Friday, September 30, 2016

you pray your dreams will leave you here

(Continued from part one.)

We join our haunt, already in progress, in the master bedroom--or, should I say the mistress' bedroom? As in, mistress of the house, at least. There are so many intriguing details in this one room.

The box of memorabilia, nostalgia for a rainy day--or storm-lashed night.

And...there is something in the mirror...

Up in the attic, there are some very unusual plants.

And the bookshelf is a little grabby, so be warned.

All in all, it's a short, fun little haunt, with some nifty details, scads of photo ops, and it's pretty well pulled together. I recommend it.

closing your eyes to disappear

There's a haunt in Terra Promessa on the haunted places list, so I wanted to check it out.

The window broke just walking up the stairs. Very fragile house...

The paintings are blinking at me. This does not bode well.

The basement is rather gory, be warned.

The library is entertaining.

But something terrible happened in the bathroom.

(Continued in part two.)

Thursday, September 29, 2016

there was nothing waiting but her frozen arms

(Continued from part one.)

The cobwebs seek to hide the things that people used to use on a daily basis. But even the spiders have moved on, now. No one uses the things that used to be polished and shined, washed and returned to their places.

The table is still set for a meal that never happened, for the family that never gathered. What did happen, in this house? On this island? Will we ever know?

Outside the nursery window, upstairs, another shade watches. Reliving what happened? Or simply keeping an eye on the land, that no one else will live in this place?

The girl in the chair never moved, never spoke. I'm...not entirely sure she was there, but she never faded away. The doll, on the other hand, watched my every move.

This is a marvelous haunt, start to finish. There are no screamers, no jump scares, it's just dark and pulses with dread. The moving spirits add their own special touch, as they circle through the trees. And scattered through the terrain, bright s pots of burning color throughout all the desaturated monochrome, are campfires, and logs to sit on, cooking pots to make impromptu meals. They're always startling in their normalcy.

I highly recommend this one. If you want to track down everything, it takes a bit to wander, but it's worth it. Or you could just arrow from the landing point to the manor house. Your choice. After one on the island is there to stop you.

but I heard her howl and I heard her moan

Welcome to Hunting Hollows. It's very dark here.

There is an atmosphere about this place, heavy and brooding. A large part of that is the depth of the shadows, but it's a brilliant effect.

Sometimes, what separates a great haunt from a mediocre one comes down to a few little details. Here, it's the mostly monochromatic nature of it, but also, the small moments, like the odd lightning that seems to shift across the sky, or the sparking of stripped wires on the docks.

The broken ship in the bay never sinks, just stays, visible and accusing. Did the islanders break it apart, or did the rocks? Does anyone remember at this point?

There are spirits in the woods, and shades of death. They don't attack, but they are attracted to movement. And sometimes they move through visitors, chilling them further.

The manor house keeps a Sphynx cat, who seems more than feline-intelligent.

And inside the manor house, the cobwebs are deep, shrouding the piano that never plays.

(More in part two.)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

into the night you will fall, bullets and bone

On a random search for 'creepy' (because I'm running out of places under 'spooky' and 'haunted house'), I found Mama Brigitte's Bayou in the Garden of Eden, apparently a celebration of Louisiana, bayou living, and all things N'Awlins. I thought I'd check it out.

If any of my readers ever wanted to walk the backwater swamps of Louisiana, this is your sim.

It is thick, overgrown, vast and wild. There are good things here and bad things, and it's more or less up to the viewer what those are.

Visitors won't be swarmed with spiders--at least, as far as I know--but they will run into cobwebs, with great and repeated frequency. And they all look absolutely real in terms of abandoned river shacks, swamp huts, places people were that are peopled no more. The spiders built their stranded homes until even they wandered off, and now the only things those webs gather is dust.

This is less a haunt, and more an experience. It's a sprawling collection of small islands and marshes that one wanders by virtue of rickety, moss-covered plank bridges at water level. The only complaint I had was that certain areas cannot be accessed save by members of a certain group. (No idea what group, I didn't check.)

