Loot Crate: November 2014 Unboxing “Battle”

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Alright folks, we’re back for November’s crate, “Battle”. I remember vaguely hearing what the theme was, and while not that excited about it, I figured that LC usually finds one or two good ways to surprise me. After all, the main teasers they provided for it included Ryu from Street Fighter, and Mega Man from well, Mega Man. I’m a HUGE fan of Street Fighter. The franchise had a big impact on my childhood. I wanted to be Chun-Li when I grew up; I did the next best thing and cosplayed her at San Japan 2013, in San Antonio Texas. (If you’re interested in that kind of thing or want to take a look at my Chun-Li, just hit up my Cosplay page on Facebook: Stormy La Row) Those that are familiar October’s box, “Fear”, already know November had some pretty big shoes to fill. October’s crate was amazeballs, to say the least. I won’t bore you with what was in it; if you want the dirty details, just hit up my 3 month Loot-Ganza post, where my October unboxing resides. Did “Battle” bring it? Let’s take a look!

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The first thing I saw was a disclaimer on the box, reading that this crate is different from the others, and to see the monthly ‘zine to find out how. Intriguing! I was more interested in the swag right that minute, though.

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Street fighter headband! Cool for a Cosplay, or just a little fun, but nothing I’m going to find useful.

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A Mega Bloks Halo figure. I will admit it’s cute, but I’m an anti-fan of Halo, (even though I know I’m probably the minority here) and while semi-adorble, it doesn’t appeal to me.

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Now this is neat! I’ve never played the AC franchise, but I LOVE coins, and the little crushed velvet bag is actually very nice.

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Very cute! Mega Man was never a thing for me, because it’s made for boys by boys, and just wasn’t the type of game or franchise that appealed to me. I will say the helmet is endearing, and not something we’ll get rid of.

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A few of the monthly digital goodies LC never fails to provide, (and almost never fails to disappoint me with) including a Battlemage deal, a Mega Man digital comic, and something I almost died about until I realized it was for Steam only; a full Street Fighter game download. Don’t even ask me how pissed I am that it’s for steam.

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This month’s pin carries on with the Ryu/Mega Man theme.

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I like the concept of the shirt; I did grow up in the age of Pirates Vs. Ninjas being both a relevant thing, and a huge parody of itself. Not so impressed with the execution. I’ll wear it, it’s just not really my thing. Also, sorry I phoned it in again and didn’t actually provide a picture of me wearing the shirt, but sadly my holiday weight from 2012 is still a part of the equation, so just deal.

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An honorable mention goes to the cute paper dolls and pop-up diorama the box transforms into (hence the vox being “different”). Ryu punched Mega Man in the FACE!

LC November 2014: “BATTLE”

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3/10 Cat bugs!

So here’s my big issue with this box, and with a few boxes, actually. Ryu and Mega Man are not the only popular heroes LC could have included, and what upsets me more, is that there is nothing even pretending to be tailored to a female audience. When I think Street Fighter, I think Chun-Li, and was upset she wasn’t thrown in as even a side-dish to Ryu. Mega Man, Assassin’s Creed, and Halo are all predominantly boy-centric games. Sure, some nerdy girls play them, but most don’t, in my experience. The shirt isn’t attractive enough for most girls (like me) to want to wear; I mean, Pirates Vs. Ninjas was kind of a fangirly meme ten years ago, but to me, the shirt is disappointing.

Nearly every single LC box is 100% polarized to a male audience. I know, I know. Dudes are likely LC’s bigger cash cow, but the box isn’t specifically marketed to men like some; they claim to cater to all “nerds” and “geeks”. Honestly, LC is lucky I’m such a tomboy, or I would have halted my subscription long ago. Take “Transform” for instance; not a single girl-ish item or really even anything one would consider gender neutral, except for maybe the shirt. (Which I loved, but again, tomboy.) July’s “Villains” at least had the Harley/Joker poster, and the only reason I can think of it being unisex is for those obsessed with either The Joker or Loki; which isn’t saying much, because face it, most of us are. August’s “Heroes” and September’s “Galactic” offered naught to les filles, unless they happened to be either hardcore Ninja Turtles, Firefly, or Star Trek fans. I happen to be none of those. I know, right? I’m awful. October’s “Fear” is the only box that did not disappoint me on the feminine front. There was the cutesy print, the emphasis on actually pretty much the only 100% gender neutral subject; The Walking Dead, and the shirt! Oh, that shirt. It’s the only shirt I’ve received thus far that is unisex leaning toward girls! Brilliant box, October’s.

I digress; I know you’re trying, LC, and I believe in you, but you’re still not quite there yet in terms of variety for your full spectrum audience. I’m not even asking for perfection. Some nerds actually have girlfriends, would it really hurt to throw in something a little less Mega Man, a little more Chun-Li for him to give to her, instead of nearly the entirety of my boxes going to my boyfriend’s side of the house; even though I’m paying for  the subscription?

I’m sorry to announce that you won’t be hearing any more unboxin’ out of me for a while; I had to suspend my subscription due to being poor and holidays. It has nothing to do with my aforementioned qualms, and I plan on renewing when I’m financially able to do so, because even though LC sometimes gets it wrong, when it gets it right, it’s worth it. But hey, yo, more chick stuff, alright? Kthx.

The Gross Public Ignorance Regarding Mental Disorders

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I know what you’re thinking, “Oh, look, its another high-horse statement about people misunderstanding the mentally ill, I don’t want to hear it,” and I’m apt to agree with you. There are a lot of people who address the issue in a condescending manner, and as a result, kind of cause the opposite of their intentions to occur. That being said, if you decided to read this post, you’re probably willing to be open minded about the subject, so just humor me, and try not to tune it out. This message is important, and it needs to be said.

One of the reasons folks have trouble taking the issue seriously is for the same reason some don’t donate or advocate charities they or their loved ones have nothing to do with, like Breast Cancer, Alzheimer’s, etc.; they’re so far removed from the problem that it’s hard to care, and I get that. I do. I even catch myself doing it sometimes out of habit.

I suffer from Bipolar Disorder type II. I was diagnosed at 20 and started taking meds that I hated to try and make myself easier to get along with for my friends, loved ones, and myself. That didn’t stick, and I stopped the regimen because I didn’t want to have to rely on medication to be a “normal” person, and that kind of worked, for a while. When the problem reared its head again at 23, it was so severe that there were days when I cried because I didn’t want to get out of bed. When I wasn’t debilitatingly depressed, I was irritated, tired, and hard to be around for everyone.

I’m going to address some myths that most healthy people either don’t understand, or don’t take seriously enough to try. Again, please don’t check out just yet; you might learn some enlightening things that will prepare you to comprehend and even help someone in your life that suffers from a mental disability. Trust me, they will thank you for it.

Depressed people are just sad.

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This is an idea that frankly baffles me; when people think about the word “depressed”, they think it means someone suffering from it is just “down”, or in some kind of slump, and they throw the word out carelessly when they themselves are going through said situations. I know I’m never going to be able to do anything about that; the correlation is used out of proper context so often that it’s second nature at this point and will probably be misused forever. Some people go farther than being ignorant, and actually blame the victims of depression for moping around and being generally unpleasant. What’s worse than that, is that a lot of jerks don’t think its a real disorder. They think folks can just “snap out of it” whenever they want, and are overreacting for attention. Let me tell you something; I hate it when regular people refuse to believe there are such things as certain, or even all mental disorders. It’s beyond nasty. I have an Ex-Boyfriend who refused to believe I am Bipolar, or that mental illnesses are real. He thought it was a ploy by the government to make money selling the drugs marketed to “fix” us, and held it against me when I had trouble controlling my moods and impulsive actions. He honestly thought I was pretending to be sick. He once told me that he believed I could control myself if I really wanted to, I just wasn’t trying hard enough. In short, he was a total bastard; despite knowing he was wrong, I couldn’t bring myself to leave him because after 3 years together, it was simpler not to, and I truly believed no one else would ever tolerate my behavior for long enough to love me. Chances are pretty low that the misinformed masses, as normal people, aren’t and never will be an authority on the subject of mental disabilities, and and leave their diagnostics to actual professionals.

Depressed people aren’t just sad; they’re so unhappy and hopeless that they have trouble functioning at all. Things like going to work, getting out of bed, and grooming themselves are seen as tedious tasks not worth the effort, because none of it will make them feel better anyways. There’s an anxiety about being around other people;  they often don’t want to talk to anyone, especially if they’re aware of their mood’s effect on those around them. The sadness doesn’t stop, or if it does, it’s brief. One thought about something that’s pressing down on them can cause them to cry at the drop of a hat, or at least want to, no matter where they are or what they’re doing. One of the worst symptoms is losing the desire to even do things that they normally enjoy; reading, painting, running, writing, playing with their pets, whatever. I used to spend days upon weeks wanting to get up and create things, because that’s something I love to do. (I don’t suffer from traditional depression, but it is a symptom of Bipolar II) Even reading or playing video games didn’t appeal to me. I just couldn’t bring myself to do any of it, so I laid on my couch all day and watched TV, napping on and off. I didn’t even brush my hair, and was too lazy to shower until I absolutely had to. Depressed people aren’t sad, and they’re not faking it. They feel hopeless and useless, because their self-esteem is at rock bottom. They want to function like you, but they can’t, and that’s why its all the more insulting when someone doesn’t believe their problems are even real.

Let’s fix this: Stop throwing around the word “depressed”. If you don’t understand the disorder, do some research. Educate yourself, especially if someone you know is suffering.

“Cutters” are just faking it for attention.

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Self-mutilation is a serious symptom of most mental disorders. Cutting, scratching, and hitting things just to hurt oneself are some ways it can manifest. People think that just because someone is not actually trying to commit suicide, that they just want want people to feel sorry for them. Yes, some people do it as faux cries for help, and that’s disgusting; it’s also why near nobody takes self-harm seriously. I can’t speak for anyone else, because everyone has different reasons for hurting themselves. I did it because to me, it felt good, everyone I tried to explain that to, even some members of my family, just couldn’t comprehend that notion; I was often punished for cutting, instead of being taken to someone who could actually help me. When I hurt myself, I liked the idea of seeing the wounds on my body; having physical scratches and bruises helped me project the fact that I was suffering in a way no one could see, and focusing on that pain gave me relief from the focus on my real problems. I also used to punch things until my knuckles swelled and bled. I’d hit concrete, trees, walls, anything that I knew would do damage.

Thankfully, I no longer self-mutilate. I haven’t in probably three years, and even then it was sporadic, not constant like it was in my teens.

Let’s fix this: If you see evidence of self-harm on someone you know or love, don’t assume it’s for attention, and do not, under any circumstances, punish them for it. They’ve already punished themselves, so why would you think hurting them further will cause anything more than excess damage?

Schizophrenics have split personalities.

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This is a common myth perpetuated by people thinking that hearing voices in your head is the same thing as having one or more fully developed personalities inside of you, also known as a completely different ailment; Multiple Personality Disorder. Schizophrenia is not a joke; it’s one of the most serious illnesses someone can suffer from. Visual and auditory hallucinations are just the beginning. Most schizophrenics have trouble functioning socially, and some aren’t able to at all. Imagine delusions where everyone you know is your enemy, and you have to live in a constant paranoid state where not only are your friends and family trying to “get” you, most other people are as well. Though paranoia is present in other mental illnesses, (including my own) it is by far more prevalent among Shiczophrenics.

