Thursday, September 30, 2010

Exploring Religions and Cultures

   Keeping on the path of hitting multiple subjects within the shared theme of this blog, I chose to do my next entry on religious and cultural ideas.  Keep in mind I shall do more in the future as well, there are just too many to cover in one entry.

   Religion and culture are uplifting, something to be proud of and relish in most cases, markers of us all as we are now and our history.  The aforementioned can also be frighteningly portrayed and flooded with every single thing you would never want to be apart of.  Side note: I know a lot of you will just skim over this, but at least check out the Naraka section.

1.   Baron Samedi

   Baron Samedi is a prominent loa (spirit) within Hatian Vodou (Voodoo) who is the spirit of sex and resurrection, as well as the gatekeeper to the realm of the dead.   Often characterized as wearing a black top-hat and suit and being very gaunt, sometime even being a skeleton.  You have probably seen reference to this spirit in a lot of places, the typical Voodoo villain in any movie (The Princess and the Frog for example), show, game, etc. are usually incarnations of Samedi.  So who is Baron Samedi?  Essentially he is the badass of Vodou spirits; he either is always smoking a cigar or drinking rum (or both), he digs your grave when you die and greets you between the world of living and dead, he can cure any disease or remove any hex, swears and makes filthy jokes with both mortals and spirits, lusts after mortal women, and has a hardy craving for peanuts, black coffee, and bread.  He is so cool that lesser spirits in the Invisible Realm (Spirit world) copy his style.  You may think you are throwing a party, but it is just not so until Samedi shows up by driving a stretched Cadillac through your house and drinks all your booze while shooting your TV with a .357 Magnum.  Ok, so I do not know if he likes shooting guns, but he is too cool not to.
                                                  Remember me?  No?  Well, I run a chain of strip joints now.  Honest.   


2.  Chhinnamasta

   Chhinnamasta  ("She whose head is severed") is a goddess from Hinduism, but is very well known  in Tibetan Buddhism as Vajrayogini.  A pretty striking goddess to say the least.  Symbolizing both self-control, sexual desire, and self-sacrifice.  Hinduism being highly paradoxical, places the symbolism behind Chhinnamasta both as a life giver and taker.  As stated, she is remarked mostly for her self-sacrifice, but as equally well known for her sexual-dominance, self-destruction, and fury.
   It is only when you read the tales of Chhinnamasta that you get a grasp of how incredibly hardcore and gruesome she was.  I will not recite the exact stories but just list some short details.

I.  Chhinnamasta is almost always accompanied by her two attendants as the picture shows, Dakini and Varnini.  One day the two complained to Chhinnamasta how they were hungry, so she promised them that should would feed them later.  When the time came to feed them she used her own nails to decapitate herself and fed her blood to them.
II. In the great god and demon war she aided the gods.  After killing every demon she cut off her head and drank her own blood.
III. There was a time when the gods and demons churned the milk ocean for the potion of immortality, when all was gathered Chhinnamasta drank all the demons share and then cut off her own head so that the demons could never attain a drop.

   As I said, Chhinnamasta is hardcore.  I would like to say that you should all expect an entry on Kali at some point, equally as dualistic and terrifying in nature as Chhinnamasta, but I bet some of the stories will surprise you.

3.  Naraka

Business as usual in The Hot Naraka.

   Naraka is Buddhist Hell.  Just to give you an opening impression of how fucked up and horrifying Naraka is, if I was forced to choose between going to Naraka or Catholic/Christian Hell, I would select to go Catholic/Christian Hell in a second.  I am not saying C/C Hell is for pussies or a cake walk, just that if you go by Dante`s Hell (Pandemonium) or what is in the Bible everything seems set in stone.  You do this, this happens and you go here, and it sucks.  Naraka on the other hand makes a sport of killing and torturing you in some of the most spectacular of ways.  Not only are you in constant pain and fear for EONS but you progress through levels of hell, each longer (Each life-time is 20x longer than the previous in the Cold Naraka) and worse (somehow) than the preceding level.  Also bare in mind that there are various Hells, the most well known are The Hot and Cold Narakas.

