Creepy Countdown: Secure, Contain, Protect

This bat has now been successfully contained.

Last part of AddAltMode’s Creepy Countdown series

That’s it! No more creepiness, no more weirdness. All the spooky, anomalous stuff around here is going to be sequestered away and locked up in the name of public safety by a Secretive Creepy Person.

A secretive governmental organisation, a Foundation if you will, is going to intervene and take away all the freaky stuff so that it can’t hurt anyone… or, in some cases, hurt everyone. The SCP Foundation will take any steps necessary to Secure and Contain hazardous and supernatural items, creatures,  and people in order to Protect the general public.

The SCP wiki is a collaboratively-written collection of horror, science-fiction and weird fantasy stories based on the unifying theme of a shadowy pan-governmental agency which hides away monsters, ghost and supernatural artifacts in order to prevent these things from harming people. The contained objects range from being slightly wierd and a bit creepy, to world-endingly powerful and malevolent. The Foundation doesn’t destroy anomalous items unless it has no other recourse: careful study of these items might bring about the next big scientific breakthrough — or it might bring knowledge that proves to be the best chance of containing the next big scary anomaly.

The backbone of the site is the listings of “Operational Information” on contained anomalies. These stories take the form of containment procedures, safety notes and descriptions of anomalous items that are in the Foundation’s care. Many of these are “Redacted” for reasons of security and safety: with blocks of text blanked out with black bars.

There’re a lot of good stories on this wiki, but here are 10 of my favourites, with some text [redacted] to prevent spoilers:

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Film Review: Crimson Peak

Part of AddAltMode's Creepy Countdown series

AddAltMode’s cinematic Creepy Countdown choice

Year: 2015
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston

Guillermo del Toro is a director who is remarkable for his strong artistic vision and for the unbridled passion he displays for the various genres in which he works. His latest film, Crimson Peak, is no exception on either count. A beautifully macabre treat for the eyes, I honestly can’t remember the last time I watched a movie quite so visually sumptuous. It’s also a work that really embraces its genre, although that isn’t perhaps the genre some filmgoers may have been expecting…

Mia Wasikowska in Legendary Pictures Crimson Peak. Screencap from Official Trailer

Mia Wasikowska in Legendary Pictures Crimson Peak. Screencap from Official Trailer

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Halloween Transformers Episode Appreciation 2: Thirst (Transformers Prime)

Part of AddAltMode's Creepy Countdown series

Part of AddAltMode’s Creepy Countdown series

IT LIVES! Time now for part two of our double feature exploring the creepiest cartoon episodes that the Transformers canon has to offer. Part one, which examines the origin story of Transfomers Animated‘s Blackarachnia, can be found here. Unlike that first pick, my second episode selection doesn’t overtly have a Hallowe’en setting. Nobody actually chooses a pumpkin or goes trick or treating here. Yet surely there can be no Transformers moments that more deliciously capture the spooky season’s general love of all things horror than “Thirst,” otherwise known as Transformers Prime does Zombies.

Starscream and Knock Out. Just look at those faces! There's definitely more trick than treat gong down in this episode. (Screencap from TF Prime episode 60)

Starscream and Knock Out. Just look at those faces! There’s definitely more trick than treat going down in this episode. (Screencap from TF Prime episode 60)

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Halloween Transformers Episode Appreciation 1: Along Came a Spider (Transformers Animated)

Part of AddAltMode's Creepy Countdown series

Part of AddAltMode’s Creepy Countdown series

It was inevitable that we’d find a way to shoehorn in some Transformers-related content somewhere along the wooded, winding and deliberately badly-lit path of our Creepy Countdown series, so here we go…

Across the vast corpus of Transformers TV show content there have to have been some episodes that would make for sufficiently spooky viewing, and indeed there are. It doesn’t happen too often but when Transformers cartoons do decide to engage with scary tropes they pretty much go all in: from All Hallow’s Eve-set episodes that see the Cybertronian immigrants struggle with the night’s candy grabbing traditions, via reanimated zombie showdowns to that classic horror staple, spiders, oh so many spiders – here with a robot twist of course. So grab your pumpkin-flavoured popcorn and sit back for the first of two posts in which I recommend and appreciate a double bill of the finest Hallowe’en episodes the franchise has to offer…

When Transformers do Hallowe'en, things get weird fast

When Transformers do Hallowe’en, things get weird fast. Screenshot from Transformers Animated Ep.9.