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The illness can cause victims to lose their train of though frequently, develop strange or unintelligible speech patterns, and have trouble understanding what parts of their lives are real, and what parts are in their head. If you’ve ever had even the briefest experience with dissociation of that nature, you should already know its terrifying. Count yourself lucky that you don’t have to deal with it every day. Schizophrenia, like Bipolar Disorder, is an ailment that never goes away, and that’s really hard for most folks to grasp. It’s not like having the flu in your brain. We’re not getting any better; nothing short of medication, engaging in healthier habits, and for some, therapy, is going to “repair” us. Sufferers have to take drugs for the rest of their lives that are both expensive, and come with a checklist of unpleasant side effects. Going off their meds can actually cause the disability get worse, often resulting in full relapse.

Let’s fix this: Stop casually calling people schizoids just because they’re acting a little erratic or irrational, and correct the thought that Schizophrenics have a “split personality”, or become a different person.

Narcoleptics just fall asleep all willy-nilly.

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Narcolepsy is no laughing matter, though a lot of people think it is. Case in point being Moulin Rouge; there’s a Narcoleptic character in the film whose sleeping patterns exist in the plot for the sole purpose of comedic relief. Think falling asleep while you’re driving is funny? Yeah, neither do I.

People who have Narcolepsy lack the ability to control their sleep-wake cycle. That doesn’t mean just collapsing mid-jog or taking a nap down a flight of stairs. What it does mean, is near constant bouts of daytime fatigue, no matter how much sleep one garnered the night before. When they do nod off, its usually brief, and about as controllable as peeing their pants. It can happen during conversations, performing daily activities, working, in class, etc. They can’t fight it, either. Because their sleep-wake cycle is so out of sync, it can cause REM to kick in almost as soon as lying down, only they’re technically still awake when it happens. This is also known as Sleep Paralysis; a condition where one is 100% aware of their surroundings, but remains completely paralyzed, unable to wake themselves up. SP can occur independently of Narcolepsy, (and in fact, I suffer from a pretty severe case of it) but it’s a common symptom of the disorder. On top of the terrifying notion that is being stuck in your body and not being able to control it, SP can induce horrifying hallucinations, ranging from someone holding the sufferer down, suffocating them, drowning, “presences” all around them, voices, and even full body hallucinations. I had an episode once where I hallucinated I was being dragged around my ceiling. Sounds fun, right? Actual non-sleeping hallucinations immediately after waking from a bout of SP are also common, and that’s about as scary as it sounds. On top of not being able to control themselves falling asleep, Narcoleptics probably also have to endure horrifying lucid dreams and visions.

Let’s fix it: Find out more about Narcolepsy; it’s rare, and not very likely that you know someone who is such, but I’m a firm believer that knowledge is power, and hey, a little learning never hurt anyone. Don’t laugh when Narcolepsy is erroneously represented in the media as a humorous thing, it’s not very funny to its victims, and it shouldn’t be to you, either. There’s nothing cool about a laugh-reel behind someone getting into often injury inducing situations.

Bipolar people go from being normal to bitchy in 3.5.

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The fact that this shirt exists makes me want to scream.

Obviously, this myth insults me on a very personal level, and the fact that it’s by far the most commonplace misconception makes it that much worse. Go Google the word Bipolar; 99% of the images are of someone’s face split into a smile and a frown, or two happy and sad appearing people. I actually failed to find a single one that applied, short of pictures of the word itself, which is why I had to use a facetious image. The term “Manic Depressive” isn’t synonymous with “Gemini” (The fact that I happen to be a Gemini notwithstanding) I cannot stand it when people say that someone they know is being “Bipolar” just because they’re in a run-of-the-mill shitty mood. Chances are you’ve heard the phrase, “Oh my gosh, I’m (or insert name here) so up and down today. I must be Bipolar”, or something along those lines at least once before. Let’s get this strait: You and your friends aren’t “acting” Bipolar, ya’ll are just being a total douchebags. It also doesn’t mean that someone frequently changes their minds or acts contrary to the way they do usually. To me, using “Bipolar” so flippantly is akin to and as bad as using the word “gay” as a derogatory insult, or to describe something that you don’t like. Think about that for a minute. It’s downright insulting, and when I see it, it makes me literally want to punch the perpetrator(s).

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No, you’re SO experiencing the normal range of human emotion

Bipolar Disorder, or Manic Depression, is, for the most part, categorized by two types. Type II is less severe; the sufferer has never been hospitalized as a result of their illness, and while it makes their day-to-day nigh unbearable, they never or rarely do things that cause them to cease functioning completely or physically hurt someone as a result of their disability. Downs can last weeks, months, or years at a time, though victims usually suffer several “hypomanias” during a single day, which is basically exactly what it sounds like; mini manic episodes. Type I is defined as someone who has been committed to a facility for treatment, has at least at one point completely stopped being able to function socially, and their actions have frequently gotten them into real “trouble”. Their Manias last longer, and are categorically more severe; this doesn’t mean that Type II’s don’t experience those too, however.

Here’s what being Bipolar actually means: Depression is a part of the disease, and has the same symptoms. I won’t bore you going over them again, as most people at least have a vague grasp on what Depression is. Mania is something entirely different. Most people don’t understand it if they’re aware it’s a condition at all. When a Bipolar person is Manic, they behave in dangerous ways; impulse control is a big issue, indulging in risky behavior, abusing drugs, lashing out at people, etc. For example, I got in a huge fight with my boyfriend a few years back late at night, so because I didn’t want to be at home, I left and went to sleep in my works’ parking lot, which was about 25 minutes away. A few hours later I had come down and wanted to go home, but realized I didn’t have enough gas. It was about four in the morning and I had no money in my bank account; no gas stations near were open, so I had to wait several hours before I could return to my apartment. I could have gotten myself hurt or worse, and I know I’m lucky I didn’t.

Periods of high self esteem are common, and while that may not seem so bad, it can cause one to be snotty or do something dangerous that they’re not actually capable of. Paranoia is also a possibility, even to the point of hallucinations; I used to get pulled over so often (mostly due to the police profiling my 1990 Le Baron convertible) that I honestly thought cops were out to get me. Any time one was even in the same general area as myself, I damn near had full blown anxiety attacks. Something I have a big issue with when I’m Manic is laser focus on certain tasks, and it’s almost cost me my job. I would pick something to work on, and engage in it to every last minute detail, even ones that would probably go unnoticed. It affected my performance at work, because it was very time consuming, and just plain odd to the untrained eye. Some days if my hair or makeup isn’t just right, I still fix it over and over and over and over again until I’m satisfied, and it’s caused me to be late to work more than a few times. I finally broke down and told my boss why I tended to act so erratically; he pretended to be understanding, but later demoted and shipped me off to another store. Because my thoughts were racing, I often spoke so fast that no one could understand me. I would have embarrassing anxiety attacks that sometimes occurred out in the open. Would you want such a volatile human being on your payroll? Manic compulsion is something we can’t fight. It’s like an intense need to eat when we’re starving; we feel like if we don’t act, there will be unpleasant consequences.

When I was in my teens, I had trouble sleeping when Manic, because thoughts and ideas never stopped buzzing through my head at the speed of light, until finally I stopped trying to sleep and acted on them. Art projects, research on some question I wanted answered, writing, crafting, planning outfits and hairstyles, etc. I never got any sleep, but a symptom of Mania is that you can function on very little rest for a period of time, but eventually crash with no warning. I failed both History and Chemistry my Junior year due to uncontrollably falling asleep in class. Back then I had no idea what was going on, I just thought I was a person with weird habits.

As I mentioned, I didn’t seek help until early in my twenties, then gave up because I didn’t want to take pills for the rest of my life to be able to function like a normal human being. It’s so disheartening to know that I, and other victims of the disorder, are broken for real, and not only are we not fixable without drugs, half of the people we interact with take for granted the fact that they don’t have to jump through hoops to survive.

Let’s fix this: Do some research on Mania. Its one of the most wildly misunderstood symptoms that exists, and it doesn’t hurt to be able to recognize the behavior of a loved one so you can get them help, or stop them from acting on their impulses, because it could very well save their life. For the love of all things Holy, stop using the word bipolar to explain away someone’s mood, or as an excuse for your own bitchy behavior.

Now that you know, use that knowledge to help people.

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I know I got preachy at a few spots there. I apologize, its hard not to with a subject so close to home. I hope this helped some of you retain a firmer grasp on these very serious illnesses, and that I permanently squashed the rumor mill, at least for some of you.

If you’re healthy, thank your lucky stars you don’t have to carry the burden of not only being irreparably sick, but also actually being forced to pay exorbitant amounts of time and money fixing something you were born with. (Thanks, America. Ily too). If you or someone you know has some serious concerns about you maybe being sick, please, please get help before you hit rock bottom. I learned the hard way that pride can’t come before being healthy, or at least as close to healthy as I will ever be. It’s embarrassing that people see and judge my bad behavior, and short of wearing a kick-me sign on my back that says, “Please don’t judge me, I’m Bipolar”, I pretty much have to deal with it. I can’t just tell acquaintances and co-workers I’m mentally ill, because the subject is such an awkward taboo to most folks. Even if I did decide to tell say, my boss, or someone I acted strangely toward, I would have to explain the fact that no, I’m not “fake” Bipolar, I’m actually mentally ill; chances are they would still think I was making an excuse, or even worse, think that my condition only applies to mood swings.

It hurts my feelings that I’ve done mean or wrong things to people who will never trust me again, and going back to a doctor is one of the best things I have ever done for myself; I’m never sorry I did it, unless it’s about the fact that I’m insane-ing myself out of house and home. It’s for a good cause. I got to the point where I was hopeless every single day, and didn’t even know I was acting strangely until several friends and family members asked me about it. Communication is important, don’t be afraid to speak out.

Being crazy sucks, but hopefully, together, we can take this little step in the right direction, and make it all an iota more bearable. Also, you won’t get arrested again for punching a barbie-girl in the face when she says, “Like, Oh my God Becky, sometimes I like my butt, and other times I hate it. I’m like, so Bipolar.”

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Seriously though, fuck off.

6 Scary Movies I Love That Everyone Else Hates

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October is a special time of year. It comes fast, and leaves just too quickly for anyone to know what hit them; I can’t believe it’s halfway over! The tempurature starts to cool, (unless you live in Houston, like me, in which case the weather just stops being consistently 200 degrees every day) the sky is bluer than ever, and even the air itself seems to change color, or at least it does for me. I love settling in to the creepy atmosphere of it all; you get an excuse to stab holes in pumpkins and shove fire in their heads, hang up fake spiderwebs and orange/purple lights, eat candy corn, (because candy corn consumption outside of October is just wrong) and scare the shit out of small children without getting arrested. That’s my idea of a good time.

By far, my favorite part of October aside from dressing up is getting to watch my favorite scary movies, and the new ones that come out in theaters. The fact that I spend 365 days a year watching them anyways doesn’t quell the fact that enjoying them this month enhances how special they are to me.

