No matter what you’ve been told, the original ouija boards were not ancient, nor were they based on an ancient tradition. They were a fortunetelling trick that grew out of the American spiritualism movement. They were first marketed as a fad that was a simple do-it-yourself project.
In 1886, the New York Daily Tribune reported on a new talking board being used in Ohio. It was 18 by 20 inches and featured the alphabet, numbers, and the words yes, no, good evening, and goodnight; the only other necessary object was a “little table three or four inches high … with four legs” that the spirits could use to identify letters. The brilliance of the board was that anyone could make it—the tools suggested in the article are “a jack-knife and a marking brush."
But of course, it didn’t take too long for someone to think of patenting the ouija board as a game of sorts. Read the story of where the ouija board came from, and how it ended up on toy store shelves, at mental_floss.
You saw our massive gallery of photographs from Comic Con this morning. Do you want to see more awesome costumes from Comic Con? Check out this video from Sneaky Zebra, which features photographs by Nick Acott. Acott also took the pictures in Geeks Are Sexy’s 2014 Comic Con galleries. See lots of photographs from Friday in part one, Saturday in part two, and Sunday in part three. Oh, and there’s a contest attached to this video. Find out more at the YouTube page, where you’ll also get a list of the identified cosplayers in the video.
Look who showed up at Comic Con! Or are they just the best cosplayers ever?
Underneath the clothing of Jules Winfield and Vincent Vega are actors Elliot Branch and Dave Cobert, who both appeared in the short Killing Tarantino (NSFW) as the characters who inspired Pulp Fiction. They occasionally do this act on the streets of Hollywood as well. -via reddit
A member of The Dented Helmet forum made his 6-year-old son a Boba Fett LEGO minifig costume! He says,
I recently (semi) completed a Lego Boba Fett (Lego set 9496 - Desert Skiff) costume for my 6 year old son. We took the costume for a trial run at a local toycon this past Sunday. I still have to finish building the arms and blaster, as well as tweaking a few things such as the cape fabric. I approached the components of this project as if they were actual Lego elements. In doing so, I created the jetpack to be removable as it appears in the actual minifigure as well as the range finder stalk. The entire costume is built from scratch using photo references and scans I took myself. The costume is built primarily out of sintra with pink insulation foam used to carve the helmet dome and a small amount of plastazote foam used on the tips and base of the jetpack rockets. Torso and leg graphics are printed on adhesive vinyl while a custom green was used to colour match the helmet and jetpack. I would be happy to post progress photos of the build if anyone is interested in seeing the journey. Oh!, and there may soon be a certain someone, frozen in a certain something being pushed around by Lego Fett ; )
With hot new looks like the Stormy Eye, Smoky Bacon eye, and (my personal fave) the Eye of Nietzsche you can knock ‘em dead with a wink, and the person you’ve got your eye on won’t be able to keep their eyes off of your eyes!
Grab some bacon, and a Sharpie, and a copy of the Necronomicon, and start applying your eye make-up the Gemma way today!
Anucha "Cha" Saengchart has created his own unique version of cosplay, which doesn't involve fancy costumes, super realistic accessories created out of Worbla, or incredibly detailed make-up. In fact, Cha's Lowcost Cosplay is created with supplies he typically finds around the house:
Cha's vision of cosplaying means turning anything and everything into a cosplay element, such as this fancy Jason Voorhees mask fashioned out of a plastic spoon, or this "amazingly realistic" Mystique cosplay created with some sort of blue tape and a shower cap:
Now that's the kind of cosplay people who are too broke to buy supplies, or unskilled in the ways of the sewing machine and friendly plastics, can get behind- cosplay for the sake of your own amusement!
And the best part is- nobody has to see your creation when you're done, unless you're brave enough to post your own version(s) of Lowcost Cosplay to the net, in which case please share it with us in the comment section!
It’s unclear whether the guy in this photo was trying to be ironic by wearing a necklace adorned with fake doggy doo to some (I’m guessing) fashionable event, or if he’s simply the proud owner of a novelty company that specializes in realistic looking dog mess.
