Friday, 29 April 2016



At the heart of it, Creepypasta is all about creating a horror that lives on, one that people take to their hearts and help propagate.
Often this is done unwittingly, tricking an unsuspecting reader into believing that it is a genuine story and spreading it by way of a warning. But, on rare occasions, the reader is let in on the falsehood of the story and encouraged to adapt and expand upon it as they see fit. This becomes a kind of creation by committee.
It was through such a manner that one of the first and most enduring of Creepypasta monsters was created. That monster is called The Rake.

The creature that was to become The Rake was created on that regular Creepypasta birthing ground, 4chan’s /b/ board. An anonymous user opened the discussion towards the end of 2005 with the prophetic post: hey /b/ lets make a new monster.
Encouraging fellow users to submit ideas from the darkest depths of their imagination, different members of the /b/ community contributed, suggesting various types of weird and wonderful beastie.
However, along the way it became obvious that certain ideas were gaining more traction with the board.
Another anonymous user started a new thread based on one of these, which read:
Alright, this is for the people who like the three-eyes, no apparent mouth, pale skin one. Here’s what we’ve got so far: Humanoid, about six feet tall when standing, but usually crouches and walks on all fours. It has very pale skin. The face is blank. As in, no nose, no mouth. However, it has three solid green eyes, one in the middle of its forehead, and the other two on either side of its head, towards the back. Usually seen in front yards in suburban areas. Usually just watches the observer, but will stand up and attack if approached. When it attacks, a mouth opens up, as if a hinged skull that opens at the chin. Reveals many tiny, but dull teeth.

It was this idea which would eventually evolve into The Rake.
The thread makes for a fascinating read as certain ideas are embraced and others eventually discarded.
Among these is the since discarded name ‘Operation Crawler’, which was very popular during the early creative process.
The design of The Rake works on many levels, a mutated, nearly-human creature that is close enough to man to suggest intelligence and cunning, yet with the bestial savagery of an animal. I think it’s interesting that the name Operation Crawler was adopted since The Rake shares such a strong resemblance with the creatures referred to as crawlers by Neil Marshall and his crew for the film The Descent.

However, the creature now known as The Rake was able to carve out its own identity on 20 July 2006, when a Creepypasta story appeared on the personal blog of a user of Something Awful, Brian Somerville.
The story gives a detailed but still mysterious background to the creature, plus it established a decidingly unnerving M.O. The Rake is not just capable of wreaking terrible physical damage upon its victims, it also destroys their minds.
The full story follows below:

Primarily focused in rural New York state, self proclaimed witnesses told stories of their encounters with a creature of unknown origin. Emotions ranged from extremely traumatic levels of fright and discomfort, to an almost childlike sense of playfulness and curiosity. While their published versions are no longer on record, the memories remained powerful. Several of the involved parties began looking for answers that year.
In early 2006, the collaboration had accumulated nearly two dozen documents dating between the 12th century and present day, spanning 4 continents. In almost all cases, the stories were identical. I’ve been in contact with a member of this group and was able to get some excerpts from their upcoming book.

A Suicide Note: 1964
As I prepare to take my life, I feel it necessary to assuage any guilt or pain I have introduced through this act. It is not the fault of anyone other than him. For once I awoke and felt his presence. And once I awoke and saw his form. Once again I awoke and heard his voice, and looked into his eyes. I cannot sleep without fear of what I might next awake to experience. I cannot ever wake. Goodbye.

Found in the same wooden box were two empty envelopes addressed to William and Rose, and one loose personal letter with no envelope.

Dearest Linnie,
I have prayed for you. He spoke your name.

A Journal Entry (translated from Spanish): 1880
I have experience the greatest terror. I have experienced the greatest terror. I have experienced the greatest terror. I see his eyes when I close mine. They are hollow. Black. They saw me and pierced me. His wet hand. I will not sleep. His voice (unintelligible text).

A Mariner’s Log: 1691
He came to me in my sleep. From the foot of my bed I felt a sensation. He took everything. We must return to England. We shall not return here again at the request of the Rake.

