Tuesday, November 28, 2023

The Murder Maze of the Soska Sisters

I ran PLANET MOTHERFUCKER last Friday, devising a quickie adventure that is basically a love-letter to the Soska Sisters. I think I did a good job capturing the cackle they used on Hellevator.

The Characters

Runa Ravensbane, Church Burner who poses as a Scandinavian black metaller, but is secretly Sicilian

The Leather Corinthian, Living Dead Hustler, who is like Lux Interior if he were "Sears Catalogue Decadent"

Dr. MK ULTRA, Doctor Feelsbad, a walking drug lab who has trouble pushing his Purple Haze

Y3N, Unnatural Symbiote with a big toothy worm inside of them

Sault Voi Vittu, Vermin Lord from the Upper Peninsula with an army of frogs


The motherfuckers were all rollin' down the road when they heard this ad spot come on the radio:

Tonight, one night only, at the STRIKEZONE!, Tomahawk Johnny & the Savages (cut to a track that sounds like a cross between Link Wray and Ennio Morricone). Come on down to the STRIKEZONE! To hear the thrilling Tomahawk Johnny & the Savages. And that’s not all at the STRIKEZONE! We’ve got jalapeno poppers and two-dollar shooters all night long. Only at the STRIKEZONE! That’s the STRIKE ZONE!, exit 10 off route 81. 

Since you don't pass up the opportunity to see Tomahawk Johnny & the Savages, they pulled in to the STRIKEZONE! The STRIKEZONE! was a sports bar decorated in wall to wall baseball memorabilia (posters, baseball cards, signed balls & bats, jerseys, shit like that); the seats of the stools were upholstered to look like baseballs and CRTS mounted around the bar were playing VHS tapes of old World Series games. However, the stage was conspicuously empty and the crowd was growing restless.

The group were approached by SLUGGER, an older, paunchy man chewing Big League Chew who used a dented aluminum bat as a cane. SLUGGER was the owner of the STRIKEZONE! and he had a problem; he approached the group explained:

"Huddle up with me in the clubhouse. We got us a problem. It’s the bottom of the ninth, bases are loaded, and we can’t find the MVPs. Tomahawk Johnny & the Savages shoulda been here by now! They shoulda done a soundcheck an hour ago.  Look at those bleachers. The fans are getting restless. Now, you folks look like just the All Stars we need to step up and find Tomahawk Johnny and the boys, bring em here, and win this one for the Gipper! Whatdaya say? There’s a signing bonus for ya if you can hit this one out of the park!"

The motherfuckers agreed to find the band and bring Tomahawk Johnny & the Savages back to the STRIKEZONE! in return for cash, free shots, and free jalapeno poppers.

The group decided to head back out on the road in the direction the band would have been coming from. They discovered the band's 70s Dodge Tradesmen veered off the side of the road in a ditch. There was no sign of a struggle, but from the tracks it did look like someone laid a trap that forced the van to skid into the ditch. Inside the van, they found a bucket of turkey legs from Madame Turkeyleg’s House of "Bird Meat." The art on the bucket showed a cartoon turkey in a Marie Antoinette wig having its leg cut off in a guillotine. The also found a crumpled up piece of paper with a phone number written on it: 867-5309.

The group decided to look for a payphone to try the number, and it turned out that the nearest one was outside Madame Turkeyleg's House of "Bird Meat." Dr. MK ULTRA called the number, and got an angry guy on the line who said, "You lookin’ for Jenny? Then you’re looking for trouble! I’ll kick your ass, man!"

Inside, one of the two pimply teenage boys working at the joint was mopping blood off the tile floor while the other waited to take orders behind the counter. Both kids were dressed as French revolutionaries, as that was the company uniform at Madame Turkeyleg's. The boys confirmed that the band had stopped in to buy a bucket of turkey legs and use the restroom. The restroom was searched for clues, and the motherfuckers found a fanny pack that a band member had left behind. Inside the found condoms, a baggy of weed, and a receipt for gassing up the van.

However, before they could ask the kids working the counter for directions to the gas station, Madame Turkeyleg's was attacked by a roving gang of French aristocrats, complete with powdered wigs and stupid makeup. Both of the teenage employees were wasted by gunfire, but the motherfuckers fought back. Runa exploded a bunch of their heads and they rest were dealt with in a similarly violent fashion.

After the carnage, they found the gas station. Inside were two identical twin sisters, dressed a bit like horror hostesses. When the motherfuckers asked a few too many probing questions, one of the sisters pulled a lever behind the counter that caused the floor to open like a trapdoor, dumping the group down into the depths below. The chamber they fell into was filled with machine-generated fog. They also noticed that there were video cameras mounted toward the ceiling, documenting their every movie.

The horrible truth: the gas station owners were the Soska Sisters. They had constructed a murder maze beneath the gas station and were luring victims into it so they could tape what happened to them as a way of recreating their glory days of Hellevator! And now the motherfuckers were caught in their tangled web! Fuckin' shit!

Following a strange orange glow brought them through a doorway done up to look like a giant demonic mouth. Inside were two doors: they could choose to enter The Lair of the Boiler Room Bastard or The Camp Minnetonka Massacre. The Soska Sisters provided commentary over the murder maze's PA system--which the mofos found extremely annoying. 

Anyway, they opted for the Camp Minnetonka Massacre. As they entered, the Soska Sisters narrated "Witness the horrors of the Camp Minnetonka Massacre, a Christian summer camp where the uptight counselors were picked off one by one by a masked killer before their season even began! Be careful if you meet the Minnetonka Mauler–there’s a dreadful secret behind the killer’s mask! Ahahahaha!" over the PA. Inside a sleepaway camp cabin, the motherfuckers interrupted a robot dressed like a masked killer in the act of butchering a topless nubile. In the fight that ensued, they downed the killer, but in true slasher fashion it got up and attacked them again when they took their eyes off it for a sec. On the plus side, they found Billy, the bass player for the Savages, hiding in a canoe.

The next room they chose to tackle was The Gunderson House, a Texas Chain Saw-style hellbilly hangout. The voiceover: "The Gunderson’s never let a guest go hungry–even if it meant feeding them their own friends and family. There’s something piping hot in the oven, better eat up before the Gunderson’s come in. They like to see a clean plate! Ahahahahaha!" Inside the house, they were confronted with an oven full of meat pies of dubious provenance. They ate them, and survived to tell the tale!

