them when the mind is clouded.

So many of them carry old wounds, sad stories and aching scars. The valley calls to the ones in pain. Why are you here?

David vs Ripley and What it Means for the Alien Franchise

I have to say I like the idea of David as the new main character of the Alien series. Unlike Shaw and Daniels, who I very much liked and who i originally thought might be the main characters of this prequel series, David is a completely different type of protagonist, largely because he isn’t one, at least not from a human’s perspective.

He’s not the bad-ass heroine with a heart of gold that will do anything to protect the ones she cares about. He’s not even human and his entire moral compass, though we may call it crazy, is so interesting and remarkable because it is “alien” to our own (no pun intended).

David is a character that still feels and emulates emotions so the audience can relate to him, but at the same time the audience can’t put their human feelings and opinions on to him because he is not human and does not abide by our rules.

This change has turned the Alien series from one of survival and the resilience of the human race to one of rebirth and evolution with far larger philosophical implications that I hope future films in the franchise explore.

The beauty of Covenant, at least in my mind, is that the humans are not the villains and are relate-able characters you don’t necessarily want to die, but it is made clear that there is a very large possibility that humanity’s time is up, or we’ll at the very least have to drastically evolve to continue with this new age. Yet despite this, the movie also succeeds in putting humans and the Xenomorphs on a level playing ground in a very interesting way. That is:

Neither are special.

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Rural Illinois Gothic

Everywhere looks the same. The country roads get worse the longer you drive. You can hear nothing but the crunch of gravel. Each farm you pass has the same quilt square on the barn. You know exactly where you are and how to get home, but can’t explain how.

You’ve been stuck behind a tractor on the highway and have gone 2 miles in 20 minutes. You’re not even sure you’re moving anymore. The cars behind you are restless, a truck passes 5 cars at once and disappears over the horizon, you wish him the best of luck.  

You and a friend are bored beyond belief. Somehow you end up walking around Walmart for the third time today. The greeter was in your high school class, he looks so dead inside you almost didn’t recognize him. You avoid eye contact when you walk past. You go straight to the toy section.

A boy walks past you dressed all in camouflage. Hunting season ended weeks ago, you wonder where he could be going. He turns around and smiles. He only has 4 teeth.  

It’s two in the morning and you’re starving. The only place open is McDonald’s. No one answers when you pull up to the drive thru. The static goes on for a few minutes before the menu goes dark. You drive away even though you’re still hungry.

A friend from college asks you where you live despite you saying she wouldn’t have heard of it. She ask if it’s close to Chicago. You say yes even though you live over two hours away. It’s been a long day and you’re tired. It doesn’t matter anymore, Chicago is everywhere.

You remember when the corn only came up to your knee. It towers over your head and makes it so you can’t seen more than five feet in front of you. It’s all anyone ever talks about, how the corn is doing. You’re scared for its wellbeing.

A girl in a truck offers you some sweetcorn. Even though you’ve eaten it every day for the last week, you buy ten more. Driving home, you come across another girl in another truck. You try to buy sweetcorn from her, but your car is already full.