From a Witness: 2006
Three years ago, I had just returned from a trip from Niagara Falls with my family for the 4th of July. We were all very exhausted after a long day of driving, so my husband and I put the kids right to bed and called it a night.
At about 4am, I woke up thinking my husband had gotten up to use the restroom. I used the moment to steal back the sheets, only to wake him in the process. I appologized and told him I though he got out of bed. When he turned to face me, he gasped and pulled his feet up from the end of the bed so quickly his knee almost knocked me out of the bed. He then grabbed me and said nothing.
After adjusting to the dark for a half second, I was able to see what caused the strange reaction. At the foot of the bed, sitting and facing away from us, there was what appeared to be a naked man, or a large hairless dog of some sort. It’s body position was disturbing and unnatural, as if it had been hit by a car or something. For some reason, I was not instantly frightened by it, but more concerned as to its condition. At this point I was somewhat under the assumption that we were supposed to help him.
My husband was peering over his arm and knee, tucked into the fetal position, occasionally glancing at me before returning to the creature.
In a flurry of motion, the creature scrambled around the side of the bed, and then crawled quickly in a flailing sort of motion right along the bed until it was less than a foot from my husband’s face. The creature was completely silent for about 30 seconds (or probably closer to 5, it just seemed like a while) just looking at my husband. The creature then placed its hand on his knee and ran into the hallway, leading to the kids’ rooms.
I screamed and ran for the lightswitch, planning to stop him before he hurt my children. When I got to the hallway, the light from the bedroom was enough to see it crouching and hunched over about 20 feet away. He turned around and looked directly at me, covered in blood. I flipped the switch on the wall and saw my daughter Clara.
The creature ran down the stairs while my husband and I rushed to help our daughter. She was very badly injured and spoke only once more in her short life. She said “he is the Rake”.
My husband drove his car into a lake that night, while rushing our daughter to the hospital. He did not survive.
Being a small town, news got around pretty quickly. The police were helpful at first, and the local newspaper took a lot of interest as well. However, the story was never published and the local television news never followed up either.
For several months, my son Justin and I stayed in a hotel near my parent’s house. After we decided to return home, I began looking for answers myself. I eventually located a man in the next town over who had a similar story. We got in contact and began talking about our experiences. He knew of two other people in New York who had seen the creature we now referred to as the Rake.
It took the four of us about two solid years of hunting on the internet and writing letters to come up with a small collection of what we believe to be accounts of the Rake. None of them gave any details, history or follow up. One journal had an entry involving the creature in its first 3 pages, and never mentioned it again. A ship’s log explained nothing of the encounter, saying only that they were told to leave by the Rake. That was the last entry in the log.
There were, however, many instances where the creature’s visit was one of a series of visits with the same person. Multiple people also mentioned being spoken to, my daughter included. This led us to wonder if the Rake had visited any of us before our last encounter.
I set up a digital recorder near my bed and left it running all night, every night, for two weeks. I would tediously scan through the sounds of me rolling around in my bed each day when I woke up. By the end of the second week, I was quite used to the occasional sound of sleep while blurring through the recording at 8 times the normal speed. (This still took almost an hour every day)
On the first day of the third week, I thought I heard something different. What I found was a shrill voice. It was the Rake. I can’t listen to it long enough to even begin to transcribe it. I haven’t let anyone listen to it yet. All I know is that I’ve heard it before, and I now believe that it spoke when it was sitting in front of my husband. I don’t remember hearing anything at the time, but for some reason, the voice on the recorder immediately brings me back to that moment.
The thoughts that must have gone through my daughter’s head make me very upset.
I have not seen the Rake since he ruined my life, but I know that he has been in my room while I slept. I know and fear that one night I’ll wake up to see him staring at me.