Next, they choose to enter a scenario called The Dark Angel of Riverside Hospital: "Riverside Hospital–people were sent there to get well, but many of them GOT DEAD instead! Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease! They never did find out which nurse was offing the patients. Ahahahahahaha!" This one was pretty simple: they brawled their way through hospital corridors full of murder nurses in American Mary aprons and did their best to avoid their bone saws. Y3N did get stabbed up at the door leading out, though.

They found the rest of the bandmates tied up in a storage closet. Annoyingly, the band saw Billy as their savior, giving the mofos no credit. Ingrates! Everyone exited through the murder maze's gift shop, which sold action figures of the animatronic killers they encountered and t-shirts that said "I survived the Soska Sister's Murder Maze and All I Got Was this Stupid T-Shirt." By this point, they badly wanted to tangle with the sisters, but they discovered that they had run off with the tapes of the motherfuckers' trek through the maze.

Even worse: they had stolen Dr. MK ULTRA's car. And since the doctor had a woman's corpse in the boot, the Soska Sisters were now in possession of a DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Anyone Who Tries to Convince You That You Didn't Have Fun is a Jerkoff

I really do try to be non-denominational when it comes to role-playing games and the various scenes that form around them. I consider how other people have fun at their gaming tables to be not my business, so it's not worth getting het up about one way or another. 

However, I've learned the hard way that not everyone is like me. In particular, I have a bone to pick with the way that some indie gamers are deeply invested in convincing people that they aren't actually having fun with the games they play

Other kinds of hipsters don't do this. Music and film hipsters will just assume you have bad taste if you like stuff they don't approve of or if you aren't into what they like. The worst of the OSR guys simply think you're simply having the wrong kind of fun if you're playing games not in their niche. But the kind of indie gamer I'm taking about here believes that you're either deluding yourself into believing you had fun or they try pathologize you--you've been "abused" by bad game design into thinking you had fun or have otherwise been harmed by gaming in a way that never really holds up to scrutiny

My theory is that the genesis point for this attitude is Ron Edwards stating that Vampire: The Masquerade causes brain damage. Now, I take Edwards at his word that he didn't mean that statement as attack, but it's pretty easy to see why people took it that way. The problem is that other folks picked up on the idea of pointing at people who play different games and proclaiming that there must be some wrong with them and ran with it. 

The idea is now part of the Forge's legacy, and you see it pop up fairly often in places--storygames.com, Something Awful, Reddit--where indie gamers hang out. The license to imply, if not outright state, that there is something actually wrong with other kinds of gamers and that they aren't really having fun has seemingly become embedded in the culture of that scene.

It makes sense that this strange variety of hipsterism is so deeply entwined with the indie scene because that scene often takes the premise that people aren't having fun playing rpgs and that "good design" can fix that as tenets of faith. For me, is where indie theory doesn't align with my experience. It is not my experience that people are unhappy playing rpgs. I've not met these people. I'm skeptical that sane people will keep doing a thing as a leisure activity if it's making them miserable. 

Even if we take it as a fact that these unhappy people exist, it always ends up sounding like their problem has less to do with a game's design being "bad" and more that there is a people problem at work. No amount of considering "the Big Model," "robust game design," or implementing shared narrative authorship will fix a problem like "this one guy at the table is being a tool and it's ruining my fun." The real solution to that issue is that you just stop inviting that guy to play. In fact, I strongly suspect the "a well-designed system can fix any interpersonal issues" guys are often the shithead players at their tables, as are any jerkoffs who want to convince you that your fun wasn't real.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

The Maw of Crom Cruach

Our Savage Krevborna game continued last Friday. I didn't have a ton of time to prep an adventure that week, but I did manage to throw something together. I was expecting a shorter session, but this one actually occupied us for far longer than I thought it would.

The Characters

Pendleton Torst, rogue anatomist

Catarina Redmoor, prioress of an unusual convent

Panthalassa Laurentide, a very weird orphan

Raoul Carathis, necromancer

Daytona Midnight, dhampir gunslinger


Upon their return to Creedhall, the characters found a note hammered into the door of Viktoria Frankenstein's chateau telling them that there was an experiment in progress and that they should go away. On the way back from the chateau, they stopped in to see Father Prim. Father Prim had no idea what Frankenstein was up to, but he did know that Serafina was involved. He also had a letter for Catarina because the messenger who had tried to deliver to the chateau either wasn't able to discharge his duty or was killed and eaten by Father Prim. It was a little unclear. 

The letter was also cryptic; it was from one Baron Harricote and it entreated Catarina for aid in a delicate matter. The group traveled to the Harricote estate, where Baron Harricote and his very distraught wife explained that for the past month their children had been quarantined in a tower on the estate because they had contracted the dancing pox. That morning, it was discovered that the guards and servants posted at the tower had been murdered--their throats slit with a curved blade--and the children were now missing.

The group examined the scene, noting that whoever abducted the children made sure to bundle them in warm clothes and had also taken provisions to feed them. When asked if he had any enemies, the Baron mentioned Erasmus Feist, who the group already had a dislike for. Even though Baron Harricote didn't believe that Feist could be behind his children's disappearance, the group sought him out at a coffee house, paid off the proprietor to turn a blind eye, and then proceeded to subject him to some rough treatment. Feist didn't know anything and wasn't involved, but you can't make an omelet without breaking some eggs--any cook will tell you that.

Following a different lead, the group sought out the Harricote children's lowborn uncle, Paden, but he was not at home. However, his wife allowed them to search his library for any clues. They determined that his collection of books on folklore evidenced a pronounced interest in pagan matters. His wife confirmed that they followed the Old Faith, but didn't practice openly because Baron Harricote was a zealous member of the Church of Holy Blood. 

Looking at his books more closely indicated that Paden was studying the myth of a cave on the shore of Loch Riven called the Maw of Crom Cruach. The Maw was supposedly imbued with the power to cure people who enter it of illnesses, plagues, and afflictions. They were now working off the supposition that Paden had killed the guards and servants to abduct his nephews and niece to take them to the Maw of Crom Cruach in hopes of effecting a cure where priests, doctors, and herbalists all failed.

And they were correct. They found a very distraught Paden pacing near the mouth of the Maw of Crom Cruach. Confronted with their theory, Paden admitted to what he'd done, but he was now extremely concerned that the children had not emerged from the cave cured of the dancing pox. Paden did not want to venture into the Maw himself, but the group forced him to accompany them as they tried to find his niece and nephews--the Widow pinned Paden's arms behind his back and marched him into the cave system.

