May: Zombie Awareness Month

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on May 4, 2010 by gobbets

The Zombie Research Society has declared May to be Zombie Awareness month. You can purchase your grey ribbon here to show your support for the cause. You all know that zombie awareness is an issue I feel very strongly about, so tell your friends – don’t get eaten when the horde arrives, remember the motto of the ZRS: “What you don’t know can eat you!”.

New Monster Poll

Posted in Uncategorized on May 3, 2010 by gobbets

Vote now in the new gobbets poll: Which profiled monster would you rather be?

See sidebar for transmogrification options!

After voting, drop us a line and tell us why you’ve chosen your monster manifestation…

Monday Monster Profile: Wendigos

Posted in Monday Monster Profile with tags , on May 3, 2010 by gobbets

Wendigo as featured in Supernatural

What is a wendigo?

A wendigo is essentially a cannibalistic supernatural entity. It is typically found in the woods in North America and attacks and eats hikers and campers.

How do wendigos come about?

In some legends a wendigo is a malicious flesh-eating spirit, but in other legends wendigos were once human. It is said that a human that succumbs to cannibalism can be transformed into a wendigo, and is then cursed to haunt the woods eating flesh but never feeling satisfied.

How do I know a wendigo when I see one?

Wendigos possess super-human strength and speed to catch their prey, so you probably won’t have time to identify their features at leisure. However, wendigos are often depicted as emaciated, starving beings – always hungry, yet no matter how much they eat, their hunger cannot be satisfied. If you see a really skinny entity drooling in the woods – run away.

How do I kill it?

Advice varies from the standard use of silver to the more obscure shattering of the heart (some variations of the story involve the wendigo having a heart made of ice). Fire is said to ward it off, but it is uncertain whether burning alive would cause true death. I’d go with burning and shooting with silver bullets followed by dismemberment and further burning – but I’m a cautious sort.

I want to know more!

Algernon Blackwood’s story ‘The Wendigo’ (1910) is a great place to start (but he’s one of my favourite authors so of course I’m going to say that!)

Also check out the 2001 film Wendigo (which merges the myth somewhat with werewold legends)

Wendigos also turn up as an X-File and one is hunted by Sam and Dean in Supernatural.

Marvel comics feature wendigos which comply with some elements of the folklore.

Friday Fiction: The Wailing

Posted in Original Fiction with tags , on April 30, 2010 by gobbets

Here’s the next installment of the Banshee story…

The bunch of flowers arrived on our doorstep the day of the funeral. The old ones always sent flowers, or chocolates, or made little oatcakes. Sometimes surviving family did the sending, sometimes the ‘thank-you’ tokens were organised as part of the ‘arrangements’. I couldn’t for the life of me see what they were thankful for.

Not everyone sent gifts though. Younger people often didn’t even realise what had happened, or put no faith in the ‘silly local superstition”. Lucky them. I wished the calling in my blood could fade away like the old beliefs – a silly folktale that no longer served any purpose. But it didn’t work like that.

“Sabine! Come and put these in some water!”

I had long since learned it did no good to mope about and refuse the gifts. Mum would just make sure they ended up in my room, and do her best to make me feel like I was somehow offending the dead. Like they cared anymore.

The flowers were purple irises. Pretty. I set them on my desk and tried to ignore them and finish my biology homework. It wasn’t difficult; I was naturally good at biology. Must have something to do with the full-colour, no-gory-detail-spared visions of how people were going to die.

I had my first vision when I was 13. I was washing the dog out in the yard and started to feel a kind of pressure in my head, not a headache exactly, that came afterwards, this was more like someone blowing up a balloon in my skull.  Then I could just see it – the artery closing, the heart struggling to pump the blood out, but filling up instead. And then my view changed and I saw Mrs McNaulty from down the road gasp and clutch her chest. It was all over in a few seconds. I ran inside terrified. Mum tried to comfort me but she was obviously pleased. Not that she was happy Mrs McNaulty was going to have a heart attack, but the genes were only passed on to girls, and usually to only one girl per banshee family, per generation. Mum’s sister had been a ‘wailer’ but she’d only had sons. I got the impression that mum had always been a bit jealous of her sister’s ‘gift’ and was proud her daughter would be next. Lucky me.

I’d gone to stay with Aunty Cora for a few weeks afterwards to learn how it all worked. She took me out to Mrs McMaulty’s house that night and sat with me until the time came.  She held my hand when the scream tore out of my throat, and gave me icecream when I could barely speak the next day. Aunty Cora tried very hard to make me feel like I was special, like I’d been chosen to take over the family business. I just wish we owned a fish and chip shop instead.

I cried when I heard Mrs McNaulty had passed away. Exactly one week after Aunty Cora and I had sat below her window and I wailed for the first time. It always happened a week after the vision but I guess it just wasn’t really ‘real’ to me until I saw the ambulance in her driveway. I’d taken to walking past her house every day on the way home from school, and every day I saw her in her garden or sitting on the verandah I’d thought that it was all just a silly mistake. She’d smile at me and nod her head, like we had some kind of secret. Then she was gone, and a packet of oatcakes arrived with a thank-you card.

Mum and Aunty Cora called it ‘the gift’. I called it ‘the curse’. Banshees see death, but they can’t stop it. What’s the point of an early-warning system if you can’t change anything? If the person is just going to die anyway? I asked Aunty Cora and she said that a Banshee’s job is to allow people to make their peace with the world before they pass on, to tie up loose ends, or set anything right that needed fixing.