Like the web legend of Slenderman (will I ever manage to write a Creepypasta feature WITHOUT mentioning him?) the mysterious alien actions of the beast are perhaps more terrifying than its monstrous appearance. It’s an inherent fear in all of us that we may lose our rational grasp on the world, that the control we exert over the fears, pressures and worries of the world will slip and that we will become overwhelmed. One of the greatest horror writers of all time, H.P. Lovecraft, specialised in tales of otherworldly terror, in which seemingly calm, rational protagonists find their sanity shattered by encountering something from beyond their neat, ordered perception of reality.
Somerville’s tale of The Rake also alludes forbidden knowledge at the heart of the creature’s motivation.
It’s not an insult to say that Somerville doesn’t quite hit the highs of Lovecraft’s iconic stories (in truth, very few writers have), but he is a very good writer.
The style and language is crisp and fluent, while he cleverly blurs the line between fact and fiction by presenting the story as real-life witness accounts and journal entries (a technique used in the novel that birthed one of the most enduring monsters of all time — Bram Stoker’s Dracula). It’s no wonder that with a strong visual design and equally compelling back story The Rake’s popularity continued to soar.
The story was reposted on Live Journal on 20 December 2008, before then spreading like wildfire, appearing on the /x/ board at 4chan in April of the following year, then Something Awful in June, before appearing on the Paranormal subreddit in August 2010.
Since then it has been posted to all the usual Creepypasta sites.
So great was the reaction to the mythology behind the Rake that in December 2010 (a full five years since the thread that birthed the creature), a blog entitled Fuck Yeah the Rake appeared on Tumblr and served as a hub for fan art, stories and other posts re: The Rake. The site is still live and regularly boasts some quite fantastic creepy posts and gifs.
However, possibly the greatest moment in bringing The Rake to the masses occurred that same month when some pranksters took a still image of a Grim, one of the enemy characters from videogame Resistance 3, then sent that into a local Louisiana news station claiming to have encountered the beast while out hunting! Hilariously, it was broadcast (watch it here) and due to the character’s similar appearance to The Rake, soon YouTubers were claiming it was a genuine appearance of the monster.

However, one need not rely on videogame images to see a visual interpretation of the beast. It’s popularity has spread to sites such as Deviant Art, where a search for The Rake yields a staggering 19,000+ images, some of which are genuinely great. 

Creative fans have also created plenty of video and audio interpretations of the story. From readings (such as this excellent example by the guys at Chilling Tales for Dark Nights) to polished and accomplished short films (including this one, by the wonderfully talented filmmakers at Go For Broke Features ). It even appeared during the cleverly constructed EverymanHYBRID web series, in the episode Cops Checked, No Body (which, much like the Slenderman-influenced Marble Hornets, is one of the finest Creepypasta adaptations and an superb example of what can be achieved with interactive web story telling).
The gif of The Rake crawling through the woods from this episode has become one of the most popular depictions of the creature thus far.

So why is The Rake so successful? It seems that people still enjoy a good, old-fashioned monster story. With plenty of real-world horrors, it’s nice to put a fantastical face on fear and use that for a cathartic release. Cryptozoology is still a popular pastime on the web, with tales of big cats, lake monsters, sasquatch and the chupacabra still drawing attention, albeit often somewhat cynically.
Perhaps one of the reasons the tale is so successful is because, in a way, it belongs to all of us. With hundreds of thousands of tweaks, twists and interpretations, The Rake is the creation of too many individuals to name, with more takes on the creature appearing by the day.
The Rake is our monster — and it’s a damn fine one to boot.
Come back next week when I shall take a look at an equally enduring and otherworldly entity… the dark god of Creepypasta itself.

If you haven’t already, do please check out and Like the Hickey’s House of Horrors Facebook page, which you can find here. It gives you a nice quick link to any new posts on this blog, plus regular news updates from around the web. I check the Internet so you don’t have to! Alternatively, follow me on twitter: The House @HickeysHorrors

Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

Thursday, 21 April 2016


Long term readers of this blog will be familiar with my sporadic reviews of creepy live/immersive events.
This latest review is the largest and most hyped yet — a live-action performance from the creative minds behind New York's Accomplice and the spectacular Alice's Adventures Underground (which ran at this same location) featuring stories from the second highest selling children's book series of all time, topped only by Harry Potter.
That series is R. L. Stine's Goosebumps.


Location: The Vaults, Waterloo
Tickets: From £39

Upon arrival at the notoriously difficult to locate, but extremely atmospheric Vaults, we were split into suitably creepy groups — I was assigned a Spider along with my companion.
From here we wandered into the Goosebumps bar, where we bought and enjoyed a very crisp Goosebumps lager each and checked out the fantastic array of masks hanging from the walls, as designed by the Ministry of Masks, who also provided props for the show.
After a while one of our number started to cry out, speaking about the visions that haunt him... and then the show began.

From here we were guided to several mini-shows, each an updated retelling or reimagining of one of RL Stine's classic spooky tales. 
I don't want to spoil the various surprises in store, but the novels touched upon included Say Cheese and Die (with the cursed camera replaced with the iPhone of the future), The Haunted Mask, the Horrorland stories and subsequent spin-off series, Night of the Living Dummy and The Scarecrow Walks at Midnight, among too many other little references to count.