They quickly realized that there was something unnatural at work in the caves, as many of its chambers were covered in organic matter such as fibrous puce tissue, thick veins filled with dark fluid, and even a massive pulsating heart. They encountered horrors within the cave, including worm-headed "men," swarms of worms that tried to burrow into their skin, and a floor that shifted. The floor would have dumped Pendleton, Raoul, and Paden into a black curtain of acidic muck, but Daytona quickly cast a spell that allowed them to cling to the walls and avoid death.

When the children were located, they were found bound up in organic tubing that pierced their flesh. Pendleton made a bit of a hash of attempting to operate and remove them from the tubes. Pendleton was able to alchemically heal the niece, and they were able to provide first aid to the middle child, but the Harricote family heir died in the cave before their eyes. 

The Widow, however, had a solution: they could take his corpse back to Viktoria Frankenstein to be reanimated. There was much discussion over whether this course of action was a sound one. And yet, addicted to creating horrible consequences for themselves, they ultimately agreed to have him brought back to "life" by Frankenstein.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

The Second Death of Countess Vlodeska

We tied up a pretty big loose end in last Friday's Savage Krevborna game. In a previous session, the players unfortunately allowed a vampire to escape her confinement and cut a swathe of terror throughout the land. They had other things they needed to deal with more immediately, but as soon as they had attended to those affairs they decided to bring Countess Vlodeska to heel.

The Characters

Pendleton Torst, rogue anatomist

Catarina Redmoor, prioress of an unusual convent

Panthalassa Laurentide, an orphan who's made a pact

Raoul Carathis, necromancer

Geradd, down-and-out swashbuckling noble

Daytona Midnight, dhampir gunslinger


To achieve their end, the group returned to Creedhall to retrieve the Widow, drop off Serafina, and acquire the services of one of the Sisters Carnifexa--professional monster hunters. The Sister they ended up with was Sister Brynhilde. Sister Brynhilde was a bit dismayed that she was being hired to track down a vampire the group had never actually seen, but when Catarina produced the bone dagger that was psychically connected to Countess Vlodeska, Sister Brynhilde was confident that she could use it to discern her approximate current whereabouts. After performing a ritual on the dagger, Sister Brynhilde determined that the Countess was hiding out in the countryside in the vicinity of a village named Radley.

The group's first stop upon arrival in Radley was a pub inauspiciously called The Iron Mask; indeed, the sign out front depicted a demonic iron mask. (I'm really surprised none of the players had their characters ask about that.) They rented rooms and pumped the barkeep for information about the dolmen circle they had spotted on the hill. The barkeep told them that when he was a lad, a child had been dared to enter the circle of stones on a night when the Blood moon was full--that child was never heard from again. 

From here, the group split up. Panthalassa, Raoul, Pendleton, and Brynhilde visited a Polnezna camp at the edge of the forest. The Polnezna camp was guarded by a sniper with a rifle who was stationed up in a tree. When he saw that the group didn't mean any harm, he came down and explained that the Polnezna were here looking for one of their own. Rikard Lemka, a Polnezna who had abandoned the wandering life to work as the Caulheart's groom, had gone missing months ago. The timeline didn't quite fit to make him a victim of the vampire they were hunting--he had gone missing before Countess Vlodeska had likely arrived in Radley. The Polnezna suspected that the Caulhearts either knew something about his disappearance or were outright responsible for it.

Meanwhile, Geradd, Daytona, Catarina, and the Widow approached the Caulheart's Wildeacre estate. First they decided to take a peek in the stable; they noted that one of the family's horses was not in its stall. They also took a glance in the windows of the small workshop that had been built next to the main house. From the look of things, the workshop was used to build mechanical toys, but everything inside was notably dusty. They knocked on the door of the manor house; the door was answered by a servant who told them that none of the Caulhearts were unavailable. Just then, Adela Caulheart came galloping up on a stallion. She welcomed them to Wildeacre, but laughed at their suggestion that there was a vampire afoot. She flirted with Daytona and Geradd and invited the entire group to dinner that evening.

The group reconvened in front of the church and decided they needed to check out the adjoining cemetery. There was a grave digger at work smoothing over the pile of soil on top of a recent grave. He helpfully explained that three villagers had been taken by a mysterious disease that rendered them pale and weak before they died. The group recognized this as the predation of a vampire. They paid him off to be elsewhere for the moment, and set the Widow to work digging up the recent graves.

The first grave to be exhumed was that of Liam Bright, but the body inside the coffin was clearly not Liam's; the decaying corpse inside was that of a very small woman wearing the flouncy dress of a noblewoman. Daytona ran to the pub and got a name to match the description of the person: it was the body of Cecilia Caulheart, the young wife of the squire. The other two coffins were ominously empty, but their lids did have fingernail scratches on the inside.

The group also decided to explore the church itself. Beneath the church were the tombs of the Caulheart family. One of the tombs was open, but instead of housing the ancestral dead, it seemed to be a lurid place of clandestine pleasures: inside was a straw mattress, manacles, candles, and a cat o' nine tails!

They also hiked up the hill to the dolmen circle, but that appeared to be a dead end.

When the time came to attend dinner at Wildeacre Manor, the group was faced with a conundrum: they suspected that Countess Vlodeska was within the house, but it wouldn't look right arriving for dinner fully armed. They decided to position the Widow outside the manor with any weaponry they couldn't easily conceal. When the time came, they knocked on the door, which swung open. Inside they could hear the soft sound of a harpsicord being played. 

After calling for some time, Adela Caulheart appeared with a glass of red "wine." She led them into the dining room and introduced them to her brother Adamus. The harpsicord player rose from her bench...it was Countess Vlodeska, who had been mentally controlling the Caulheart household since her arrival, having taken Cecilia's place! The group were then set upon by the Countess and the now-vampiric Caulheart siblings.

Pendleton kept the Countess weakened by hurling alchemical substances at her. Daytona summoned a hell hound and Raoul summoned a grave guardian. (The grave guardian was particular good at taking down the vampire thralls.) The Widow burst through the window of the dinning room and began distributing weapons to the party. Brynhilde stabbed one of the Caulhearts, but sustained massive injuries that nearly took her out of the fight.

The Countess was felled, but she didn't stay down for long. Her body was staked, but her head separated from her neck and began to float menacingly, trailing her lungs and entrails that dripped with corrosive acid. The Widow grabbed her by the hair and smashed her head into the parquet flooring; as she rose again, Geradd smashed her skull with his maul, sending Countess Vlodeska crashing into the wall with a sickening thud. Geradd then mashed her into a pulp to make sure that she would not be rising again. 