Hopefully he’s just the proud owner of a gag gifts company, happily displaying his wares so the world can see how versatile rubber poop can be, but he's probably just some fashionable fop who thought he was being "edgy" by slinging rubber crap around his neck.
Well, if you see a new line of clothing called Crapay (or something equally odious) you’ll know who’s behind the label!
Well before Ash worked at S-Mart, donned a chainsaw arm, and shared the value of owning a good Boomstick, he was just a guy hanging out with his friends in a cabin in the woods, trying to score with a girlfriend he was ultimately forced to decapitate with a shovel.
Sam Raimi’s seminal horror flick The Evil Dead changed the way many viewers saw the horror genre- it added a much needed dose of humor, successfully launched a franchise still wildly popular with fans to this day, and helped kickstart the career of Bruce Campbell, which is an amazing contribution in itself!
The 1922 German expressionist movie Nosferatu is a classic horror film, but it’s an hour and a half long. Of course, everyone should see it all the way through at least once, but if you’ve seen it before, you can relive the experience by watching this four-minute version. And, sadly, if your busy schedule and/or attention span is too short to ever get around to watching the original, this may be the closest you’ll ever get.
Mario Wienerroither condensed the whole movie using a few illustrative clips, and added some rather odd (and often comical) sound effects, which will be appealing to those folks, like my kids, who can hardly handle black-and-white, much less a silent film. Wienerroither calls this a “silentless film.” Don’t bother turning the lights off, as you’re more likely to laugh than to scream. -via Laughing Squid
(WARNING- This video contains graphic imagery that may make it hard to sleep at night, especially if you're a fan of teddy bears! Viewer discretion is advised)
Toys are most definitely not just for kids anymore, haven’t been for quite some time really, but there’s a new teddy in town that has taken toys well into the realm of graphic horror and violence, a teddy more R-rated than the foulmouthed bear who starred in the movie Ted.
The Peek-A-Boo Bear is an animatronic teddy bear with a creepy voice and a dark secret, one which you can’t unsee, and if you invite this fuzzy little masochist to a party you’d better cover everything you own in plastic, 'cause things are about to get messy!
He was the 700th sinister teddy bear created bycustom horror toy company Undead Teds and hopefully the last one prone to committing acts of self mutilation, for the sake of the baby teddy bears out there who still have hope in their fluffy little hearts.
Movie monsters started out huge, shrank down small enough to fit in your toilet then grew to massive proportions once again, yet no matter the size of the monster there are fans who will line up to see their latest on-screen appearance and continue to hail their choice for king of the monsters.
As long as there have been criminals, there have been governments thinking up novel ways to execute 'em. We don't know which of the following gruesome methods the Founding Fathers had in mind with that whole ban on "cruel and unusual punishment," but we know they had plenty to choose from.
Method: Crushing by Elephant Deadly Debut: India, 4,000 years ago. (It's probably older, but recorded history doesn't go back that far.)
A wood engraving of an execution by elephant published in the 1868 issue of Le Tour Du Monde. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
Pachyderms aren't natural-born killers. However, with a little training (often involving practice coconuts), they'll gladly stomp on the head of a criminal. The ancient ritual, which spread nearly everywhere elephants were found, was still in use as recently as the early years of British colonization. Crushings were usually public spectacles administered by abnormally large elephants - just in case the audience didn't find the sight of an angry Dumbo squashing a human head scary enough.
Method: Crucifixion Deadly Debut: Nobody knows for sure. Somewhere in the Middle East, probably in the 7th century B.C.E.
"Crux simplex", a simple wooden torture stake, according De Cruce Libri Tres by Justus Lipsius (1547-1606) (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
Although forever associated with one particular execution, crucifixion was the capital punishment method of choice in much of the ancient world. Marcus Licinius Crassus probably set the all-time record for crucifixions when, after defeating Spartacus in 71 B.C.E., he had an estimated 6,000 of the gladiator's rebel slaves crucified along the Appian Way. Roman emperor Constantine the Great banned the practice in 337 C.E., but it cropped up again in the 16th century, in such places as Japan and Mexico. Today, Catholics in Iztapalapa, Mexico, crucify themselves annually as a devotional practice, removing the nails before the fatal damage is inflicted.