But if visitors wish to join that group, or simply wander the areas that can be accessed, it's a sim that seems steeped in history and the mythology of place.

but the worst is yet to come

This is the description of the haunt I'm exploring tonight:
YES, BE SCARED to enter! Halloween Special is back. More Scenes have been added.
haunted scenes: The Ring, The Exorcist, The Shinning and more. Visit the Haunted Playground Zombie Land, HollowHill Hospital and Hellraiser if you DARE!!
Oh, great. "The Shinning", even.

So what's it called? EL SUSTO HAUNTED HOUSE. Yes, in all caps.

So it's on mainland, and while the time on the parcel seems to be set for a decently spooky night, the parcels around it are all set for standard sun. It's disorienting.

Inside are haunted televisions, torn curtains that ripple dolefully in an unseen wind, moans, haunted paintings...and a constantly ringing phone that drove me wholly out of my mind.

I wandered up, I wandered down, I found secret passages, I found broken sewer pipes large enough to walk through, I found haunts and dust and decay, and absolutely none of it mattered, because that high-pitched, vibrating phone would not shut up. Touching it did nothing, walking far away did nothing, I could still hear it, and by the time I hit the nursery, I had decided I had had enough and just ported away.

Is it a bad haunt? Not at all, if you go through with the sound off. With the sound on my most sincere recommendation is to avoid this as if it will give you the plague. That phone ring is killer...and not in any creepy, Hallowe'en sense. It needs to be scripted to run on a much slower repeat, or be turned off entirely.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

like we're holding onto something that's invisible there

The House on Haunted Hill beckoned, and off I went. Water covered the grounds when I arrived, ankle-brushing, making me glad of the weatherproofed boots I had. Soft little gasps behind me made me turn, and turn again, but...nothing was ever there.

There was something very...odd...about the water, too. Especially farther out to sea...

I suppose it's in the nature of a warning sign, to have a corpse upended over the walking path.

And obviously, very bad things happened in this cabin. I'm going to leave quickly, before the man with the hand-ax wanders back.

Wait, am I walking into Silent Hill? Why are there ashes in the air? I walked into an old fort to get out of the ash rain, and...there were...things...inside. I'm not sure what they were, but...I don't think they want me here.

And if I wasn't convinced before, I'm convinced now--there are definitely direct rips from at least two games here: Amnesia (not shown), and a few iterations of Silent Hill. Now, I want to be clear--I'm not accusing anyone of anything. The person who used these as decorations may not have known they were rips; the person who made them may have acquired them from someone else who sold them full-perm, so may not have known. But the original person, the one who brought them on the grid, that person ripped these models directly from the games.

That's just not cool.

And, of course, Robbie, outside the main house, also from Silent Hill.

Because that's not creepy at all! Eeeuugghh.

Oh, HELL no, I will not pick you up! did you get in here so fast?!?

So, overall, it's not a bad haunt, but I will make one clear point: Go expecting to see bad things. And "bad" has a number of varying connotations here. Yes, corpses, some gore, some screaming, which can be hard on those who might walk in with sounds all the way up. But also, game rips, which qualify as "bad" in an entirely different way. And at least one rip specifically from Silent Hill: Homecoming that can, depending on interpretation, be seen as pushing the haunt towards an Adult rating, over Moderate. (If you're curious which one, look up Amnion on the Silent Hill monsters wiki.)

So I won't say don't go, because there are some intriguing ideas here. Just go prepared, and expect less to be dazzled, and more just cool visuals now and again.

'cause you know I love the players, and you love the game

As I was scrolling down through the list of stores with haunted items for sale, and haunts with no items for sale, I very nearly passed the entry that said October Country:
Friendly, Nature, Park, Scenic, Landscape, Noob, Horror, Haunted, Haunted House, Scary, Spooky, Autumn, Fall, Relax, Hangout, Social, Chat, Meet, Halloween, Explore, Gather, Rest, Adventure, Festive, Farm, Countryside.
I have missed October Country ever since it left. Does this mean it's back? Is it owned by the same people? Is it an homage to the original? I just don't know, but I'm here now. Let's see if I can find out.

As it seems to be just one parcel, I doubt it's by the same people--as I recall, they owned a whole sim. Though I could be wrong; perhaps they're trying out the idea of owning land again in SL by renting first. Who knows?