Now, I’m no movie critic, or at least not professionally, and in fact, I tend to disagree with most of their opinions on horror movies in general. I am however, a professional horror enthusiast. I was raised with it, I revel in it, and enjoy it consistently. Though I love being creeped out, have my whole life, and am admittedly easy to scare and startle, I’ve been finding it hard in recent years to be truly frightened of anything Hollywood churns out. Its all over processed regurgitated bullshit; but there are some movies that managed to stand out in my mind and truly jar me. Some scared me to the bones and back, making it harder for me to sleep at night. Fortunately for you guys, (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it) I tend to like scary movies that everyone else pretty much hates. Now, these are by no means the only movies who have ever scarred my mind and disturbed me out of my wits; I was going to make a whole list of those, but what fun would that be? Its much more entertaining for me to address films I found original and creepy in their time, but never quite hit the mark for some people. Plus, you can all have fun joking about how stupid it is that they scared me at all, unless of course you like them as well, in which case we can commiserate. This list will probably contain some spoilers, and because I hate people who whine about spoilers, I’m giving this warning. SPOILER ALERT: IF YOU DON’T WANT SOME OLD ASS SCARY MOVIES NOBODY LIKED RUINED FOR YOU, READ NO MORE!

Lets start off with some movies that scared the peanuts out of me at the time, but don’t have the same effect on me anymore.

#6: Darkness Falls

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The Premise: Darkness Falls is a movie about a when kind old woman who exchanged childrens’ baby teeth for gold coins was wrongfully accused of murdering two children who turned up unharmed a few days after they hanged her. Before her death, she cursed the town of Darkness Falls, “What I took before in kindness, I will take forever in revenge.” Before the lynching, she suffered a house fire and was horribly disfigured, sensitive to the sun, and only came out at night. When she did, she wore a porcelain mask, and hated it when people looked at her.

Present day, there’s an old urban legend that when you lose your last baby tooth in Darkness Falls, the “Tooth Fairy” will visit you to leave you your coin; the only catch is if you look at her, she’ll kill your ass. Our protagonist, Kyle Walsh, watched his father get murdered by the Tooth Fairy when he doesn’t believe there’s a monster in Kyle’s room. He turns into a PTSD paranoid adult, and his childhood sweetheart’s little brother is suffering the same plight. That being, they saw her, but managed to escape the night of, therefore, she would chase them both their whole lives until they finally slipped up and fell asleep in the dark.

Why Everyone Hated It: Rotten Tomatoes gave it one star, and a whopping 9% rating. The audience gave a slightly higher one, at 34%, but that’s still not a whole lot. The critic quote used is, “A derivative movie where the scares are few and things don’t make much sense.”

One Metacritic user says, “I had  more laughs than scares while watching this. The acting was a hilarious and the plot not thought out at all, like they were desperate to just make a movie. The “demon” chasing them was quite amusing as well; the way it was set up was very unbelievable. The appearances she made were totally random and put whenever the movie seemed too “dull” for the director. It was either a great comedy or a horrible horror film.”

I think that not a lot of people were actually frightened by the Tooth Fairy herself, and felt the narrative was disjointed, with not enough scares, and sub-par acting chops.

Why I Loved It: Listen, I had one of those creepy ass porcelain masks hanging up in my room at the time of this movie’s release; I also hadn’t lost my last baby tooth. At 13, I was a little behind, and actually still have a few baby teeth. Oh well, just bad genes I suppose. Anyways, not only did I find the movie’s monster very frightening, it is the premise of the movie that really chilled me. If you screw up and look at her when you wake on the night of losing your last baby tooth, she’ll slash your ass to ribbons. If you manage to escape, you have to live in fear your whole life, only sleeping in the light, since light is the only thing you can use to stop her. Light is the only thing you can use to stop her. Think about that for a minute. Most demons, entities, witches, vampires, etc, have more than one limitation, and some are easy to utilize. Salt, holy objects, mirrors, words, what have you. All you can use against her is light, and it can’t just be a janky ass candle, it has to be enough life to cover your whole body.

What happens when the lights go out? What if they go out while you’re sleeping? Batteries go dead, power can be cut off without warning, candles are extremely fragile. Her only weakness isn’t even something we can completely control; that, along with her spooky mask and disfigured face coupled with one hell of a vendetta against anyone who sees her, made her an effective monster for me.

Spookiest Scene: The most jarring scene BY FAR is when the Tooth Fairy murders Kyle’s father. Its a big deal as a kid to think that not even your parents can save you from the monsters. The frame where Kyle has hidden in the bright bathroom to evade her pans out to her hovering just above the door, waiting for her chance still gives me goosebumps.

#5: Ghost Ship

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Premise: A team of maritime salvagers are given information by a stranger of an old ocean liner, The Antonio Graza, that disappeared completely  during its maiden voyage in the 60’s. When they get there, they’re greeted by danger, as most of the ship is collapsing, and ghostly entities; one of which is trying to help them. Their boat unfortunately gets blown up, leaving them stranded. They eventually find out that they’re not the first salvage crew to have been there via finding a digital watch and, well, the bodies of the first crew. They suffer creepy visions that eventually lead them to their gruesome deaths one by one. The protagonist, Epps, who is being helped by the ghost of a little girl named Katie, is shown a vision that reveals the stranger who led them to the Graza is actually a demon just shy of enough souls to take the ship to hell with him, so he’s spent the last few decades luring more aboard, using a gratuitous amount of gold and visions to spur them to sin out of greed, lust, envy, and wrath; he can only collect souls that are impure.

Epps tries to blow up the ship, and after a quick battle with the demon in question, succeeds. When she does, all of the souls trapped on the ship are able to escape, passing on to the afterlife. She is picked up out of the water by another ship, and wakes up in an ambulance to find that the demon is loading his damned gold onto another ship, and her dead crewmen are his new lackeys, ready to continue reaping souls on the open water.

Why Everyone Hated It: Rotten Tomatoes gave it a slightly higher score at 14%, but critics were still damning. “With a plot as creaky as the boat, Ghost Ship fails to deliver the scares.”

Metacritic users say, “Launched with a few surprising touches and a disturbingly bloody prelude, horror pic collapses under the weight of its own dull conception and weak direction, dialogue and character portraits.”

I can see why some people thought the plot moved slow, it does get a bit redundant. Some people thought the scares weren’t worth it, and the acting wasn’t believable, including character development. The ending was also received with scrutiny.

Why I Loved It: Scares not worth it?! This movie never stopped scaring me! From the ghostly visions to the gruesome deaths, I was disturbed by the whole thing. Its part of why I never want to set foot on a cruise; in the open water, anything could happen. Any disaster could strike, and there would be nothing you could do about it, especially if your radio decides to take a nap. The only thing around you is water and things in the water that want to eat you. You can either wait until you run out of food, or try and use a life boat to get to safety, but chances are still slim that you’ll survive.

The whole atmosphere of the film, and ships in general are creepy to me. Dark corridors, creaky metal, and dank conditions are a perfect recipe for scares, which in my opinion, are delivered. I had no problem with the acting, and found the character development satisfying. A few characters are unlikable, but you really get a sense of how much the crew cares for one another; they’re like a family, and when it starts to fall apart, you feel bad not only for their deaths, but also because they are losing one another. You begin to understand how they tick when their unique sinful behaviors are revealed, and ultimately, are what dooms them.

I loved the twist ending! This doofy guy that brings them information on how to make a shit load of money is actually an insidious soul collector hell bent on dragging them, well, to hell. He does a complete character flip and becomes a threatening and sinister enemy, even tricking Epps at one point that he’s part of her crew to stop her from blowing up the ship.

The soundtrack also deserves an honorable mention, and in fact, my favorites are the bookends of the movie. “Not Falling” by Mudvayne, and “My Little Box” by Gabriel Mann.

Spookiest Scene: My favorite scenes are the flashbacks of the Graza before she was the Ghost Ship. The intro tells of the crew that, motivated by the gold aboard, poisons some guests, cuts others in half with a snapped wire on deck, and kills others execution style in a hail of bullets within the swimming pool. The other flashback scene, revealed to Epps by Katie to show her the truth, shows the events leading up to the big reveal. The crew kills the guests, An Italian performer kills the crew, and the soul collector kills her, marking them all for damnation. Katie is hanged. It was so disturbing, and set to “My Little Box”, one of my favorite cinematic twist reveals.

#4: Stay Alive

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The Premise: After the death of their friend, a group of young adults come into possession of the last game he beta tested before dying. They decide to play it in his honor, and it ends up being the biggest mistake of their lives. They have to recite a creepy incantation for the game to even allow them to play, “Come to me, clouds. May you rise as an evil storm born to rip them open. Let the cover of night bear witness and destroy those who resist so they shall harm me not. Let the blood of many cleanse me, preserving beauty eternal, I pray you.”

The game was adventure horror loosely based on Elisabeth Bathory, the very real countess who murdered over a hundred of the girls in her employ because she thought their blood made her look younger. When townspeople realized what she had done, they bricked her up inside her tower and left her to die. She hated mirrors, because she felt that they made her look like an old hag, spurring her vanity driven murders.

After playing the game and turning in, one of the players, Miller, is murdered in his office in the same manner his character dies. The group decides to make a pact to never play the game again, ridiculous as a killer game sounded. The next to die is run down by a horse drawn carriage because he made the mistake of pausing his game as opposed to turning it off, and through this the group finds out that the game can play itself, with or without their input. October, who’s brother was killed by the  carriage, sees a vision of Elizabeth sneaking around in an abandoned house nearby, and attempts to kill her with a nail gun; according to occult lore, witches can be killed with nails and fire. What she doesn’t realize, is that her game is still playing, and the character is in danger. Needless to say, she’s unsuccessful, as the ghost of Bathory isn’t corporeal, and can’t be harmed.

They track down the game’s programmer, and find that his plantation mirrors the over world of the game. He is completely obsessed with Bathory, and later return to try and get to the bottom of the game’s unnatural power to discover him dead, and Elizabeth’s tower in the backyard of his plantation. They’re greeted with the ghosts of the girls Bathory killed. When they finally get to the tower, they find Elizabeth’s real body, preserved by the curse, and try to kill her with nails, like October. When that fails, they set her on fire, hoping to end her reign of terror.

Flash forward; the game is being mass produced and unboxed at game shops everywhere, and Bathory’s ghost is seen still waiting in the window of her tower.

Why Everyone Hated It: Stay Alive also got a whopping 9% from RT, though over half of the viewers rated it positively. “A by-the-numbers teen horror flick, Stay Alive fails to exploit its premise for any real scares.”

MC users report why they disliked it, “Stay Alive is death porn without the porn: Director William Brent Bell’s pre-gore cutaways should enrage even those horror buffs for whom suspense is irrelevant, to say nothing of the fact that the movie’s only real scare tactic is playing what sounds like a reverbed electric razor on the soundtrack.”

I don’t think many people found the ghost of Bathory Frightening, because she’s seen too immediately and often; a big scary movie no-no that a lot fall victim to, and thought the story was unbelievable. Elizabeth Bathory’s castle was not, after all, in Louisiana, or even on this continent. People who aren’t gamers would be separated from the premise, because non-gamers would find it unbelievable that a game could kill someone. All in all, I think people found the story just a bit to fantastical to get immersed in; a lot of the gaming related scares were lost on them.

