Saturday, August 24, 2013

I am not part of God's well-oiled machine

Depression is irritating.

Which is about all I'm going to say about that, since it's irritating even to mention it here. Still, I have been gone some time from these pages, and, well...that's a large part of why.

We'll move on.

Let's talk horror games. Or at least horror imagery, and the ways people interpret those images.

Back in 2006, a YouTube user called ReverieNightengale uploaded a Silent Hill fan video. It utilized game and cut-scene footage mostly from Silent Hill 4: The Room, but covering some of the other games, as well. Overlaid atop the images was a truly excellent Oingo Boingo song, "Insanity".

"Silent Asylum" was a compelling video on its own, and extended by about two minutes from the cut of the original song.
I'd love to take you home with me, and tuck you into bed
I'd love to see what makes you tick, inside your pretty head
I'd love to hear you laugh tonight, I'd love to hear you weep
I'd love to listen to you while you're screaming in your sleep
At the time, while I'd heard many Oingo Boingo songs before, this one had slipped past me. And while the lyrics definitely fixed it in the timeline of the George Bush Sr. presidency, they still had a raw, disturbing relevance to the politics at the time. (Eight years later, sadly, they're still very relevant.)

So I went looking for the original.

The first thing I discovered is that the original had just as much horrific imagery as the Silent Hill variant:

Using a combination of live footage, stop-motion animation, destroyed doll parts and one of the most unnerving tea parties (trust me; anything involving little girls in white dresses, knives, and dolls is bound to be unnerving) I'd ever seen, this had power without the addition of Silent Hill footage. (But I may be biased; I happen to think if you remove all the visuals it's still pretty comdemnatory and horrific, just because of the lyrics alone.)

Around the same time, I discovered a similar mashup--this time using almost entirely cut-scenes from various Silent Hill games, over actual in-game footage, overlaid with Zombie Girl's song, "Creepy Crawler":

(Unfortunately, the original video can no longer be found; this is someone who uploaded it three years later, but when they did, they chopped off about twenty to thirty seconds of the ending. No idea why. But it's the best I can do.)

Now, Zombie Girl is odd even for industrial rock bands, but even so, this song's again on the unsettling side, from the lyrics alone:
There's something lurking
There's something lurking in the dark
I don't see it, but I know it's after me

There's something crawling
There's something crawling in the dark
I don't see it, but I know it's after me

'Cos I'm as evil as can get
Nothing's ever scared me yet
'Cos I'm as evil as can get
Nothing's ever scared me yet
Add in Silent Hill visuals, and not only does it induce a genuine creep factor, but we also realize just how much of Silent Hill deals with themes of forced sex and decay.

It shouldn't be surprising; whether all you know is the first movie's revision of game history, or the original game's mysterious pregnancy by some mutant, insectiform "god", that still means, at some point, Alessa was having non-consensual sex with someone.

Or something.

Another direction I hadn't thought to connect was the music of A Perfect Circle, with the visuals of Silent Hill. I suppose any song that calls to our hearts can be overlaid with visuals that also speak to us, but sometimes the results are jarring. Here, they seem perfectly attuned:

The song--called, disturbingly enough, "Pet"--comes off the Thirteenth Step album, which--interestingly enough--also seems (at least thematically), to deal with issues of recovery--which is another issue that seems raised a great deal through the gameplay and the images used in the Silent Hill series.
Head down, go to sleep, to the rhythm of the war drums

I'll be the one to protect you from
Your enemies and all your demons

I'll be the one to protect you from
A will to survive and a voice of reason
Which, in a roundabout way, brings us to Silent Hill fan films. I'm not going to say much about them, but there's a literal metric ton of fan-inspired media for this game series, some good, some mediocre, but usually all interesting--at least as far as wondering how the creators got from A to B in their various plots. I'd also recomment checking out Silent Hill Universe's directory of various fan projects. If you're a fan of the series, it's worth checking out.

On the second site I linked, there's also more music videos. This one struck me as being appropriate to the plot of Silent Hill: Downpour:

Now, let me say, I love Trent Reznor's original, but when Johnny Cash covered it, he added something truly his own to the lyrics.

In his hands, it became less about the struggle against drug addiction, and more about inchoate loss, and feeling as if his world was dissolving around him, under his hands. There's a helplessness about both versions, but in Reznor's mouth, it becomes despair and fear; in Cash's, it becomes frailty and the hope for some kind, any kind, of peace:

I wear this crown of thorns
Upon my liar's chair
Full of broken thoughts
I cannot repair
Beneath the stains of time
The feelings disappear
You are someone else
I am still right here...
I do believe a large part of that is the subtle re-writing that Reznor agreed to, because Cash didn't like to curse.

And I think that's it for now. I have some sorting to do through entries I never polished off, they may or may not be published, we'll see how that goes. And not willing to go out on that very fragile limb and say I'm back, per se, but I'm...something. Near the path again. Maybe.

If only I knew where it was leading this time...

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