With the Countess now dead, the group ransacked Wildeacre, then set the manor on fire before leaving. 

Sunday, November 12, 2023

The D&D Playtest Doesn't Make Me Want to Play D&D

It's amazing how every playtest packet for the new D&D is followed a few months later by a video wherein they walk back most of the proposed changes. It feels like rudderless design led by a community adverse to change plus the designers' lack of a vision about what the game should be and what the purpose of releasing an "update" to it is. 

Somehow this thing is supposed to come out next year?

Is anyone excited by the videos on their Youtube channel where they go over "satisfaction scores" from their surveys? On one hand, I feel that they're doing a terrible job of selling the idea of fantasy adventure because they're never talking about what will make the game fun or dramatic to play. On the other, I think it's such a mistake to cater this much to player feedback. You either create the game that makes your heart sing or you're a marketer in disguise.

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Rescuing the Grave Digger

We've returned to our ongoing Krevborna campaign! The group decided that the time to make a move and rescue Serafina from the Black Rats had come round at last. Since the Black Rats had abducted her to lure out Pendleton on behalf of the Holland family, the group felt some degree of responsibility for her ultimate fate. Of course, things didn't quite go as they planned. The group learned that the Black Rats had a safehouse in Veil, so they figured that was the likely location where Serafina was being held captive.

The Characters

Pendleton Torst, rogue anatomist

Catarina Redmoor, prioress of an unusual convent

Panthalassa Laurentide, an orphan who's made a pact

Raoul Carathis, necromancer

Geradd, down-and-out swashbuckling noble


Once they arrived in Veil, the group made their way to a lowly bar to sift the underworld for information. They made the acquaintance of a down-and-out tailor who was able to put them in contact with the Seamasques, one of Veil's major gangs who were also the avowed enemies of the Black Rats, which made their next port of call Aran's Mead Hall. The mead hall was known to be Seamasque territory under the control of a gang member named Aran the Red. 

Aran's Mead Hall was decorated with crossed axes, drinking horns, and battle helms. At the bar was a man with braided red hair and piercing blue eyes. He wore a hammer pendant on a leather thong, he was surrounded by sycophants and hangers-on, and it was determined that he gave off a "shirtless" vibe. Surely, this was Aran the Red. Raoul started to loudly speak ill of the Black Rats, hoping to get Aran's attention, and the ploy worked. He swaggered over to the group and introduced himself. 

They explained that they had designs on eliminating the Black Rats. Aran bought them a round of mead. He told them that the Seamasques wanted to take over the Black Rats' hideout for themselves, but their seer had warned them against approaching the place. The group pressed him, hoping to glean the location, but Aran wouldn't give up the intel so easily. He made them an offer: if one of them could beat Svenbard, the mead hall's champion, in single combat in the hall's fighting pit, he would tell them what they desired. 

Geradd readily volunteered to enter the fighting pit. His opponent was a towering mass of muscle; judging from his appearance, Svenbard likely had some ogre ancestry in his lineage. Svenbard was armed with a giant maul--he also had no teeth. Geradd's battle with Svenbard was tense. The crowd assembled around the fighting pit and were banging their tankards and hilts against the railing. Geradd took a nasty blow to the abdomen from the maul, but he saw an opening and charged in with his glaive, disemboweling the brute. The crowd went wild and Geradd claimed Svenbard's maul as his own.

Early the next morning the group met Aran by the river so he could ferry them across to the island when the Black Rats had holed up in an abandoned fortress. With Aran was Iska, the Seamasque's seer. She made the group a further offer: if they would see fit to burn bundles of herbs in prescribed rooms of the fortress, she would provide them with a favor. The group decided to take Iska up on her offer; what they wanted in return was the location of the Brineblade, the weapon that Captain Laurant had reportedly been searching for on the high seas.

The fortress was a series of seven towers jumbled together into one mass, but each of the towers had collapsed and been capped off with makeshift roofs of tile and wood, which lent the fortress the appearance of a mutilated seven-fingered hand. Raoul used his undead raven Annabel to scout overhead; Annabel discovered a side entrance to the fortress. 

By the door, the group found one of the Black Rats grievously injured and near death. She explained that the Black Rats had been set upon from invaders from inside their fortress. Catarina finished the Black Rat off using the Vlodeska's bone knife; she immediately head the voice of the Countess in her head, saying "Yes, my daughter, you are learning well." Geradd ended up smashing the door in with his new maul.

As the group explored the fortress room-by-room, they kept finding the dead bodies of Black Rats members. The Rats had been stabbed to death, yet their corpses had strange patches of fungus growing on them. Catarina slit their throats anyway, just to be sure. The group also burned the herbs that Iska had given them to cleanse the various rooms she had specified as they found them. Additionally, throughout the fortress, the party kept noting artworks that portrayed elves as triumphant in a war against the forces of mankind.

Of particular interest in the fortress was the bedroom of Petros Vorderman, the leader of the Black Rats. Next to his camp bed was a portrait of the Black Rats' leader; the painting was signed by the artist: Donna Pietra Sangino. Upon Petros's desk were a number of contracts and correspondence. One of the letters was from a nobleman named Martinus Rosaldi, who asked the Black Rats to find his sister Ellena--who had run away with a notorious rake and dandy named Sir Francis Lowood. Another piece of correspondence was a contract authorizing the Black Rats to capture and hold a woman named Dahlia Medlozka on behalf of the Church of Holy Blood. And, of course, they found the contract wherein Cornelius Holland hired the Black Rats to capture or kill Pendleton.

Additionally, under the camp bed they found a cowering man. His name was Yanos and he claimed to be a sculptor hired by the Black Rats to restore the statues in the fortress's shrine. Since he had been employed by the Black Rats for some time, he was useful in helping the party find the things they were looking for inside the fortress. He was also able to explain why the Black Rats were never seen coming or going from the fortress: they had a ritual circle that allowed them to travel without recourse to conventional means. 

The group wanted to take a look at the statues, but between them and that shrine chamber was a magical circle that they determined was binding something; breaching the circle would release whatever horror was being held. Figuring that they would have to deal with it one way or another, the entered the circle and found themselves facing a fungal mass; human skulls occasionally surfaced within the mass, opening their jaws in silent screams. Panthalassa was able to smash one of the skulls with her pickaxe, but ultimately it was Geradd's new maul that proved effective in pulverizing the creature into a defeated splash of muck.

