Horror film composer Mark Korven (who worked on 2015’s The Witch) commissioned a guitar maker to create a one-of-a-kind instrument that emits creepy, disturbing noises. Made with metal rulers, cranks, wires, and wooden boards, the unique contraption offers a haunting analog alternative to recycled digital samples.
Behold the “Apprehension Engine,” instrument of nightmares, and testament to the ingenuity of practical (sound) effects.
Some people may not be aware that an area exists where underground coal mines are perpetually in flames, causing smoke, gas, and steam to rise from street cracks and backyards to perilously cave in, resulting in a government-mandated evacuation.
This place is called Centralia, Pennsylvania. Population as of 2010: 10 people.
The town was the inspiration for the unforgettably bleak setting of Silent Hill. It sits on 400 acres of subterranean fires (which have been raging for over 50 years) and is dangerous to visit.
Now only a few homes remain standing, though the church built in 1910 and the borough’s four cemeteries have miraculously resisted being swallowed into the gaping mouth of Hell. The empty streets are fractured from the decaying earth below them and riddled with trespassers’ graffiti.
The abandoned mine has enough coal in it to burn for another 250 years, and all attempts to extinguish the uncontrollable conflagration thus far have failed.
“The first coal mining operation began in 1856. By the 1950s, close to two thousand people called Centralia home. Then in May of 1962, the mine beneath the town caught fire. The fire was believed to have started when the town decided to burn the trash at the landfill. The trash fire traveled through an opening in the mine, where it ignited the large coal deposits below. Feeding off of coal and the oxygen traveling through the mine shaft openings on the surface, the fire raged out of control.
The true magnitude of the situation wouldn’t come to the surface until 1979, when locals began recording temperatures of 180 degrees Fahrenheit on the ground’s surface. Then on Valentines Day 1981 a twelve-year-old boy was nearly killed when he fell into a steaming sinkhole created by the mine fire.”
The US Post Office discontinued the municipality’s zip code back in 2002. The few elderly residents who still live there have been legally allowed to remain until their deaths, after which Centralia will officially become a ghost town.
I have your breakfast, lunch, and dinner planned out for you. Check out the latest in “Freaky Food News” below.
Dunkin Donuts just debuted a new line of Halloween-themed doughnuts, with names like the Spider, the Boston Scream, the Full Moon, and the Nilla Nightmare. (View all the flavors here.)
They even got the “pumpkin guy” to dance in sequined purple spandex for their commercial. Awesome.
Forget Starbuck’s PSL (that’s so two years ago). The newest hardcore October coffee drink is the “Goth latte.” What makes it black is the inclusion of health-beneficial charcoal.
Speaking of pumpkin spice, in case you haven’t heard, pumpkin spice pizza is a thing that exists now. It can be found at Villa Italian Kitchen in New Jersey. The toppings are pumpkin-pie filling and mozzarella cheese. And no, I’m not trying it.
Too bad Burger King isn’t making its black Halloween Whopper anymore. But this genius had the foresight (or perhaps the lack of sanity?) to save and freeze his for two years. Click the photo below to see what’s under the wrapper.
First of all, happy October!! In honor of our favorite month, if you will indulge me, I would like to share my recommendations for perfumes that to me evoke fall and Halloween.
Perfume is another one of my interests, and really, fragrance and Halloween have something in common: They both offer transformative means of escape from reality. In a sense, perfume is another type of costume — one that can be worn any day, and anywhere.
Below, in no particular order, are my descriptions of scents that I own and love to wear this time of year. (And for all of you synesthetes out there, I’m even including a color-association label with each one.)
Elixir des Mervielles, by Hermes: This scent would by some be considered a summer scent because it has an unmistakeable saltwater accord. However, I include it here because it contains ambergris, one of the most unique natural substances on the planet. Ambergris is derived from, as one of my favorite perfume bloggers put it bluntly, “whale hairballs.” It is literally a mass of undigested squid regurgitated from the stomach of a whale, which over time turns gray as it hardens in the waves. It is the musk of the sea. Throughout history, witches have used this magical stuff in passion spells and sex potions.
