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horror

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The Greatest Haunted Game Story of All Time Isn’t About Pokémon or Zelda

In 2018, “creepypasta” is a household term. Internet ghost stories aren’t restricted to the dark corners of obscure message boards anymore—they play out in original video games, YouTube videos, and even on professionally-produced television shows. Despite the vast and various types of creepypasta, all of it is, in some way, an exploration of the hopes and fears of a generation. It’s a way to make sense of the things we deal with in our respective days and ages—in other words, it’s folklore.

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What The Lost Boys Has to Say About Sex, Fear, and Fantasy

The Lost Boys is a kids’ movie—it’s all about sex. Or let me put that another way—the monsters of kids’ media tend towards a didactic form of moral panic. In American movies of the 80s and 90s, it manifests primarily as a thinly-coded stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS—anti-social violence, infection, disease and gay sex mutually imply each other according to the bizarre and homophobic torsions of the culture industry. That’s especially true for The Lost Boys, a horror-comedy that picks up the Peter Pan mythos and plunks it down in a California of the dilapidated 1980s.

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Kane’s Son: Sexual Violence and Symbolism in Alien and Aliens

When Ridley Scott’s 1979 sleeper hit Alien arrived in theaters, it revolutionized special effects and kicked the wheezing horror genre into high gear. While Alien is without question Scott’s best movie, tightly paced and claustrophobic, Swiss painter H. R. Giger’s legendary creature design is what sets it apart from everything that followed it. Aliens, its 1986 James Cameron-helmed—yes, he used to make good movies—sequel, builds on and exaggerates Giger’s work so effectively you’d be hard-pressed to find modern sci-fi unmarked by its slimy fingerprints.

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Three Cartoons From Your Childhood That Were Totally Terrifying

Who doesn’t have strange, vaguely off-putting memories of childhood nightmare fuel? You know, those cartoons pitched to youngsters that were full of of imagery and implications sure to terrify you for weeks to come. The shows  that were clearly not age-appropriate, and that you can’t believe you sat through now that you look back and see just how disturbing they were.

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The Door to The Twilight Zone Opens Once More

The portal to the fifth dimension has opened yet again. The Twilight Zone is coming back, and this time, Academy Award-winning director and comedy king Jordan Peele will be behind the spooky wheel. What can we expect from this latest edition of the anthology classic? To answer that question, we have to enter the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge… we have to enter The Twilight Zone.

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Why We Believed in the Blair Witch (and Why We Can’t Anymore)

France, 1981: the Italian film Cannibal Holocaust is released to theaters and the magazine Photo claims that its depictions of butchery were real. Its director Ruggero Deodato is brought before French courts to disprove the allegation and to explain why the film’s cast have been suspiciously absent from the public eye. Deodato acquiesces and produces his actors, revealing that they had agreed not to appear in other media for one year to preserve his film’s illusion of authenticity—an illusion that was perhaps too successful if it landed him in a French court, and an illusion that worked only because Cannibal Holocaust wasn’t a conventional movie. Instead, it allegedly depicted what was recovered from the expedition of a doomed documentary crew filming cannibal tribes in the Amazon rainforest: “found footage.”

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Spoiled Milk, Fresh Meat: Beauty and Feminine Competition in The Neon Demon

In many ways, womanhood in the Western world is a zero-sum game. You’re the “it” girl or you’re nothing. You’re beautiful or ugly. You’re virtuous or evil. You’re fresh or you’re spoiled. But where does this brutal, winner-take-all model leave friendship between women? Or romance? If another woman’s beauty could spell irrelevance for your own, how could you feel anything for her but paranoia and jealousy? Nicolas Winding Refn’s 2016 horror thriller The Neon Demon, the story of a young, beautiful ingenue breaking into the modeling scene in LA and running afoul of a coven of envious women, digs its gleaming talons deep into that question.

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The Shot-on-Video Devolution, Pt. 2

Last week, things got a little out of hand. It all started with the rise of the camcorder trash-auteur—but soon there were woodchipper massacres, black devil dolls from hell, and the carnal delights of an invisible ghost son sexily blowing at his mother’s hair.

You’ll be begging to go back there soon enough.