Why I Loved It: I am a gamer, am familiar with the occult, and was scared by the ghost of ‘Liz, and the disjointed movements of the ghosts of the children she murdered. I’m also very familiar with the real story the character was based on, which is chilling enough on its own. When something awful is about to happen, the players’ game controllers vibrate. While that by itself isn’t very frightening, it was the sound that chilled me. For years after seeing the film, the sound of a controller vibrating gave me goosebumps, which is unfortunate, because video games are a big part of my life.

I found the idea of dying in a game being able to determine your death by a ghost that “haunts” it very scary, especially if you can’t control if the game is playing you or not! Having to recite an incantation to be allowed to play the game was a big no-no; I’m a big believer that words with enough power spoken out loud can get you into some serious trouble. This ghost also had very few weaknesses; mirrors and fire, and fire only affected her physical body.Nothing else could kill her, and if you were close enough to her to get her to look in a mirror, you were probably fucked anyways.

The atmosphere was spooky, the characters, though not well developed, obviously cared about each other very much, and I’m a big fan of emotional realism, especially in horror flicks. I saw this movie in theaters with my mom. (Bless her for being the main reason I’m so in love with all things horror.) I remember asking her if she thought they would release a game for the movie as a publicity stunt. She replied with a deadpan, “You’re not playing it.”

Spookiest Scene: The most jarring scene for me was probably the first of the gaming group that dies, Miller. He’s in his office, all alone. Empty office buildings at night are scary enough, but when he quits the game, he begins to see shadows and spirits in the hallway. His controller, which he’s dropped on the floor, begins to vibrate (that awful sound) furiously. He’s then met with the spirit of Bathory, who pins him to a desk and segments his head and neck with a gigantic pair of shears.

 

While the last three films spooked me solid when they came out, and years afterward, I can hardly be frightened by them any more because I know the scares so well. These, on the other hand, still make me want to cry and sleep with the lights on forever.

#3: Paranormal Activity

paranormal-activity-paranormal-activity-2009-25-09-2009-1-gPremise: A normal couple starts experiencing some very paranormal occurrences when the man of the house, Micah, buys a high tech video camera and starts recording everything after an suspected break in. He begins to notice his girlfriend, Katie, has been sleepwalking and staring at him during the night. She is very vague when she talks about her and her sister being haunted by an malevolent entity when they were children, and she believes it has followed them there. Micah goes on to capture things moving by themselves, shadows, coupled with voices, loud noises, growls, and thuds both caught on film and heard by the couple in the wee hours. He takes none of it seriously, and constantly taunts the entity.

One night, following noises up to his pull down attic, Micah discovers a picture of Katie as a child. When he reveals it to her, she becomes very frightened, because her childhood home burned down and she hadn’t seen the picture since. During the course of the movie, they invite a medium, Dr. Fredrichs, into their home to shed some light on the situation. He’s disturbed by the home and informs them that the spirit is indeed evil, and they should not taunt or pay it any attention, because these kinds of entities draw power from fear. He recommends they get in contact with a demonologist he knows, who is conveniently abroad and unreachable.

Micah continues to taunt the demon, yelling insults at it, tries to use a Ouija Board to contact it, and use baby powder in the hallway to prove to Katie its not real. They lay down the powder, go to bed, and wake up later to reveal hoof-like prints in the powder. They invite Fredrichs one more time, but he refuses to even stay in the house, and warns them to leave.

Katie is eventually possessed by the demon, and after murdering Micah, disappears, still at large.

Why Everyone Hated It: PA is the first positive rating from RT, at 83%. Users, however, were not quite as impressed. RT’s quote is positive, “Using its low-budget effects and mockumentary method to great result, Paranormal Activity turns a simple haunted house story into 90 minutes of relentless suspense.”

MC had some positive user reviews as well, but some were downright scathing, “Don’t believe the hype: Paranormal Activity may be a lot of things, but the words “scary” and “movie” are not among them. It is instead nothing more or less than an excruciatingly tedious YouTube gag cleverly marketed to go viral in the broadest and most box office-friendly way.”

Though this movie was a pilgrim in the “found footage” horror genre, many people thought the progression of the film was slow, the premise wasn’t scary, that the spooks were few and far between, and in the end, not effective. I think the reason this movie gets a lot of negative attention is also a result of gratuitous sequels, the first two of which I quite enjoyed, and also love how well they all tie in to the original, especially the 5th spin off, “The Marked Ones.” The fourth one, however, is just hot garbage. I think people got tired of hearing about it, and if they watched them out of sequence, probably found the first film redundant and not scary. There’s very little visual scares, mostly atmospheric and subtle ones; not for everyone.

Why I Love It: Paranormal, demon based (excluding possession and excsorcism, that’s not scary to me) haunted house, object, boat, etc, movies are downright my favorite. As I mentioned, my mother has always led me to have an open mind about these things. She believes in ghosts, hauntings, demons, and spirits, and some of our best bonding moments came from going to the theater to enjoy these movies together; so of course this movie floored me!

Though I did find it slow, what did happen gave me goosebumps. The childhood haunting, the unexplained picture showing up out of nowhere, the growls, the footsteps, the creepy sleepwalking. This was one of the first “found footage” movies that cropped up in the wake of The Blair Witch Project, so the sub-genre wasn’t tired to me at the time, which it can be now, if not done properly. I wasn’t used to seeing the creepy videos play out what was happening in the couple’s home around them at night. There were very few jump scares, which is a plus, and tons of bristling moments that stuck with me long after the film ended.

Now, I saw this movie by myself, weeks after its release. My Ex-Boyfriend hated scary movies, didn’t believe in ghosts, and wouldn’t come with me. The theater was empty, save for a couple behind me, and I spent that entire 90 minutes with my hands over my eyes and my legs curled to my chest. After it ended, both the couple and myself rushed out of the theater like our clothes were on fire. I was on edge for the rest of the day.

Spookiest Scene: While not visually terrifying, the hooves appearing in the baby powder was by far the most flooring and goosebump inducing moment for me. Up to that point, Katie and Micah didn’t know the entity troubling them was any kind of “demon”, the had no idea what it was. The prints in the powder solidified the fact that this spirit was something else. Something unknown; not a ghost, maybe not even a demon, and that’s the scariest part of all! Whatever it was, it had never been human.

#2: House On Haunted Hill

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Premise: A group of people are invited to a birthday party for Evelyn Price, the wife of an eccentric millionaire. What’s so weird about that? Aside from it being in an abandoned mental asylum, she has no idea who anyone on the guest list is, and her husband, Stephen, doesn’t claim to know who they are either.

The asylum was shut down in the 30’s after patients escaped from their cells, killing nurses and doctors mercilessly. Due to the fact that Dr. Vannacut; a sociopathic lunatic who brutally tortured and murdered his patients, performing medieval experiments on them, rigged the asylum in a way that he could shut it down if need be, locking everyone inside. The patients triggered it, a fire started, and everyone who had managed to survive was burned alive.

The party’s theme is a gruesome one; Mr. Price offers all guests $1 million if they remain through the night, those who flee surrender their money into the pot, and even gives them guns as a “joke”. The gates are mysteriously activated, and the hosts and guests, along with the owner of the home, are trapped inside.

As they explore the decommissioned asylum, they find grotesque experiments and contraptions. Bisected humans and even a horse, medical anomalies, and horrifying tools. Some see horrible, demonic looking figures and voices. One by one, the guests and hosts are drawn in and killed by the awful apparitions in the hospital, but the bodies disappear. Its later discovered that all of the guests were actually descendants of nurses and doctors previously employed at the hospital, explaining the mysterious guest list.

Eventually, the bricked up room the asylum’s “darkness” was trapped in is opened, and it escapes, consisting of not only the souls who’ve died in the structure, but all responsible as well. The two remaining characters, Sara and Eddie, flee to the highest point of the towering building, where they’re confronted by the darkness. It tries to lure Sara into it by showing her the face of one of the other guests she bonded with, but the ghost of the building’s owner and caretaker appears, flipping the switch and opening a window for the two to escape. The light forces the entity back, and they get out just in time for the bars to snap shut behind them.

They escape with the money, but soon realize they have no way to leave, with the ocean thousands of feet below them and no way to find their way down.

Why Everyone Hated It: It got 27% on RT, and just under twice that score from users. “Unsophisticated and unoriginal film fails to produce scares.”

MT’s consensus is much the same, if not a bit worse. “The horrors of Haunted Hill might have worked for children, but sadly the true horror here is how ridiculous, rickety and perplexing the twist is, and despite the successful, seductive performance by Janssen, this gothic B-movie is a nauseating waste of time.”

Even with an all star cast of characters, audience members felt that the acting wasn’t great, the story was overly complex, and the effects were worthless and not scary. The asylum came off as confusing and convoluted, and ultimately, the traps didn’t make sense to some people.

Why I love it: I have no idea what any of those people are talking about. I rented and watched this movie with a group of friends for my 9th birthday party, (which should give you some insight into my tortured, horror loving psyche). The visuals are still disturbing to me; failed experiments, dissected humans and animals, the gory deaths, and the asylum itself all lent themselves to the overall insane atmosphere in the movie. It’s an asylum, where tortured humans live and die. A lot of people still believe these places are prime hot spots for paranormal activity.

The voices and apparitions are so frightening; they’re mutilated and jittery, reminiscent of some Silent Hill monsters. The unrest between the characters’ relationships enhances negative feelings and makes the viewer feel even more uneasy. I didn’t find the bad CG effects distracting, I mean, it was the 90’s, and I was 9. I was also used to cheesy horror movie effects.

The fact that the entity itself, again, wasn’t a “human” soul, and wasn’t something I could comprehend made it more jarring. It was aptly named the asylum’s “darkness”, because it was a huge culmination of damned and tortured souls all condensed into the same “being.” After its released, the hospital turns into a downright horror show, at times manifesting physical teeth to try and “eat” Sara and Eddie as they attempted their escape.

Just the idea of being trapped in a terrifying asylum filled with disturbing objects and spirits, all topped off by a downright evil final boss is really why this movie has stuck with me, and I’m still affected by the imagery.

Spookiest Scene: At one point, one of the guests is forced into a kind of house-of-mirrors type chamber, where he begins to hallucinate. In one hallucination, he’s being operated by disfigured nurses, and thrown into water. When he opens his eyes, he sees a nude woman that appears to be dead floating down there with him. She fades into the darkness only to reappear moments later, screaming with a face that’s 3/4’s mouth and gnashing teeth. Still one of the most effective jump scares I’ve ever been subjected to!

#1: The Grudge

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Premise: A house in Japan is stained by the woe and rage of a family who’s patriarch brutally murdered them, including his 8 year old son and their cat, then later killing himself, because his wife was in love with and stalking an American professor, who kills himself at the beginning of the movie due to guilt when he hears of her fate.Years later the house is vacant and for sale; an American family; Matthew, Jennifer, and Matthew’s mother are relocating to Japan due to job placement and are viewing the home. Aside from Matthew’s mother, who suffers from dementia, seeming a little off and staring at the ceiling below the attic, everything seems normal, and they move in.

Cut to Karen, a hospice worker, who is called to the home in place of Yoko, who hasn’t been reporting to work. She finds the house in disarray, and locates the grandmother, who will not speak and only stares off into various parts of the house. After cleaning up and giving the ailing old woman a bath, she discovers a child and a cat duct taped into the closet leading to the attic in the home; he is unresponsive and says very little to her. She calls the office with her concerns, and eventually goes to tuck the old woman in, only to find she seems to be having some kind of seizure. She sits up in bed, gasping, and when Karen turns around, she sees an entity descend from the ceiling.