Method: The Brazen Bull Deadly Debut: Siciliy, during the tryannical reign of Phalaris (570 - 554 B.C.E.)
An idea worthy of a Bond villain, the tactic involved shutting victims inside the belly of a hollow, life-size brass bull and lighting a fire below it, essentially turning the apparatus into an oven.
Legend has it that a reed-based acoustic mechanism made the victims' screams sound like a bull's bellow, while the smoke from inside blew out its nose. As for Phalaris, he eventually got an inside look at his own device when he was overthrown by Telemachus and became the bull's next meal. (Image Credit: Medievality)
Method: Ling Chi Deadly Debut: China, around the beginning of the Song Dynasty (10th century C.E.)
Outlawed in 1905, the Chinese practice known as "death by a thousand cuts" involved binding a victim to a pole and carving into his or her arms, torso, and legs. Strangely enough, while "ling chi" translates to "degrading and slow," it's also the name of a fungus known as "the mushroom of immortality."
[Note: Image from a film by Taiwanese artist Chen Chiej-jen called Lingchi - Echoes of a Historical Photograph, interesting article in Taipei Times (warning: gruesome images)]
Method: Cave of Roses Deadly Debut: Sweden, during the Middle Ages (circa the 13th century C.E.)
Snakes in a cave! Part execution, part nightmare, the Cave of Roses required locking victims in a dark cave filled with a smorgasbord of venomous creatures and other unpleasant creatures. With no way to escape and no way to see, the condemned knew it was only a matter of time before their movements provoked some creepy crawly to deliver a fatal bite. The Cave of Roses was finally abolished in 1772, and fortunately, Sweden grew a lot more enlightened with time. Exactly 200 years later, it became one of the first major European nations to ban the death penalty completely.
Method: Keelhauling Deadly Debut: Holland, 1560 (when it became part of Dutch naval laws, though it was probably used earlier)
Man overboard! A punishment specific to sailors, keelhauling meant tying a man with rope, dropping him off the front of a ship, then dragging him "across the keel" from bow to stern. A long haul took several minutes, during which time the victim would drown (though being dragged along the barnacle-covered hull certainly facilitated things). Shorter hauls, conducted for less severe crimes, left sailors scarred but alive - a practice that became popular with pirates as well as government navies.
Used both for torture and execution, the donkey was a big hit in the Spanish military. A naked victim was forced to straddle the apparatus, which was basically a vertical wood board with a sharp V-shape wedge on top. Weights were attached to the offenders' ankles or feet, pulling them down onto the sturdy wedge until the victims split in two. Despite the name no (non-human) animals were harmed in the making of this device.
Method: Guillotine Deadly Debut: France, 1792
Executioner assistants dismantling the guillotine inside the Santé prison after the execution of French mass-murderer Marcel Petiot in 1946 (Image Credit: The Guillotine Headquarters)
Believe it or not, this menacing machine was created as a way of making executions less painful.
Dr. Joseph Ignace Guillotin (who lent his name to, but didn't invent, the contraption) was actually an anti-death-penalty activist who suggested it as a more "humane" form of execution. And he was right - to a point. While it was France's last form of capital punishment, "last" didn't come until 1977.
The article above is reprinted with permission from mental_floss magazine (Jan-Feb 2007 issue).
Vancouver sculptor and extreme pumpkin carver Clive Cooper of Sparksfly Design also carves watermelons in the off-season. Because most professionally-carved watermelons are for parties and special occasions, they tend to look “pretty.” Conversely, Cooper’s carvings are more like jack-o-lanterns: frightening, funny, and clever. See a gallery of watermelons at his site. -via Metafilter
It’s probably been a few months since you thought about scarecrows, but those who use them for their stated purpose build them in the spring. You have to shoo away birds as soon as you plant seeds in the ground. An article at Modern Farmer tells us about the original business of scaring birds (and other animals) away from crops with effigies, from ancient times to today. Scarecrows also carried symbolic and even supernatural messages.
Through the ages their makers worldwide have fashioned the often maudlin-looking figure to reflect images of the occult, of customs, culture, mythology, superstitions or religion. A scarecrow hung with arms outstretched on a wooden cross echoes the crucifixion as portrayed in this etching by Jim Yarbrough. To a farmer they may simply be a symbol of the death and resurrection of the crops.
