Friday, October 29, 2010

Sucktoberfest #1 - Shitty Halloween Candy

Since time immemorial, kids have always gone to that one house that gave out crappy candy.  In the Roman Empire, when children dressed as Gladiators or their favorite Caesar for Halloween, no treat was as reviled as salted bark, which is exactly what it sounds like.  In ancient Ireland, if you gave out dried goat testes on Samhain, the kids would beat you on the head, throw you in a wicker man, and burn your motherfucking ass.  Chinese kids from the Han Dynasty were known to give adults the five-finger death punch if they put ox dung covered in birdseed in their emptied rice bags.

Okay, so I made that shit up, but I know that everyone who has ever gone Trick-or-Treating has come across some nasty ass candy in their bucket.  While it doesn't really ruin the Halloween festivities, it does make the next couple of days a dangerous trek through Candy Land.

Some of the hazards of sifting through your stash are easily avoidable.  If you've ever had a dentist in your neighborhood, you got either a toothbrush or (if they're really sadistic, which they usually are) dental floss.  Obviously, this is not candy, but your dentist does not give a shit.

Another one that's easily avoided are fruits.  This includes apples, oranges, and, yes, raisins.  Thanks to the horror stories of deranged neighbors putting razors, needles, and poison into fruit, which never happened, parents would always throw the apples and oranges out.  As far as those raisins are concerned, no kid in their right mind would eat them.  Even if you like raisins, the mushy, sticky, Halloween variety should be avoided like the plague.

The treats you really have to watch out for are those candies that, one way or another, fuck up your mouth like piranhas on a bloody stump.  First are the ones that will shatter your jawbone, like that fucking hard bubble gum (Bazooka gum is hard, but Dubble Bubble could cut diamond).  I fucking hate gum, especially bubble gum, especially bubble gum that breaks your goddamn teeth.  I remember those Bazooka Joe comics that came with every wrapper of Bazooka.  I just read the comics and threw the gum away.  That shit was terrible.

I don't know how you lost an eye, Joe, but I do know how I lost
 my fucking teeth, you goddamn cyclops!

Then there's jawbreakers, which, in a reasonable size, aren't that bad.  But when you get one of those honking big jawbreakers, it's a fucking nightmare.  Either you end up dislodging your jaw or you're left with a slobbery ball of sugar that just collects dirt.  It's fucking nasty - they're not even that good.  What a waste of fucking time.

Speaking of bad tasting candy, there's a bunch of fucking candy that taste like shit.  Take Smarties or Necco Wafers; both of these candies are like the retarded cousins of SweetTarts.  They taste like chalk and they're fucking worthless.  Some people like Smarties, but that's because they're made with highly addictive narcotics.  Also, what the fuck was up with candy cigarettes?  Not only did they taste nasty, they were candy fucking cigarettes.  Nowadays, they're just called candy sticks, but they still taste like shit.  However, the crown for the nastiest fucking candy belongs to these motherfuckers...

 Gah!  Get that shit away from me!

If you ever see these abominations wrapped in black and orange in your Halloween bucket, throw them away, immediately.  They will rape your mouth.  They will rape and kill your mouth!  They're called Peanut Butter Kisses, but they're more more like Peanut Butter Cumshots (THEY WILL RAPE YOUR MOUTH!!!).  It's supposed to be molasses taffy with a peanut butter center (which sounds disgusting).  In reality, it's all of the sin and corruption of humanity made into candy form.

There's lots of other horrible candies and random crap, such as circus peanuts, Halloween pencils, wax lips, stale popcorn balls, religious pamphlets, etc., but do you know what the worst thing to hear when you're out Trick-or-Treating is?  It's the sound of a handful of pennies jingling in the bottom of your bucket.  What kind of lazy-ass, piece of shit motherfucker do you have to be to just fumble around for the change in your underwear drawer when kids come around on Halloween?  Some may rationalize, "Hey, it's money."  No, it's a motherfucking joke!  If you want to hand out money, hand out a $20 bill.  Nothing made me angrier on Halloween.  Either buy some fucking candy (good candy, dammit) or turn off your fucking porch light, because you don't have shit to give.  Believe me, Barabas Judas Priest would not be forgiving to these assholes.  They'll wish he only burnt their house down with them inside.

Okay, I need to step away from this.  I'm getting way too pissed off here.  Of course, who wouldn't be when you're listing the things you hate most about Halloween?  Thankfully, I'm done with this fuckfest.  The week's over and I can just forget all about the bullshit and just enjoy the holiday.  To all my Steel Legionnaires, don't wear a shitty costume, don't give out shitty candy, don't decorate your house like a fucking Christmas tree, and have a metal Halloween!

...or, should I say, HELLOWEEN!

Blood, Fire, and Steel!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sucktoberfest #2 - Lame-Ass Costumes

Halloween is more of a holiday for the kids.  If I came to someone's door asking for candy, they're gonna say, "Aren't you a bit old for Trick-or-Treating?"  Then, I proceed to crush their skulls in with a sledgehammer.  But don't worry, because there's plenty of fun for you adults.  Yes, you and your douchebag friends can be the life of your Halloween party dressed up as ginormous sluts who'll fuck anyone for drugs or your favorite dick jokes.