When authorities arrive after Karen does not return to work, they discover the old woman has passed away, and the couple in dead in the attic, having been mutilated. Throughout the movie, Karen is haunted by Kayako, the entity that resulted from the horrible deaths that occurred in the house. Eventually Yoko is found by her boss, wandering the halls of the office with her jaw ripped off. Matthew’s sister, who was with them when they viewed the house, also works in Japan. After trying to get ahold of Matthew to check on their mother and failing, she begins to get a bad feeling. When she tries to leave her office, she is stalked by Kayako, who also follows her to her apartment and eventually drags her under the covers, both disappearing.

Karen, trying to get to the bottom of everything, is aided by the same detective who was on the case of the original murders in the house. He tells her he suspects everyone who so much as sets foot in the building is cursed, doomed by the negative energy there, and will surely be stalked and killed by either Kayako or her son, including his late partner. Karen decides to burn the cursed house down, but her boyfriend, who suspects her intentions, gets there first to try and stop her. He is killed by Kayako, and Karen succeeds in setting the blaze, but the house is saved in the end. The end of the movie hints that Karen will be forever haunted by Kayako, as she is seen in her hospital room with her.

Why Everyone Hated It: RT gave it 39%, and users don’t give it much more. “There’s some creepy imagery to be found, but not much in the way of logic or truly jarring scares.”

MC gives us, “This movie is…..wait, scratch that, I don’t even consider this piece of garbage a MOVIE! I don’t even know where to begin….. No suspense involved here, and WHY OH WHY does she keep going back to that stupid house!!! If she KNOWS something bad is there then WHY GO BACK! And don’t call me a harsh critic because i’ve never ever said a movie to be as bad as this one, in fact before this, the lowest level of a movie I had seen was a “meh”. The movie was confusing all around and didn’t really give the viewers a sense of relevance to keep on watching. But the most confusing thing about this movie is, above all else, why the critics loved it so much?”

Not a very articulate review, but I found a lot of people felt the same way. No one thought it was scary, or that the characters’ actions made much sense. A lot of people found the visual effects funny, and the subtext, scares, ideas behind the hauntings, and the ghosts themselves, would have been lost on non-fans of the Asian horror genre. Aside from The Ring and a few obscure others, The Grudge was one of the first big box office remakes of an Asian horror film; the idea was still new to the western world at the time. Since horror is a lot more culturally driven than people might think, some movies don’t transcend the sociocultural bridge they need to cross to hit home.

Why I Loved It: This is numero uno on this list for a reason; despite the amount of times I’ve seen it, I still have trouble watching some parts. After seeing it in theaters, I couldn’t even look at pictures of Kayako, which were popping up all over the internet. She scared me so much that I couldn’t sleep without my bedroom light on for three months. I was scared to be alone in my house, and always had one eye over my shoulder. Toshio didn’t jar me as much as he did others; I just didn’t find the meowing scary, but the scratchy, garbled sound Kayako made as a result of being strangled was just too much for me. Every time I heard anything even similar, I freaked. My friend Megan and I used to prank call each other and make the noise. 10 years later, she’s still never watched it again.

I watched the film a year or so later with my mom, and every damn scare got me again. There are some that still do now. One in particular is when Karen is on a bus with her boyfriend, quietly contemplating her situation, when Kayako’s face appears in the reflection of the window, along with that awful growling noise at top volume. My two friends I initially saw the movie with were surprised they weren’t bruised; I was flailing and punching them the whole time.

The ghosts are horrifying, the narrative is chilling; a house is so stained with negative energy by the events that took place in it, that literally anyone who sets foot in it is cursed. Even accidentally. Doomed, forever. Kayako will get you, she is everywhere, there’s nowhere she can’t go, and she brutally mutilates her victims, presumably after they pee their pants. She isn’t limited to the house, or even the  country, according to The Grudge 3. She’s ever present. This wasn’t just another haunted house movie for me, it was so much more, and has stuck with me my whole life.

Spookiest Scene: It was hard to pick just one, but when Matthew’s sister leaves her office building and is chased by Kayako is by far the most chilling scene in the movie. Kayako appears as a horrifying shadow on a surveillance tape, walking painfully slowly toward the camera, and delivering perfectly placed jump scare when she reaches it. In the stairwell, the woman is chased up the stairs by Kakako crawling on hands and knees as the lights continue to go out beneath her. When Matthew’s sister escapes into the hall, Kayako grabs her lucky rabbit’s foot from a key chain. When she gets home she gets a call from Matthew, who says he’s downstairs. She buzzes him up, and seconds later the doorbell rings. Suspicious of the time it took him to get there, she looks out the peephole to find it is him, opens the door, and nothing is in the hallway. The growling starts emanating from her phone. She runs inside and dives under her covers, but finds her rabbit’s foot underneath. Kayako appears and drags her to somewhere else.

 

Well, there you have it. My list of movies that terrified me, but seemed to baffle and amuse others. Since this has been quite long, I wont bore you with a lengthy epilogue. Even with the spoilers, these movies are worth a watch if you haven’t seen them. Do you like them as much as I did, were you just as floored and afraid to sleep as me? Let me know, and Happy Halloween!

3-month Loot-‘Ganza! August, September, & October 2014

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I realize its been a while since I’ve updated; I won’t bore you with the details, I’ve just been a very busy lady. That’s why I’ve decided to condense these three unboxings into one Loot ‘riffic update! We have August 2014: “Heroes,” September 2014: “Galactic,” and October 2014: “Fear.” Since its been so long, and I know you’ve all been waiting with bated breath, I mean, this is the most topical of articles, lets get to it!

August 2014 Loot Crate: “Heroes”!

Fresh on the heels of “Villains,” If y’all remember my July unboxing, then you’re aware August’s box had some pretty gigantic shoes to fill in the wake of “Villains.” Does the box nail it or fail it? I’ll let you make up your own minds, (and afterword barrage you with my own.) Let’s dive in, folks!

The box was biggest one I’ve received to date, so I was looking forward to greatness!

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It appears to be a Ninja Turtle type lair. Cute, but I’ve seen better, and am only a marginal Turtle fan.

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To inhabit our miniature Turtle habitat is a miniature Raphael TMNT Full Figure by Kidrobot. It also apparently glows in the dark. Nice!

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More Turtly swag, and I have to admit though these are cute and nerdy, this much focus on the Ninja T’s is a bit gratuitous. There are tons of heroes out there, why not use some variety and spice it up for us?

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Shwings? This would maybe be cute for a kid dressing up as Flash, but its swap meet fodder for me.

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Super cute! Have to admit I love the Loot magnets.

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By far the best piece in the Heroes Crate, The Groot Pop Vinyl figure! I haven’t even seen Guardians, and I loved this little guy.

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There was also a Sonic The Hedgehog air freshener, but by the time of this writing, I had already hung it up in my car. The smell was very short lived, but its still a cute rear-view accessory.

All in all, this was my least favorite crate of the three. I feel that they focused too much on the Ninja Turtle stuff, and there weren’t any other really good things in it, (at least in my opinion,) that were enough to redeem it; namely a shirt. It didn’t even have a poster, which probably would have gained at least half a Cat Bug in its favor. Come on LC, there’s a plethora of Heroes you could have included, and you dropped the ball. Maybe it had to do with licencing issues. One can only guess.

LC August 2014: “HEROES”

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3/10 Cat Bugs!

Okay, so we’re off to a bad start, but the next two can’t possibly be worse, right? Let’s find out!

September 2014 Loot Crate: “Galactic”

I have actually been so busy that I kind of forgot it was LC time by the day this one rolled into the heap of packages in the corner my apartment’s main office, and hadn’t even caught wind of what the theme was. I was pleasantly surprised upon opening, to find out it was “Galactic.” There are a lot of cool things that fit into that category, and I’ve always been into space odysseys, so lets see what they chose for the crate.

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What appears to be a clinical spaceship corridor, with some funky rocks and unidentified furry things outside the airlock.

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Nice vintage looking Alien figure, by Funko & 20th Century Fox. Upon peering at the monthly item guide, it appeared there are several other character figures in the set, but I’m not quite sure they were up for grab in others’ crates, or if everyone got The Alien.

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I was particularly excited about the Han Solo poster; while not a total Star Wars fandom subscriber, the old films will always have a fond place in my childhood memories of watching them all on VHS, with their colorful and attractive cases. Plus, what little tomboy didn’t want to grow up to be Leia? I just happen to be lucky enough that people often accidentally mispronounce my given name, so I get little chances to pretend.

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Moving on from Wars to Trek, we have a Tribble! Again, never a fan of Star Trek. Not because I think it’s bad, but because I was in the wrong age range and household to ever be exposed to it. I love the recent films, (who doesn’t,) and have always thought these little things were cute. Friends of mine have one on display, and I have to be jealous no more!

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Firefly Bank Robber money! I know its sick and sad, but I also missed the boat on Firefly. I had no idea what this was at first, but my boyfriend, a HUGE Firefly buff, was quick to explain it to me, and drool all over it. I think its adorable and very attractive looking. Before you get too angry, I do like what little of Firefly I’ve seen, but there’s something I can’t put my finger on that prevents me from really immersing myself into the show. I do love the over-world; which is reminiscent of Trigun’s Planet Gunsmoke, something I do truly love. Hopefully that will be a story for another Crate!

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Just because I’m not a true Firefly “fan,” doesn’t mean I didn’t squee when I saw this little vinyl Mal figurine, by Funko. He just looks so mad wif his widdle gun, and his widdle coat, and his widdle shoes…”You’re nice, too.”

“No I’m not, I’m a mean old man.”

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Here we have some delicious Blue Razz Pop Rocks, (my favie,) and something I care absolutely nothing about, a code for some Dark Horse digital Halo comic.

There was also an old-school Star Wars arcade magnet, but its already up on my fridge, and I forgot to snap a pic. It’s not super cute, but serves the purpose of, well, a magnet. Also, I believe the LC pin is in the cupholder of my car, suffering the same fate as the Sonic air freshener, so no photo there either.

All in all I was very pleased with this Crate, despite not being a fan of most of the utilized lore and characters, I found the items cute, and very worthy of display. The only knock I have is not having any Mass Effect swag. I may be biased due to how much I love the franchise, but I mean, come on. How do you see the words “Galactic” with implied nerd merch, and not think of Mass Effect?

LC SEPTEMBER 2014: “GALACTIC”

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6.5/10 Cat bugs!

Onto October’s Crate; I saved the best for last! Oh, you think its because October is categorically the last month in my sequence, and therefore has to serve caboose or else it would throw off the flow of the article? That’s for me to know, and you to be in the dark about. Forever.

Loot Crate October 2014: “Fear”

Come October, I again, had no prior knowledge of the Crate’s theme. However, I don’t know why I didn’t predict it would be something spooky scary, given this lovely, albeit brief time of year I adore so much. It sneaks up on you and departs just as rudely, always leaving one wanting more. Luckily most of they year is October for me, because I was raised on spooky scary and 90% of the media I watch is horror related. The other 10% is cooking shows. I digress, let’s get to this month’s fantastic Crate, which is hands down my favorite of the three.