The Cold Naraka is possibly the most desolate, isolated, and foreboding hell.  Its absolute pain comes not only from its isolation and cold, but the limbo it presents.  You do nothing, you just lay, and as time slowly moves along you are punished further.  Here are the contents of the Cold Naraka:

Arbuda.  A blister realm.  An extremely cold and dark world filled with plains and icy mountains that are constantly swept by blizzards.  You are found here alone and naked the entire time and the cold is so severe your skin blisters.  The length of time you spend here is said to last as long as it would take to empty a barrel full of seeds at the rate of taking one seed out every 100 years, keep in mind each level lasts 20x longer as the former level you came from.
Nirarbuda.  The burst blister realm.  Here it is even colder than Arbuda, and those blisters you had explode as you lay around chilling (PUNS!) with frozen pus and blood.  Fun times.
Atata.  In this realm you begin to shiver and the entire time you make the sound "atatatatata".
Hahava.  Lamenting Hell.  Here the shivering chants become painful cries of "ha, ho".
HuHuva.  The realm of chattering teeth.  You shiver more furiously and your teeth chatter and gnash making the sound "hu, hu".
Utpala.  Your skin turns blue from the intense cold.
Padma.  That blue skin that is covered with blisters now becomes raw and cracks, causing you to bleed out.
Mahapadma.  The final realm in the Cold Naraka.  You are shivering in pain and your teeth are chattering.  You are covered in blisters with blue skin that has cracked and now bleeds.  The cold at its worst now, completely cracks your skin open exposing your internal organs and they too freeze, crack, and bleed.

   Holy shit, that is awful...  BUT WAIT IT GETS BETTER!  If you think the Cold Naraka is bad, which it is, the Hot Naraka is the Disney World of sadism.  As mentioned, in the introduction, the demons here make a sport of doing the worst things possible to you.  Seriously, they take time to just sit and think of what they are going to do to you because there is nothing but time for them to punish you.   Here are the highlights of what a wonderful trip the Hot Naraka could bring to you and your loved ones:

Sanjiva.  The reviving realm.  As soon as you are here you enter into a state of misery and fear.  The ground is solid but as hot as iron heated by immense flames.  If I read this correctly, you are actually with other people, the thing is that as soon as you begin to fear being hurt (which is automatic) others will attack and kill you, and if you or others do not engage in combat, demons attack you with weapons that are on fire.  As soon as you "die" you revive in full health and the cycle repeats.  Other fun activities include; having molten iron poured on you or into your mouth and being chopped into many small pieces.  It is fun in its own sick way to think about the name of this Hell.  The Reviving Hell, it is as if to say; hey are you in for it now but this is just a taste.  You spend 620,000,000,000 years here and each following realm lasts much longer than the previous one.
Kalasutra.  The Black Thread.  Not only do the merriments of the Sanjiva take place here, but the addition of demons drawing black lines upon your body comes into play.  The demons cut you apart with saws that are on fire using the black lines they drew on you as a guide for the cuts.
Samghata.  The Crushing Hell.  The ground is not "hot like heated iron", no, it really is hot iron this time. You run around as giant rocks smash together with you in between them until you become an ooze and jelly of blood and flesh.  Then the rocks part, you are reborn, and it all repeats.
Raurava.  The Screaming Hell.  The ground is still absurdly hot and you run around screaming looking for shelter.  When you eventually find shelter Raurava completely shits on you by locking you inside and lighting it on fire as you scream more.  Evil.
Maharaurava.  The piercing Hell.  This is an interesting one due to its focus in terms of participants and reflection of the Karma that led them here.  This place is specially reserved for those who had a life of bettering or maintaining their bodies by hurting others.  Here you run wild as all forms of animal-like demons nip, bite, and devour your flesh and body.
Tapana.  The Heating Hell.  Here demons impale your body upon spears that are once again on fire until flames pour out of your every orifice.
Pratapana.  The Great Heating Hell.  Very similar to Tapana in regards to style of punishment... except it is all amplified.  No more spears, instead tridents or other multi-pronged stakes become used to impale you.
Avici.  Final level, The Uninterrupted Hell.  Once again, if I understand correctly, those spears that were on fire they used to impale you with are now used as spits to roast you alive over a terrible flame as you experience unexplainable pain.