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Geekily Ever After? AddAltMode’s Top 10 Tips for a Lasting Geek Relationship

This summer B and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary. According to UK tradition this apparently was our “woollen” anniversary – although a more appropriate material for us would surely have been plastic seeing as we spent our anniversary weekend at Auto Assembly! Who says romance is dead? Now a Transformers convention may not be too many people’s idea of a romantic date but it’s fitting for us in many ways as our geeky interests and passions have always been an central element in our relationship. Like any partnership, ours has had its ups and downs over the years, but we’re glad to still be going strong after 7 years of marriage and almost 15 together as a couple (yeah, we didn’t exactly rush down the aisle).

PixelHeartWe’re often asked what is the secret behind our successful marriage, and I’m not sure there is one – although friendship, compromise, stubbornness and yes, just sheer luck certainly all have had their roles to play. But even if there’s no magic formula we’ve learned a few things over the years about making a relationship last and we thought we’d share them today. Now, relationship advice isn’t a topic we’d normally cover here on AddAltMode but, as you’ll see, it isn’t a million miles away from our regular programming. This is a geek blog, and over the years we’ve come to realise that the fact that we’re both massive geeks isn’t just a key element in why we get along so well, it also provides a shared language and some handy frames of reference for many of things we’ve learned on our journey together to date…

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Creepy Countdown: Spooky Scary Skeletons

Part of AddAltMode's Creepy Countdown series

Part of AddAltMode’s Creepy Countdown series

Well hello, internet! This post is part of AddAltMode’s Creepy Countdown. Cue bat (on the right):

Today I’m going to talk about skeletons; specifically, I’m going to list some of the more interesting ambulatory skeletons in geek culture. Skeletons are a necessary thing for vertebrates like ourselves, dear reader. (If you’re not a vertebrate, then please don’t be offended.) They stop you from being a pile of meat flopping about on the floor, or having to leave a trail of your own mucus on which to glide. No offense to snails, but their preferred method of locomotion is less than dynamic, and it makes a mess on carpet.

The problem with skeletons is what happens when black magic gets involved, and they get uppity and decide to claw their way out from that itchy overcoat of suffocatingly warm meat that they’re covered in and feel the moonlight on their skulls.

So, on to the list…

Even scarier is that they dnace like this to dubstep. Wubwubwubwub.

Still from “The Skeleton Dance“, © Disney 1929

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Halloween Soundtracks: The Vision Bleak

Part of AddAltMode's Creepy Countdown series

Part of AddAltMode’s Creepy Countdown series

So, Hallowe’en draws nearer and our Creepy Countdown continues. Today I’ll be discussing soundtrack choices for this spookiest time of the year, and oh there are so many to choose from! It’s a well known cliché that the Devil has all the best tunes and this is a great time of year to put that to the test. The soundtrack to Hallowe’en can run anywhere from the old classics like Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” or Bobby “Boris” Pickett & The Crypt Kickers’ “Monster Mash” through The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack (always a good choice) right through to horror-inspired rockers like Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie or even the much missed Type O Negative who have numerous Hallowe’en themed songs (RIP Pete Steele).  But today I’m going to enthuse about a band you perhaps may not have heard of. Ladies and Gentlemen, I bring you symphonic German horror metallers The Vision Bleak.