Some (such as the authors of website Occult View) suggest that the scarecrow, in addition to mirroring Christ on the cross may have originally been a severe warning, a “no trespassing” symbol, likening it to the deeds of Vlad the Impaler (so named for his reported propensity for impaling and displaying enemies) or sacrifice, an offering in turn for fertile fields. In more recent times, cartoonists have skewered politicians by depicting them as scarecrows. A British wheat farmer, hoping to scare off pigeons ravaging his crop, built a scarecrow of Lady Gaga as she appeared on the 2010 Brit Awards.
These days, you are more likely to see scarecrows as just Halloween decorations. A scarecrow can be pretty raggedy and scary by the time harvest is completed, just in time for All Hallows Eve. The overview of scarecrows concludes with an interview with contemporary scarecrow artist Pumpkin Rot. -via Digg
The spring edition of the MCM Comic Con was held in London last week, and photographer Nick Acott sought out the best cosplayers to show us. I’m not sure who this character is (help me out), but the costume is downright scary, and the attention to detail is impressive.
Now that McDonalds has introduced us to their newest appetite suppressant marketing campaign mascot Happy the anthropomorphic Happy Meal the interwebs have responded in turn by revealing Happy’s sordid past.
This eye opening exposé shows the kind of company Happy used to keep, namely clowns who crave human flesh rather than burgers, bag headed slashers and dead girls who crawl out of wells.
It’s the kind of scandal large corporations like McDonalds hate to have exposed, and may spell disaster for the burger mongers when their young target audience can’t sleep at night because they're affraid Happy might be lurking under their bed!
Who needs a fancy costume and a latex mask when you've got a makeup kit and some incredible application skills? Makeup artist Elsa Rhae certainly doesn't seem to need much more than her kit, a reference photo and a vivid imagination, and her makeup transformations are truly spectacular!
If she walked into a room wearing her White Walker makeup people would nearly jump out of their skins, and her simple yet extremely effective makeup illusions prove becoming a terrifying creature, or eco-friendly superhero, doesn't take much more than a skillfully applied makeup and the proper attitude.
Clowns are fun to have at a birthday party, maudlin when they’ve had too much to drink, and downright terrifying when they pop out from around the corner wielding a massive wooden mallet!
DM Pranks knows how to create a scenario that will scar people for life- start with a lonely parking structure late at night, add some unsuspecting people walking through said structure, a dummy body with an exploding head, and a clown willing to go the extra mile for a scare and you’ve got a recipe for big-top inspired terror!
Horror movie baddies come in all shapes and sizes, but there’s one form of monster that nobody ever seems to see for what it really is, one unassuming structure that lies in wait for its next victim to move in.
The monster house is one of the most underrated villains in the horror genre, and movies like the House series and Monster House have used the spooky domicile with horrifically comedic effect, bringing the dark nature of horror home.
Vienna Waits For You is a horror comedy short by Glaciar Films, directed by Dominik Hartl, that shows why you should always have a priest on hand when you move into a new house!
Bruce Lee statue in Hong Kong (Image Credit: Inti [Flickr]) Can a dead person star in a movie? Well, if a star unexpectedly dies before film production is complete, what's the studio supposed to do - pass up a great opportunity for free publicity? Not a chance.
In 1970 a filmmaker named Raymond Chow quit his job at Shaw Brothers Studio, Hong Kong's largest film studio at the time, and formed Golden Harvest Studios. Not long afterward he signed an up-and-coming young martial artist to play the lead in his first movie. The actor was Bruce Lee and the movie, The Big Boss, was his first feature-length kung fu film. The Big Boss shattered Hong Kong box-office records when it premiered in 1971. Lee's follow up film, Fist of Fury, was even more successful.
His third film, The Way of the Dragon, did better still when it was released in 1972. These three blockbusters put Golden Harvest on the map and helped introduce the Hong Kong film industry to the international market. In 1973 Golden Harvest became the first Hong Kong studio to partner with a major Hollywood studio when it collaborated with Warner Bros. on Lee's fourth and "final" film, Enter the Dragon. Today Golden Harvest is Hong Kong's largest and most successful movie studio. They owe much of their success to Bruce Lee.