They also have a group, with this lovely quote:
"That country where it is always turning late in the year, where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist; where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and midnights stay. That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts. Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain."
― Ray Bradbury

The tree in front of the house is a tad grotesque, but I shall press on.

I could have sworn I saw one of these moving as I walked up to the porch...

Oh, good. Creepy mannequins and creepy dolls...

...who...all turned to look at me, when I passed by...

Oh, that's just disturbing. I'm sensing a theme...

I guess I live here now.

Come by and enjoy the view.

Monday, September 26, 2016

I wanna find that love of twenty-two, here at thirty-three

This one starts on the ground, but then you touch a cauldron full of fog, and that will port you to the skybox of terrible things. Or spooky things. Or, well...things.

Whatever they are.

By the way, tip to any haunt planners reading along: make sure, if you're running a haunt, to change your estate time away from "bright sunny midday". Unless your haunt is staggeringly creepy, even by daylight.

Also, I realize, skybox, one wants to fit all the things they desire in, but...wau, this looks crowded.

Sooooo, so busy.

In spite of the overcrowding, there's really not much here. Two freebies, one random, one dance; witch's cottage and a minimal spooky forest; some pumpkins. That's about it. Small photo-op with a bench inside. It's not tragically bad, don't get me wrong, but I'm wishing they had more room than just the teeny skybox to play in.

these little wonders, these twists and turns of fate

I'm...not sure about this one. The picture says it all:

Bright cheerful happy spoops. Agh.

There are vendors around the center platform, mostly clothing for Toddleedoo baby avatars, at least one for the Kemono, so I'm fairly sure the 'haunted ride' is going to be very kid-friendly. Or at least SL-kid-friendly. (In case there's a difference.)

I did love their warning sign for the ride.

The ride was built like most haunted rides--tracks move through fixed scenes, then move on. The only problem was the audio kept cutting off halfway through each recitation. There are full texts given for each scene, it's just the scripting only allows for half the audio to work.

It's got a cohesive storyline, too, I really liked that.

The mad scientist's laboratory, wherein the lord of the manor researched the Elder Gods and the creation of portals...

...and the Thing Lurking in the Shadows.

This is a short, snappy, and ultimately fun ride for all ages. There is no gore, and while there is spooky imagery, it's all drawn large, like a Disney cartoon. I'd highly recommend this for fans of haunted rides, and for the younger set.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

and if you still find yourself with nothing to believe in

And now, Angel's Haunted House, about which is said:
WERE BACK by demand! Hunt for free over 50 free items
Scariest haunted house in ALL OF SL. Clothing required!
children must be accompanied by an adult. Ghosts, werewolves, LIVE ACTORS TO SCARE YOU.
,furry friendly, fully interactive.

That is a direct quote, by the way. I saw no live actors, and I have to say, it's certainly not the "Scariest haunted house" on the grid.

So, it's a conglomeration of areas, two main haunts and some random scenes in between.

Why is it always creepy clowns?

There wasn't that much in the main house I hadn't seen before, so I crossed over to the other main haunt, a jury-built insane asylum. But before I got there...

...I found this. Cute little 'don't-do-this' photo pose.

Gosh. Twin bloodied armed psychopaths. Just peachy.

Now, was he the dolls' conjured, or their caretaker? Hard to tell.

Hello, Silent Hill. Another direct rip from the game. Who is doing all the Silent Hill rips this year??

I have no idea who Random Gory Dead Girl is supposed to represent, so...your guess is as good as mine.

So, is it a waste of time? Not totally? I mean, the two main haunts are fairly cohesive within themselves, and there's some cute moments here and there. Even though a lot of the themes are very overused, they're nicely presented. The soundscape is good, and while there's repetition, it's not enough to truly annoy.

It's just not stellar. I wanted more. Maybe you will, maybe you won't, if you go, I can't say. It just felt like they could have been more creative, less derivative, with both main haunts.

a little voice in my head said so

Welcome to Deeproot Manor in Mormo.

Outside, there's a lot of the typical--the haunted manor we've seen before, the trees with glowing skulls, the wraiths along the path. It's nicely done, but nothing will leap out at onlookers at being vitally original.