Each segment ran for a vastly differing time – some full blown stories taking place in multiple locations, others short, sharp shocks existing purely to set up a good fright before propelling you into the the next tale.
This somewhat disjointed approach really worked in the show's favour as it kept the audience on edge, never quite sure what to expect in the next 'room'.
The sets and production design for each of these rooms was truly spectacular, ranging from a tent in the middle of the woods to a farm on the edge of an expansive cornfield by way of a twisted big top and even a cramped and creepy lift. The attention to detail was magnificent, while the atmospheric soundtrack provided by the Tiger Lillies really delivered. So too did the sterling cast.
Each scene/story boasted different actors who were uniformly superb.
It's difficult to single any of the performers put for praise as they were all so good, but I think I most enjoyed the work of the excellent Lucy Benson-Brown in the Mask segment and Matthew Coulton as the disturbed host of the evening, plus that of Macy Nyman during the Tent scene and Russell Layton in Scarecrow.
Another cast member to make a great impression during his brief appearance was the decidedly creepy Howard Samuels as the ghoulish, grinning Horrorland Host. The costume design for his character was fantastic, and his performance, built on theatrical gestures and snarling facial expressions complemented it perfectly. Very impressive.

As you might expect, some segments of Goosebumps Alive are stronger than others, although none really disappoint. I particularly enjoyed the Scarecrow section of the event, while I appreciated the well worked frights of the lift scene,which delivered an excellent scare. Surprisingly, I think my favourite section was the aforementioned Tent story, which in direct contrast to the spectacular staging and effects of other scenes relied on darkness, a compelling story and the aforementioned praiseworthy performance of young Nyman. Excellent.
However, as good as the odd frights that come your way are, I do feel it's worth reiterating that this is, first and foremost, a theatrical experience, NOT a pulsepounding fright event such as those in which attendees participate at Haunts and Fright mazes such as Thorpe Park's Frightnights or Tulley's Farm's Shocktober Fest. Expect creepy, not terrifying.
Well except for that finale...
At a decent price for over 90 minutes of beautifully staged, acted and presented immersive entertainment (trust me, there's a real chance you can end up right in the heart of things, as I did many times!), Goosebumps Alive is a pretty easy recommendation.
Not since I was a young lad have RL Stine's creations seemed so real and so spectacularly spooky.
If you loved the Goosebumps novels, go.
If you like cutting-edge theatre and immersive entertainment, go.
If you like fun — and frights — go.
You really won't regret it.

You can buy tickets for Goosebumps Alive here. The show is running until Sunday 5 June.

If you haven’t already, do please check out and Like the Hickey’s House of Horrors Facebook page, which you can find here. It gives you a nice quick link to any new posts on this blog, plus regular news updates from around the web. I check the Internet so you don’t have to! Alternatively, follow me on twitter: The House @HickeysHorrors

Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay. 

Wednesday, 20 April 2016


One of the biggest shocks to me last year was the surprising greatness of Levan Gabriadze's Unfriended, a social media savvy horror flick that delivered a fresh take on familiar genre tropes.
Simon Verhoeven's latest effort, Friend Request attempts a similar feat, combining multiple subgenres into one teen friendly tale.
After I was fortunate enough to receive an invitation to a screening hosted by the good folks behind London's annual Film4 FrightFest, I eagerly headed to the new venue for this year's fest, the West 12 Vue in Shepherd's Bush (which looks like a superb choice for this summers premier UK horror event).

Was this a Friend Request I'd want to accept? Or would I soon be logging off?
Read on...

Friend Request (2016)

Dir: Simon Verhoeven
Starring: Alycia Debnam Carey, Liesl Ahlers, Brit Morgan, Brooke Markham, William Moseley, Connor Paolo, Sean Marquette,
Shashawnee Hall, Nicholas Pauling

SPEEDY SYNOPSIS: I'll try not to spoil too much here but continue at your own risk.

Laura (Carey) is a pretty, popular college student with a handsome medical student boyfriend, Tyler (Moseley), who seems to have life made. After drawing the attention of reclusive, artistic oddball Marina (Ahlers), she receives a social media friend request from her fellow student.
However, the intensity of Marina's infatuation causes Laura and her friends, including goodtime girl Olivia (Morgan), sensitive Isabel (Markham), loudmouthed funnyman Gus (Marquette) and lovestruck geek Kobe (Paolo) to grow wary of this clearly disturbed girl.
The situation eventually builds to a violent disagreement, following which Laura unfriends the desperately clingy Marina... who commits suicide, filming the whole thing on her webcam as she does so.
Consumed by guilt, Laura struggles to make sense of events, especially when she continues to receive updates from the dead girl's account. However, Marina's is not the last death close to Laura... and as she loses those she holds dearest Laura finds herself in a race against time to discover the horrifying truth.

