All posts tagged creatures

Debunker’s Delight: Ghostly Goings-on

Published September 4, 2016 by vfdpixie


Since I’ve mentally checked out the last few weeks, I thought I would do a post about more paranormal, weird stuff, and what better source to access that than good ol’ YouTube?

I’ve been a fan of paranormal investigative shows and re-enactments for a long time, due to the fact that I’ve been surrounded by believers all my life. Ghost stories from the old country, a family member who refuses to buy antiques, especially those made out of wood since natural materials are known to hold energy, and inklings that my childhood home had a tiny bit of activity has left me with a somewhat accepted view of the supernatural. While I’m not 100% sold, I’m certainly not putting myself in a position to deliberately and knowingly visit a haunted place. So I leave that to all the eager paranormal teams ready to put themselves in smelly, dank buildings in search of chatty ghosts. Most of the time I watch for the hopes of seeing a real ghost from the safety of my sofa, but often I just roll my eyes at the histrionics.   There have been a few things, however, I can’t quite explain that have been captured on film. The most recent comes from a new addition to the paranormal TV lineup, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

A lot of the shows are a lesson in frustration. From shrieking paranormal team members (see the long-running Most Haunted for some scares and giggles when host Yvette Fielding clutches her makeup artist and screams bloody murder when something, anything, happens), to shaky, grainy camera work, to pitch black shots that are impossible to decipher what’s going on.  I know these researchers put themselves in scary and sometimes dangerous positions, but the antics can make it less believable and more fodder for scoffing.

Some are better (or just more entertaining) than others, like Ghost Adventures. Led by Zak Bagans, this team of “ghost bros” travel the U.S. in the hopes of finding haunted activity in some of the most notorious locations. Aaron Goodwin, the team’s resident “Shaggy”, is often targeted by spirits, eliciting a “Duuuude!” and a “Whooooa!” when those spectres whisper his name. Nick Groff, who left the show in 2015, directed many episodes and was often the one that felt the physical effects of ghostly activity.

Groff now stars in his own paranormal sleuthing spectacular called Paranormal Lockdown, where he and Katrina Weidman (formerly of the TV show Paranormal State) stay locked in an allegedly haunted location to witness those on the other side. It’s here I saw something pretty hair-raising that I think will stump the staunchest skeptic. But before I get to the evidence, here are some YouTube videos of alleged paranormal activity caught on-you guessed it-blurry, shaky video! (add grains of salt here).

The U.K seems to corner the market with ghosts, so this fella who narrates for the U.K. site Top 5s not only has a nice accent, but has some cool historical info, and a piece on the Ghost Adventure dudes.

More “ghosts”…


…and this mysterious creatures video is interesting and hilarious at the same time, so it’s worth the 35 minutes. I believe in #20 because I worked for a cross between a  pterodactyl and Skeletor, so that ‘ish is real.  Also, #13, #12, #9, #8 (It’s a bear… or Black Phillip), #5 and #3 are just ridiculous.



I like this dude’s accent too.  Also, the ghosts…


And here’s another video from Top 5s:


Now for the pièce de resistance.  The full episode of Paranormal Lockdown that gave me the willies.  It’s the usual fare for most of the show, but I encourage you to watch the first bit for some interesting and disturbing history about this asylum.  If the suspense is killing you, head straight to the 36 minute mark to see the weirdness.


And here’s a bit of speculation about the actual sighting.  This dude actually gives you a good view of what they saw at the asylum, and he’s pretty stumped too!  What do you think?






Face Off Season 9 Episode 13-The Finale Part 1

Published October 25, 2015 by vfdpixie

The finale finally arrived, and after some encouraging words from their loved ones, the three remaining artists got ready to do their best work yet in order to win the competition.

When they got to the lab, they were met by McKenzie and the Face Off TV crew.  It was a clue for their next challenge, which would have them work with a director and crew to create three short films on location. This was the challenge I was waiting for! the three finalists were excited, and even more so when they found out who the director would be-none other than Face Off royalty, director and special effects makeup artist Patrick Tatopoulos, my other TV crush.  The artists would pick from three scripts:  The Prey, Resurrection, and Quarantine Zone, and would have to create two drastically different characters.  Patrick would have cast, storyboards, and instructions for the different colours and textures of each film.  The artists would also get a film test before shooting, so Patrick could see what needed to be tweaked with the makeups, giving the contestants a chance to have a camera-ready look.  Like every finale challenge, they would have the help of former contestants.