There are some neat furnishings and set pieces inside. I'm really liking whomever's doing all the heavy cobweb work this year, because it goes SO well with haunts. This room, also, had a changing picture above the sideboard, the images fading in and out, almost...ghostly. That was well done.

The basement had some intriguing moments, as well. Like this one--floating, burning embers in front of a skull bas-relief on the back wall. Why? For what reason? It's not explained, but sometimes, good things don't need to be.

This was another lovely side table, with another shifting image above. Vintage and spooky.

Upstairs, another pretty typical nursery haunt, but...I liked the eyes under the bed.

And up in the attic, the scariest thing in the entire house. Brrr! I left right after seeing this.

I'd say this one is worth a wander. Don't expect jumpscares, don't expect a ton of the creepy and disturbing, but for what it is, it's pretty well done.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

with all the blood I lost with you, it drowns the love I thought I knew

How about a hayride? That's nice and calming after zombie attacks, right?


There's a few freebies in a small shack before you port to the actual rails for the ride, but once there, the rules are posted pretty clearly for the ride. Seems simple enough.

Strange, demi-human trees (the so-called "Slenderman" tree is a freebie in the first area), low tully fogs, bone chimes--it definitely sets the right theme.

And then spiders. Lots of spiders. Lots of big spiders.

Obviously, some of the hayride carts didn't make it through...

This area--I'm only showing two pictures from it--if you're a fan of Japanese horror, you'll completely understand why this area is creepy. And if you have a thing about eyes...well, these are very realistic, glossy, floating eyes that follow the cart as it moves through. Very unnerving.

And then the ghosts, cascading waterfalls of ghosts over the red pools of liquid and the dark, reaching hands...

...followed by tentacles. And the cart moving close to the reaching, sucking mouth--

This is one of the haunts I'm going to revisit. This was an absolute joy start to finish, full of creepy fun and thrills. There are moments that made me smile and moments that made me shiver, but not once did I think, "Oh, this has been done to death..." That's not to say every idea in this ride is original. They're not. But it's all in how the haunt makers combine the expected elements. You can use the tried and true and still make it fresh, still make it 'new', in a sense.

I'd say, by all means make this a stop in October. I doubt you'll regret it.

what if I wanted to fight, beg for the rest of my life--what would you do?

"Into the dark, damp and deep, the wary Em did creep..." Dark Sewers, anyone? Yeah, I wasn't that keen on the concept either, but at least I had sturdy boots, and I was running out of places to check!

...Oh. Damn. I hate zombies.

Well...let's check the weaponry, at least.

Hmm. Sword and, I'm not that accurate. Gun and knife? I don't like guns. Baseball bat? Guess it's the baseball bat, then.

[23:29] GCS Brain Terminal v2.40: You Have lost 0 xp from dieing

Can't even spell 'dying' right. Okay, I'm done.

If you like combat, feel free to jump in--they offer several weapons for free, plus a mesh mining helmet that allows you hand-free lighting for the dark corridors. Me, it's just not my thing. This is a heavy combat zone--in the main sewer portion, they just keep generating, dead men, dead women, swimming half-corpses, crawlers...and in each room off the main corridor, the stakes go up--they're bigger, stronger, faster. Grab a shotgun and get to the killing--or just move on, like I did, and recognize this just isn't my idea of fun.
,br />

Friday, September 23, 2016

your hand, my hand, fits so easy

I found a place called Fear World, and I cannot conceive of why they gave it that name.

From Devil Duck Halloween's greeter:
"[01:28] Devil Duck Halloween Greeter:
Hi Emilly Orr, welcome to Moochie. Please respect our no nudity policy, and have fun exploring. There are nooks and crannies to be found throughout, if you're willing to step into the darkness..."
Interesting. It's Moderate land, so nothing hugely sexual or gory is going to leap for my face, right?

Actually, exactly right. It's a short walk through the autumn woods to get to the lights.

The reflections on the water are incredible. It's such a beautiful patch of land.

Closer to the center clearing, there are pumpkins under apple trees, crisp leaves underfoot.