Beyond the binding circle was the shrine chamber. Inside were a number of statues of eldritch entities. Some of the group immediately recognized statues of Scylla and the Chained Scholar. Besides them was a statue of a hybrid humanoid form with the head of a lizard and a statue of a man whose hunched body was topped with the "face" of an enormous worm. One statue was conspicuously missing, it's plinth empty.

Exploration continued. The group found, and raided, the Black Rats' treasury. They also discovered the teleportation circle in an underearth room; they disrupted the circle so that they could not be surprised by any returning Black Rats. Within an alcove meant for archers to fire upon would-be invaders, a loose brick was removed from the wall, revealing an ancient book called The Blood Horizon: The Coming of the Elvish Savior. The book seemed to detail a prophesized Aeldenfolk savior who would lead the charge to drive all humankind from Krevborna.

In another underground chamber they found the dungeon of the Black Rats. Within a cell was Serafina, who was somewhat worse for wear with a black eye, a split lip, and a broken arm. Using keys they had liberated from the treasury, they released her. Serafina was hard to read, as always, due to her lack of affect, but she seemed surprised that the group would expend such an effort to come to her rescue. The fortress now thoroughly explored, the group returned to riverside and signaled for Aran to pick them up. In return for cleansing the fortress, the seer Iska gave them a map to the location of the Brineblade.

Sunday, November 5, 2023

The Black Chapel and Kressig Woods

Two locations that might be explored in Hemlock Hollow:

The Black Chapel

Once a church of the Holy Blood, the Black Chapel has been defiled and is now home to satanic rites performed to honor the Devil.

    • The Black Chapel’s exterior had been painted black, its stained glass windows have been replaced by blood-red panes, and its spires are decorated with grotesque gargoyles. 

    • The chapel’s sacred altar has been replaced by a grand throne of silver and dark wood.

    • During the black masses performed within the Black Chapel, a figure of smoke and ash—a manifestation of the Devil’s will—sits upon this profane throne and presides over the sacrilegious sabbaths. 

    • The Graymalks make ritual blood sacrifices to appease their dark master deep within the crypts beneath the Black Chapel.

Kressig Woods

Partially encircling Hemlock Hollow is a deep, dangerous forest known as Kressig Woods. 

    • Kressig Woods is home to a particularly vicious band of seductive and cruel dryads. 

    • The dryads of Kressig once lived in peace with the people of Hemlock Hollow prior to their turn toward deviltry, but the evil of the Graymalk witches has exerted a corrupting influence over them. 

    • The befouled dryads of Kressig Woods are particularly dangerous for any virile man who wanders into their territory—they attempt the most devious snares to get their hands on any men who enter Kressig Woods. 

    • Any men charmed into submission by the dryads are used for labor and to provide the seed they need to give birth to the next generation of dryads. 

    • Once a man has served his purpose, or the dryads tire of his company, he is released and hunted for sport.

Thursday, November 2, 2023

The Feast of the Innocents, Castlevania: Nocturne, and More

Things that brought me delight in October, 2023:

Colin Harker, The Feast of the Innocents

The Feast of the Innocents heralds the return of an earlier era in the history of the Gothic novel. Deeply steeped in the Gothic tradition, Colin Harker has a good ear for era-appropriate language and a solid understanding of how to repurpose and refashion the literary conventions that define texts such as William Godwin's Caleb Williams and Charles Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer. There are many examples of Ye Olde Gothique Pastiche out there, and while they are fine on their own merits, there is something uniquely thrilling about encountering a book like The Feast of the Innocents that feels like a lost pre-Victorian book that has just been unearthed from some dusty library archive or, indeed, from the attic of a moldering abbey.

Castlevania: Nocturne

I have been excited for a new series of Castlevania on Netflix, but I also had a degree of trepidation about it; I loved the first batch so much, would Nocturne be able to capture the magic?

And yeah, I'd say it does. Semi-adapting the Rondo of Blood game, Nocturne starts with a larger initial cast: we've got a Belmont wielding the Vampire Killer, Annette re-visioned as someone who wields the might of the orisha, Maria and her menagerie, and an opera singer who inspires revolution. Speaking of revolution, the French Revolution setting works really well--it really underlines the tension between modern ideas of liberty and the moribund systems that vampires represent.

Mars Attacks

I am loving these books collecting Topps' wilder trading card sets. I looked at the Garbage Pail Kids book a while back, but in October I cracked the spine on something even nearer and dearer to my heart: Mars Attacks. For those who are unfamiliar, the Mars Attacks cards detailed a violent Martian invasion of Earth and then the inevitable invasion of Mars by the triumphant forces of Earth. Besides collecting all the art from the arts, the book drops some fascinating details about the set's production: I had no idea that it was never distributed nationally or about the amount of censorship imposed on the artists by Topps itself--which is pretty staggering.

Blackbriar, A Dark Euphony

On A Dark Euphony, Blackbriar is bubbling up from the underground into the big time witch their first Nuclear Blast release. Blackbriar deliver gothy symphonic metal, but their music has a distinct "fairytale" feel to it that sets it apart a bit from other acts in the genre. A Dark Euphony is their strongest release to date, which means it's great on its own but also it makes you wonder where they'll go next.

Stephen Graham Jones, Don't Fear the Reaper

A good portion of what appealed to me about Stephen Graham Jones's My Heart is a Chainsaw was the "voice" of the main character. She's the main character of Don't Fear the Reaper, but she's older and changed by the experiences she had in the previous book--which has the effect of portraying her as more distant and somewhat muted. I get why that is, but I did miss the younger version of this character!

Flashes of her earlier persona come back about halfway through, as she needs something of that slasher-obsessed teenage misfit to survive against the killers who are stalking Proofrock. Of course, things are complicated--an escaped serial killer is on the loose, but that's only scratching the surface.

True Widow, Circumambulation and Avvolgere

I am notoriously difficult to give musical recommendations, but Tenebrous Kate's suggestions are right on the money more often than not. One of her recent recommendations is True Widow, a band that answers the question, "What if Sonic Youth were a droning, doom-inspired band and not annoying?" Though their tempo never really raises above "plodding," both Circumambulation and Avvolgere have some real earworms on them.