In addition to the ambergris, which is the source of the perfume’s oceanic smell, Elixir des Mervielles also contains a dark chocolate undertone, and a sparkling citrusy effervescence for a top note.
Perfume “color”: Deep orange
Nirvana Rose, by Elizabeth and James: This rich scent is sexy and velvety, but also as pitch-dark and cold as a coffin. Something about the way the rose accord blends with the oud creates a smell that’s very similar to the scent of a fresh leather glove, or an unridden leather saddle. It’s one of those haunting aromas you can’t stop sniffing.
Perfume “color”: Darkest blood red (almost black)
Youth Dew, by Estee Lauder: I know, I know — worst perfume name EVER. Total misnomer, actually; there’s nothing about this fragrance that smells young or dewey. Instead, it has the rich scent of cinnamon, clove, and dark resin. There’s a certain opulence to it — something almost oriental, but more austere. It smells like a pile of wood cut for a bonfire in a fall cabin, left there to gather a pleasant mustiness over the decades, and the warmth of skin brings out a maple-syrup sweetness. It epitomizes autumn for me.
Perfume “color”: Dark brown
Patchouli: This note has gotten a bad rap after becoming associated with hippies and headshops, but it’s actually the grounding source for many popular mainstream scents, like Christian Dior’s Miss Dior and Thierry Mugler’s Angel. And as I’m sure most of you know, patchouli is the basis for the much-loved Yankee Candle “Witches’ Brew.” It makes my list of Halloween recommendations because, when pure, it smells like wet earth — like, perhaps, dirt being dug for a fresh grave in a forest cemetery.
Perfume “color”: Black
18 La Lune, by Dolce & Gabbana: It is beyond cool that D&G released this line of perfumes, which is inspired by Tarot cards. This one (La Lune, meaning “The Moon,” number 18 in the major arcana) is my favorite of the series, which also includes 1 Le Bateleur (“The Magician”), 3 L’Imperatrice (“The Empress”), 6 L’Amoureaux (“The Lovers”), and 10 La Roue de la Fortune (“The Wheel of Fortune”).
The moon Tarot card symbolizes our subconscious, dreams, and intuition. It can be a warning that we are being irrational or following an illusion, or it can be a reassurance that things are not as they appear. The mysteries embodied by this card are depicted effectively in 18 La Lune, which interprets it as a light, ghostly scent. Delicate as moonlight itself, the ethereal fragrance is clean and slightly powdery — like Ivory soap cut with pale irises — but has a touch of white pepper.
Perfume “color”: White
Chanel No. 22: Once I was stuck in midtown Manhattan looking for shelter from a sudden rainstorm. I ducked into a very small, but very beautiful church, which has staggeringly high Gothic arched ceilings covered in inky blue paint dotted with seven-pointed stars (see photo below). While there, I was spellbound by the smell of the place: the old, fine stone walls filled with a heady, remarkable incense. I asked an usher and found out they actually make the incense there, in the church’s basement. And incidentally, this is also the scent captured by Chanel No. 22. Picture the classic smell of incense, but without all of the smoke: freshly cracked black pepper and sweet pine. Add to this an uplifting shimmer, almost like the fizz of champagne. If ever a scent could be described as holy, this is it.
Now (what’s left of) the corporation is being sued by a New Jersey costume manufacturer called Rasta Imposta (which should perhaps win by virtue of the sheer genius of its name alone).
Recently, after 9 years of a presumably blissful partnership, K-Mart abruptly stopped buying banana costumes from Rasta Imposta. And now, in a desperate attempt to meet customers’ overwhelming demand for zany fruit-shaped onesies, K-Mart had the nerve to start selling knockoff banana costumes.