In the clearing, there are dances, and fires to warm the night if the dancing didn't fire the blood enough. Just past it, eldritch lights lead to a small kirkyard, near the shore.

It hasn't been greatly maintained, but old family plots often aren't. Maybe the islanders have a larger cemetary, somewhere, and this one's just for the locals. careful in the small church, if you go. Something fairly dark is in there, and might just be...hungry. Still, everything is is warm, and comforting, and if you find the right bench near the docks, you can get a wonderful pumpkin spice latte.

screaming, crying, perfect storms

Somewhere in Spain, there's an abandoned doll factory the locals believe is cursed. I'm not saying whether it is or isn't; I'm saying that it doesn't matter whether it is, because the pictures on their own are nightmare fuel.

If you really want to be haunted, what about a few photographs of abandoned toys...from Chernobyl? Twenty-five years and counting, and it's only getting worse. The insect life and plants are also getting very strange.

In other news, I heard tell of a haunted TARDIS, so of course I had to investigate. I'm so glad that I did.

Just from the outset, any Doctor Who fan who's also rated to visit Adult-rated sims should absolutely visit this haunt, for the pictures alone, if nothing else. It doesn't just focus on the Time Lords, either; the Companions are well and truly represented.

In fact, scattered throughout there are some of the villains from the show. It's truly a fan's paradise, in that sense.

The console is...strange. Divination by design, where it would be more art than science to maneuver this TARDIS through time and space. Runes for travel, runes for the wheel of the year, runes for storms coming--well, perhaps that's not exactly surprising, considering all manifestations of the Doctor.

Material pleasures, utter devastation, and large life changes--I'm not sure I want to see the other two cards. And a Ouija board for part of the controls? That's not safe, unless one is only trying to reach other haunted spaces.

Certainly an inviting corner, to be sure.

If one has sounds on, one is treated to additional intrigues--sourceless crying, of a Companion in distress? Shattering glass from a hallway whose windows only show stars. The ceaseless cries of "Let me IN!" in a growling, masculine voice.

Part of the conceit of this haunt is the attempt, on part of visitors, to locate the lost Time Lord. There are few clues, and perhaps the mystery is more intended to haunt, itself, than to be solved.

Can Daleks become waterlogged and cease functioning? Or is their armor plating sealed from the elements? Could this Dalek function if removed from the tank?

All in all, there is every reason for a fan with a lure towards the macabre to visit. There are secrets I'm choosing not to reveal, because the exploration is part of the fun. Do try to investigate every nook and cranny if you go; I think you'll genuinely enjoy it.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

is there a silence on this earth before every tear's been cried?

Europa's oceans may have an "Earthlike" chemical balance. And this coming Monday, September 26th, NASA's going to hold a press conference to announce evidence of "surprising activity" on Europa. So watch for that.

In other news, peripheral serotonin--AKA, serotonin produced in places other than the brain--is apparently a thing. I did not know this. In even more surprising news, it's been discovered that humans have a "second brain"--a collection of neurons and neurotransmitting fibers lining the walls of our alimentary canals--that help to control moods and behaviors. Thankfully it doesn't actually think, but it does feel, and we react to those feelings. That's...well, I wanted to say mind-boggling, but--which one?

Moving on to other matters. In Wish Master, there's an Adult-rated sim called the Haunted Home of Frankenstein. I was curious, so I went.

Graveyard, swamp shack, haunted house, crypt, orphanage, insane asylum...everything's here. All the cliches. All the tropes. All the same boring skeletons in the same boring closets.

There's a fairly good soundscape, but it gets repetitive, too.

Granted, it's a slight transition from the expected to have the haunted asylum open to the elements, but...not enough.

And why clowns? Why does the haunted orphanage always have clowns? (Though this fellow, he was from the crypt in the graveyard.)

Bleh. I am so, so very tired of seeing this Alice mesh...

Is it me? Is it just that Octoberville won't be around this year? Am I looking for a similar experience to the Japanese hunt-haunts, to the rich pageantry of Octoberville puzzles? Am I judging all these haunts too harshly? What am I seeking?

Whatever it is, whatever it may end up being...Haunted House of Frankenstein didn't have it. I'm not saying it's a bad haunt, just...a very expected one.