THE BEST BITS (mild spoiler warning): With Friend Request, director Simon Verhoeven succeeds in creating a visually stunning, competent teen-friendly horror.
While it does not hit the heady heights of last year's Unfriended, it manages to combine a number of seemingly disparate subgenres, including pyschological stalker thrillers, J-Horror-esque techno hauntings and even good oldfashioned witchcraft, into one polished horror tale.
The shiny cast are every bit as easy on the eye as Verhoeven's slick visuals (even if a couple are clearly too old to portray college students), with the impressive Carey a real standout as a sympathetic lead. She reminds me a lot of Taissa Farmiga and I hope she stick with the genre for a while. She has the makings of an excellent scream queen. 
I also loved the work of the likeable Sean Marquette in a strong supporting role. His character, Gus, delivers some much needed levity during the film’s darker moments, as do character actors Shashawnee Hall (who horror fans may recognise from Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street) and Nicholas Pauling as a pair of comical police detectives who deliver all the movie's greatest lines.
At the other end of the scale, the very talented Ahlers and Connor Paolo deliver in their edgier parts.
Ahlers, channeling The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo's Noomi Rapace, is excellent, not overplaying a role that could easily have devolved into a cartoonish weirdo. She's at the heart of some of the more subtle unnerving moments and I shall keep an eye out for her in the future.
The wonderful flourishes of including her flash animations in the film ensures that it remains striking, all while ratcheting up the weird and unsettling tone.
As well as the visual side of things (enhanced no end by the skilled cinematography of Jo Heim), Verhoeven shows real flair as a horror storyteller. He crafts some sterling scares (bar a couple of mistimed jump attempts) and manages to do justice to each element of the story (written by Verhoeven along with collaborators Matthew Ballen and Philip Koch). As I wrote earlier, this is a storyline that combines several different threads and ideas, yet it never feels disjointed, instead organically incorporating each element into a simple, understandable plotline.
As well as the more obvious horrors (the black wasp motif, the grisly deaths and deeply disturbing imagery of Marina's haunting artwork, such as two mutilated young boys), there are several small details that rattle the nerves.
Laura's growing desperation and helplessness as she struggles to clear her name and protect the people she loves is palpable, while the slow loss of popularity (cleverly portrayed as a gradually dwindling 'Friend Count' onscreen) and friends is certainly sure to haunt youngsters watching the film.
Special praise must also go to the superb score by Gary Go, comprising of several moody techno infused tracks that don't just fit, but truly enhance the events occuring onscreen.
This is just one more stylish component in a film that really does ooze class in its production values.

THE WORST BITS (mild spoiler warning): One of the biggest problems with Friend Request is the focus on the film's Facebook-substitute (sure, it doesn't actually say that it is Facebook but the fonts, colourscheme, terminology and basic layout make it pretty clear where the inspiration lies) already feels dated. Teens have moved on from Mark Zuckerberg's creation some time ago, and its inclusion here feels a lot like an attempt by studio execs to relate to youngsters they've since lost touch with.
Another bugbear proves the number of rather lascivious times in which the camera seems to focus on Carey’s (admittedly shapely) behind. It feels gratuitous and more than a little bit lecherous. She's a talented actress, there's need to focus on her anatomy's assets to hold the attention.
What's more, as accomplished and proficient as Friend Request proves as a film-making exercise, it lacks that extra spark and moment of true brilliance to propel it into must-see territory, especially during its rather hackneyed conclusion. The film sort of fizzles out and the actual conclusion doesn't really make much sense in context to all the revelations of the plot prior to that point.
It's not that the film is bad, per se, so much as it doesn't do enough to distinguish itself as truly exceptional.

THE VERDICT: Despite some small flaws Friend Request is a fun and well-made film that looks to serve as a very strong introduction to some exciting young talents. It's visually stunning, gives us some decent frights and (a rarity among genre flicks), some characters who are actually worth caring about.

It's a proper popcorn crowd pleaser and is well worth your time. I for one look forward to seeing much more from the individuals involved. Check it out.

Friend Request is released in UK cinemas this week. Film4 FrightFest will be taking place in West 12 Vue on 25th-29th August. Visit the festival's web site here for more information.