If I sound a bit cynical, it's because shitty costumes are the one thing I hate the most about Halloween (You may ask, "Then why this is at #2 on the list?"  I have my reasons.).  There is nothing that kills Halloween faster than some asshole dressing up in these offensive, tasteless, piece of shit costumes.  Not only do they say, "I'm a huge dick," it also tells others this party's about to end badly.

The biggest culprit of these fashion fuck-ups are the sexual innuendo joke costumes.  First are the ones that always bring attention to the guy's freakishly tiny penis, usually by having something stick out of his groin.  Personally, the person wearing one of these might as well just whip their dick out.  It gets the message across better and the host of the party can kick their ass much sooner.

Sorry, bromeister.  You look too much like Dennis Leary
for girls to have any interest in "blowing" you.

Then, there are the ones that have some nasty ass name to them.  They can range from subtly uncomfortable to embarrassingly apparent.  "Good evening, Dr. Feltersnatch.  So glad you could make it.  Your two brothers are already here.  I didn't realize you were all doctors."  The one I hate the most is called "Anita Waxin."  Basically, it's... you know, you just have to see it.

More like "Anita Severe Beating," after wearing this dickhead costume.

Then, there's those costumes that poke fun at the racial stereotypes of American minorities.  I swear, nothing says, "I'd rather be at a Klan meeting," than dressing up as an Indian (complete with broken English), a greasy, Italian paisano, or some blinging pimp daddy.

In the wrong neighborhood, this costume will get you stabbed, whitey.

Let's not forget the female costumes, especially the sexy ones.  Those costumes take every opportunity for the woman to show off plenty of tits and ass, making sure that every guy at the party she goes to will not be getting sex from their girlfriend tonight.

The problem with these sexy costumes is that... well, um... they're... you see, it's... Damn, there's nothing wrong with that costume.

The real problem is not the costume, but the girls who wear them.  There are two kinds of girls who would put this on: those you can't have and those you don't want.  The ones you can't have are beautiful, intelligent, interesting, sexual goddesses who are way out of your league.  These women are so rare, they're almost nonexistent.  If you do see one, they probably already have a boyfriend who has enough money to hire people to beat the shit out of you.

On the other hand, the ones you don't want are shallow, bitchy, and mentally bankrupt.  These cuntbags wear sexy clothes to taunt you with their bodies.  They want you to find them fuckable just so they can tell you to eat shit and die.  There's also those women who wear these to advertise their promiscuity, which is compensating for them being beaten sensless with an ugly stick.  They're not picky - they'll fuck anything with a penis, alive or dead.  Hell, they'll fuck the guy with his dick hanging out.  Avoid both of these girls at all costs.  Any escapades with these beasts starts with lots of alcohol and ends with years of regret.

As for the ones you can't have, just admire them from afar, but not so much that her boyfriend starts sending death threats.  If you do find one that is, by the grace of the gods, single, you will offer her to me in tribute to my awesomeness.

By Crom, I would not kick her out of my tent.

One final complaint: not every costume is some offensive, low-brow garbage or leftovers from last year's blockbuster movies.  Some costumes look kinda cool.  The problem is the shoddy craftsmanship.  I know these costumes were made in some sweatshop in China, so I don't expect expert seamwork, but paying an assload of money for something made from some two-bit fabric is bullshit.  I don't think I could even wipe my ass with a costume without it ripping.

While this may look okay, it'll be torn up in a week.

The only way to go, if you want a really fucking awesome costume, is have it custom made.  Find someone whose really good at sewing and making clothes and have them make you something.  Sure, they'll hate you for a couple of months for making them do something complicated, but you'll have an awesome costume that you can use for many years, maybe even wear it on other occasions.

Tomorrow is the finale.  One thing that has plagued Halloween for centuries.  No one - not you, your friends, your family - can escape it.  It is as pervasive and inevitable as the shadows that stir in the night.  Be afraid - be very afraid.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sucktoberfest #3 - Haunted Houses

I have heard that the city I live in has some of the best haunted houses in the country.  If that's the case, then the rest of the U.S. must have have to make do with such horrible attractions as "The Haunted Grocer" or "Tapeworm Manor," because the ones here are not that scary.

However, I don't blame them for trying.  I've seen some of these haunted houses in detail - I've been to some, myself.  The best ones here do put a lot of work into their scenery and they do look pretty cool.  The problem is constant repetition of a basic formula: jump out from your hiding place, make a lot of noise, then go back into hiding.  Sure, the customers don't know when it's coming, but they know it's coming.  I have seen some inventive adaptations of the formula, such as pretending to be one of those retarded, shaking animatronic dummies (see Sucktoberfest #5), then jumping at people when they walk past, but the scare tactics has really become "lather, rinse, repeat."  Personally, I'm bored with it.

If I were to do a haunted house, my customers would know the feeling of being in mortal danger.  That's because they, most likely, would be.  I'd make the kind of attraction you'd have to sign waivers for to get in.  Paramedics would have a busy month, carting all the injured, maimed, and psychologically scarred people to the hospital.  If, every year, someone - anyone: customer, employee, random homeless guy who was drugged, tied down, and used for the human sacrifice "scene" - doesn't die in my haunted house, then I don't feel like I've done my job.

No, that's not really Abdominus.  He's way more ripped than this twerp.