vision bleak

The archaic structure of the band’s name together with their ornate logo should immediately clue you in to their interest in horror, and not just any horror but the epic grandeur of old school creepy tropes: candlelit journeys by horse and carriage through dark, sprawling forests, highway men and mysterious strangers. As I commented recently in my review of Dan Simmons’ faux-Victorian novel, Drood, there’s something particularly atmospheric about spooky tales set in the past. The Vision Bleak are a band who understand this and manage to bring an 18th/19th century classic Gothic sensibility to their music even while rocking out with modern electric instruments and drawing on a much wider range of overall influences: from dark fairy tales of werewolves, witches and headless horsemen right through to the works of H.P. Lovecraft and the films of John Carpenter…

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Game Review: Transformers Devastation

Type of game: Action beat ’em up
Developer: Platinum Games
Publisher: Activision
Year:  2015
Played on: Steam

“Good things come in small packages” sounds just like the sort of thing Bumblebee might say. On my first run through of this brand new Transformers-themed brawler by Platinum games I played entirely as Bumblebee; partly because he was always one of my favourites to play in the High Moon Cybertron games and partly just because, with only five playable characters on offer here, there isn’t that much choice anyway. But it turns out Bee was a highly appropriate starting selection since he’s a rather fitting embodiment of the game as a whole. Just like that iconic yellow Autobot, Transformers Devastation is bright and pleasingly designed, drawn to fast paced action and tons of nostalgic fun to be around, but more than a little on the short side…

Fun, fast-paced, nostalgic but short. Bumblebee model screencap from Transformers Devastation

Fun, fast-paced, nostalgic but short. Bumblebee model screencap from Transformers Devastation

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Creepy Countdown: Scariest Magic Cards

Part of AddAltMode's Creepy Countdown series

Part of AddAltMode’s Creepy Countdown series

Here at AddAltMode, we have a reasonably-sized collection of Magic The Gathering cards. For those who don’t know what Magic is, it’s the archetypal trading card game, the ur-CCG. It’s a game involving decks of cards which represent lands (which generate resources), creatures (which fight the players enemies) and spells (which can do just about anything). Players take the role of reality-hopping über-wizards called Planeswalkers, and battle opponents across a setting which encompasses a vast Multiverse.

Each card features art, which is created specifically for the cards, and is often very good indeed, often nominated for Spectrum awards. Some cards are rather creepy, with creepy art, creepy flavour text or both.  This article is where I’ll show some love for some of the creepiest — not necessarily the strongest or best cards  — just the creepiest and most wrong.

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Toy Review: Combiner Wars Leader Class Starscream

Hello my name is AddAltModeR  and I am a Starscreamaholic. The backstabbing Seeker is probably my single favourite Transformers character. I love the design of the Seekers in general and, having done a postgraduate degree in Renaissance Literature, I really have been primed to appreciate the theatrical — nay, positively Shakespearean — extent of his villainy. Here’s a character who can truly be relied upon to betray you; putting the “deception” into Decepticon time after time after time. Starscream toys are my weakness, and I have more versions of him in the plastic than any other character. In that respect, I guess I’m a bit like Megatron: I know full well that Screamer is bad for me but I just can’t resist keeping him around!

Coronation, Starscream? This is bad comedy.

Coronation, Starscream? This is bad comedy.

Hasbro’s new Leader Class Starscream has just been released as part of the Combiner Wars line although – like other Leader class figures we’ve picked up, such as Megatron and Ultra Magnus — he’s a standalone toy who doesn’t participate in the combining gimmick. Originally built for the Generations line as Jetfire (complete with some of the nastiest red metallised plastic weapons I’ve seen), the mold was remodelled for Combiner Wars and first released as Thundercracker. I was pretty sold on Thundercracker after reading FigureFan Zero’s great review of him; and seeing the blue Seeker in the plastic at Auto Assembly only confirmed those positive first impressions. It’s quite refreshing that Hasbro released Thundercracker first this time, giving the most intelligent Seeker a bit of love and some time in the spotlight.  But a red and grey recolour was inevitable and fangirl that I am, I decided to resist the temptation of Thundercracker and wait for another Starscream to add to my collection.  Was he worth the wait? Read on and see…

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