The Elvira Show

The Elvira Show was supposed to be a sitcom starring everyone's favorite horror hostess and "Queen of Halloween," but unfortunately it didn't get greenlit. That said, you can find the pilot episode on YouTube! I'm generally allergic to sitcoms, and I'm not sure I could have bought in to an entire season of the show, but the pilot episode is pretty fun. In retrospect, I'm not surprised that this didn't get picked up: I'd estimate that at least 85% of the jokes are tit-based.

House of 1000 Corpses re-release

Oh my God, how can it be twenty years since House of 1000 Corpses debuted in theaters? Well, thankfully, for the anniversary it was brought back to the big screen for a few limited engagements, and I was able to make it to one of them! Man, I still love this movie with every fiber of my rotten being. It was also a nice touch that Rob Zombie filmed a little off-the-cuff introduction to the re-release. In a way, House of 1000 Corpses is a movie that could easily have been forgotten, but as he points out, it really is the fans who have kept it alive over the years. (Also pretty interesting to learn that the theatrical cut is probably the only version of the movie that we'll ever have, as nobody knows where the cut footage ended up--if it even still exists!)

Robert Morasco, Burnt Offerings

I was a latecomer to the Burnt Offerings movie, but when I finally saw it--well, it blew my damn mind. Tenebrous Kate and I kicked around the idea of featuring Robert Morasco's novel on the podcast, but it fell off the master list; however, when I found a hardcover copy at an antique store for two bucks, I couldn't resist! The book really is just as good as film (which is faithful to the text). If anything, after reading it you can see how the novel was a clear influence on Stephen King; sure, there's no alcoholic writer in this, but the growing sense of middle-class doom feels familiar. That said, Morasco gets it done without any Baby Boomer asides and has it put to bed in under 250 pages.

Wolves in the Throne Room, Crypt of Ancestral Knowledge

Crypt of Ancestral Knowledge is a new, four-track EP by Wolves in the Throne Room. Now that I've stopped hearing the phrase "Transcendental Black Black," I feel safe saying that the first two songs on the EP exemplify why Wolves in the Throne Room are the rightful heirs of Emperor. The third and fourth tracks are a different story; on those tracks, things take a turn toward Dead Can Dance and dark ambient. 

Anne Heltzel, Just Like Mother

Just Like Mother starts with a strong premise: a woman who grew up in a cult reconnects with her cousin, who also grew up in the cult compound, as an adult. The cousin is a lifestyle and tech mogul who has been working on a realistic baby doll AI meant to teach expectant parents how to parent or for use in the grieving process by parents who have lost a child. Something is clearly not right here. Just Like Mother is a book the reader will figure out way before its protagonist does. You will do a lot of horror movie-style "Girl, don't go to that house" and "Don't go on a date with that guy" shaking of your head, but the ride is pretty fun.

Carnifex, Necromanteum and World War X

Sometimes I just want something brutal and a little knuckle-headed. Admittedly, Carnifex do dress up their deathcore assault with occasional orchestral elements that add a nice horror movie vibe. No mercy here on their new one, Necromanteum. Be forewarned, though: this album is quite LOUD. Favorite tracks on Necromanteum: "The Pathless Forest" and "How the Knife Gets Twisted." I also dipped back into World War X, which feels both leaner and meaner.

Samantha Hunt, Mr. Splitfoot

Samantha Hunt's Mr. Splitfoot is set in update NY, and it has as good a description of the area as I've ever seen: "This part of the state is haunted by businesses and marriages that didn't work." Mixing cult religious weirdness with the broken-down desperation of post-industrial upstate, Mr. Splitfoot's got con men aplenty, seances, and a whole lot of walking. I think the folks who know update NY would get them most out of it, but if anybody is looking for something that's a little spooky, but not really full on horror, I'd definitely recommend this novel.

Dynamite's Elvira comics: Timescream, Elvira's Inferno, The Shape of Elvira

After our double feature podcast episode on Elvira and Vampira, I decided I needed more Elvira in my life. Turning to the comics put out by Dynamite, I stated with Timescream, in which the Queen of Halloween travels through time--meeting Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, and Bram Stoker, while trying to avoid the murderous attentions of Vlad the Impaler. Elvira's Inferno is a direct sequal to Timescream in which Elvira works her way through Hell. The Shape of Elvira is a The Shape of Water riff, but with a twist. Minor stuff, but pretty fun. Weirdly, though, sometimes the depiction of Elvira doesn't really look like the woman--you'd think she'd be too iconic for that to happen.

Lord Vampyr, The Vampire's Legacy and Death Comes Under the Sign of the Cross

Confession: I thought I was a pretty big fan of Theatres des Vampyres, but I had no idea that the former singer had been recording and releasing records under the name Lord Vampyr. Lord Vampyr is essentially a melting pot, mixing elements of Gothic metal, death metal, black metal, and traditional heavy metal. There's something about the Lord Vampyr sound that makes me think it would be right at home blasting out a dirtbag's window in a film about wayward teenagers. I mean that as a compliment, by the way. Both albums I checked out are good, but Death Comes Under the Sign of the Cross does have one fatal flaw: the intro and lengthy outro tracks are just sounds of sword-on-sword battle. Cut that fucking filler; I'll skip that shit every time, dude.

Dead Light & Other Dark Turns

Dead Light & Other Dark Turns is a slim book containing two scenarios for Call of Cthulhu. Both scenarios are based on chance encounters on the road from point A to point B, so they're especially well-suited to one-shots or an interlude between other scenarios. I ran Dead Light for my group on Friday the 13th and it went really well; it felt like a good thematic choice as the characters are pursued by a monster that is like Jason if he were a glowing, otherworldly, unrelenting, luminous cloud of mercury. I haven't run the other adventure in the book, but it looks fun too.

NEPA Horror Fest

NEPA Horror Fest was very fun. The punk rock flea market was, of course, a mixed bag of junk, cool art, and interesting crafts. No zines though, which was disappointing; maybe the rain kept the zinesters away. The "Halloween cast reunion" had maybe the saddest tabling set up I've ever seen. It wasn't obvious who the actors were or why these people were sitting at tables, so people were more interested in buying coffee than the meet-n-greet. Honestly? The highlight might have been the "Philly cheese steak eggrolls" we got. Fucking amazing stuff, far exceeded our expectations.