Unfortunately, my ideal haunted attraction wouldn't be considered "humane" or "legal" (Pfft, whatever).  So, instead, I'll just throw out some ideas on how to make a haunted attraction better.
  • Divide and Conquer - Just about everyone goes to a haunted house with a group of friends, family, or people holding them hostage.  Why not get some of them into the act?  How messed up would it be if your friend just escaped some blood curdling beast when he realizes his girlfriend is missing?  Perhaps the monsters took her.  Maybe, later on, he comes upon a scene where the monsters are tormenting and killing her, right in front of his eyes!  Systematically removing people, one-by-one, from a group is an old trope in horror films that could work well in haunted attractions.  When groups come up to get their tickets, ask if any of them want to be "marked for death," or something like that.  That way, it's completely voluntary.  Give any willing "victims" some kind of identifying mark, such as orange glow bracelets, to let the actors know they're okay to pull aside (I would love to see some stupid-ass ravers go to a haunted house like this.  The expression on their face as they're unwittingly abducted would be priceless).  Of course, something like this would probably require good logistics, perfect communication, and waivers to work, but if the actors and staff can pull it off,  I guarantee people will eat this shit up.
  • Focus, Dammit! - A lot of haunted houses are guilty of having way too many different things.  Seriously, if your haunted barnyard has a radioactive wasteland, a sinister laboratory, a pirate ship (?), Egyptian ruins (?!), and a butcher shop full of cannibals, no one's going to buy it.  The best haunted houses keep the illusion of terror and death as intact as possible.  Pick one concept - a vampire's castle, a zombie-filled wasteland, the temple of some deranged, Lovecraftian cult - and stick with it.  A lot of haunted houses present themselves as a bunch of random scenes, haphazardly strung together.  There's no reason why an autopsy on a restrained zombie should follow the group of teenagers being slaughtered by a psychopath.  Some places, which have been called "haunted theme parks," do have a variety of different haunted attractions, each keeping to a certain theme, all at one place.  While this is an improvement over the collage of unrelated crap and lets the customers feel they're getting a good deal, it still breaks the illusion because you go escape the terror of a sinister necromancer and his horde of zombies in one attraction to enter a madman's dungeon of torture in another, which just happens to be right next door (I'm just imagining the community meetings in that neighborhood).  It's still a mishmash, just on a larger scale.
  • Don't Just Jump Out and Say, "Boo!" - Probably the biggest thing that kills the excitement of a haunted house is when some guy in a cheap costume jumps out from hiding, yells or bangs on something, and then goes back into hiding.  It's like these monsters are too jaded to take their purpose seriously.  "Okay, I've startled fifteen people tonight.  Can I go?  I'm gonna miss Mad Men."  What kind of monster just menaces you for two seconds, then goes away?  I don't expect everyone who works there to be an accomplished actor, but let's have some fucking creativity, here.  First off, some guy with a skull mask getting into your face isn't scary - it's annoying.  Once they get close enough to the customer, they can't kill them, hurt them, or even touch them.  What are they going to do, talk them to death?  Believe it or not, that's what some of them do.  They talk about how they're going to kill you or repeatedly chant something like, "You're gonna die!"  It takes every ounce of self control not to say to them, "I could tie your nuts around your neck, motherfucker!"  Classic zombies are a perfect way of avoiding that problem.  You can just have a large number of people walking slowly toward the customers.  While they'd never reach them, the scare would be much more effective.  Second, this may sound strange, but have some eloquence to your performance.  Even if all you're doing is making grunting noises, at least make it sound better than just, "Uuuunnnhhh!"  If you do speak, do it with good rapport and some wit.  An old friend of mine, who is a huge Halloween buff, occasionally worked at some of these haunted houses, but he always did his acts with some creativity.  He told me about this one scene he did with his wife where he was this really fucked up morgue technician and she was a cadaver.  He was feeling her up and talking to her as if seducing her.  He even kissed her, on occasion.  My friend took necrophilia to a whole new level and people bought it.  Not only was that the complete opposite of a cheap scare, it was fucking sick, which is perfect.
  • Retire All That Old Shit - If there's one thing that shouldn't be in a haunted house, it's predictability.  Yet so many of them are so pathetic because it's the same old shit every year.   If you want to be innovative, you gotta get rid of all the outdated crap.  Chainsaws are number one on the list.  I'm so fucking sick and tired of every haunted attraction having some asshat with a chainsaw chasing people.  It's been done a thousand times before.  Unconvincing looking props are up there, too.  It's hard to suspend disbelief when there's a bunch of latex body parts lying around with some red corn syrup for blood.  And like I said before, those animatronic dummies are never scary - never.  Why bother spending money for that when you can just have some actor do a much more realistic job?  Kick all that shit to the curb.  They don't work anymore.
 I understand that some people love haunted attractions as they are.  No, it's not impossible to have fun at these places - hundreds of thousands of people, every year, go to them and enjoy themselves.  Perhaps it is true that the best haunted houses are in my area, but that's no excuse not to be ambitious in making something that will scare the living fuck out of your customers.  Some people are content with giving their customers a good time.  I'll only be satisfied when you wake up, every night, in a cold sweat, screaming my name.