Evan picked Stevie and Kevon.  They would work on the Quarantine Zone script.  His characters were infected with a virus.  The female wanderer character was to have a subtle makeup revealed slowly, and the male was to have a more advanced stage of infection.  Evan wanted to create an exoskeleton for the male character, but he realized the looks weren’t cohesive, so his team started over.  After worrying about a deep crack in his cowl which ended up being fine, he didn’t like what he had to offer.  When they went for the screen test, Patrick pointed out the colour of the female was too dark and she looked too healthy.  The male character needed some flesh toned paint and a more human appearance.  He also disliked a snuggle tooth and wanted some hair on the male infected.  Evan had some work to do but was glad he had a second chance.

Ben picked Resurrection.  He had Jordan and Scott on his team.  The story for his film was an alien priest who resurrects an ancient creature.  The contrast between the characters would be a sleek priest and Neanderthal version of him as the creature.  A fire would be the light source, so Ben wanted the priest to have a glowing look.  Scott would sculpt the creature and Ben took on the priest.  Jordan created a scarab that would tie the two characters together.  Ben was exhausted and ran out of time so they had to do a full paint job in last looks.  Patrick wanted the creature’s eyes lightened, and his back painted properly.  He also wanted something more for the priest’s mouth.

Nora worked on The Prey script, with Meg and Jasmine on her team.  She created a human prey and a big, organic tree-like hunter.  She had moments of doubt once again, but Meg supported her and they carried on.  The prey character was a full body paint job, and the hunter ended up being too red, so they had to fix the paint job.  On screen, she was told to bump up the hunter’s moss and green tones, and Patrick liked the prey.  She only had minor adjustments to make.

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After the screen tests, McKenzie revealed yet another twist for the finale challenge.  During a major production, there is always a chance for the script to change.  In their case, there would be a third character added, so once again, we are left with a cliff hanger as the last part of the finale gets under way next week!

Face Off Season 6 Episode 6: Orcs and Creepy Cryptids!

Published February 20, 2014 by vfdpixie

This episode, Cat congratulated her sweetheart Niko on his win.  She was worried about being on the bottom and wanted to prove that she had what it took to succeed in this competition.

For the next Foundation Challenge for immunity, the gang had to create a lead Orc and 9 of its warriors.  I love Orcs!  They are nasty, short-tempered and lots of scary fun.  BAFTA and Emmy award-winning makeup artist Howard Berger was the guest judge and he wanted to see great detail, attention to design, application and to make sure that the orcs were nasty looking.

In teams of two the artists got to work.  Chloe and George, Matt and Corrine, Graham and Tyler, Rashaad and Cat, and Niko and Daran all worked quickly to get their orcs finished.  Berger really like what Chloe and George did, as well as Matt and Corrine.  In the end, he chose Matt and Corrine as the top team because he thought they worked well together and the looks were film ready.  Corrine won immunity because of her paint scheme which lead the way for the entire concept.  After, the Orc clans charged the lot of them!

For the Spotlight Challenge, mysterious creatures, or cryptids, like Big Foot and the Loch Ness were the topic.  Once again in teams of 2, the artists had to choose location coordinates where a cryptid has been sighted, and bring it to life.  Their guest judge for this challenge was Doug Jones, creature actor extraordinaire! With films like Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth under his belt, his advice was to make sure the makeup was organic, felt natural, and easy to move and perform in.

Graham and Rashaad picked Australia’s Bunyip.  With tusks, feathers, flippers and a man’s body, they had a mixed bag of parts to work with.  They worked well together and did well with their time.  Doug thought that the concept worked.  With so many elements, the judges thought it came together cohesively and they exhibited great sculpting, as well as a great paint job and profile.  Glenn liked that they chose their elements well, calling it a “cool exercise in picking and choosing everything”.   They also liked the creature’s multiple rows of teeth and this put them in the top looks.

George and Niko picked Russia’s Vodyanoy.  With frog-like features and a fish body, the guys went aquatic all the way.  They scrambled to finish, battling a tough mold that everyone helped them open.  I still think this is one of the best bunch of artists for courtesy and good nature.  The guys incorporated Barracuda teeth for a cool, vintage looking creature.  The judges liked that there were details that had a reason, like the finned forearms.  Doug liked how the fins were consistent and the whole makeup looked balanced, and they all loved the “gorgeous” shapes on the head.