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I’m immediately endeared to the box art, which is contrived from the Weapon’s Bench of the Dead Rising franchise. I’ve spent many hours watching my boyfriend play this tongue in cheek entertaining game, and the Weapon’s Bench is where a lot of the hilarity stems from. Good place to start!

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As our appetizer, we have a Smite skin gift card, which is fun, but I won’t use, and another WarHead type candy; I learned my lesson with “Transform.” WarHeads are not my thing, and if the wrapper is indicative of the contents, as is a wrapper’s main purpose, its going to be toxic waste, emphasis on “waste.”

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Told You. I’mma take a hard pass.

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Here we have some zombie slash and bite temporary tattoos, which could be a fun addition to a whimsical Halloween costume! Or trying to cut out of work early. Don’t even explain how you got the wounds to your boss. Just say, “I don’t wanna talk about it.” Or, you could go the other way and over share, “My girlfriend is on her period.” See if he ever scrutinizes your questionable DR’s notes again.

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I love this, I love this, I LOVE THIS. This print is by the very talented JSalvador of SuperEmoFriends glory, and aptly named “Oh, Brother.” Though I actually never got past around the second or third season of TWD, D. Dixon was always my favorite, before all the fan girl, squirrel belt fury hit. I love this because its a very whimsical take on an otherwise tragic situation. Brothers separated by betrayal and zombies. Now they’re immortalized in all their Chibi Emo glory.

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The TWD fun didn’t stop with the print, though that would have been enough for me. They went the extra mile by including yet another exclusive variant cover comic book, a la Rocket Raccoon from “Villains” way back in July. This is issue 132, done and copy signed by the cover artist, Charlie Aldard. Yet another comic that’s not coming out of its sleeve.

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Doesn’t really count as “loot,” I guess, but the LC booklet comes fully loaded with 3D front and back WD inspired cover art! They were even nice enough to include a pair of old school 3D glasses, which can be recycled for your Tennant costume later. I feel awfully sorry for anyone’s Crate that was missing these handy suckers, because that cover is damned hard to look at without them, even if you’re not actively looking at it. Its always lingering uncomfortably just inside your periphery.

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Tying in with the box art, this is an amazeballs little Dead Rising 3 Weapon’s Bench Frankenstein experiment of a weapon. Ya got yer sledgehammer, ya got yer circular saw, and it comes fully equipped with stained gore, your visible confirmation of certifiable pre-use. It practically sells itself, just look at how well it worked for it’s previous owner! What happened to them? I’m sorry, but I’m not at liberty to discuss that right now. I was impressed with the very inspired little box in which the pen was packaged. It looks like a large blood spattered jewelry box, and the pen was secured with its own foam cradle. Can you say gift wrap recycling?! Of course after the giftee in question opens the box, I will immediately snatch it back.

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I have no audible words for how awesome this shirt is. Just, cats. Skull cats. The forehead ones aren’t fucking around. The female option is a babydoll cut, which was refreshing in the face of the baggy “Marty McPrime” and “Joki” shirts. They fit well, they’re just not exactly accentuating to the female form. The Nega-Cat shirt is just this side of too small for me, but still wearable. As in, every day wearable.

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Usually the LC shirts are my favorite Crate swag, but this takes the cake by far! Its an actual full length book, and reads like a less dry, sardonically sour Cracked article. Its a survival guide for “Unnatural Disasters,” and some other far out situations, some of which are actually based on real SyFy B-movies. Shaffer and his Ex-wife put their heads together and churned out this tip and trick filled book that is not unlike “The Zombie Survival Guide.” I’m ashamed to admit I got near to the third entry before I realized the subjects were facetious; I blew through Antdemic, which is about surviving swarms of flying ants whose bites instantly render their victims into zombies, then a third through Arachnoquake, and it took the fact that the spiders breathe fire to tip me off. I’m a gullible sort. (Fun Fact: I also did not realize “The Zombie Survival Guide” was not non-fiction work initially either.) I immediately picked it up and am having trouble putting it down long enough to write this.

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LC Zom Squad is watching you.

As I mentioned, this is my favorite LC of the three, and to date, actually, eclipsing even “Villains.” It has all the ingredients of a near flawless crate; Exclusive Comic Variant Cover, a nifty pen, utilizable fake tattoos, (which are three words you don’t usually see together,) 3D glasses, a bomb.com shirt, and a freaking book! A book that’s quite entertaining, even. I’m sorry LC, but its going to be extremely hard to top this gem. My only knock would be that maybe the theme “Fear” was a bit of a misnomer. It was nearly 100% zombie based, which to me is a very oversaturated subject, doesn’t chill me in the slightest, and never really did, so unless you count how frightening I find small sour candies, nothing in it actually, well, scared me. Maybe they should have called it “The Walking Crate,” or “Post-Apocalyptic.” Fear doesn’t fit. I’m scared of ghosts, hotel rooms, haunted hotel rooms, horses, Crocs, camping, caves, most small children, Sam from Trick r’ Treat, islands, boats, the dark, automatic flushing toilets, and Candyman, because fuck Bloody Mary, Candyman ain’t yanking your chain. Unless he’s yanking with his hook hand, and the chain is your large intestine. If they wanted it to be scary, they should have put things that are actually scary in it, but aside from this, I have next to no complaints.

LC OCTOBER 2014: “FEAR(?)”

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9.5/10 Cat Bugs!

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So there you have it. A consolidated anthology of LC’s shenanigans in the past three months, here on one convenient list. I’m not lazy, I just value your precious time. The powers-that-be haven’t yet released next month’s theme, but I’m waiting to see if they will try and top, or at least keep on par with all that “Fear” brought to the table, or just bow out quietly and defer to their usual tricks. Well, this is ALT2what signing off, and wishing you a Happy Halloween, Fall, and October in general. Enjoy this small window of time before it runs away from you screaming like it does every year, while you remain shaking your fist in its wake. What an asshole.

As always, Happy Looting, folks!

Top 5 YouTube Shows Better Than Anything on Netflix

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I live in a household where the only two non-gaming forms of entertainment I utilize (other than alcohol) are YouTube and Netflix. Its the 2010’s, and regular media, cable, and news fall a bit short of holding this generation’s attention. So, we adapt. We’re now able to turn to different forms of streaming entertainment that aren’t dictated by the mainstream, but our own personal preferences, and in most cases, its much cheaper! Only access to internet need apply.

When I moved into my first apartment, cable wasn’t applicable to my paycheck, as some of you can probably relate, so I settled for Netflix. Now, Netflix streaming is awesome, and has a lot of really good TV programs to binge watch and Movies to see until you’re tired of them. When I did get tired of the ever changing titles, (not to mention they’re not even courteous enough to warn you when a title is being pulled) and the somewhat limited selection of movies, I turned to YouTube, and actually found myself watching it far more often than I did Netflix. In my searches I’ve found some wonderful shows that have held my attention, catered to my geekiness, and had me re-watching them as much as any season of Weeds or Archer. I’m going to reveal to you some of my favorites, and hope you can gain some entertainment for yourself as well!

Now, I know there are a plethora of “Let’s Plays” and “Game Review” style shows on YouTube, but I’ve limited myself to shows that felt sequential, and episodic, like I was actually watching TV.

#5 Creepy Gaming

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Creepy gaming is definitely a show tailored to this generation’s outlook on horror. Creepypastas, Reddit Nosleep stories, and digital urban legends are all things The Sticky Paddle’s Mullet Mike touches on in his miniseries, Creepy Gaming. He has episodes centered around everything from Animal Crossing spooky lore, bootleg game cartridge tales, and of course, the ever popular Ben Drowned Creepypasta. Mike is a funny, if not occasionally dry-humored guy, who takes on these projects with the fervor of all who enjoy them, but is realistic about his expectations of the truth in the tales. The series is up to 4 seasons at this point, with a few “bonus” mini-episodes included, so there’s plenty to catch up on.

Mike’s intro and outro music are perfect for getting me in the mood to “turn the lights down and the volume up,” and I always feel lulled into an eerie mood by his narration and background score.

Horror is my main squeeze, and when nothing on Netflix gets my motor running, I always tune into Creepy Gaming to satisfy that dark side sweet tooth.

#4 Minecraft Hardcore

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Are you tired of your YouTube Gaming playlist being flooded by annoying Minecraft Lets Plays, and “look how much better I am than you at minecraft” videos? Me too. I don’t want to talk about it. If you answered in the affirmative, you may have just missed the diamond in the rough that is PeanutButterGamer’s Minecraft Hardcore series’. Its 4 seasons of non-stop hilarity, failure, and shenanigans. PBG is joined by other big names of YouTube ranging from JonTron, Barry “I’m here too” Kramer, ProJared, The Completionist, Smooth McGroove, and many more. From season to season the gang ventures out, clad in the silliest of MC skins, and fail at minecraft Every. Single. Time. Some of them are even allegedly good at the game, but “good” doesn’t really add up to much when you’re on a team with a bunch of rowdy YouTube dudes playing pranks on each other and weaving in and out of stable WiFi. The crack team is “led” by PBG, and I use that term incredibly loosely, because at times the only thing he seems able to lead is himself, away from the group, to be murdered. The camera jumps from player to player, so the narrative is always fresh and not one-sided. Its like watching Survivor, except instead of a bunch of overpaid diptads, you’re privy to an all star cast of YouTube celebs.

They do succeed in one of their endeavors, but I don’t want to give away any spoilers, because all 4 seasons are worth a few watch-thrus. I found myself genuinely sad every time one of them was killed off by a kamikaze “skulltan” or the creepy as hell Endermen, and they even go out of the way to build grave markers for their fallen comrades, as cheesy sad music plays behind them making fun of whoever just bit the dust, because as we all know, in MC Hardcore, when you die in the game, you’re dead for real. Well, not “for real,” its still just in the game but- you know what I mean.

The chemistry between the ‘Tubers is great, as most of them know each other and are actual friends; and while they’re all hilarious on their own, nothing really beats the inside jokes and endless laughter they create when they’re together, as an awful, awful team.

#3 Hellsing Ultimate: Abridged

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Ever laughed? Ever felt like you were dying? Ever laughed so hard you were afraid you were dying? If you’ve watched this Team Four Star staple, you have. Unless you’re a humorless dick-waffle. This project stands out to me because you needn’t have ever actually seen Hellsing to enjoy it, and in fact, I haven’t. TFS is known for taking old or beloved anime series’, then re-dubbing and re-mashing them all up to make them so much funnier than you ever dreamed they would be. They’re most famous, (and rightly so) for their longest standing series, DBZ Abridged, where everything’s funny and the Krillin’s don’t matter. What’s cool about TFS, besides the ungodly amount of editing and voice acting talent on their surprisingly small team, is that they bless us with all of this funny for the love of it. They seek not monetary reward, and can’t, because they lay claim to none of the material their parodies draw from, and if you’ve ever seen the title screen of one of their videos, you know they draw attention to that fact, and beg you support the official release.

While a bit too crass and R rated for some folks, this parody is right up my alley in terms of tongue in cheek, forever quotable humor. Its just a shame we can’t buy shirts with those quotes on them…I’d love to walk down the street with a shirt whose front read “Bitch I Eat People” and a back that said “Follow me on twitter @TheCrimsonFuckr.” Its also a shame that this series was unfinished and left to a measly 4 episodes. Don’t let that shy you away from it though, because those 4 episodes are enough to make you spit-take and pee your pants. That’s my idea of a party.