    Tuesday, October 26, 2010

    Sucktoberfest #4 - Trunk-or-Treat

    Why do some modern day Christians feel the need to ruin things for everyone else?  They take things that are, usually, pretty cool and corrupt them into useless tripe, such as Christian rock or monotheism.  It's not enough that Jesus already has two holidays (pretty big ones, I might add); they have to fuck with Halloween, too, because it's "evil," or some bullshit like that.

    If you don't know what I'm talking about, then allow me to direct your attention to number four on the list of our Halloween craptacular.  It's a recent phenomenon people call "Trunk-or-Treat" because they think they're being cute (Halloween is not cute, assholes!).  The origins of this crapfest are shrouded in mystery, but it is believed to have started in rural areas, where houses could be miles apart from each other.  The community would gather in a common area, such as a church or the parking lot of a dilapidated Kroger, and line up their vehicles.  The kids would then go down the line, from car to pickup truck to shoddy RV, and get candy from the trunk, truck bed, or septic tank of these vehicles.  I would imagine someone got this bright idea when the guy who normally gave the kids hay rides from house to house died from old age and boredom.

    In the country, Trunk-or-Treat was harmless enough, but then the abomination spread out to infect the home of the largest collection of douchebags in the world: Suburbia.  That's when all Hell broke loose.  For some reason, churches latched onto the idea and decided to have soccer moms and their castrated husbands decorate their minivans with paraphernalia from popular kids shows and (shudder) Halloween lights and give out candy to children.  Somehow, this is supposed to subvert them into refraining from their "blasphemous" Halloween activities.  They might as well put a message on their little light-up marquee boards outside the church that says, "Visit us, have some candy, STOP WORSHIPPING SATAN!" (It wouldn't surprise me if they did).  Some people also feel that Trunk-or-Treat is a lot safer because their kids don't have to wander around neighborhoods, coming into contact with less savory neighbors ("Mom, check out this sweet battle axe that Kaiser game me for Halloween!  Can I use it on my sister?").

    Look, I don't care how dangerous it is out there or if you think your kids are going to Hell.  You're ruining a time honored tradition.  If you didn't teach your kids how to massacre any crack addict or child molester they come across with their own bare hands, that's your own damn fault.  When my future son, Barabas Judas Priest, is born, he will go Trick-or-Treating the old fashioned way - the Viking way!  He'll go door to door, threatening to maim each family unless they give him all their candy, any video games he doesn't already own, and any attractive wives/daughters they may have (All this by the time he's four).  Then, he'll burn their houses with them trapped inside.  Obviously, this means we'll have to move every year, but if you want to make an omelet, you have to abort some baby chickens.

    You know, I just thought of something: They say Trunk-or-Treat is safeguarding kids from dangerous, and satanic activities, but it seems that it's condoning something a bit more questionable.  I mean, these people are taking their kids to a parking lot to have them get candy from some stranger's vehicle...

    Seriously, these idiots are conditioning their kids to go up to people in their cars and take candy from them.  The only trade-off is that, instead of being raped, murdered, and hastily buried somewhere in Arizona, they get a pamphlet about how Dungeons & Dragons and Quiet Riot are tools of the Devil, which is merely a slight improvement.

    As far as I'm concerned, unless there's a van with a scene of a barbarian fighting an undead wizard airbrushed on the side and the "Candy" contained within is large breasted and really fucking hot, this Trunk-or-Treat crap can kiss my ass!

    Monday, October 25, 2010

    Sucktoberfest #5 - Halloween Decorations

    Halloween is not your typical holiday.  It doesn't celebrate some historical event, like the liberation of a country from tyranny, or the birth/death of an important figure.  There is no pervading message of peace and goodwill or patriotism.  Halloween has its own ulterior motive: for people to go around, scaring the crap out of each other and themselves while eating shitloads of candy.  Dare I say it - Halloween is the most metal of all holidays.

    But, just like crappy nu-metal, Halloween is being emasculated by a bunch of lame-ass bullshit.  The holiday used to have this dark mystique of horror and death.  Now, it's being replaced by this watered down, family approved Halloween substitute with half the calories and none of the scary fun.  Even Halloween for adults seems more about crude, offensive jokes than horror.  And even some of the scary parts suck, because it's just the same old repetitive garbage.

    News flash - I'm fucking sick of it.  I'm calling this shit out because I want it out of my holiday.  I'm counting down the top five things that are ruining Halloween in the hopes that, if you see someone committing one of these cardinal sins, you'll have the balls to walk right up to them and say, "You're a fucking retard!"

    Welcome to Sucktoberfest!

    Number five on the list, like community regulations and "soccer moms," is a product of that unholy blight that is upper middle-class America.  I'm talking about lame Halloween decorations.  Remember when your neighbors decorated their houses to scare the crap out of trick-or-treaters?  The only light sources were the dim, flickering candles in a jack-o-lantern, giving off a pungent, decaying smell.  The ambient sounds of a haunted house would creep from the speakers of a boom box.  Maybe someone put a seizure inducing strobe light and a fog machine in their garage, daring kids to go in there to get candy.  If they were doing it right, children would be debating whether or not they were brave enough to go to up to the door.  Does that sound like the Halloween you used to know?  Well, then what the fuck is up with this mess?!

