Tag Archives: Halloween

TWIN PEAKS IN POLAND? THE MAGICAL WORLD OF ANIA

Magical World of Ania picBalladeer’s Blog’s love of quality horror ARGs (Alternate Reality Games) has been well established. In the past I’ve examined productions like Local 58, Claridryl and Jack Torrance (NOT the character from The Shining.)

This time around I’m taking a look at what I call Poland’s answer to Twin PeaksMAGICZNY SWIAT ANI or MAGICAL WORLD OF ANIA. Like Local 58, this ARG is still going, so if you’re interested in pitting your wits against the producer’s, the various mysteries remain unresolved as of this writing.

NOTE: BE SURE TO USE THE CLOSED CAPTIONING FOR TRANSLATION FROM THE POLISH LANGUAGE.

Magical World of Ania pic 2The eerie storyline revolves around the disappearance of a beautiful young Polish woman named Ania Slowinska and the dark, seemingly supernatural forces behind it. As the tale unfolds it becomes apparent other women have fallen victim to the same forces, with one having had all her teeth removed after being murdered.

Among the many suspects and supporting characters in the drama are Ania’s mother Kristina, who seems to be morbidly enjoying the attention her daughter’s disappearance has brought her. Others include Ania’s birth-father – whom she never knew – plus her step-father, an infatuated stalker, a jealous female friend and a faith healer with a very strange band of disciples.

Magical World of Ania pic 3Organs and limbs seem to be stolen for transplant use and replaced with porcelain or papier mache substitutes. This practice extends even to the heads of the victims … sometimes while they’re still alive. Obviously this is for adults only.  Continue reading

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ANNA “THAT STAR WARS GIRL” AND HER 50th ANNIVERSARY VAMPIRELLA COVER

anna that star wars girl picAnna aka That Star Wars Girl, brings her considerable artistic abilities to the 50th Anniversary Celebration of horror icon Vampirella. Fresh story content is being created this year regarding the figure’s half-century of existence along with special commemorative covers.

Vampirella coverAnna, a free-lance artist, pop culture critic, co-host of The J.A.C.K. Show and founding member of the Fandom Menace, has her Indiegogo project for Dynamite Entertainment up right now.

Not only does Anna’s cover (at right) look terrific, but the rose in Vampirella’s hand is in memory of Anna’s younger sister Ellen Rose, who passed away last June.

T-Shirts are also available (see below). Continue reading

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LOCAL 58 TV: KRIS STRAUB’S ONGOING HORROR PROJECT

Local 58Here at Balladeer’s Blog I’ve made clear my love of myths and folklore and ARG’s (Alternate Reality Games). I enjoy the way truth, fiction, pretended truth and pretended fiction can intermingle, especially like the Orion/ Elvis Presley situation or in the participatory manner of ARGs, Adult Swim and CreepyPastas. 

For what it’s worth, I would recommend hopping on to Kris Straub’s latest experiment in meta-horror, Local 58 TV, while it is still ongoing. If you’re not familiar with Straub’s work he parlayed his quasi-CreepyPasta tale about Candle Cove, a “forgotten” Children’s Show with horrific undertones into a collection of short stories and later a television series.

masc chair and bottleIn the fashion of the H.P. Lovecraft Fictional Universe, largely centered around the Miskatonic Valley, the Necronomicon and Miskatonic University, Kris’ shared fictional universe largely centers around the nonexistent towns of Ichor Falls, Broodhollow, Edenvale and Lasker City. The towns are located in the real-life Mason County, WV.

Local 58 TV, serving Straub’s fictional towns, is part of his latest ingenious horror project. Like Candle Cove, the tale of this made-up television station has started out as a hauntingly incomplete mosaic.

The station’s vaguely sinister slogan We have always been here is just the opening salvo in its eerie, disturbing and horrific programming. Deepening the mystery is the way in which it is often unclear how much of the unfolding terror is actually the station’s fault and how much is content from vile unknown parties who hijack the station’s signal. Continue reading

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MANDY (2018): NICOLAS CAGE IN THE ROLE HE WAS BORN TO PLAY!

MandyMANDY (2018) – For anyone who was alive back then, 1983 was apparently different than you remember. Panos Cosmatos directed and co-wrote this blood-soaked, trippy combination of Hellraiser, Father’s Day, Werewolves on Wheels and Thou Shalt Not Kill … Except.