The Clone Wars
When Lee died suddenly in July 1973, only four weeks before Enter the Dragon debuted on the silver screen, how did the studio honor him? By cashing in on the publicity surrounding his death, of course. And they weren't the only ones: Hong Kong studios flooded the market with Bruce Lee knock-off films as fast as they could make them - movies with titles like New Fist of Fury, Bruce Lee Fights Back from the Grave, Exit the Dragon, Re-Enter the Dragon, Enter Another Dragon, and Enter the Fat Dragon, starring kung fu copycats like Bruce Le, Bruce Li, Bruce Liang, and Dragon Lee.
Game of Death (1978)
But by far the strangest of these films was Game of Death, which Lee started but did not live to finish. The only parts that he completed were the fight scenes, including one with pro basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. There was no plot line in any of the finished scenes, but Golden Harvest plowed ahead anyway, taking just 11 minutes of the original fight footage and creating an entirely new movie around it, using a body double to play Bruce Lee's character Billy Lo, a movie star who refused to submit to gangsters who control the Hong Kong film industry.
How do you make a movie using a dead actor? Golden Harvest tackled the problem in a number of different ways:
Lee's double was filmed in wide angle shots, from behind, or in the dark whenever possible.
Reaction shots of the real Bruce Lee, recycled from his earlier films, were spliced into the scenes with Lee's double.
In one scene they literally cut out a still photograph of Bruce Lee's head and pasted it on the screen over the double's head.
In scenes where the double does show his face, he wears a large pair of dark sunglasses and sometimes even a fake moustache and beard. In other scenes he wears a motorcycle helmet with the darkened visor pulled down.
The plot was written to explain the character's changed appearance: Early in the film a gangster tried to kill Billy Lo by shooting him in the face. Lo survives, but undergoes plastic surgery to repair the damage, and emerges from the hospital literally a new man.
Had Golden Harvest left it at that, Game of Death would hardly be worth anyone's while. But they didn't. When Billy Lo gets shot and is rushed to the hospital, he decides to fake his own death and even arranges his funeral, so that his assailants won't know he's still alive and coming after them. Golden Harvest added this element to the plot to give them an excuse to incorporate footage of Bruce Lee's actual funeral, including close-up shots of the open casket as mourners file past. For a brief moment the camera even peeks inside the coffin, showing Lee's embalmed face - probably the only time in history that a movie star's cadaver appears in his own feature film.
When the gangster shoot Bruce Lee's character Billy Lo, they do it by sneaking onto the movie set where he's filming a gun battle and fill the gun with real bullets instead of blanks. Moments later, Billy is "accidentally" shot while filming the scene. Fifteen years after Game of Death premiered, in March 1993, Bruce Lee's only son, 28-year-old Brandon Lee, died on the set of the movie The Crow.
While filming a scene in which his character is shot and killed, the prop gun, supposed to be loaded only with blanks, was loaded with a real .44-caliber slug. Police concluded it was an accident resulting from the film crew's negligence: Sometimes "dummy" bullets - real bullets with the gunpowder and primer removed - are used to make it look like a gun contains real bullets. On this occasion one of the dummy bullets apparently came apart inside the gun, and a slug remained lodged in the barrel. Nobody bothered to make sure the barrel was clear before blanks were loaded into the gun. When the gun was fired at Lee, the slug shot out and struck him in the lower abdomen. He died in surgery 12 hours later.
Game of Death was unfinished when Bruce Lee died and was later finished without him. Similarly, The Crow was unfinished when Brandon Lee died and was later finished without him, using computer-generated special effects. This time the Lee family approved, believing that Brandon would have wanted the film to be completed. The footage of him being shot was left out. In fact, mindful of the way Bruce Lee's death had been exploited in Game of Death, the family had the footage destroyed. As a family spokesperson put it, "they didn't want it to fall into the wrong hands."