Land of the Dead

Land of the Dead came out during a real "Golden Summer" of movie-going for me, but it had been quite some time since I had seen it so I put it on the re-watch list for October. I still have an incredible fondness for Land of the Dead, even though I know it doesn't really come close to equally the hard-hitting Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, or Day of the Dead. Still, there's something I find undeniably fun about Land of the Dead. At its heart, it's a very PMF film, as it presents the zombie apocalypse as more of an action flick than a horror movie. It has some great ideas, though: rich people sequestered in a ritzy mall high-rise, zombies versus prostitute gladiatorial games; big, honkin' zombie-killin' truck!

Bastien Lecouffe Deharme, BL8D

BL8D is an utterly massive and beautiful collection of Bastien Lecouffe Deharme's art. After flipping through its pages, I feel confident in asserting one thing: Bastien Lecouffe Deharme loves imperious beauties bearing swords. You might already know his art from the recent edition of the KULT rpg or you might know him from the cards he's done for Magic: The Gathering, but you probably haven't seen all of his stuff in one place--which is what makes BL8D indispensable. I was especially happy to see the covers he did for the paperback reissues of several of Tanith Lee's novels included in their own chapter.

Werewolf: The Apocalypse

Werewolf: The Apocalypse came out when I was in the deep-end of being an rpg player in high school, but no one in my group had any interest in it at the time. (We tried to play Vampire: The Masquerade and failed miserably, so maybe that colored things.) I leafed through the new edition of Werewolf: The Apocalypse in a store and decided I needed to give it a more thorough read-through. It far more interesting than I would have guessed, but it's going to take me some time to wrap my brand around werewolves-as-spiritual-environmental warriors. There's a lot here, and it's a big book, so this one is going to take some time to digest.

Interview with the Vampire

AMC's Interview with the Vampire was lauded by everyone I know who has seen it. As a longtime fan of Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles, I was really looking forward to it so when it finally landed on a streaming platform I have access to we made the time to watch it in October. I can definitely recommend Interview with the Vampire, especially to people who view the Vampire Chronicles as a gay vampire soap opera. (To be clear, that is a totally valid way to perceive the source material.) It's less a horror tale and more a story about a relationship that goes horribly, gothically wrong. To my mind, the time shift to the Jazz Age worked well, and some of the deviations from Rice's novel actually made for interesting additions to the story.

Cassandra Khaw, The Salt Grows Heavy

Although it's a something of riff on The Little Mermaid, Cassandra Khaw's The Salt Grows Heavy stands apart from the deluge of modern re-told fairy tales by virtue of being as visceral as a gore movie. No simple feminist retelling here; rather, we have an inhuman mermaid traveling through an apocalyptic-feeling kingdom with a plague doctor until they encounter a trio of surgeon-saints that are straight out of a Cronenbergian fever fantasy. Although The Salt Grows Heavy is a slight book, it packs a lot of body horror and ruminations on the power of devotion in its sparse pages. Definitely not a bedtime story.

The Lovecraft Investigations: The Shadow Over Innsmouth

When the newest series of The Lovecraft Investigations dropped, it reminded me that I never finished the third series. The Shadow Over Innsmouth is great stuff as expected, and I especially like the way that managed to weave a modernized version of Lovecraft's story with the Somerton Man! Now I just gotta finish Haunter in the Dark.

Darcy Coates, House of Shadows

I've been meaning to read a Darcy Coates novel for a while, so I settled on House of Shadows as my starting point. To be honest, it's a fairly average Victorian-esque Gothic novel, with a fairly well-worn premise: a young woman is quickly married off to a wealthy stranger when her father nearly brings the family to financial ruin; she's then shipped off to her new husband's ancestral mansion where his family prove to be menacing weirdos; there's a red door she's forbidden to open, and it seems like leaving the house is an impossibility. In such a standard-issue Gothic novel, the devil is truly in the details; unfortunately, the details are a bit lacking in this one. Everything feels like like surface detail, with nothing underneath, and Coates doesn't really nail the Victorian era too well. I'll probably read the sequel to House of Shadows, but I suspect that might be where I call it quits.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Like House of 1000 Corpses, The Nightmare Before Christmas was re-released in theaters in October. I was in high school when the movie originally came out.  Back when I worked at a video store I was infamous for playing The Nightmare Before Christmas at least once every shift. So, you'd think I'd be burned out on the movie, but it was great to see it on the big screen again. If anything, seeing it in a theater really underlines how incredibly detailed the movie is. There are so many little things that get lost on screen, but with the big view the movie feels like such a labor of love--particularly as it's all stop-motion from well before the age of lifeless CG animation.

Myrkur, Spine

Myrkur has proven to be a more chimeric project than I would have ever guessed. When Amelie Braun first burst onto the scene with an album of controversial black metal, I think I assumed that all of Myrkur's releases would more or less follow that conceit. Instead, the idea of what Myrkur can be has changed drastically over the years, until we arrive at Spine--the project's most varied album yet. There are still elements of extreme metal here, but they've become part of the palette instead of a defining element. More than anything, Spine aspires toward beauty in no uncertain terms.

Jakob's Wife

Since vampires are so often associated with the allure of eternal life, they often focus on the monstrosity of youth, but Jakob's Wife tries a different avenue. The film explores what happens when the middle-aged wife of a pious minister encounters a nosferatu and discovers a potential way out from the diminishment of her life in her husband's shadow. Jakob's Wife clearly isn't a massive-budget blockbuster, but it does a lot with what it has. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the movie's central character is played by the always-cool Barbara Crampton.

Let's Scare Jessica to Death

Scratched another movie I've been meaning to watch off my list by sitting down in front of Let's Scare Jessica to Death in October. This one definitely lived up to the hype. Let's Scare Jessica to Death is more of an atmospheric piece about a young woman, just recently discharged from a mental institution, who is whisked by her husband to a rural retreat so she can continue to rest and recover. But, as it turns out, they've gone to the wrong long-abandoned house for some relaxation, as it's a storied home that was once the setting for a tragic drowning. Things start to get weird when they discover that the house is already inhabited by a free-spirited redhead, and they only get weirder from there.


Cobweb probably falls into the "kinderhorror" subgenre, as it's about a bullied kid who scarcely has it better at home due to his creepy, neurotic, and controlling parents. Oh, and he's troubled by the voice of an unknown sister who seems to be trapped in the walls of the family home. I feel confident recommending Cobweb to anyone looking for a short movie that isn't too intense. Pretty cool monster design in this one, although the director made the wise choice not to let the audience see it too early or too directly.