    Unless you live on the Vegas strip, this is un-fucking-acceptable!  What the fuck is up with all these lights?  This isn't Christmas, goddammit!  Let's not forget those stupid, inflatable lawn decorations; don't they just look adorable?  Yeah, that's the fucking problem.  If I came across a house like this as a kid, I'd think they were loaded and were giving out the best candy.  Only problem is they spent so much money on these stupid decorations, that I'd get something lame, like one of those lollipops they hand out at the bank (which they got for free since the lady of the house is a manager there).  That's when I burn the house down and loot their stuff (but not in that order - remember: loot then burn).

    Although this scene is, thankfully, rare, I still see people putting up Halloween lights on their house, which is stupid.  Since when was it acceptable to do this?  If you're gonna pull that bullshit, you might as well put up Christmas decorations.  Your house will look just as crappy and, hey, at least you got a leg up on everyone else in the neighborhood.  After all, Christmas is only two months away, dumbass.

    The oversaturation of lights is only part of the problem.  Notice in that picture how there is nothing scary about those decorations.  It's just a bunch of cutesy shit.  Granted, cute Halloween decorations have been around for a long time in some form, but this is going too far.  Where's the eldritch scenes of horror?  Where's the severed heads hanging in the trees or the cemetery full of zombies?  This is what I mean by Halloween being emasculated.  There is not one piece of saccharine, family friendly Halloween decorations that I do not completely hate... with one exception.
    Yes, it's still stupid crap, but the implied slapstick violence does redeem it a little.  It's kinda funny the first time you see it.  I don't hate it as much as the others, but it still sucks.

    Next up on the chopping block are Jack-o-Lanterns.  Let me make this clear, though, there is nothing wrong with gutting and mutilating an oversized gourd for artistic purposes and then, later, turning it into a pie.  The problem is when some lazy, motherfucking son-of-a-bitch decides that they'd rather ignore all that and just plug their damn pumpkin in.

    Who the hell thought that electric Jack-o-Lanterns were a good idea?  I guess if you're a single mother, trying to balance work, school, buying candy, making costumes for the kids, etc., you don't have time to supervise your children cutting up a pumpkin with sharp knives.  Well, guess what?  That's exactly what my mom did and she made time to carve a motherfucking pumpkin.  MY MOM IS FUCKING METAL!  You're just goddamn lazy!

    The problem with these sterile, plastic, rot-free Jack-o-Lanterns is just that: it's a plastic pumpkin with a light bulb in it.  The charm of a Jack-o-Lantern is that it is this rotting thing with a candle stuck in it.  As the night goes on, these things become more and more eerie as the flickering heat turns it into a wilted, slimy abomination.  You don't get that with an electric one.  Even those crappy foam pumpkins and the battery-powered tea lights that you can put in your pumpkin are a cop out.  Pumpkin carving is a time honored tradition and an art that should not be cheapened by some lame ass shortcut.

    Even though electric Jack-o-Lanterns suck, not all light up Halloween decorations are bad.  There are a few that are pretty awesome.  If I had to come up with an example, I would have to say, oh, I don't know... how about a glowing METAL SKULL!!!


    Finally, for those with way too much money, nothing says "disposable income" like an animatronic Halloween decoration.  Nothing brings life to your Halloween party or crappy "haunted backyard" quite like a mannequin that unrealistically shakes while some crappy sound effects come out of a tiny speaker.  There are, actually, some pretty good ones, like this really involved guillotine machine.

    This horrific beast of a machine has a strobe light that flashes when the unfortunate mannequin's head falls off his shoulders.  It even sprays blood!  The catch: you'll be spending around $7,000 for one of these.  Do you have that kind of money lying around?  Neither do I.

    Unfortunately, most of the animatronic stuff you'll find at a Halloween store will look more like this:

    Not only does this thing look stupid, it also shakes and screams, uselessly.  Despite how lame this thing looks, you'll have to pony up $100 for this piece of crap.  Another one that's become popular are those ones that crawl on the ground toward you when you step in front of them.  They look horrible and you can tell what they are, so it's not even startling when you come across them.  Most of these things are a joke, at best.  It's much more effective to dress up as a scarecrow, complete with a bit of straw and fabric stuffing, sit out on your front porch, pretending to be a stuffed decoration, and jump at kids who come to the door.  Don't do it to every group of Trick-or-Treaters who come to the house, though - that's too predictable.  Sure, it's a cheap scare, but it worked back in the day and it's certainly cheaper and more effective.

    That's enough about P.O.S. decorations.  Tomorrow, I'll talk about something that's eating away at the very heart of Halloween like an accursed cancer.  Right now, I'm gonna plug in Metal Skull and bask in its glory.

    Friday, October 22, 2010

    Something Sucky This Way Comes...

    Okay, so, last year, I did a Halloween special talking about some of the awesome things about Halloween and horror in general.  Crypt of Doom was so huge, I had no idea how I was going to follow that up the next year.  Well, it's October again.  Guess what?  I still can't think of anything awesome to talk about that I haven't already mentioned.  What's worse is that this October has been shaping up to be pretty disappointing.  Last year was good - surprisingly good.  Now, for some reason, I can't help but think that this year is going to suck.