  Now these are only 2 Nakara`s, there are claims of over 500 to 700 various Hells, each as unsettling.

   I hope you all enjoyed the entry, I tried to balance it out as best as possible with the content and its severity.  For my future entry on religion and culture I will try to remember to present Dante`s Hell and Kali.  I have to give a huge thanks to my girlfriend who presented these ideas to me.  This is for you honeybee.  An additional thanks goes to the Monster Brains Blog for the Naraka pictures.  Check out Monster Brains if you really enjoy this blog.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Beasts and Monsters

   I am going to change it up and share some favorite animals of mine.  By all accounts most of these animals would be considered monsters, hushed warnings mothers told their children to make them behave.  Yet, since they do exist and are well known we merely consider them animals.  Scary and vicious animals, but animals none the less.  I say all of this because I hold so much respect and admiration for these beasts.  I am especially fascinated by ocean life and animals that have been on the earth in one form or another for a very long time.
   Side note:  Whenever I hear about some zoo incident or story about how some person who owned an exotic animal got mauled by it I always think, "Well what the fuck did you expect? They are a wild animal".  The story of that lady having her face ripped off by a chimpanzee, or some dickhead being attacked by a bear or lion at the zoo come to mind and happen all too often.  Stop fucking with wild animals dummies.
   Second side note:  I hate monkeys, more so the ones that steal from people, I would punch the shit out of monkey if it stole something from me, just saying.

1.  Sharks

   Just to further elaborate on the point I made in the opening paragraph I would like to present a scenario.  Imagine we never knew of Great White Sharks and I told you there was this thing in the ocean whose entire evolution centered around it becoming the best killing machine possible within natural limits.  That there is a monster who has rows of serrated teeth that rest upon a jaw that extends outwards when it is about to eat you.  It uses those very same teeth to not only pull you in but tear and saw off large portions of your body as it shakes and spins to further reap with a bite force averaging around 4000lbs (if 20 ft or longer), and when teeth come out as it rips you apart, new ones grow behind it.  Holding an average weight of around 4000lbs at maturity.  This animal also has an extra sense that allows it to detect  the electromagnetic field emitted by the movement of living animals, meaning that it allows it to sense any animals movement, even its heart beat if close enough.  That is a monster.

   And lets not forget the wonderful variations of the shark family.  This guy below for example, the Goblin Shark.  It is incredibly grotesque, if you watch the video you can see how its jaw retracts then extends, its sickening.  I love it.


2. Deep Sea Life

Oh hay, just your nightmares come to life making an appearance.

   It seems as though the deeper you plunge into the ocean, the darker and scarier it gets, which makes perfect sense considering there is no light and animals have to adapt.  Even acknowledging the previous comment, the creatures you encounter at the ocean`s depths are unreal and all too disturbing.  I do not even want to image what these creatures look like as they eat.   Seemingly appearing as an abomination cast straight from the old testament these underworld animals live in complete darkness and thrive in a desolate, cold, and hostile environment. 
   I am waiting for the day when someone comes up to the surface and has footage of some massive beast that has eyes that are the size of a house.  The Colossal Squid is fantastic but I am waiting for a leviathan to emerge, then again I run this blog and daydream too much.  Speaking of the Colossal Squid, I would like to share some fun-facts about it.