I’m sure Hellsing is a great show with a forthcoming narrative, but as I said, I wouldn’t know, because I haven’t watched any of it. Despite this, and the fact that though I love DBZ, I’ve only fully watched a limited amount since my childhood, these parodies are hilarious in a way you rarely see. I imagine TFS’ brand of humor is a bit polarizing based on age and levels of morality in its viewers, but as with anything, when you find that perfect target audience, magic happens.

#2 Bravest Warriors

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Brought to you by Pendleton Ward, with Cartoon Hangover, we present to you, grown up Adventure Time on YouTube. Pendleton Ward is a name that’s hard not to hear these days, especially if you have a young or adolescent child, or share a maturity level/ similar humorous tastes with them. Adventure Time opened a lot of doors for eccentric animated comedies in the 2010’s, but by no means was it the first or last to tread on that frontier. Whatever happened, it exploded into Hot Topics and Televisions everywhere. The only people that don’t like it are only saying that because they’re hipsters, and they really do like it but want to seem better than you.

While Adventure Time, at times, seemed a little timid to let it’s freak flag fly, Bravest Warriors knows exactly what it is, and that’s what you get. Its basically a bunch of tweens cooped up in a semi invisible house, following in their parent’s footsteps and saving the galaxy one jive-ass stick at a time. Its packed with tons of pop-culture references it’s target audience will appreciate, Whovians included. There’s even a pet horse who narrates his thoughts a la Morgan Freeman, and a mini soap-opera voiced by the now beloved half-bug half-cat, starring a potato, (REBECCA!) a stick, and a dead rat…I think? Anyways, it was fun to see something so made for TV on YouTube, and gave me hope for the future of that medium. I still don’t know how to feel about Pendleton Ward as a human being, but he writes some funny stuff, and always brings lovable characters along for the ride.

#1 My Music Show

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My Music Show is YouTube’s MTV reality baby, and though that combo sounds repulsive in theory, its beautiful in practice. Written and directed by The Fine Brothers, a quintessential Jewish, do-it-yourself comedic powerhouse. The mockumentary style sitcom actually boasts a few “real” actors, namely, Whedon Darlings Adam Busch and briefly, Felicia Day, and Always Sunny fans may recognize Tania Gunadia. There are also a few big YouTube names in the mix, like Toby Turner, Jack Douglass of YGS fame, and Grace Helbig, who’s delivery of humor is just too big for the internet to contain.

Its basically a bunch of musical pop-culture stereotypes that all work together in the same office. It works by being inclusive to pretty much all forms of recognizable popular musical subcultures, and hating them all equally. There’s some really special contempt for the show’s “hipster” character, appropriately named “Indie” and brought to life by Adam Busch’s deadpan punchline delivery.

The episodes flow like that of a Real World-esque reality sitcom, and the actors were even involved in a plethora of social media outlets to both promote the show, and drive the content via fan submitted questions and suggestions.

Despite this, and the fact that the project was backed by YouTube itself, the show remains relatively obscure, with only hundreds of thousands of views on most episodes, and no real public news on the possibility of a 3rd Season.

I’m here to tell you that they deserve so much more than that. The characters are so well written and stereotyped, the humor is always believable and relatable, and I’m really happy with the fact that despite what musical category you fall into, all of the characters are at some point, in tune with everyone. I loved the inclusion of “Scene” and “Nerdcore,” two fandom’s I both admittedly and regrettably have been or am a part of. The content may not be timeless, but those of us who fall into the categories portrayed, and even some who fall in between, will always know that at one time, we were immortalized by comedic gold.

Are you excited yet? You should be. Now boot up that Laptop, or tablet, or Xbox, or whatever, pull up a comfy chair, hit the subscribe button, and enjoy these shows at absolutely no cost! Enjoy them knowing that they are a lot better than most of what you’ll find browsing your Netflix queue, which you’re paying them to do, despite how clueless they are at guessing what you’d like to watch based on your viewing history. (What does Donnie Darko have to do with Storage Wars?!) Except if you’re using an Xbox to watch YouTube, in which case, I’m sorry.

And of course, the links to each channel are below.

My Music: http://m.youtube.com/user/MyMusicShow

BravestWarriors: http://m.youtube.com/user/BravestWarriors

Hellsing Abridged: http://m.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL581218B72A4B9170

Minecraft HC: http://m.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL96A812F2AAC7758F

Creepy Gaming: http://m.youtube.com/show/creepygaming

SJ7 Review: Samurai 7

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Let me start off with a big shout out and thank you to all of San Japan’s volunteers and staff for keeping us all safe, and the staff of the Hyatt hotel for putting up with our insane shenanigans every year.

My first experience with San Japan was in 2009, and also my first attempt at cosplay, (Spoiler Alert: It was ghetto) after a long adolescent life of admiring this world from afar due to being poor and sheltered, it was finally my time. The rest is history. I was hooked. Its the only convention I wouldn’t miss for the world; I grew up with this con. I have to say that my 5th year was the best, and I’m counting on them continuing to grow and get better in the years to come.

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When I said ghetto, I meant it.

San Antonio is a beautiful place, which is another reason I don’t mind taking my yearly vacation to spend it there, at San Japan. The Riverwalk is always magical, serene, and jam packed with restaurants and bars to enjoy. I had pre-registered for two three day passes back in February, and also booked our hotel room at the Hyatt for the nights of Friday and Saturday; that was our first mistake. If it weren’t for driving to SA the night before and staying in a roach motel, getting up and dressed early before driving to the con, we would have been, in a word, screwed.

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Lots of water, tons of food

wpid-wp-1406328344072.jpegThough I love SA, the traffic is always horrendous, worse even than Houston, where I live. Its just too compact for the amount of cars trying to get around, and a huge anime convention on a weekend makes it all the more horrible. After a long and confusing wait in line to get in the parking garage, I got out of the car so my boyfriend, David, could park and I could check in to our room. Now, I know check-in isn’t until 4pm, but in my email from the Hyatt I was told that you could do a kind of early registration for your room, and the staff would give you a call when it was ready. After about 10 minutes of waiting in line, and getting strange looks (I was in costume) from hotel staff that should have been ready for the amount of weird they were going to see that weekend, a member of the staff approached me and asked me what I needed. I told him I was checking in, and he told me the rooms wouldn’t be ready until 4pm. Already in a crummy mood, In my catty bitch voice, I told him I knew that, but was under the impression we could let them know we were here, and be notified when the room was ready for us. His response was, “Oh, well, yeah, I guess you can do that if you want.” Unprofessional. As I mentioned, this was my fifth year at the con, and I have never been treated as poorly by the Hyatt staff as I was this year. I’m 24, mature, and quite polite to all staff, and for some reason they equate con-goers to a bunch of pushy nerds, and they’re going to get a shock when they realize I’m not, and that I will end them with a very well articulated vengeance.

We had quite a bit of luggage, seeing as it was a con, I’m a habitual over-packer, (I like to keep my options open) and we always attend the con swap meets, so we had tons of stuff we wanted to unload. The con itself starts at around 10am on Friday, so why were they so baffled and unprepared when everyone showed up so early? I believe in the future, there should be some kind of system for setting up the rooms earlier for con-goers. I’ll be the first to say we deserve it, we make the Hyatt, the convention center, the Riverwalk, all hotels around the con, and pretty much SA itself an ungodly amount of money for three-four days a year. I don’t know if this is in any way applicable, and from now on we will definitely be splurging and coming in on Thursday in 2015.

Waiting in line to check if our room was ready again, I stood behind a middle-aged woman who was talking to another couple in front of me. She was saying that her 16 year old daughter was going to be here with her 12 year old son, and she was very nervous because she was actually in SA for a different reason, and would be unable to supervise them. I assured her that the people in the convention and anime community were very supportive and for the most part, actually really good people, who tend to look after the younger folk and make sure they’re not having a hard time. She seemed very relieved, and I was happy to ease her worries. Its important for people to know that cons aren’t full of hethen geek-spawn who want to turn your kids into a D&D, hentai-tentacle worshiping devil child.

Last year, we had the misfortune of losing one of our bags somewhere between the car and the bellboy getting it to our room. So by the time our room was ready, (a very discouraging 2pm, after being told they would be ready by noon, and being forced to carry our necessities on us instead of being able to conveniently store them in the room) we informed one of the nice Hyatt employees that we were told we’d be able to load our own luggage and transport it ourselves, or at least supervise its transportation. She responded that it wasn’t allowed, and I was tapping-my-heel-on-the-pristine-tile angry at this point. We had a bad experience losing very valuable luggage last year, and wanted to make sure it didn’t happen again in the frenzy of the hotel lobby on the first day of SJ7. She directed us to her manager, who immediately told us what we had asked was, in fact, allowed and was no problem. We told him to please have a talk with bitchy-mc-too-good-for-nerds, so the mixup didn’t happen again. He was very polite, and our bellboy was a doll, making funny, good conversation with us on the way to our room.

I want to give a shout out to whoever made the GuideBook app for SJ possible. It is a miracle, and nobody has to carry around an awkward paper schedule all day. Plus, you can create your own set-list of events, and even set alarms letting you know when to get your ass down to them.

Friday was amazing, the dealer’s room was sublime, with more swag than you could fit in a TARDIS. I bought more things this year than I ever have, though that may be due to the fact that I actually saved money specifically to spend there.

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Pokemon Polly Pockets…SHUT UP!

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I was finally able to justify spending $75 on a Kigurimi

Artist’s alley was very well laid out, which is something a lot of cons get so, so wrong, (I’m looking at you, Anime Matsuri) and I give mad props to the organized, well flow of traffic SJ7 provided. Lots of great artists this year as well. There is an amazing couple and their son who take green screen photos of con-goers for very reasonable prices, print them out on site, and also send you a copy. They were also at Comicpalooza this year. I love being able to have professional photo booths accessible, and think every con should have at least one.

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I was a bit bummed at the guest list this year, SJ usually has a whole mess of Funimation voice actors, (Chris Sabbat, J. Michael Tatum, Johnny Yong Bosch, etc) but this year the only one I even had interest in or knew about was Chris Ayers, who I love. He’s always professional, hilarious, and blunt. I was most excited about Team Four Star, and really enjoyed their appearances at the Guests Unleashed (18+) panel. (18+) Guest panels are my favorite. They’re amazing, and I wish they would bring back Guest Improv. You feel less like you’re at a panel, and more like you’re listening to your friends tell funny stories over a couple of beers.

We really felt like the craziness of the hotel check-in process and the ever clogged elevators took away from our Friday, which is a shame, because for some reason, SJ7 blew their load with programming on Friday. There was a lot of amazing stuff going on, which is usually reserved for Saturdays, with good reason.

We usually go to the Masquerade dance, but passed this year due to not wanting to have to get dressy with masks, because I have glasses, and also because we’ve been continually disappointed with it. Its fun for about 2 minutes, then you get tired of stepping on toes and bumping into everyone on the dance floor, and all the folks perched on the walls like a bunch of awkward seals.