If you haven’t already, do please check out and Like the Hickey’s House of Horrors Facebook page, which you can find here. It gives you a nice quick link to any new posts on this blog, plus regular news updates from around the web. I check the Internet so you don’t have to! Alternatively, follow me on twitter: The House @HickeysHorrors

Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay. 

Tuesday, 19 April 2016


I've taken to attending plenty of interactive scre experiences this last couple of years (expect a Goosebumps Alive! review very soon). They vary in scale, with some pretty small and intimate and others, well, let's just say they get VERY big. THIS is one of those events. 
I am a fan of the Secret Cinema experience, having previously visited SC’s tent pole Back to the Future and Star Wars events. So when I heard the group were turning their collective hand to horror, I knew I needed to get onboard.


Location: Secret London Location
Tickets: £64.50

The secret location of this latest Secret Cinema production, Danny Boyle’s seminal Brit zombie flick (I know they’re not undead, but come on...) near Canada Water Tube station will be familiar to those of you who attended last year’s Empire Strikes Back, and it fitted the film perfectly.
As is often the case with SC events, after registering to attend, we were given plenty of online updates, from health alerts on the spread of the Rage virus and vaccination programme from the NSH (not to be confused with any real life National Services that handle Health issues, oh no) and live reports from the BBCC (also not to be confused with any real broadcasting companies located in Britain…).
These videos are wonderfully done and really do set the mood, while incorporating some nice in-jokes.

As was also the case with previous SC productions, we were given a costume and list of props to bring along with us. These included a set of surgical scrubs, a blood sample, and anti-viral mask among others.
Cynically, Secret Cinema sells a pack that contains these items, but you needn’t buy direct from them and a quick trawl of the usual online outlets yielded more affordable alternatives.
So, dressed in the appropriate attire, our group headed to ‘St. Thomas’ Centre for Disease Control’ for our vaccination appointment. Upon arrival we were greeted by armed military personnel who checked our papers (while remaining in character throughout), then ushered us into the centre. Inside we were immediately blown away by the scale of the production, with a large triage unit set-up in which we were debriefed.
After a chat with a very talented actor portraying the chief doctor of the ward, we were given time to use the toilet and imbibe a couple of ‘vitamin supplements’ (pretty tasty cocktails served in specimen bottles!). In time we were called through the plastic tunnel and into the quarantine zone for the experience to truly begin.

What followed was the most enjoyable segment of the evening and while I don’t want to ruin the surprise, I will say that it was every bit as imaginative as previous SC events, and surprisingly intense. With little time to breathe we were quickly guided through a handful of locations and scenarios that will be very familiar to fans of Boyle’s film. The cast here were excellent, the attention to detail VERY impressive and the intensity far beyond that of my previous Secret Cinema experiences.
However, a word of warning. We were told in advance that we would need to be prepared to run but I’d no idea exactly how much running would be required. What’s more, there were plenty of stairs to tackle as well, so less mobile attendees or those with physical conditions that could be exacerbated by exertion may struggle.
Finally we made our way to a new section (complete with a new cast of equally impressive actors), which, unfortunately, was something of a mixed bag. Our group was split in two and sadly, it seemed the other group had a far better time than us. The problem seemed to be a comparatively small area and cast and probably a few too many attendees, so the fun interaction with the actors was a little harder than in previous productions.
What followed was a lot of listlessly wandering around as we attempted to find fun missions to take part in — many of which fizzled out because the actors were too busy. Instead I had a couple of beers, used the facilities and unwittingly set in motion a massive part of the finale of the experience. Once again, I’d prefer to avoid spoilers, but I’m sure lots of you are familiar with the film and are well aware of what occurs during the climax. Let’s just say I wandered in front and centre!
The climax built into something I never saw coming, despite plenty of clues, and it was very well executed. Unfortunately, it did have the side-effect of reminding me precisely how old I have become (****SPOILERS**** I remember dancing to the Prodigy in dusty old warehouses the first time round, which feels a lifetime ago now!****SPOILERS END****)

Finally we moved into the screening itself, which really was brilliantly and imaginatively staged, with all the usual Secret Cinema touches of bringing key scenes to life live as they unfolded onscreen.
It would have been nice to have a few more of these, but for the most part they were excellently executed, and each time the Rage infected actors were onhand they were genuinely terrifying to behold.
I needn’t say much about the film, I’m sure most of you have already seen it, but if you haven’t, THIS really is the best way to experience Boyle’s post-apocalyptic vision.
So is the experience a success?
It is, but with some caveats.