1.  The Colossal Squid does not have suckers unlike puny Giant Squids and Octopi.  No, the Colossal Squid instead has sharp hooks that swivel and are sometimes 3 pronged
2.  It can reach a maximum size of 30 to 46 feet.
3.  They fight whales.  Granted, they do not win most of the time, but they fight whales.
Realistic ratio of Colossal Squid to a human in terms of size.  Ironically enough the squid`s size is also proportionate to shit you would blast if it was this close to you.

Take it in.

Before I move on I wanted to display one more creature from the deep sea.  The Dumbo Octopus.
This one is actually a cutey and seems harmless enough.  I would give him a snack.  

3.  Bugs.

I find this both beautiful and grotesque at the same time.

   Insects may not always be the most dangerous organism in the world, but damned if they are not ugly and gross.   You know what I hate seeing?  Bugs eating other bugs.  I remember watching some documentary on insects and seeing a Praying Mantis devouring some other poor bastard`s head while it was still alive.  Makes my skin crawl.  If you ever want to share my misery, be sure to google or youtube "bug fights", you will have the chance to see some of the most horrendous insects put in a small space and kill and eat each other in gruesome ways. Very gross.  Be sure to check out "Beetle fights" afterwards because it is cute and funny to see them push each other off a log, maybe it is just me though.  
   Back to the subject at hand.  Some bugs are just gross, how many of you have cringed from the sight of....
"I crawl on you when you go to sleep and take naps in your ears."
   Thousand Leggers man, what the hell.  Every summer I get at least 2 to 3 of this in my house and every time I just want to kill it as fast as possible.  Just the idea of one of them around me makes me want to burn my house down if only to kill it in the process.  Give me an African or Giant Centipede any day, just keep the Thousand Leggers down in Hell where they belong.  

   Do you feel itchy yet?  Does it feel like insects are crawling on you? Did you see one out of the corner of your eye?  What would you do for Klondike Bar?  Bugs can be terrifying and beautiful.  More so beautiful when oh my god there are bugs all over me, kill me now.

4.  A Mystery Fighter Approaches!  Fungi!

  Yes, Fungi.  Not the kind you eat in salads or on the weekends while attending a concert.  Cordyceps Ophioglossoides.  What are they you ask?  Well they are a branch of sac fungi that that include 400 known species.  Each member of the species loves one particular insect.  I will cut the bullshit build-up and just break it down now.  Cordyceps release spores that affect one type of insect, the spores are taken into the host and grow from within it.  Some Cordyceps even make its host go mad as it festers from within it, or take control.  It has been observed that ants overtaken by the spore will climb as high as possible, so that when the spores that have been growing within it break through its body it can further spread more spores.  Lets put that into perspective,  You are an ant, and somewhere out there is a fungi made just to go into your body, grow, make you go insane and climb as high as possible so it can tear your body apart to spread itself more.  What the fuck.  Ants that observe other Ants over taken by the mushroom often usher the body away so that it cannot spread.  Let me also remind you that there are 400 types of this mushroom, all for various insects.  

Link to video:

There are some terrifying things for you to chew on.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Movie suggestions

   I write this both as an immediate place to begin and as a personal record.  As this blog progresses I shall make more movie suggestions, so expect to see it often.  I was considering making this first post a huge list of recommendations to lay down all at once but I thought it over and would prefer to do a few at a time and explore them as I go.  If anyone would like, I could make that list in an entire post and then expand on the selections in future posts.   As a forewarning I should say that I am not a fan of most slasher and gorno/torture-porn films.

The Fly.  Genre: Body Horror, Science Fiction, Drama, Psychological.  
   This film is quite a well known classic so I will not get into the basic plot but suggest the viewer look past the mutation and surrounding horror and invest more into the main character`s relationship with one another.  My friend said it best that the film is like watching a loved one die, or seeing someone fall to drugs.  Here is this person you love and they rapidly change and become a monster until you no longer recognize them.  Now all that you loved about them and the relationship you shared rot, become abstract and terrible.  A potent parable.  I would also like to mention Jeff Goldblum was made for this role and is not a bad arm-wrestler.