The grave site of Bruce and Brandon Lee in Lakeview Cemetery, Seattle, Washington. (Image Credit: dwyatt1 [Flickr]) "If you love life, don't waste time - for time is what life is made of" - Bruce Lee
The article above is reprinted with permission from Uncle John's Slightly Irregular Bathroom Reader, a fantastic book by the Bathroom Readers' Institute. The 17th book in this the Bathroom Reader series is filled to the brim with facts, fun, and fascination, including articles about the Origin of Kung Fu, How to Kill a Zombie, Women in Space and more!
Inanimate objects have been imbued with a sinister energy thanks to the horror genre, and some of the scariest stories and movies of all time involve characters being terrorized by inanimate objects such as creepy dolls, haunted TV sets and mirrors that trap people’s souls.
Tony Stark may not have had much use for cardboard when he was building suit after suit of super shiny Iron Man armor, but Tony would definitely admire the craftsmanship and skill shown by Kai-Xiang Xhong when he built this wearable cardboard Iron Man armor.
The included video finds Kai-Xiang showing off a bunch of his other models, including an Alien xenomorph made out of straws and a giant cardboard T-Rex skull that is really freakin' cool!
Kai-Xiang decided to keep the suit natural cardboard color 'cause that's his style, and it looks like the feet were formed around a pair of Spongebob slippers, so his feet stay warm when he slips this bad boy on to grab the mail.
The Simpsons, and all the cartoony folks that populate the imaginary city of Springfield, may look cute and colorful on the small screen, but in real life they'd look downright freaky!
This depiction of Marge Simpson in real life called "Flower Marge" was created by photographer Alexander Khokhlov, with the help of makeup artist Veronica Ershova and stylist Mikhail Kravchenko.
Marge's hair gets its textural look from the hundreds of chrysanthemums which were glued to the frame that forms her signature hairstyle, and when the model closes her eyes the transformation into cartoon superstar is complete.
The included video shows the making of Flower Marge, but you may want to mute the sound before you tune in.
Ah, The Addams Family! Although this show lasted only two years -- 1964 through 1966 -- it has endured as a pop culture phenomenon, spawning movies, cartoons, revivals, and comics. Let's take a look at some things you might not know about that show.
1. The show was preceded by the one-panel cartoons of Charles Addams, which made their debut in The New Yorker in 1937. These works of dark humor featured the same characters that would later grace the show. Addams was known as a man of ghoulish if playful interests, and his house was filled with instruments of torture and medieval weapons, particularly crossbows. He hoped to someday put his crossbow collection to practical use:
“I have this fantasy,” he said, smiling, “A robber breaks into my apartment and just as he comes through the door, I get him -- right through the neck. Always through the neck.”
2. John Astin, who played Gomez Addams, was initially offeredthe role of Lurch.
3. Astin’s crazed, maniacal look as Gomez Addams had prior service. While living in a rough neighborhood of New York City, he would get between his apartment and the subway station safely by acting a bit deranged. No one bothered him.
4. Fans sometimes stop Astin, speak French to him, and expect him to react as Gomez did when Morticia spoke the language of love. Ringo Starr from The Beatles once grabbed Astin’s arm and started kissing up its length before Astin stopped him from going past his elbow.
Robots can build cars, take a spin on Mars and generally do some pretty cool stuff, but are we already running out of ideas for uses?
You might assume that if you saw this gyrating robot dancer doing her hypnotic hip sway for them and didn’t know the back story, but this scary robo-gal is an art installation created strictly for entertainment purposes by Jordan Wolfson in conjunction with special effects studio Spectral Motion, and not necessarily the next step in robotic evolution.
So maybe she isn't the future of robo-tech, but it looks like Chuck E. Cheese is about to get a sexy new stripper to add to his animatronic band!
Coulrophobes had better steer clear of Staten Island for a while, until the local authorities take care of a certain creepy clown they’ve got lurking around the city streets.
He has become a bit of a local legend in the few short weeks he’s been clowning around the streets of S.I., because people claim he’s an elusive clown, appearing with a wave then disappearing back into the city before most of them can snap a pic.
Is this the same clown faced freak that has been haunting Northampton, England, or is this one of the British clown’s disciples? Whatever IT is, if you see the Staten Island clown prepare to laugh your head off!