Polly Hall, The Taxidermist's Lover

For some reason, I was expecting Polly Hall's The Taxidermist's Lover to be more of a horror novel, but really it's more like an extremely macabre romance. Not the Fabio-on-the-cover kind of romance, but I suspect you understand what I mean anyway. The book follows two people--an older taxidermist working on wondrous animal hybrids and his younger, troubled wife--who more or less live hermetically sealed within their a strange codependent isolation that is by turns comforting and suffocating. There are secrets, bitter sensuality, lyrical writing, and one of hell of an uncanny ending to The Taxidermist's Lover.

On Thorns I Lay, self-titled

I bought the new self-titled On Thorns I Lay album without knowing much about them, but I had the idea that their name would likely land them in the death-doom subgenre I love...and I was right. This album is super solid; big crushing riffs, guttural growled vocals, melancholic atmosphere, etc. Recommended to fans of My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost--you'll dig this stuff too.

Catriona Ward, The Last House on Needless Street

There's a lot happening in Catriona Ward's The Last House on Needless Street: a young girl goes missing; her sister becomes obsessed with tracking down the person who abducted her; a very strange man seems to be up to something even more strange with his "daughter" and his "cat" in a ramshackle house on Needless Street. I actually feel a little guilty about The Last House on Needless Street as I figured out the "big twist" very early on; it's still worth finishing, of course, but I imagine that being floored with the revelations at the end would be pretty satisfying if you make it that far without realizing what's going on in Needless Street. 

Emily Carroll, A Guest in the House

The arrival of a new Emily Carroll comic should be accompanied by a mournful fanfare. I was quite excited for A Guest in the House since I saw it first announced, and it definitely lived up to my own anticipation. A dentist's second wife is trying to settle into her role as stepmother and homemaker, but she's reminded at every turn of the wife and mother that used to be in the house. This is like an unglamorous Rebecca, except in the case of A Guest in the House, the tide of jealousy and resentment is flowing from a very different source. Beautiful art, as always; the contrast between the muted grays of mundanity and the splashes of otherworldly color are particularly effective.

Sadie "Mother Horror" Hartmann, 101 Horror Books to Read Before You're Murdered

My early thoughts from reading the intro of Sadie Hartmann's 101 Horror Books to Read Before You're Murdered:

1) Hartmann's tone is goofy. It can get a little annoying, a little too "I am on the internet," but I also find it a somewhat welcome relief from all the people who talk about horror fiction with deadly seriousness, like they're Lovecraftian antiquarians.

2) This book only covers modern horror. In many cases, this means extremely recent publications. Again, a wise move. We don't need Dracula recommended to us again.

3) Hartmann dismisses the idea that a book needs to be "scary" to be considered horror. Good on her; that's always been an imbecilic argument.

4) House of Leaves isn't in here because she doesn't think it's very good. I'm doing the sicko Yes, YES thing at that.

Outside of all that, this is a great handbook of modern horror recommendations. Each book gets a nice write up, as well as a standardized sidebar detailing the themes, setting, publication info, etc. There's definitely a few books I hadn't heard of before reading it that I absolutely have to check out now.

Spider Baby

I got to share Spider Baby, one of my favorite weird little horror movies, with my girlfriend in October. Spider Baby begins as a charming throwback to the horror movies of yesteryear, drawing us into the lives of siblings who are regressing in mental age due to a familial malady, but things get genuinely disturbing real quick. By the the last reel, things are actually pretty shocking. All that, Carol Ohmart, and an ominous, downbeat ending? Spider Baby is a strange movie that more people should be aware of.

Vaesan: The Lost Mountain Saga

For years, I've had a campaign idea that I would really like to run, but I've struggled to find the system to put in back of it. Vaesan might be the thing I need to get it done, so with that in mind I've been scooping up the supplements as they've been coming out. The Lost Mountain Saga is a five-scenario campaign for Vaesan that has a pretty interesting genesis: apparently it started life as a podcast and then was ported over to Vaesan as a campaign. Written by a Swede living in America as a way of expressing elements of her culture to friends who didn't grow up with it firsthand, there's a lot of flavor baked into The Lost Mountain Saga that you aren't likely to get elsewhere.

Ash vs. Evil Dead, Season 3

I've been holding the third season of Ash vs. Evil Dead in reserve for the Halloween season. Over the course of its three seasons, Ash vs Evil Dead has had some of the most insane, grotesque set-piece scene to ever appear on television; it really deserves more credit for that. Sure, the main characters kinda come back from the dead with alarming regularity, but you should just be along for the ride. I knew going into the third season that Ash vs Evil Dead didn't really get a conclusive ending, but damn if things didn't look like they were going in a fun direction. Alas, I'll just have to ponder what would have come next as a PLANET MOTHERFUCKER adventure.


My girlfriend wanted to watch Freaks (first time for her) this year, and I'll never say no to Freaks. I still remember bringing it home for the first time from the video store; I was expecting something a little slow and retrained, like Browning's Dracula is, and being totally unprepared for what Freaks actually brings to the table. Of course, it's a shame that a film as good as Freaks damaged Browning's career, and frankly I don't understand how anyone can watch the film without coming away thinking that it's actually a pretty sensitive movie.

An Angel for Satan

An Angel for Satan was one of the few Barbara Steele-helmed horror movies I hadn't see yet; I was saving it for a rainy day, and it turned out that this Halloween was the proverbial (and literal) rainy day in question. This one is great. Steele plays a young woman recently returned from school in England to assume control of her ancestral house. Of course, as soon as she arrives murders begin to happen and it seems like she is possessed by violent spirits linked to a recently recovered "cursed" statue. Super fun Italian Gothic stuff.

Curse of the Demon

An adaptation of M.R. James's "Casting the Runes," Curse of the Demon is an absolute classic, in my opinion. But keep in mind that to me Jacques Tourneur can do wrong. I usually watch the Night of the Demon version, but this year I went with the shorter American cut; to be honest, I couldn't really tell you where the cuts were made--which I guess means I should try to watch Night of the Demon soon to really get a handle on that. You know what? I still think the demon special effect really works in this.

Island of Lost Souls

We capped off Halloween night with Island of Lost Souls, which I couldn't remember if I had seen before or not. (Turns out, I think I had seen it, but it must have been a very long time ago.) Anyway, Island of Lost Souls goes HARD. I was expecting something mild from that era, like Dracula, but fuck it really has some intense moments. Now that I've watched it, I'm thinking I might need to pick up a copy of Island of Lost Souls to add to the permanent collection--I could definitely see myself wanting to revisit this one in the future.