Chloe and Tyler created my favourite creature.  Hailing from the Amazon, the Mapinguari is an ape-like creature with one eye, red fur, and, wait for it, a mouth in its stomach.  Tyler had some fun and took a picture of Rashaad’s tongue for reference.  They really went for it and created something cool!  Glenn said he wanted to see Captain Kirk fight this monster.  He was so right!  This makeup also had a vintage feel that just worked.  The judges liked that they took ridiculous elements and made them believable. Doug loved the mouth and though it would perform well and Neville liked that the creature’s nipples implied eyes in relation to the stomach mouth.  Ve liked that the fun fur was matted, and they all loved the paint job in the mouth and tongue, in fact, Glenn thought it was the best ever paint job period.  They were in the top looks.

Daran and Cat worked on Mexico’s Chupacabra.  This dog-like creature has a snake tongue and leathery skin.  This paring was a mistake.  From the get-go, they had problems seeing eye-to-eye.  Cat had trouble getting her point across as Daran basically ignored her input and treated her like his assistant.  I had a little crush on him, but now he’s out in my books. He was borderline offensive, and Cat regretted not speaking up more.  Their makeup was not so great.  The judges thought it was sloppy and the spine was off-center.  The proportions were off, and the facial structure looked bad.  Doug also said there was limited mobility for the actor, and Glenn thought it was profoundly uninteresting and not creative. They were in the bottom looks.

Corrine and Matt got New Jersey’s Jersey Devil.  I’m not sure what happened, but it seemed like Corrine took it easy because she had immunity.  I think it was unintentional sabotage as Matt isn’t the strongest artist in the bunch.  He had trouble sculpting the animal features of the dog-like, part-man, part-kangaroo, winged creature.  She ended up taking over the sculpting, and while Matt wanted to do more with the makeup, Corrine decided to go more minimal, but she did manage to make a large set of fabric wings.  She hoped they would be safe, but the judges were not pleased with the results.  They thought there was too little done compared to the other designs, and that the wings looked like drapery, creating an unscary,”curtain winged demon”.  It also didn’t read dog-like to them.  They found themselves in the bottom looks.

The winning team was Chloe and Tyler.  The judges loved that the makeup was funny but believable and that all the elements came together to create something balanced.  Tyler won for his fantastic belly mouth.

In the end, Matt and Corrine were the ones in the hot seat.  Matt went home because he didn’t step up to create a signature element in the makeup.  The judges liked how he thought and wished him the best.  I couldn’t help feeling bad for him even though I wasn’t a huge fan of his.  I felt that he was left to flounder while Corrine took over with a half-hearted attempt that sent him home.  Oh well, I’m sure he learned a lot from the show and that he is fueled to carry on in the industry.

Lady Parts: A Horror Story

Published January 14, 2014 by vfdpixie


Teeth (2007, 1 hr 34 mins)

There’s been something on my mind for the longest time…and it involves female genitalia.

Let me explain.

I recently checked out a film called Teeth on Netflix, which centers on a teenage girl named Dawn (Jess Weixler) who is proudly saving her virginity for marriage.  She is a bit nerdy, and on the surface, very committed to her cause.  Holding school assemblies, encouraging her friends to stay true to their promise, and trying to keep herself chaste despite her feelings for her new beau Toby (Hale Appleman).  On an idyllic afternoon, Dawn succumbs to her natural urges and makes out with Toby.  Unfortunately, sexually frustrated Toby gets aggressive and the make out session becomes rape.  And unfortunately for Toby, Dawn’s vagina sports teeth.  You can see where this goes.  What follows is Dawn’s horror and guilt over the incident as she copes with hiding her secret, watching her mother’s health fail, and deal with her obnoxious step-brother Brad (John Hensley).  Add the ominous nuclear plant stacks in the background that imply genetic mutations in an otherwise all American town, and you get a tongue in cheek story of the much feared myth of vagina dentata.

This myth is an ancient one found in many cultures, basically to caution men from sleeping around with loose women and to deter them from rape with threats of castration.  And there it is.  Female genitalia was shrouded in such mystery that it became demonized and a great target for creating myths and stories where men could lose their masculinity by succumbing to women’s wiles.