First, let’s address the price. Over £70 (when you’re also including the various props and costume essentials) is a lot of money, and it’s a sum I feel is a tad excessive. What’s more the food and drink is also very expensive, so it’s a real wallet-buster of a night out.
The props were also, by and large, entirely unnecessary. Sure the scrubs served as a handy protector for any, erm, ‘staining’ that might occur as the event unfolds (you’ll have to wait and see!), but I found NO use whatsoever for any of my other items. My advice is to just don the scrubs and facemask and forget the rest.
The production itself is quite fantastic, the cast are brilliant, the setting breathtaking, the imagination on display truly awesome. If it weren’t for that mid-experience lull I’d say it was an unreserved success. However, this segment was a little cramped, didn't afford enough interaction with the staff and seemed to exist purely to sell food/drink to the masses.
As interactive entertainment experiences become big business I understand that it will become necessary to charge more and creates ample opportunity to make money. Unfortunately, this is the first time I’ve felt that the organisers have been using it as a (albeit very entertaining) cash cow.
This admittedly large con aside, Secret Cinema presents 28 Days Later is still a great experience and did more than enough to warrant a positive review. Should the group return to horror in the future, I’ll be there in a heartbeat.

You can buy tickets for the event here. Check out the official Facebook page here too.

If you haven’t already, do please check out and Like the Hickey’s House of Horrors Facebook page, which you can find here. It gives you a nice quick link to any new posts on this blog, plus regular news updates from around the web. I check the Internet so you don’t have to! Alternatively, follow me on twitter: The House @HickeysHorrors

Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

Friday, 1 April 2016



Last time I looked at the infamous Creepypasta story of Mr Bear’s Cellar, 1999. Now, as Dark Web reaches double figures (they grow up so fast!), we focus our attention on a kids’ show with an equally nefarious purpose — Where Bad Kids Go.

Where Bad Kids Go is one of those rare Creepypastas for which it is very difficult to trace an origin.
The oldest version I’ve found is only a couple of years old (and can be found at the Creepypasta Wiki here) and claims that the original author is unknown (a statement that could be true, revealing that the story is far older, or merely introduced to add an extra element of spookiness). The story is comparatively short and follows in its entirety below.

I must have been six or seven when I lived in Lebanon. The country was ravaged by war at the time, and murders were common and frequent. I remember during a particularly vicious era, when the bombings rarely stopped, I would stay at home sitting in front of my television watching a very, very strange show.
It was a kids' show that lasted about 30 minutes and contained strange and sinister images. To this day I believe it was a thinly veiled attempt on the part of the media to use scare tactics to keep kids in place, because the moral of every episode revolved around very uptight ideologies: stuff like, “bad kids stay up late,” “bad kids have their hands under the covers when they sleep,” and “bad kids steal food from the fridge at night.”
It was very weird, and in Arabic to top it off. I didn't understand much of it, but for the most part the images were very graphic and comprehensive. The thing that stuck with me the most, however, was the closing scene. It remained much the same in every episode. The camera would zoom in on an old, rusted, closed door. As it got closer to the door, strange and sometimes even agonizing screams would become more audible. It was extremely frightening, especially for children's programming. Then a text would appear on the screen in Arabic reading: “That's where bad kids go.” Eventually both the image and the sound would fade out, and that would be the end of the episode.
About 15 or 16 years later I became a journalistic photographer. That show had been in my mind all my life, popping up in my thoughts sporadically. Eventually I'd had enough, and decided to do some research. I finally managed to uncover the location of the studio where much of that channel's programming had been recorded. Upon further research and eventually traveling on site, I found out it was now desolate and had been abandoned after the big war ended.
I entered the building with my camera. It was burnt out from the inside. Either a fire had broken out or someone had wanted to incinerate all of the wooden furniture. After a few hours of cautiously making my way into the studio and snapping pictures, I found an isolated out-of-the-way room. After having to break through a few old locks and managing to break the heavy door open, I remained frozen in the doorway for several long minutes. Traces of blood, feces, and tiny bone fragments lay scattered across the floor. It was a small room, and an extremely morbid scene.
What truly frightened me, though, what made me turn away and never want to come back, was the bolted, caged microphone hanging from the ceiling in the middle of the room...

