I think it’s human nature to want to identify with a story teller. They’re sharing an experience with you and you want to see it from their point of view. That’s part of the fun, to step outside yourself and see things a different way.
But as much as I wanted to, I just couldn’t identify with Sean, the protagonist of Wolf in White Van.
Hell, Sean can’t even identify with himself.
“Whoever Sean is, it’s not who I think he is; all the details I think I know about things are lies,” he says at one point.
At another: “I sift and rake and dig around in my vivid recollections of young Sean… I try to see what makes him tick, but I know a secret about young Sean… nothing makes him tick. It just happens all by itself…”
Indeed, Sean’s inner-workings – his motives, his goals, his dreams, his fears… – are virtually impossible to reach. It’s as if they’re locked deep within a fortress, in a distant wasteland, guarded by warlords and radioactive fallout.
Just trying to access that fortress is a hazard in and of itself – hazard, upon hazard, upon hazard.
Just like Trace Italian.
Trace Italian is a game Sean invented. It’s a fictional fortress located in Kansas, the last remaining refuge in a world ravaged by nuclear war. The objective is to simply get there, to penetrate the citadel and find safety in its inner-sanctum.
Sean is something like the Dungeon Master in D&D. He sets players on a path and sends them four options by mail. The players respond with their move, and Sean sends back the consequences of that move, along with four more options. And so the game goes… on until the player gives up.
No one ever reaches the Trace Italian, and rarely do they die. They simply wander through its labrynthian coil, a spiral that never reaches its center.
You can spend hours, days, or even years trying to get there it, but it’s virtually guaranteed that you won’t. It’s an indecipherable code, like the book’s name.
A guest on the 700 club might say this is a Satanic message, but really, it’s a phrase that raises more questions than answers.
What exactly does it mean? Why no article, ‘the’ or ‘a’? Is the wolf locked in the back of the van or riding shotgun? Is it driving?
Like Sean’s narrative, it’s ultimately enigmatic.
Sean doesn’t know why he does the things that he does, and you won’t either.
That’s not really the point, though.
Like fighting your way to the Trace, it’s more about the journey than the destination. It’s a walking tour of a tortured wasteland, a dark and dangerous land patrolled by mutants.
At one point, a long time ago, there was a fortune teller that might have been able to help you navigate the terrain. But he’s dead now. So the best you can do is rummage through his remnants – a few vague artifacts and the key to a door you’ll never find.
Or as Sean puts it…
“There’s power in thinking you’re about to meet somebody who knows what’s next for you, and there’s another level of power in seeing that person’s body on the floor, having to get the information from him somehow now that he’s no longer in any condition to give it.”
What’s it about? An old man and young girl (a vampire) move into a small Swedish community and immediately start offing people.
Who’s in it? Buncha Swedes.
You’ll like it if… You are interested in vampires that aren’t brooding teenagers. You can handle subtitles (more on that below). You can appreciate cinematography and direction (They’re fantastic in this movie). You have crush on Sweden.
Let the Right One In isn’t just one of my favorite horror movies, it’s one of my favorite movies, period.
The story, acting, and visuals are absolutely captivating.
Set in Stockholm, circa 1982, the environment is dominated by darkness. Days are gray and nights are black. Just looking at the sparse, snow-covered landscape, its dense forests and empty streets stretching out into frigid oblivion, is enough to give you chills.
But then there’s the shroud of death.
An old man moves into an apartment complex with a young girl, presumably a relation. It soon becomes apparent that the little girl is a vampire and they must harvest blood to sustain her.
In the meantime, she befriends a local boy, who’s besieged by strife at home and bullies at school.
The story builds from there, and it’s as original as it is tragic.
Its characters test the boundaries of love, devotion, and even sexuality. They’re forced to weigh their own lives against the lives of other innocent people. They are marginalized as outcasts, and yet, they’re inexcorably chained together.
The sense of desolation – both physical and spiritual – is palpable as these characters are driven to extremes. The climate is unforgiving, and so are they.
I really would recommend this movie to anyone. It is technically a horror, and violence is obviously a part of that, but it’s really not that bad. There’s nothing in here that couldn’t be shown on cable. (i.e. Game of Thrones-level)
Of course, you might also be turned off by the subtitles. Again, they’re really not that bad – mostly because there isn’t very much talking in the film.
I’ve watched foreign movies before, and it’s aggravating when you spend so much time speed-reading dialogue that you miss the action onscreen. This movie doesn’t have that problem.
It’s very easy to follow.
Still, if you can’t handle it, then you might consider the American remake: Let Me In, which features Chloe Grace Moretz.
Obviously, it’s not as good, but the story is pretty much the same. (They’re both based on the same novel.)
You really should watch the original, though. It’s packed with the dark chill of a cold winter’s night and the burning sting of frostbite.
As many of you know, I’ve been actively seeking creepy sounds for the Halloween season.
Some of you were even kind enough to offer up your suggestions. And they were, in fact, absolutely terrifying.
So I’ve decided to include some of them (as many as I could!) in this mix tape offering.
It’s broken into two categories…
The first are songs that scare me, J-Money.
The second section includes songs I solicited from friends.
I know you guys didn’t know I was going to use your suggestions for this, and honestly I didn’t, either. It just happened.
In any case, thanks for your feedback!