Balladeer’s Blog readers who remember how much I enjoyed Cosmatos’ previous film Beyond the Black Rainbow will not be surprised to find that I love this prime example of a “love it or hate it” movie. Despite the story’s 1983 setting, Mandy is not quite as slavish a faux-80s piece as Beyond the Black Rainbow. This psychedelic work mixes in plenty of stylistic touches that are beyond anything a 1980s flick would have served up.

masc graveyard newThe soundtrack by the late Johann Johannsson is so effective it practically deserves a co-director credit. Meanwhile, serving as something of a humanoid special effect is madman-in-residence Nicolas Cage, who stars as Red Miller.

Red is a lumberjack, and he’s okay (Had to be said). He lives in a cabin in the idyllic forests of the Shadow Mountains with his true love, Mandy. The title character is played by Andrea Riseborough, who gives off a kind of creepy Sissy Spaceck/ Shelley Duvall vibe. Continue reading

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NATALIE SHAU: FOR THIS ARTIST IT’S HALLOWEEN ALL YEAR ‘ROUND

Natalie Schau 2Mixed media artist Natalie Shau should have been featured in one of Balladeer’s Blog’s month-long celebrations of Halloween by now. Unfortunately, I’m late to the game when it comes to Shau’s dark, haunting and disturbing works of art.

If you’re squeamish then the images conjured up by this Lithuanian-born artist are not for you. She’s like a one-woman Deviant Art site. Some examples of Shau’s art: Continue reading

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BEST OF OCTOBER 2019

Balladeer’s Blog’s look back at 2019 continues with Halloween Month’s best:

Monks of Monk Hall 4THE MONKS OF MONK HALL – This eerie and macabre 1845 novel features human and supernatural menaces operating in 1842 Philadelphia. “Twin Peaks Goes To The 1840s” is how I describe this book, which was America’s best-selling novel before Uncle Tom’s Cabin. CLICK HERE

THE “RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY” DELUSION – Only fools think that they know what the final verdict of history will be regarding the times they are living through. CLICK HERE 

Killraven the hell destroyersKILLRAVEN: THE FINALE OF THE DEATH-BIRTH SAGA – The final two chapters of the most acclaimed Killraven saga of them all. CLICK HERE  and HERE 

THE WERWOLVES – An 1898 werewolf story from Canada. CLICK HERE

ROLLING STONE’S MATT TAIBBI – The journalist blasts the Democrats’ “permanent coup attempt.” CLICK HERE

Mad MaxMAD MAX (1979) – A lengthy review of the Mel Gibson/ George Miller post-apocalypse classic. CLICK HERE

THE COFFIN – The year 2000 graphic novel about a macabre, unliving superhero. CLICK HERE

CIA CRIMES – The disgusting past of one of the most loathsome American organizations in history. CLICK HERE  Continue reading

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THE MONKS OF MONK HALL (1844-1845): HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Happy Halloween! Balladeer’s Blog marks it with a neglected work of American horror.

Monks of Monk HallTHE MONKS OF MONK HALL aka THE QUAKER CITY (1844-1845) – Written by George Lippard, this strange and macabre story was originally serialized from 1844-1845 before being published in novel form. This bloody, horrific work was America’s best-selling novel before Uncle Tom’s Cabin

I always refer to this book as “Twin Peaks Goes To The 1840s.” On one level The Monks of Monk Hall deals with crime, corruption, drugs and sex-trafficking among many supposedly “respectable” citizens of Philadelphia the way Twin Peaks did with residents of the title town.

On another level the novel deals with supernatural horrors that lurk behind the Quaker City’s murders, vices and sexual perversions, again like the David Lynch series. The center of the darkness is Monk Hall, an old, sprawling mansion with an unsavory history and reputation. Many have disappeared into the bowels of the building, never to be seen again. The power players and criminals who mingle at the Hall in bizarre orgies, secret murders and drunken debauches are known as “Monks” – Monk Hall’s exclusive membership.

Monks of Monk Hall 4Think of Monk Hall as a combination of Twin Peaks establishments like the Black Lodge, One-Eyed Jacks and the Great Northern all rolled into one. The vast, multi-roomed Hall is honey-combed with secret passageways and trap doors. Beneath the mansion are a subterranean river plus several levels of labyrinthine catacombs filled with rats, refuse and the skeletal remains of the Monks’ many victims from the past century and a half.   