    So, I got to thinking, why is Halloween so fucking lame, now?  It didn't used to be.  It was pretty damn awesome, back in the day.  What the fuck happened?  Maybe kids don't like to go "Trick-or-Treating" anymore.  Maybe costumes are becoming more and more retarded as the years pass.  Maybe my heart is becoming a cold, black, siphon of hate - I don't know.

    What I do know is that some things just suck the fun and horror out of the holiday.  While some are more recent phenomena, others seem to have been around since time immemorial.  So, instead of doing what I did last year, I'm devoting next week to five of the crappiest things about Halloween.  I'm calling it "Sucktoberfest," because I think I'm being clever with words, but I'm not.  While you're at it, check out that other guy, what's his nuts...?  Yeah, Jon, the guy who "created me" (what the fuck ever).  He'll be lending his personal insight for each item on the list on his personal blog, Infinite Worlds.  So, until next week, save me some candy corn, dammit!

    Friday, October 15, 2010


    There used to be a time when anime was all about hard-ass motherfuckers, scantily-clad hot chicks, and gallons of blood.  Sadly, those days are gone, as anime sucks, right now, but we can still remember the good old days and watch bad guys explode with classic anime DVDs.

    One in particular from the 1990s comes to mind.  Though I haven't seen the entire series (or even close to half the series) Berserk is definitely one of the most brutally violent anime that's actually any good.  The anime and manga follow the life of a man known only as Guts, who is born into the life of a mercenary.  In his lifetime, he kills scores of men, is raped as a child, cuts off his own arm, loses an eye, is branded for death by demons, and is forced to watch the woman he loves get raped by his mercenary commander, who is transformed by the very same demons.  Like I said, it's pretty brutal.  After this, Guts goes on a crusade to kill any demon he comes across.  With a prosthetic iron arm, fitted with a repeating crossbow, and his huge ass sword, Dragonslayer, Guts makes "blood-gore salad" with his enemies like he was a food processor.

    Of course, with a name like Berserk, you know the hero has some anger issues.  Later on, Guts' rage manifests into a demon called The Hellhound, who encourages Guts to commit further atrocities while in his battle lust, which is caused by his "Berserker Armor."  Despite harboring this demon of his own hate, Guts struggles to hang onto any remnants of humanity left in his soul.

    Despite being well received by critics, the show and the manga never really became popular in the US, most likely due to its extremely adult nature.  However, it did reach enough of an audience to see the American release of the anime, manga, and a Dreamcast game, which came out in 2000.  So, if you are a fan of some of the older anime and love brutality, definitely look into this series.

    Thursday, October 14, 2010


    This is going to be a short one, because I really don't know very much about this next berserker, but there's a fucking awesome video at the end.

    If you were to take Cú Chulainn's riastradh, mix in heavy amounts of Conan and Celtic mythology, and put it in comic book form, you'd get 2000 AD's fantasy comic, Sláine.  Though Sláine Mac Roth is very popular in his native Great Britain, he's relatively unknown in the US, which is why I really don't know much about the character, but, goddamn, I wish I did.

    This grizzled warrior, who sometimes looks like he's affecting some punk influence, depending on the artist, has gone from savage berserker to outcast, High King of Ireland, demon slayer, incarnation of the Horned God, and, yes, time traveller.  Always at his side is his powerful battle axe, "Brainbiter," but he's also used other legendary weapons, such as Cú Chulainn's Gáe Bolg.

    I don't really have much else to say about this comic, other than if anyone knows where I can get the graphic novel collections, let me know.

    Before I go, here's this fan created trailer for a Sláine film that doesn't exist, but it should.  Fellow CROM! readers, take notice.  This thing kicks all kinds of ass.

    Wednesday, October 13, 2010


    We have seen tales of bloodthirsty berserkers laying waste to hordes of men, but we have yet to speak of what may be the greatest berserker hero of legend.  His story is one of the most epic and tragic in all of Ireland.  In battle, he was fierce.  Women all over Ireland wanted to be with him.  He was a man of honor as well as unbridled fury.  Today, the Shrine of the Battlemasters honors the great hero of Ireland, Cú Chulainn.

    His name (pronounced koo-hulin) meant "Hound of Culain," after killing the vicious guard dog of Culain the blacksmith when his uncle, Conchobar, king of Ulster, invited the boy over to the blacksmith's house, but forgot to mention it to Culain.  To make up for the death of Culain's dog, the boy promised to guard his house until he can raise another dog for Culain.  Before he adopted his famous name, he was born Sétanta, son of King Conchobar's sister, Deichtine, and Lugh, god of the sun.  It is this divine lineage that made Cú Chulainn the powerful hero he was.

    Of his many epic tales, he becomes champion of Ulster by offering his head on the chopping block after cutting off the head of a giant beast of a man (this story would evolve into the Arthurian legend of Gawain and the Green Knight), and made famous the Cattle Raid of Cooley, where he, single-handed, fought both the army of Connacht and Morrigan, the goddess of battle.  It was only through a treacherous exploitation of a gaesa (Cú Chulainn could not eat dog meat, or he would be severely weakened) that he was killed.  In his final battle, though he was near death, he tied himself to a standing stone so that he would not fall.  It wasn't until a raven landed on his shoulder that the enemy realized that he died, for no one would approach him while he still lived.