Let’s get to it…
Songs That Scare Me
Teddy Bear’s Picnic – Henry Hall and His Orchestra
Of all the songs on this list, this one scares the most shit out of me.
Just what is this?
Is this supposed to be a kids’ song? Because it sounds like something Jack the Ripper would sing while gleefully tormenting a prostitute.
For a song about teddy bears, this is the least wholesome sound I’ve ever heard.
The creepy voice… The shifts from high to low… The ominous, yet gleeful tone…
And above all else, lyrics that are terrifyingly vague:
“If you go down in the woods today you’re in for a big surprise… You better go in disguise…”
Well first, aren’t the woods a public space? Shouldn’t I just be able to go whenever I damn-well please?
Because the Teddy Bears are lying there in ambush “beneath the trees where nobody sees” to “hide and seek as long as they please.”
Okay, well, why this particular day then? This sounds like a ritual. Is today the day the Teddy Bears harvest organs?
Is that why I need I need a disguise? Lest I be discovered to be an intruder? Then what?
There’s only this ominous warning at the end:
“If you go down in the woods today you better not go alone!
It’s lovely down in the woods today but safer to stay at home.
For every bear that ever there was will gather there for certain because
today’s the day the Teddy Bears have their picnic.”
Good God. What the hell is going on in these woods?
Who are these “Teddy Bears”?
Who the hell is Henry Hill, for that matter? And how many kids did he molest and leave in the forest before hanging himself from the nearest branch?
These are questions for which we will never have answers.
Gooble Gobble, One of Us – Freaks
It would be easy to look at this clip and say it’s not so much the song as it is the circus freaks singing it.
And that’s probably true… to a point.
Still, the song itself is creepy.
I can’t imagine being at a party and having my hosts break into this weird chant of acceptance. You could just go with “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow,” you know?
And if you’re truly accepting someone into your ranks, freakish or not, you need not say so explicitly in the song’s lyrics. That just makes it sound sarcastic.
I like to think I’d be polite in such a situation, but I definitely understand Cleopatra’s reaction. Depending on how things had gone to that point, and how intoxicated I’d gotten, I might freak out, too.
Tom Waits… Just Tom Waits in General
Everywhere I looked, and everyone I asked offered up one Tom Waits song as another.
And rightfully so. He’s an awesome, brilliant musician, whom we all love. And yet, his music can be both bizarre and creepy.
A lot of these old recordings creep me out, and that’s especially true of Leadbelly.
After all, this is someone who went to prison for shooting and killing a man (a relative no less) over a woman. He got out of jail on good behavior, only to go back five years later for stabbing another guy in a fight. And while serving that second term, he got in a fight with another inmate, who stabbed him in the neck.
Finally, after leaving prison for a second time, Leadbelly records this, his signature song, about pursuing a sexual relationship with a minor.
The whole thing sounds terribly menacing. It’s got that whole “If I can’t have you no one can!” vibe that makes me picture him slowly strangling this poor Irene girl with guitar string whilst shushing her to sleep.
He also intimates a desire to commit suicide, either by drowning himself in a river or overdosing with morphine.
“I wish I’d never seen your face,
I’m sorry you ever was born.
“Throbbing Gristle tried to create a disorienting aura to illustrate the pain, despair, and confusion of a woman who was burnt so badly that her flesh looked like hamburger meat. They also tried to create an ominous, evil sound to display the cruelty of keeping someone like that alive. It’s a very disturbing song.”
Alright. Well thanks for that! See you in my nightmares!
Yeah, totally. I get it.
Sure these kids are annoying but they’re scary, too. They’re really everything that’s wrong with the upcoming generation.
They dress like hipsters… They hide lackluster vocals behind outlandish choreography… They’re way happier than they have any right to be…
They’re really just a bunch of entitled fucks.
And worse, in this particular video, they’re giving their phone numbers to strangers (unsolicited), which is the exact opposite of what they should be doing.
Especially with sickos like Henry Hall running loose.
You dumb kids deserve what’s coming to you: Underemployment, crippling debt, shattered illusions, and a Teddy Bear picnic.
Kids in General
This one comes standard. Everyone knows kids are creepy.
What is it about this kind of broken playground music that’s so chilling, though?
Logically, I don’t understand it, because I never met a kid who scared me.
Kids, they’re not so big. You can push them right down or whatever. They’re so weak.
But if you were to happen across one perched listlessly on an overgrown fountain, singing a song like this on an overcast day?
It’d be fucking terrifying.
Kids are weird.
Obviously. This is another no-brainer.
You got a carnival; you got freaks, carnies, and clowns.
What can I say? It’s a weird culture.
But whatever. If they want chocolate give them the damn chocolate. They look like they bite.
DIMMU BORGIR – Progenies of The Great Apocalypse
No. Just no.
These guys are trying wayyyy to hard.
I keep picturing them at their day jobs. Guys like this wear facepaint so you won’t recognize them when they’re toasting your sandwich at Quiznos.
Look guys – Kenny, Bill, Kevin – we all love Halloween but it can’t be year-round. I know full-well you’re not going home to sacrifice anybody. Your mom would never let you get away with that on her new carpet.
There’s not even enough room in the trailer, anyway.
If you wanted us to believe you were spawned from Hell you really shouldn’t of blown 3/4 of your budget on that stripper flopping around on a leash.
You’re damned alright, but not to a fiery inferno. More like an Arby’s in Des Moines with perpetually sticky floors.