Original author unknown

It’s a deeply unsettling read, with a legitimately horrific premise. The anonymous author is a pretty talented writer and gives us just enough detail to give his story some credibility, even if the flair for the dramatic gives away his intention.
Of course, as is so often the case with Creepypastas, there are plenty of people who believe this story has some basis in fact.
The most important detail is undoubtedly that this was a show aired in Lebanon. 

Situated in West Asia and bordering Syria and Israel, it is country that is not unfamiliar with the horrors of conflict. The Lebanese Civil War raged from 1975 to 1990, while the South Lebanon Conflict was fought from 1985-2000. Subsequently the Second Lebanon War broke out in 2006, while the turbulent Syrian Civil War spilled over into its neighbour as recently as 2011 and has continued in some form to this very day.
We are all well aware of the atrocities that can take place in wartorn nations, so is a violent and terrifying form of propaganda used to threaten children into behaving really so far fetched?
There have been tales of terrible civilian casualties during the more recent conflicts in the country (it is believed that a staggering 30% of the Lebanese casualties during the 2006 war were children under the age of 13). This certainly isn’t the right place to discuss politics, but suffice it to say that a great deal of the current problems in the Middle East can be seen to have influenced or been influenced by the tumultuous last 40 years in Lebanon.
It is a little cynical to base a horror story in this very real and frightening backdrop. What’s more, it is sure to cultivate believability in a Western audience who may not be particularly well-informed about the situation in Lebanon (especially teens, the main consumers of Creepypasta) and who may merely recognise it as ‘that place in the Middle East often mentioned on the news where a lot of fighting breaks out’.
And the believability of the story cannot be doubted — not just among Westerners but even among people from the area, as this forum post proves. 
But questions to its legitimacy aside, Where Bad Kids Go has a pretty big web presence in other ways. As well as the obligatory YouTube readings (such as this one, which has racked up an astonishing 325,000+ views), there are efforts to recreate the show and the anonymous photographer’s investigation, plus variations on the tale that tell the same story, just with additional details and embellishments.
Clearly, this is a horror story that resonates with the audience. The reason for this is simple — it is a horror story that has the power to genuinely horrify.
Where Bad Kids Go hits so hard because it deals with that most shocking of taboo subjects — violence against children. This is a crime that the most depraved and reviled real-life monsters have committed, and with evidence that recordings exist in which children were assaulted by the likes of Moors murderers Myra Hindley and Ian Brady, or Fred and Rose West, it isn’t entirely beyond the realm of plausibility that a despotic regime may incorporate such means to control a subjugated populace.
And this is another of the story's strengths — that it taps into the inherent mistrust between all of us and the most senior figures of authority. Conspiracy theories have been a staple of horror fiction and urban legends for some time, and since the middle of the 20th Century there has been a noticeable backlash against the perceived ruthless actions of those with power. It’s not too much of a stretch to imagine tyrannical leaders using any means necessary to control us. Okay, maybe it's a bit much to imagine it happening over here in the West, but the story encourages the reader to think: ‘in the lawlessness of those faraway countries we’ve never, nor will we ever, visit, maybe they’d actually do it.’
For while the story is fantastically well-told and contains some dreadfully dark and disturbing imagery, ultimately it works on a far more sinister level. It encourages the reader to imagine the worst acts man is capable of, then allows us to combine that with our often uninformed opinion of those ‘less civilised’ parts of the world. In short, it borders perilously close to preying on ignorance.

I’ve not been able to uncover any truth as to whether or not the show Where Bad Kids Go ever existed, but as nearly every single mention of the show is on dedicated Creepypasta or creative sites, I remain extremely sceptical. Of course, to many readers out there that lack of evidence will matter not a jot — their own opinion about the subject matter will be powerful enough to fill in the blanks.
But perhaps I’m over-analysing?
For in the end the enjoyment of the story comes from the way in which it allows our imaginations to fill in the gaps and create the sickest monsters our own minds can conjure. And in this way, it is a resounding success.
Join me here next time when I’ll be looking at a very different type of monster — one which is among the most prolific Creepypasta characters of all time.

If you haven’t already, do please check out and like the Hickey’s House of Horrors Facebook page, which you can find here. It gives you a nice quick link to any new posts on this blog, plus regular news updates from around the web. I check the Internet so you don’t have to! Alternatively, follow me on twitter: The House@HickeysHorrors

Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.