    The reason why Cú Chulainn was so feared in battle was because of his ability to enter riastradh or "warp spasm."  This riastradh was practically identical to the berserkergang of Norse legend.  Cú Chulainn's body was known to contort in inhuman ways, his muscles bulged horrifically, and he would wield death with such ease that no warrior could stand against him and live.  Even when he did not succumb to the riastradh, Cú Chulainn was a swift and capable warrior, wielding the barbed spear Gáe Bolg, otherwise known as the "spear of mortal pain."

    He was also a very voracious lover, much to the delight of many women.  Even though he found a bride in Emer, daughter of a powerful druid, he took to bed many lovers in his short lifetime.  The only lover that Emer was jealous of was Fand, a sea goddess.  Her husband, sea god Manannán mac Lir, intervenes when this love threatens to destroy not only Cú Chulainn's marriage, but the world of the fae, as well.  He makes it so that Fand and Cú Chulainn will never see each other again and that Cú Chulainn and Emer remember nothing of the affair.

    With his savagery on the battlefield, his prowess with the ladies, and his epic heroism, there is no reason why Cú Chulainn should not be enshrined with the rest of the great battlemasters of yore.  The Hound of Culain remains a mighty figure and his legend shall ensure his immortality as a great warrior.

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010


    In the previous post, there was one attribute I, intentionally, neglected to mention about the berserkir.  Legends tell of some berserkers having the ability to shapeshift into the animal they were invoking.  Accounts have claimed that berserkers have appeared as massive bears, drenching their fur in the blood of their enemies.  The Ulfhednar were said to be able to transform into wolf-like creatures, as is indicative of their name.  This animal form has become known as hamingja - the soul of the berserker.

    This, along with hearing Metallica's "Of Wolf and Man" recently reminded me of another being that succumbs to an inhuman rage with gory results...


    Legends of men transforming into mountains of fur, fangs, and fury are all over the world, and none are more famous than the legend of lycanthropy: the werewolf.  Numerous movies, games, songs, and comic books (including a certain mutant who shall not be mentioned any further - I told you guys, already, he's overrated) feature the "Wolf Man" in some shape or form.   But where does the werewolf come from.

    Well, we already looked at one of the sources, Norse legend, but the Ancient Greeks also mentioned werewolves in their mythology.  In fact, the word "lycanthrope" is Greek in origin and loosely translates to "wolf man," which is the same translation for the Old English term werwulf, by way of Old Norse and other Germanic languages.
    "No, I'm not here for the Furry Convention.  Now, go away before
    I bite your fucking head off."

    While the legends of werewolves may have originated from epic tales of mighty warriors and foolhardy people cursed by their gods, the popularity of werewolves arose when they were whispered as bloodthirsty servants of Satan.  Tales of people being ruthlessly murdered in the woods, their entrails strewn about the forest floor, proliferated certain European countries.  Other continents have been known to share stories of shapechangers, such as many of the North American tribes, who may have borrowed them from Vikings that came across the sea centuries ago.

    If medieval Europe turned the werewolf into a feared, abhorred monster, then the modern world turned it into a staple of horror storytelling.  I can't even think of the shitloads of books and movies portraying the change from man to savage beast.  Some are pretty good.  Then there's the Twilight Saga, which sucks ass... zombie donkey ass.

    Of all the modern sources of werewolf mythology, probably the most influential is, actually, a role-playing game.  Werewolf: The Apocalypse brought the monsters into a new light - that is, to say, they brought back the old image of the werewolf as a fierce, sometimes noble warrior to the ignorant masses.  Not only did the game change how people saw shapeshifters, but also incorporated legends and myths from numerous cultures, including those I've already mentioned.  Some people say the game is a more violent, furry version of Captain Planet.  Fuck those people.  Sure, the werewolves are trying to save Gaia from the corruption of man and there is some spirituality and mysticism involved, but what epic does not have these things?  It can be said that most recent fiction about werewolves was influenced by the game, that means they're ripping off their ideas.

    If you're wondering, "How exactly are werewolves berserkers?"  Have you ever pissed off a werewolf?  If you're alive, then the answer's "no."  Werewolves are the fantasy/horror embodiment of the berserker rage.  During the day, they are mild mannered men and women, sometimes timid, sometimes not.  But, when the full moon emerges, they unleash their bestial carnage upon the world.  They are uncontrollable killers.  That, in my book, is the definition of berserker.


    Before I begin, I would like to say that my computer is a fish-fucking piece of shit.

    Now, this is a subject that is very familiar to me.  Since the mighty Balauss, Demon Dragon of Hate, gifted me with his Heart of Molten Anger, I have rendered my enemies to puddles of blood and gore with my blind fury.  So, to honor those, like me, who kill first, kill more later, it's time to go berserk.

    Let's start with the ones who coined the term.  In the Old Norse sagas, there have been mention of warriors that wear the skins of savage predators, practice strange rituals to evoke the spirits of these animals, and tear the fuck out of their enemies.  The Vikings not only produced the most famous berserkers, they also gave us the name "berserker."  In Old Norse, berserkr translates to "bear shirt," which referred to their wearing the skins of bears or wolves, such as the Ulfhednar warriors (some people say that it should be berrserkr "bare shirt," which they claim refers to them never wearing armor, but I'm not buying that).