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The Shot-on-Video Devolution, Pt. 1

In the days before the analog extinction, a most prominent purveyor of physical media emerged. Now a fetishized monument, it was at the time considered by many to be a scourge upon the once proud institutions of the drive-in and the grindhouse. Tumbleweeds rolled across vacant lots once lined with cars—their windows steamed, the vans a-rockin’ while the fleapit movie houses of New York’s 42nd Street were on the docket for Disneyfication. Overtaking their spot atop the movie watching world was the video rental shop. Or, as it was known by the ancients, the video store.

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Am I Your Girl? The Female Gaze in Horror Film

As a genre, horror focuses overwhelmingly on women. Our bodies are its medium, whether sensuously posed and slathered in gore or twisted into monstrous forms to reflect our fears and anxieties. Think of Dario Argento’s lovingly butchered maidens covered in gallons of vibrant red paint, or the Alien Queen hunkering bloated and distended among her thousands of eggs, a monstrous reflection of Ellen Ripley’s maternal instincts. But for all horror’s fixation on our suffering—sometimes gratuitous, sometimes revelatory—and inner lives, horror films actually written and directed by women are few and far between.

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A Primer on Defense Against the Demonic Arts

On the list of things that can really put a damper on your day, demons are surely up there. Vomiting, speaking in an extremely deep voice, and being forced to disembowel your friends in a secluded cabin are but a few of the common annoyances a demon can bring into your life. In rare cases, they can even lead to the kissing of Satan’s butthole. To protect yourself from these threats, you must first know your enemy. Which is why I’ve decided to teach this advanced course in demonology.

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The Surprising Origins of One of Sci-Fi’s Scariest Supernatural Threats

In the early 2000s, Stargate was the sci-fi franchise to beat. Star Trek was running both Voyager—generally held to be the weakest series in the franchise—and Deep Space Nine, now a critical hit but representing a vast divergence from The Original Series and The Next Generation. Enter Stargate SG-1, a live-action series based on Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin’s 1994 film Stargate, a tale about an ancient portal allowing for interstellar adventures. SG-1 would go on to run for ten years, accompanied by a line of toys, books, and even Stargate-shaped coasters.

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The Cursed Interior: Women in Horror

Editor’s Note: This piece contains graphic imagery.

“Emotional.” The word refers not to the experience of having emotions, but to being overwhelmed by them, to becoming a vector for their messy, difficult expression. It conjures up images of puffy red eyes, snot oozing over trembling lips, voices twisted by grief into unintelligible squeaking.

It’s also a word used almost exclusively to refer to women. Our culture has a deep aversion to the uglier aspects of women’s inner lives—not just tears and anger, but the things that fester inside us from our girlhoods to our deathbeds. Our deepest resentments, our smothered dreams, our cruelly cultivated hatred for our own bodies.

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Holiday Hack’em Ups on VRV!

It’s that time of the year again when there isn’t a single holiday worth a damn in sight. July 4th is a distant memory, the fall and winter festivities are a dot on the horizon, and does anybody really care about Labor Day? But hey, it’s always a murder holiday in our hearts, and in the realm of horror, the holidays have long played host to murder…

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Barf Bags Not Included: Italian Zombies Invade VRV!

Zombies: I’m sick of them, you’re sick of them. The only thing that could possibly make me cringe harder than a zombie is a pirate — and if you make a zombie pirate joke, I will stand up and walk away. But it’s not just a mere case of overexposure. They’ve become too safe; they’ve become Sunday night TV with the fam. And zombie movies should be like porn: you watch them alone or with a group of like-minded companions, but never with your family.

Frankly, they belong in the gutter. I like the gutter, you like the gutter. The Italians, they LOVE the gutter. Pick any disreputable film genre, and the Italians have not only dragged it down into the gutter, but tossed a bucket of maggots on top and bathed it in an overturned port-a-potty. They’re a beautiful people.

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Midnight Void: I Drink Your Blood

Hippies, man, with their crummy homemade deodorants and annoying bongos and jam bands with songs that never end (and don’t even get me started on the various hemp products). You know what happens to hippies in The Midnight Void? They get rabies. That’s right, and if you’ve never seen a hippy with rabies, well then that means you’ve never seen…

I Drink Your Blood