“But that only works if they know that they’ve been warned!” I’d argued.

“Surely the old stories are going to die out, once all the old people have passed on, and none of the young ones will even know what the wail means, so what’s the point?”

Aunty Cora had just smiled. “You’d be surprised how many folks around here still believe in the old ways.”

That much was unfortunately true. I’d caught my best friend Molly tying a lock of her hair in a knot and slipping it into Bryon’s school bag last week. When I confronted her she just grinned and said, “well grandma said it worked on grandpa – it’s worth a shot!”

I don’t know why they even bother teaching science at our school.

Mid-Week Catharsis: Horror Flash Games

Posted in Uncategorized on April 28, 2010 by gobbets

This post is prompted by my recent addiction to playing Zombie Farm on my iphone. It’s not in the least horrific (the little zombies are so cute!) but it made me wonder what other free horror-type time-wasters might be out there.

And thus I discovered Gameshed’s collections of ‘scary games’. With over 100 horror-themed flash games to choose from you need never go in need of monster-killing catharsis again. Some of them are purely hand-eye coordination based (like Zombie Baseball), others require you to work through a narrative to solve a mystery (like Ghostscape 2: The Cabin). Regardless of whether you need two minutes to let off steam or want to while away an afternoon, you’ll definitely find something to suit.

Anyway, my zombies are hungry so I’d best go invade Old McDonnell’s Farm… have fun!

Friday Fiction: Monster Mash Ups

Posted in Original Fiction with tags , , , on April 23, 2010 by gobbets

I’m skeptical about mash-ups. I know Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has been immensely popular, it even has a sequel: Dawn of the Dreadfuls. Not to mention the spate of other mash-ups that followed in its wake: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Zombie Jim; Alice in Zombieland; The War of the Worlds Plus Blood, Guts and Zombies; The Undead World of Oz; Emma and the Werewolves; Mansfield Park and Mummies; Sense and Sensibility and Seamonsters; Android Karenina; Robin Hood and Friar Tuck: Zombie Killers….

But I just can’t help but lament the lack of new, original stories in an era of remakes, reloads and sequels – not to mention the fact that while the mash-ups obey the letter of copyright law I’m not convinced they’re really in the spirit of the law… though I must admit to a fascination with Android Karenina

Anyway, I digress…

In an effort to come to grips with the whole mash-up thing I thought I’d have a go at the genre – but using nursery rhymes.

Mary Had A Little Zombie

Mary had a little zombie, little zombie, little zombie,
Mary had a little zombie, its flesh was grey as stone.

And everywhere that Mary went, Mary went, Mary went,
Everywhere that Mary went the blood was soon to flow.

It followed her to school one day, school one day, school one day,
It followed her to school one day – breaking quarantine.

It made the children run away, run away, run away.
It made the children run away, to protect their brains.

Any nursery rhymes you’d like to see invaded by zombies (or vampires, werewolves or other nasty bitey thing?) Let me know for future Friday Fictions!

What’s your take on the mash-up phenomenon?

Horror TV: Supernatural (2005 to present)

Posted in Horror TV with tags , on April 22, 2010 by gobbets

Dean: Damn cops.

Sam: They were just doing their job.

Dean: No, they were doing our job, only they don’t know it so they suck at it.

Premise:

Hunting down supernatural creatures, and rescuing people terrorised by them, is the Winchester family business.  Brothers Sam and Dean Winchester grew up moving from hunt to hunt with their father John, but eventually Sam goes off to college, leaving Dean and their father to work jobs alone. When John goes missing during a hunt Dean turns to Sam for help. Reluctant to return to the life of a hunter, Sam grudgingly agrees to search for a few days. They can’t find John so Sam returns to college, just in time to see his girlfriend Jessica killed by the same demon that killed their mother. Enraged, Sam quits college and he and Dean take to the road, hunting down their father, Jessica’s killer and anything else nasty that gets in their way.

Main Characters:

Sam Winchester (played by Jared Padalecki): the youngest of the Winchester boys, studying to be a lawyer. Sam is a trained fighter but is also a skilled researcher, who doesn’t relish hunting, but sees it as a means to an end.

Dean Winchester (played by Jensen Ackles): takes his role as a big brother seriously and hates that he can’t protect Sam from everything. He follows his father without question, always putting himself last. Dean is popular with women and comfortable with the subterfuge hunting requires. He is also very, very fond of his 1967 Chevy Impala and drives his brother crazy playing classic rock.

Themes:.

Family, the bonds of brotherhood, and the tensions between family duty and individuality.

The reality inherent in supernatural and urban legends.

Why you should watch it:

Supernatural manages a great mix between monsters of the week and a larger story arc about the Winchester family. The banter between the two very different yet very similar brothers is hilarious, and creates a clever dichotomy between their humour and the day-to-day horror in the life of a hunter. The classic rock soundtrack compliments the action and the brother’s approaches to life.

Weaknesses:

Supernatural can be subjected so some of the same criticisms as horror narratives in general: a tendency to depict women as either victims, villains or a temporary distraction, few characters of racial minority, and a generally cavalier approach to violence.

Ongoing Influence:

Supernatural is still a relatively new show so its long range influence is still to be determined, however it has revived interest in classic rock, which is perhaps unfortunate…

What’s your favourite Supernatural moment? Your favourite Winchester? Let us know!