The sinister staff of Monk Hall are happy to provide their members with all the sex, opium and other diversions that they hunger for behind their public veil of respectability. Throw in the occult practices of the members and there’s a sort of “American version of Sir Francis Dashwood’s Hellfire Club” feel to it. Among the novel’s more horrific characters:

Monks of Monk Hall 2DEVIL-BUG – The deformed, depraved and deranged bastard offspring of one of Monk Hall’s members and one of the many prostitutes who are literally enslaved there. Devil-Bug has spent his entire life in the Hall and has no other name. He is squat, incredibly strong and grotesquely ugly with one large gaping eye and one small, withered, empty socket on his face.

This monstrosity works as Monk Hall’s combination door-man, bouncer and executioner, gleefully murdering on demand and secreting the corpses away in the sub-basements beneath the mansion. Just to make him even more unwholesome, Devil-Bug sleeps next to the corpse of one of his victims and uses occupied coffins as furniture in his creepy rooms.

RAVONI – Interchangeably referred to as a sorcerer, mad doctor, astrologer and anatomist, this handsome but sinister man pulls the strings behind the supernatural evils of Philadelphia and vicinity.

Monks of Monk Hall 3Master of an occult method of eternal youth, Ravoni has been alive for over two hundred years. (The novel repeatedly says just two hundred years, but the villain refers to having been present at the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, which happened in 1572, so it has to be longer)

Ravoni has powers of mesmerism, prognostication and can even raise the dead. He was the original owner of Monk Hall under another name long ago. Readers eventually learn the kind of dark rituals the man performed at the Hall but don’t learn the full extent of his evil plans until the climax of the novel.          Continue reading

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THE WRAITH: HALLOWEEN SUPERHERO

Halloween month hurls toward its conclusion as Balladeer’s Blog takes a look at another vintage superhero ideal for the season.

Wraith rising picTHE WRAITH

Secret Identity: Gary Kennedy, dead policeman

First Appearance: Mystery Men # 27 (October 1941). His final Golden Age appearance came in 1942.

Origin: When police officer Gary Kennedy and his brother are shot to death by Silky Weaver and his subordinate gangsters, Gary dies swearing by Heaven above to avenge his and his brother’s deaths. He returns from the grave several nights later and makes good on his vow.

Afterward, the newly-christened Wraith continues to rise from his grave to deal out justice to evildoers on behalf of their dead victims, whose souls beg him to take action.

Powers: Continue reading

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RAPPACCINI’S DAUGHTER (1844): HALLOWEEN STORY

Halloween Month continues with this neglected femme fatale from Nathaniel Hawthorne. FOR THE OTHER CREATURES IN THIS MONSTER RALLY CLICK HERE 

Rappaccini's Daughter 2BEATRICE RAPPACCINI

First Appearance: Rappaccini’s Daughter (1844)

Cryptid Category: Human-plant hybrid.

Lore: Beatrice Rappaccini, also called the Poison Woman, had been experimented on by her mad scientist father since infancy. Some dark rumors even held that the father – Doctor Giacomo Rappaccini – had spawned her from a seed-pod and that his tales of a wife were lies.

Beatrice was so toxic that she was the only one alive who could come into contact with the monstrous and deadly plants in her father’s courtyard garden. The Poison Woman’s beauty drove men wild, tempting many admirers to brave the dangers of her father’s mutated plant life.

The dark beauty’s flesh was a toxic poison and her breath could kill insects, snakes, rats and small children. Dead creatures made the ideal fertilizer for the creations of Beatrice’s father. It was hinted that Beatrice fed on the vermin killed by her breath, just like Venus Flytraps and other carnivorous plant-life. Continue reading

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PSYCHO GOTHIC LOLITA (2010)

Psycho Gothic LolitaHalloween Month continues at Balladeer’s Blog.

PSYCHO GOTHIC LOLITA (2010) – Also available under the title Gothic & Lolita Psycho, this ultra-violent and blood-soaked movie was Japanese filmmaker Go Ohara’s follow-up to Geisha Assassin from 2008.  

Rina Akiyama stars as Yuki, the black-clad title character whose fashion sense combines two Japanese fetish looks in one. The film begins with Yuki already enacting her revenge quest against a bizarre quintet of villainous supernatural figures. Disjointed flashbacks  provide background details as the story  unfolds, with the most crucial secret being withheld for last.   Continue reading

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