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Only in Texas

A few things that had changed this year were the line system, and the fact that we weren’t allowed to sit down on the floor. Look, you don’t have to explain safety/fire hazards to me, I get it, but we’ve sat down on the floor before and the world didn’t end. We keep our feet tucked in, don’t block entryways, and keep walking spaces clear. We were rewarded this year by being yelled at for sitting in sometimes hour and a half long lines. I got dirty looks for haunching it, but volunteer be damned if you’re going to tell me I can’t sit on my own gotdamned haunches. Another rule was that lines were only to be formed officially one hour before each event. Obtuse. Arbitrary. Nonsensical. These are all words that spring to mind. What did they want to happen, for everyone to just stand en-masse for the hour mark line to officially form, then make a mad dash for the line and maybe trample each other in the process of trying to get a good seat? I’m a tiny human being at 4’11. A few rows back can be super damning for me depending on the size of the room in question, and I will cut a bronie that doesn’t understand that me sitting in front of them isn’t going to stop them from seeing literally anything. Them sitting in front of me will. Because of my tiny-person syndrome, we like to get to panel lines early so I’m not in a piss poor mood for the entirety of it because I can’t see shit. On one occasion, we formed our own unofficial line, and “hung out” in front of the panel room, in a coincidental line shape. The volunteer was understanding and let us do it, provided that we again, did not sit down.

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Renegades for life sit down when they damn well please

 

The Team Four Star (18+) panel was a whole different bag of rupees. The volunteer was a woman who I can only describe as a self-important evil dictator, who told the people “hanging out” in our very well placed an organized line that we were doing it wrong, wouldn’t be admitted into the panel if we didn’t listen, and were “not anywhere near the official line’s starting point.” She also seemed to enjoy being a bitch to paying con-attendees; almost gleefully toying with us. I’m again, getting pissed, because even at the 2 hour before the panel mark there were well over 300 people waiting. They should start the lines earlier for bigger panels. Period. End of story. As the count down to the official line began, we were told to meander towards her, and when the flags fell, exactly what I thought would happen happened. Lots of pushing and ugliness, lots of pissed off people, and lots of people who had been waiting being forced further back in the line than they deserved. We were rewarded later by my favorite volunteer; I wish I knew his name because though he’s loud and angry he’s always a doll, has been a volunteer as long as I’ve been in attendance, and can only remember him as pokeball-plugs-cool-hair guy. Pokeball-plugs-cool-hair guy told us that in all of his five years at SJ, he’d never had a better experience with a line being formed and organized, which I found funny but was happy to hear after all the arbitrary hullabaloo I’d just been subjected to.

What’s there to say about an SJ Saturday that hasn’t already been said? Saturdays are by far the best day for events and programming, though as I mentioned there was startlingly more on Friday than there usually is. There are tons of con-goers an onlookers alike begging for photos and asking tons of questions. Its a fun, one-of-a-kind experience.

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I was excited about the AMV contest, as I am every year, but this year was a terrible disappointment. It started nearly an hour late, and technical difficulties made it impossible to watch, which is sad, because what we did see promised to be really funny clips. When there was video there was no audio, and vice-versa. David and I had to leave disappointingly early, because we had another panel to get to for fear of being late.

We went to eat at Chili’s near the Rivercenter Mall, which I do not recommend to anyone ever, because the service was awful and I unleashed on a host, who proceeded to ignore me and walk away. Rest assured, It was a justified unleashing, because I may be a heinous bitchface when annoyed, but I can put up with a whole mess of bullshit before being driven to that point. It seems like every year the Rivercenter Mall puts more restrictions on con-goers in costume that want to go there, which is a shame, because again, mad money to be had. This year they added face paint to the no no list, and since I had realistic painted facial scars, we didn’t even attempt trying to enter.

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I can’t even describe the 3DS streetpass meetup. I came to SJ7 with 29 streetpasses, two dungeons cleared, and no puzzles completed. (These are all things that can only be accomplished via streetpass, which is having a 3DS connect with another and upload that user’s Mii into your streetpass universe) and when I left, I had 170 streetpass Mii’s, 5 puzzles completed, and 5 dungeons cleared. Many people. Much pleased. They had ice water, which was awesome, but not enough chairs and tables, and with the no-sit rule, that was a problem. Solution: Pretend you don’t speak English and sit anyways.

The EDM dance was the most fun I have had at one to date, mucho sweatiness but very well organized, and I didn’t get tired of the music immediately, as I often do, even though I love dance music. Some of it is just a little too obscure for me.

We also went to Karaoke in our pajamas, which was entertaining, but the sign up wait was way too long, and we left before my songs came up. The guy helping run it was also very dull, and I had to sit and watch him chew on a greasy hunk of pizza with his mouth open, which I did not enjoy. It’s a fun environment, no rudeness, and everyone is happy and supportive of the singers.

If you’re wondering why I excluded the Cosplay Competition, its because we never go. Not because we don’t want to, but because its a long, labor filled process and we really don’t like waiting in line. The end.

Sunday came, and we woke up early, because the Cosplay Swap Meet started at 9:30. We’re lucky we did, because we heard later that the Hyatt was so clogged and backed up that some people were stuck in their rooms for 2+ hours waiting to get out of there. The Cosplay Swap Meet was awesome, run by a very kind and professional young lady, who was nice and informative to newer swap-meeters. The room itself was quite large, but there really weren’t enough tables and chairs to display all of the swag to be had. The Lolita Swap Meet came next, which was weird; it should have gone either first or last since it was the most polarized meet, and most people would have to leave the Cosplay Meet and come back for the regular Swap Meet at 2:30. A very nice volunteer let us store our things in the back of the room, since we’d already checked out and didn’t want to lug it around. (We had a lot of stuff this year) In the meantime, we did our last walk-through of the dealers room and Artist’s alley, had lunch, picked up our green screen pictures, and returned for the Swap Meet.

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Its always a party in the Dealer’s Room

If you’re unfamiliar with SJ’s yearly Swap Meets, you’re missing out. Its an amazingly innovative and fun experience, where you bring nerd-culture things you no longer want to trade for things you do want. Exchanges of money are not allowed, at all. One of my favorite parts of the meet is seeing someone’s eyes light up when they find something in my stash that I never considered important and don’t want anymore, and trading it for something of their own. Everyone is always so happy, and there’s no hard feelings for trades that don’t quite match up. What I don’t like about some new Swap Meet developments, and formally complained about last year, is the actual shops and stores that come to them with brand new stuff, and are rarely willing to trade with others, because lets face it, not a lot of what we bring is actually worth very much, hence the point. I got really angry last year when I heard the words “retail value” thrown casually around. I do not fucking care about retail value at a swap meet, because we’re not at a fucking store, we’re at a nerdy swap fest, and some of the people that come with that attitude are downright assholes.

Sundays are always very emotional for me. As I said, SJ is my yearly vacation, where I get to let go, wear whatever I want, do fun things that I love, and meet new like-minded people, all without fear of being judged by the “normals.” I can truly be free there, and that’s why I’ll never stop going, and hope they never stop doing what they do. Every year has its ups and downs, but this year was one for the record books, despite all the complaining I did. I called out some volunteers and Hyatt staff, but trust me, they’re not all like that, and they bust their asses trying to keep the con going and working for us on this rare fantasy weekend we have all come to love. As we were getting ready to leave, I cried, because I knew it was over, and I would be subjected to the real, stupid dickwaffle world the next day. (At 6AM, no less. Thanks, work!)

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I will always, always recommend San Japan to anyone new to the convention scene, and anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of attending before. SJ8: 8-Bit, is already scheduled for July 31st- August 2nd 2015, (Aaaaah, the heat of August!) and I can’t wait to buy my passes and book my hotel room.

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Get ready for FATALITIES – San Japan WINS!

SJ7 : Samurai 7:

catbugs

9.5/10 Cat Bugs!

Relate links to photos that were not taken by myself:

 

 

http://blogs.sacurrent.com/art_slut/on-the-ground-report-from-an-anime-nerd-at-san-japan-7/

http://www.mysanantonio.com/entertainment/slideshow/San-Japan-Day-2-90035/photo-6618365.php

http://better-holiday.com/san-antonio-riverwalk-holiday-texas.html

http://www.thealamotrolley.com/stops/riverwalk.html

http://therivardreport.com/san-japan/

https://www.facebook.com/Pawstar

http://www.geeksofdoom.com/2014/07/23/con-report-san-japan-samurai-7

 

Loot Crate: July 2014 Unboxing “Villains”

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I’m back again with my second unboxing, for July 2014’s Loot Crate. If you read my first unboxing post in June, you know I was a little nervous about signing up for LC, and a bit disheartened that my first, birthday month crate was “Transform” themed. Now, I’m not a huge fan of Transformers, if memory serves you, but I wasn’t completely disappointed with June’s box. I loved the shirt, and wear it all the time! Imagine how excited I was when they rolled out the theme for July, and it was “Villains.” I’m going to tell you a little something about me; I love bad things. Bad boys, bad girls, bad weather, bad movies, bad music, etc. In a word, this theme was perfect for me. The teasers for this month were insane, with an alleged value of $40 worth of swag in July’s box, and a limited LC exclusive edition variant cover for Marvel’s Rocket Raccoon. LC pulled out all the stops with advertising, and everyone was waiting with bated breath for the email confirming their box was on the way to them, including moi. Without further ado, let’s see “WHAT’S IN THE BOX?!” (Here’s to you, Kevin Spacey) July 2014 Loot Crate: “VILLAINS!”

First of all, the box was bigger this month! Very exciting!

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Upon opening, we see the adorable, highschool, sharpie-esque doodles, done by the “villains” who apparently put the box together and saw fit to vandalize it.

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First off, we have a lovely Joker and Harley Quinn Poster that I cannot wait to get framed and hang up in my home.

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Then, we have one of the big sells for July’s crate, the limited LC exclusive edition variant cover for Marvel’s Rocket Raccoon, which I will never ever ever take out of the sleeve.

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Very, very, happy about the Deadpool Socks! I’m already a cute sock addict, and LC is feeding that.

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Cute, but will probably end up in my loot at the next convention swap meet I go to, A Darth Vader keychain.

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Necessary Evil DVD, a documentary narrated by Christopher Lee, “that explores the villains of the DC Universe…”

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Love this, love this, love this Bowser Magnet! (We know you do, Bowser)

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We’ve got the LC monthly zene with cute cover and back, (I prefer the back because #loki) and the monthly collectible LC pin.

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Oh, you thought I was done? OF COURSE I’M NOT DONE, YOU FOOLS! On to the July Crate’s Magnum Opus, THE JOKI SHIRT!!!!

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“Why so burdened with glorious purpose?”

I am beyond happy with this shirt, and it definitely gets preference over the Marty McPrime shirt from June’s crate! I’ve always been fond of The Joker, (is their any villain lover who isn’t?) However, if you know me, you know I am in love with Loki. Like, I have a commissioned picture of him and a Lego Loki keychain on my car keys, in love, and while that may pale in comparison to most fangirls’ adoration of him, I’m a 24 year-old adult, and that’s all of the obsession over a fictional character I’m willing to publicly own up to. Obviously, I’m extremely pleased with the theme, the crate, the everything! Loot Crate did not disappoint with all of the ad pushing and promotional teasers. Next Month’s theme has already been revealed to be “Heroes,” and I hope they blow it all out of the water in August just like they did in July!

LC JULY 2014: “VILLAINS”

catbugs

9.5/10 Cat Bugs!