I really enjoyed this film.  It dealt with risqué subject matter without overt titillation.  You never saw a gaping toothy vagina, in fact, we only saw dismembered penises lying around, ready for their close-up.  Weixler played Dawn with kooky fervour and surprising anguish, and Hensley was the ultimate over the top nemesis as her sexually deviant step brother Brad. The cinematography was reminiscent of teen parody films from the early 2000’s, however, Teeth takes the serious subjects of women, sexual power and suppression, and their right to express themselves sexually, and turned them into a campy, thoughtful horror film.  It actually made me think about how horror movies have adapted the vagina to make it the basis of horror, or rather the inspiration for many big screen monsters.

facehugger      predator

Facehugger (Alien)                         Predator Talk about dentata!

The vagina’s deep dark secrets still scare men, and so they create monsters of Freudian proportions to mask their fear.  Look at the facehugger in Alien.  Clearly, it was inspired by the vagina.  Actually, the whole Alien series is ripe with genital imagery.   Also joining the vagina monster ranks are the alien from Predator, the Sarlacc from Return of the Jedi, the Graboid and Shrieker of Tremors fame, and Gweomul, The Host‘s creature.  Sure, there are some phallic counterparts, the most notable being the Xenomorph from the Alien franchise, in fact a lot of creatures resemble orifices from our nether regions, but I find the female genitalia to be of particular interest because of the horror and fear behind it.

graboid     shrieker

Graboid (Tremors                Shrieker (Tremors 2)


Sarlacc Pit (Return of the Jedi) But wait, there’s more dentata!


Gweomul (The Host).  Maybe it’s just me, but if you’ve seen the movie, note the subliminal fish/vagina tie-in.  Not cool, people.  Not cool.


Xenomorph (Alien).  Really happy to see you…

We accept anything that looks phallic in nature because we are surrounded by it, and for the most part, men still wield power in society.  Highrises, the CN Tower, remote controls, bingo dabbers,  jeez, even chocolate dipped pretzel sticks!  Penises are everywhere!  But bring up a vagina, and we think about dark and damp places that seem to have no end.  Heck, it’s a place where men give up control and hope for the best; a place where their performance has to be up to snuff (if they care); a place where blood is shed monthly, and it’s a place where life springs from.  You can’t see the inner workings, so of course it’s an unknown that until the last few decades, no one cared to investigate.

It’s only natural to fear things we don’t understand, so by this extension, it’s only natural for monsters to look like that mysterious orifice, once likened to the Hell mouth, that lures the best of men (and women) to its moist, quivering door. Or is it? Are we always going to blame the thing we don’t understand?  I for one, am glad that during my research, I couldn’t find any recent pulsating, glistening gashes that chew/suck/crush and wreak havoc in general. The only “genitalia” creatures I found were from the gaming world, and they were just ridiculous.

Maybe the absence of newer vagina monsters stems from the war rooms of movie moguls where they started to realize that these creatures were becoming offensive, silly or just no fun.  Maybe they realized kids would want action figures of their favourite creatures and that a vagina with legs and teeth was not the best addition to the toy box.   Or maybe it’s as simple as the censors saying “That looks too much like a vagina!”  Who knows?  Whatever the reason, it’s all good.  A vagina shrouded as a monster should not be the only way we see them on screen, if we do at all, and it’s promising that the trend is dying down.

Now, from my previous comments, there is the assumption that these creature designers are all men.  And that assumption was correct.  These vagina monsters come from the subconscious of male designers, who have publicly displayed their issues with female genitalia which have now become, for the most part, iconic.  And incidentally, I’ve also discovered that female creature concept designers are really, really scarce, despite the popularity of  the makeup artist competition show Face Off; and the few I found did not design genital based creatures (thankfully!).  It’s interesting to note that out of the 5 seasons of Face Off so far, there have been 2 female winners (Nicole Chilelli-season 3, and Laura Tyler-season 5).  That’s a squidge under half, so I guess things aren’t that bad.  I would love to see that fresh new talent come up with some really great monsters.  Better yet, I hope the next big budget creature designer is a woman!  Come on Face Off lady alumni!  Gimme some cool creatures!!

Sex and horror will always go hand in hand, and stay consistently unavoidable, but it can be handled cleverly and with real finesse, like with films such as Teeth, which pokes fun at the fear of the vagina (no pun intended).  Trust me, I’ve got one, and she’s quite un-scary…unused, but not scary.  And at the very least, we are moving away from masking that fear with a creature.  Strangely, there seems to be a creature lull right now, as possession, zombies, demons, violent crimes and hauntings lead the horror movie pack of late.  Let’s hope the next monster we see bears a striking resemblance to a mutated lemur, ear or shopping bag…leave Madge the Vadge out of it, and Peter the Penis too, for that matter!

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