Hellraiser.  Genre: Holy shit, did he just flay that guy?  Drama, Psychological, Supernatural.  
   First let me address that damn near every movie after the first two lost the soul of the Hellraiser series, pardoning both Inferno and Hellseeker who returned to the roots as best as possible.  Before Pinhead and the Cenobites became slasher garbage who only served the purpose to murder people in absurd ways there was Julia Cotton and her tale in Hellraiser 1 and 2.  When you read the comics, and watch Hellraiser 1, 2, and Inferno you get a better grasp of the original intentions.  Pinhead, the Cenobites, Hell, they were all grim backdrops to human drama and old sins.  Granted, in the comics there were story lines centered around Hell`s Politics, but I personally believe Hellraiser is at its finest when it is more about the human drama that was seen with Julia Cotton and her family, followed by severity of consequence rather shitty slasher.  The aesthetic of hell and the Cenobites are extremely pleasing as well.  Grotesque, BDSM, polarizing, and terrible.               
   At times I wonder if Hellraiser was a precursor to the modern torture-porn films from it`s slasher days, and that should not be read as; Hellraiser is responsible for gorno/ torture-porn.  I realize there are a lot older films that could have inspired such. 
    I am interested in seeing how the remake is going to come along but my expectations are not high.

   At this point I feel like I should throw in some older or more obscure movies from some cred.  Fuck that, those will arrive in future posts.

The Thing remake.  Genre: Body Horror, Science Fiction, Suspense, That dog seems fine enough.
   Wow, another horror staple that pretty much anyone who is interested in horror already has seen and adores.  This movie does so much so well; Intense and desolate atmosphere, suspense and paranoia, suitable to well done acting performances, easily one of the most disturbing and horrifying monsters ever that enriches the plot and atmosphere, excellent pacing, and two of my most favorite aspects of horror films and writing: dread and doom.  I think there comes a time in everyone`s first viewing of this film that the awareness that this is not going to end well at all occurs, and yet the tense atmosphere and mystery of who is infected and what will become of those poor souls carry the viewer on.  If by some chance you have not seen this film, see it.

The Ring, American Remake.  Genre: Suspense, Surreal, Supernatural, Burn all VHS tapes.
  A remake that improved upon an original film tremendously?  Who would have thunk it?  Having seen both, there is no doubt in my mind the remake is the superior film.  The surreal aesthetics and shots alone make me drool.  The art nerd inside of me aside, what makes the remake better are a couple of factors.  
   If you compare the coherency and clarity of the stories in both films, the remake is strikingly more approachable to both any immediate audience, and those who like to dive deeper.  Do not get me wrong, I am a big fan of movies and writing that indulge the reader to make their own connections, pick up on subtitles, and genuinely think of what is being presented, but the original is too obscure at times and this especially becomes apparent in the comparison of both films.  
   Secondly, the pacing in the remake is near perfection. I can still recall how the first viewing of the remake captured me and built tension the entire film.  From the first flash of that face riddled with pain and fear, to the mother and child copying the tape, I was sucked in and never faltered from attention.  
    Another aspect of the remake that stood out to me in comparison to the original was the attachment to the characters.  Naomi Watts, being the incredible actress she is, does a wonderful job as lead, you sense her fear and disbelief as she nears the ladder, you see her desperation.  With the original I did not have as much of a connection with anyone, it was more of a detached observation.  
   There is more to mention as well, but at that point it feels like nitpicking.  This is a fine horror film filled with gorgeous imagery and at the time it came out it was extremely refreshing to the genre.  I feel it is safe to say that The Ring remake also ushered in the coming American/Japan horror remake exchange we see today, which in itself is a nice claim to have.  It is just a shame that Pulse and The Grudge are complete trash compared to the originals, but that is something I shall get into later.

Well there you have it, the first post.  Thoughts, arguments, and additions are very welcome.  
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