According to jilted Rasta Imposta, who has claimed copyright infringement, K-Mart’s new banana suits have “the same shape, the ends of the banana are placed similarly, the vertical lines running down the middle of the banana are placed similarly, the one-piece costume is worn on the body the same way, and the cut out holes are similar.”
Oh really? You mean like every other banana costume ever made? Pardon me if I don’t seem shocked.
See pictorial evidence below for a visual comparison of the two designs. Is the new getup a blatant ripoff of the former? You be the judge.
If I were a defense lawyer for K-Mart, I would point out the following discrepancies: The new design has a weird yellow elf hat instead of a “face hole.” It also has creepy Mr. Potato Head facial features and a mustache, inexplicably placed on the torso. And it clearly hangs loosely off of the body rather than retaining its form.
My verdict: Due to the unfortunate features added to the new design, it really does not look like a clone of the old one. Rasta Imposta should just take comfort in the fact that their banana was far superior.
Call me a coldhearted animal-hater, but monkeys and apes have always creeped me out. They just look and act so human-like that I find them eerie. And recently I found out why they have this effect on me. It’s the same reason that many masks, dolls, wax sculptures, and even clowns make our skin crawl.
The “uncanny valley” is a concept proposed by a robotics engineer in the 70s that explains why people are put off by inanimate things that look too human. The theory says that, in general, the more human an object (say, a robot or a puppet) looks, the more endearing it is to people. However, at some point, when an object begins to look extremely similar to a human but still fails to achieve a fully lifelike appearance, people feel uneasiness, aversion, and even disgust.
The term valley describes that sharp dip in the resulting graph line (as seen below), cleaving the otherwise direct relationship between people’s empathy and robots’ similarity to humans.
As TV Tropes puts it: “[A]t some point, the likeness seems too strong and yet somehow, fundamentally different—and it just comes across as a very strange human being. At this point, the acceptance drops suddenly, changing to a powerful negative reaction.”
So basically, it’s like your brain thinks you’re looking at a human, but that human has something quite wrong with them. (No offense, Sophia.)
And if you think that’s weird, then I submit to you something that will tickle your “uncanny valley” even more: masks that look so authentically lifelike that your eyes really can’t tell whether the faces are artificial or real.
Landon Meier creates “hyperrealistic likeness masks” that fool the human eye into perceiving them as living beings. It’s only when our mind recognizes that the heads aren’t moving, or that they don’t match the body, that we realize we’re looking at latex.
So if you really want to freak people out on Halloween, now you know what to do. Just don’t come anywhere near me when you do it. 😉
Alana: Normally I wouldn’t even broach this, but what do you think one of Will’s strongest drives is? Jack: Fear. Alana: Mm-hmm. Jack: Will Graham deals with huge amounts of fear. It comes with his imagination. Alana: It’s the price of imagination.
Happy FALL, y’all!!! Today is officially the first day of autumn. Can you believe it’s already here?
I’ve put together a little list of Halloween tidbits to get you revved up for the amber-leaved days ahead of us. Consider it the textual equivalent of a bag of mini candy bars. Click each image below to read more about the topic.
You can’t kill me: In the “real-life horrors” category, behold the most indestructible organism alive!
Murder loop:Happy Death Day looks like it will be a fun cross between Groundhog Day and Final Destination. In it, a girl relives the date of her death over and over and over…
Any Latin scholars out there? […*crickets*]: Some early spellbook manuscripts survived the 16th and 17th centuries despite religious censorship, and the Newberry Library is looking for people to transcribe them and translate many of them from Latin.
Eat IT: Watch this adorable guy make, decorate, and then destroy a horrifying Pennywise cake.
Scroller’s delight: Don’t forget that this blog has its own Tumblr page, where I visually log my Halloween exploits. It’s as if you can see into my iPhone.
The nail in the coffin: OK, that’s it. I officially declare that the pumpkin-spice-everything trend is DEAD.