Calamityware – Tranquil-looking blue willow china plate patterns, each featuring some extraordinary catastrophe like flying monkeys or crashing airplanes. Two of the designs have been turned into real plates via successful Kickstarter campaigns.
Coin-operated automata used to be a common arcade attraction: When activated, tiny figures would come to life and move through a miniature tableau. Some featured comical domestic scenes: Doors opening in a row of houses to reveal henpecked husbands doing chores, or a bumbling burglar awakening the household. Many, however, featured more macabre content such as haunted houses, torture chambers, and executions.
One such creepy example is the funeral parlor created by John Dennison (who was responsible for several interesting automata). There’s a photo of it at rest here (I couldn’t find an original source for that image), and more detail plus a photo of it during operation here.
The scene depicts a man in his coffin at a funeral parlor. When a coin is inserted into the mechanism, a skeleton head appears behind the coffin, the corpse bolts to an upright position and turns his head. Then, the skull disappears and a devil appears.
An automaton with a similar theme but more realistic figures and miniatures is the St. Dennistoun Mortuary dating from around 1900.
[T]he mahogany cabinet and glazed viewing area displays a Greek Revival mortuary building with double doors and grieving mourners out front, when a coin is inserted, doors open and the room is lighted revealing four morticians and four poor souls on embalming tables, the morticians move as if busily at work on their grisly task and mourners standing outside bob their heads as if sobbing in grief
Although creating a working model might be beyond the scope of most of us, these strike me as a very cool idea for a static diorama. I like the attractive wooden cases used to showcase the scene: Something similar might be done by adding a glass front to one shelf of a bookcase, or using a glass-topped coffee table designed for display. The figures and furniture could simply be dollhouse miniatures repurposed from their more-mundane original intent.
If you’re feeling more ambitious, a quick google will turn up sites and tutorials devoted to the creation of modern automata. Something like this would be a heck of a conversation piece, and the ultimate addition to a collection of curiosities.
This is one of those posts inspired by mild outrage at the price of a commercial version of a product vs. the materials and effort actually involved in making it. The product in question are Poizen Industries’ Vixxsin corset leggings, which are lovely but could be made a teensy bit cheaper than $50.
All you’d need is an inexpensive pair of leggings, a couple strips of contrasting fabric for the inner panel, some ribbon, and some grommet tape.* Sew the contrast fabric to the sides of the leggings. Sew the grommet tape along the sides of the fabric, hiding the raw edges. Lace with ribbon. Boom; done. Maybe an hour’s worth of work.
The leggings are nice because they stretch, so it isn’t difficult to maneuver them through a sewing machine. You could try the same technique with trousers made of other material, but it might be harder to keep the fabric from bunching up. If you’re making the clothing from scratch, just apply the contrast fabric and grommet tape before sewing up the inner seams.
The same technique can be used for other articles of clothing, such as jacket sleeves or the sides of a dress. Instead of appliqueing contrast fabric and tape on top of the article, you can also cut it and apply the tape to the raw edges. There’s a tutorial at Trash to Couture showing that method. (There’s an even simpler method at Aliennation which doesn’t even use the tape.)
This is an inexpensive, easy way to add a little pop to clothing, and a great way of giving a makeover to an item you’re bored with.
*Grommet tape (also called lacing tape) can be found at fabric stores or corset-supply retailers like Farthingales and Corset Making, where they’ll also have long laces if you’d prefer something sturdier than ribbon.
In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Master originally planned to escape the Hellmouth through which ritual?
A) The Ritual of Restoration
B) The Harvest
C) The Ascension
D) The Rites of Gordobach
E) The Sacrifice of Three
Siouxsie and the Banshees’ hit “Dear Prudence” was a cover of a song originally written and performed by what band?
Tartarus is the deep abyss below Hades where the particularly wicked receive punishment. This flaming river surrounds it.
After Ash loses his hand in The Evil Dead II, what tool does he replace it with?
The Kremlin is said to be haunted by the ghost of this tsar, whose appearance is a portent of disaster for Russian rulers.
A) Peter the Great
B) Nicholas II
C) Catherine the Great
D) Constantine I
E) Ivan the Terrible
Every Halloween, Linus van Pelt waits for what character to appear?
In The Stand, where does Mother Abagail tell the survivors to establish a new society?
A) Boulder, CO
B) Seattle, WA
C) Boston, MA
D) Las Vegas, NV
E) Lincoln, NE
George Lucas’ directorial debut was a film depicting a dystopian future where the populace is controlled with android police officers and mandatory drug use. Lucas alludes to its title in many of his other movies. What was it?
The “Book of the New Sun” series by Gene Wolfe relates the story of Severian, an apprentice in the Torturer’s Guild. The uniform of the guild is a cloak of this color, which inspires terror in common folk.
Which story by Poe begins with the sentence, “True!–nervous–very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?”
Goat Simulator – This is utterly bananas. (Favorite comment from the BoingBoing thread where I found this: “That video should come with a trigger warning. My dad was killed by an axe-wielding goat with an adhesive prehensile tongue.”)
Serial Bowls – Set of cereal bowls decorated with photos of famous serial killers. They apparently used to be carried by Urban Outfitters, but have been discontinued.
Moist Production – Artist Jason Freeny makes wonderful sculptures and other artwork, many involving “dissections” displaying the interior anatomy of Care Bears, Lego minifigs, and cartoon characters. (Hat tip to Empress Pam)
Man, the Victorians just beat us hollow where creative mourning is concerned. Parlor Domes–bell jar-type glass display cases–were a hugely popular part of Victorian decor. Also hugely popular was any kind of memento mori woe-is-us sentiment. Put ‘em together and you get gorgeous pieces like this French cemetery scene, containing hair from the deceased.
They put me in mind somewhat of the desktop cemeteries I did a couple of years ago, but I think I might like these even better; the view of the interior is clearer and I love the way the tree fills the dome.
Something like this–with or without the hair–would be relatively straightforward to make. Glass display domes are available at craft stores and trophy shops. Miniature trees and other landscaping details are widely used in model railroad layouts, so there’s a large variety, in several scales, to choose from (this weeping willow and this dead maple are nice). Tombstones, crypts, iron gates, and other cemetery accessories are available for both model railroads and dollhouses; ditto the ground cover and materials used for building up the substrate.
The finished dome would be a lovely addition to a desktop or mantel. If anybody accuses you of being morbid, inform them that such displays have a long historical precedent, so there.
When Flappy Bird hit the scene, developer madgarden realized that it was sorely lacking in lurking horrors. The remedy for that was FlapThulhu, featuring the most adorable little 8-bit Old One that you’ve ever seen.
Flap through the horrible gates of R’lyeh and unleash the Madness to open a portal to the eldritch dimension… or will the madness take you?
It’s available for name-your-own-price download at Itch (currently only for Windows, but Mac and Linux are in the works). It’s also just been made available in the Apple Store.
The same developer has a couple of other interesting games, including Eggnog, described as a “local multiplayer stabbing game,” which may be one of my favorite game descriptions of all time; and Saucelifter, in which you pilot a UFO in hopes of saving your stranded crewmates from the aggressive Earth military.
This stop-motion animation by Toshiko Hata won the 2012 Jury’s Choice for Short Film at the 2012 Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival. It is creepy in the way that only Japanese films seem to be able to pull off.