    When these Nordic meat grinders enter berserkergang, they take on the form of a mountain of inhuman strength and horror, wading into a sea of battle, slaying all within reach.  Legends say that they cannot be wounded by bladed weapons or fire, but blunt weapons could harm them.  They were used by Norse kings as shock troops, however, they were very hard to control and were prone to raping, pillaging, and killing everything in sight.

    There are some theories on how the berserkir go into their battle rage.  Some believed that they used psychoactive substances, such as hallucinogenic mushrooms, or excessive amounts of alcohol, to enter berserkergang.  There is evidence that the berserkers had a more ritualistic method.  Byzantine emperor Constantine VII recorded that Norse warriors serving his empire performed a "Gothic dance," using animal skins and masks, which some believe were remnants of berserker rites.  It was also said that the berserkir exclusively worshiped Odin and may even be considered a cult of the Norse god.

    Regardless of how they invoked their berserker rage, the berserkir were the epitome of bestial fury, leaving a mountain of corpses wherever they roamed.  If you ever, in death, go to Valhalla, make sure to stay away from the berserkers on the battlefield.

    All right, it's 3 AM.  I need some fucking sleep.

    Friday, October 8, 2010

    A Special Battlemasters Announcement

    This Sunday, I have been invited to play in Kurt's Pathfinder game.  Yes, this is the same Kurt who bought me the Blind Guardian CD in Germany - I know, he's awesome.  He's even allowing me to play my old barbarian character.

    While I was upgrading my barbarian to 9th level, I wondered, "What is it that makes the barbarian class so awesome?"  It's the same thing that makes bloody-handed vikings and Wolverine so popular (No, it's not Hugh Jackman).

    Answer:  The Berserker Rage!

    Of course, this gave me a great idea for a theme for Shrine of the Battlemasters.  Next week, on the Ablogcalypse, it's Berserker Week.  I'll be looking at some of the most violent motherfuckers to ever go ape shit on a battlefield, whether they're in anime, ancient legend, or in real life.  Put your ponchos on, people, blood and guts are gonna be all over the damn place.

    Oh, and no Wolverine.  That guy's way too overrated.  Deal with it.

    Wednesday, October 6, 2010

    Kaiser's Metal Moment - Blind Guardian

    (Special thanks to Legionnaire Kurt Duncan for asking a store clerk at a music store in Germany, "What's the best German metal album to buy for my friend?" and to that unknown store clerk for being absolutely right.)

    1984 was a significant year for power metal.  Bands such as Manowar, Brocas Helm, Cirith Ungol, Iced Earth, and Fates Warning already fused thrash and speed metal with melodic sensibilities and fantasy themes to create American power metal.  Iron Maiden and Dio, two of the inspirations of the power metal movement, continued their success with Powerslave and Last in Line, respectively.  Most importantly, 1984 was the year that saw the birth of European power metal.  While bands from other countries, such as Finland's Stratovarius, were also power metal pioneers, Germany is the focus of this new movement, with the forming of bands such as Helloween, Rage, and, of course, Blind Guardian.

     Now some people may ask, "Kaiser, where the fuck have you been for the past two months?"  Such questions are irrelevant, so shut up.

    In the beginning of their career, they called themselves Lucifer's Heritage and released demos that had more of a speed metal sound.  After getting a record deal, they changed their name, as they were constantly mistaken for a black metal group and put in that section of record stores (To an uninitiated dumbass, this may not seem like a big discrepancy, but it is.).  Their first two albums, Battalions of Fear and Follow the Blind kept the speed/thrash metal influences.  It wasn't until Tales from the Twilight World, their third album, that they went for a more complex, epic sound.  Nightfall on Middle Earth, their sixth album, saw them delve into symphonic metal.  Unlike some groups who tend to gravitate to symphonic metal or another sub-genre (I might talk about that some other time), Blind Guardian seem to enjoy variety in their music, which I appreciate.  At the Edge of Time, their recent new release, is a good example of this.  The songs range the gamut from epic, orchestral pieces, medeival type folk ballads, and traditional thrash based power metal, such as in this video for "A Voice in the Dark."

    As is evident in their album titles, Blind Guardian is heavily influenced by fantasy literature, with songs inspired by The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion saga, the Death Gate Cycle, The Dark Tower series, the Dragonlance saga, the Wheel of Time series, A Song of Ice and Fire series, Arthurian legend, Greek and Norse mythology, and even biblical stories.  Literature is not the only fantasy based avenue they've explored.  One of their songs was featured, along with songs from Threshold and Hammerfall, on the soundtrack of the Uwe Boll movie In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (Which was the only good thing about that piece of shit film.  Fuck you, Boll!).  The band also recorded a song for the video game Sacred 2: Fallen Angel, which, from what I've heard, is an action-rpg guilty pleasure.  A music video for the song, which the band remixed and released as the lead track, "Sacred Worlds," on the new album, used the game's engine to have a digital version of the band play a concert for a horde of monsters.

    If you want to see or hear more of these founding fathers of Euro power metal, go to their website, look for their albums at your local music store (I mean a real music store, not Best Buy.  You may have to special order it, though.), or order their cds online.  If they've been around for almost 30 years, they must be doing something awesome.