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Posts tagged “folklore

Twisted Tuesdays: Krampus Storms Through Los Angeles!

Kids these days don’t know true fear. They are sheltered from anything remotely scary. Even modern mainstream horror films are watered down and unoriginal. They’ve become stupid monster/ghost comedies and shitty remakes starring people you wish would get their heads hacked off the first 30 seconds the movie begins.

Back in the good ole’ days, parents were all about scaring the shit out of their kids to keep them from acting like spoiled little cunts and it worked. The original Grimms’ fairy tales were horror stories for children which taught them the reality of death and to fucking behave through tales of kids getting chopped up and eaten.

Hansel and Gretel by Arthur Rackham 1909.

Hansel and Gretel by Arthur Rackham 1909.

One of the greatest examples of the proper way to scare the shit out of kids is the legend of Krampus. Originating in Europe 1,500 years ago and still properly venerated in Austria and other Alpine countries, Krampus is a devil-like creature armed with a switch and/or sack who accompanies St. Nicholas early December. He punishes the bad children by either swatting them or taking them away in his sack while St. Nicholas rewards the good kids with gifts. This differs heavily from how the U.S. celebrates the holiday season because American kids receive presents no matter what and there aren’t any repercussions if they misbehave.

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Throughout Austria and Germany, the annual Krampusnach has kept the Krampus tradition alive. People dress in epic demonic costumes reminiscent of something you’d see in a metal music video, stomping through towns, scaring and exciting children and adults alike.

Photo by Cathleen Cotter Photography

Photo by Cathleen Cotter Photography

Sometimes the festival can get a bit out of hand…

Recently, Krampus has grown in popularity outside of Europe, making its way to American cities like Portland and is now in Los Angeles thanks to creators Al Guerrero and Al Ridenour, who are also head deviants of the infamous Cacophony society.

Where Krampus still prowls during the Yuletide season, children are still raised with a healthy fear of being punished for being shitheads. Bringing back this tradition which forces children, and adults, to earn good tidings, and fear the wrath for any wrong-doings, is what helped spark the first annual Krampus Los Angeles!

Photo by Cathleen Cotter Photography

Photo by Cathleen Cotter Photography

This festival not only does a remarkable job of bringing the tradition of Krampus to California, but adds its own Los Angeles twist through a Krampus ballKrampus runKrampus art show, and even Krampus-themed bands like THE KRAMPS, SANTA KLAUS NOMI, DJ KRAMPWERK, and KRAMMPSTEIN!

Photo by Mumbly-Jumbly Mumblety-Peg

Photo by Mumbly-Jumbly Mumblety-Peg

The Los Angeles Krampus festival is a month-long event headed by Al Guerrero and Al Ridenour, who have been working tirelessly to get the true spirit of Krampus going in their home city in hopes of making it an annual Hell-A tradition.

Costumes L-R: Al Ridenour, Al Ridenour, Al Guerrero, Joe Borfo. Photo: Phil Glau

Al Ridenour went to Austria last year during the Krampus festival and had a chance to witness the traditions surrounding Krampus as well as learn some secrets about the making of a Krampus costume, which is a very involved process:

Each handmade traditional costume, consisting of up to 14 separate sheep or goat skins, takes three dress makers one day to produce, and costs between 500 – 600 euros. Some 15 hours are needed for a woodcarver to sculpt each demon mask which is made from stone pine wood with goat horns attached.

via The Atlantic

Al was kind enough to step away from the Krampus event-planning frenzy to answer some questions about the Krampus festival which is is still underway:

Photo by Mumbly-Jumbly Mumblety-Peg

Photo by Mumbly-Jumbly Mumblety-Peg

So I read that a Krampus got a bit unruly at the Krampus ball. What does one have to do in order to cross the Krampus line?

Oh, I think it’s Krampus’ who pushes the line under you. Our friend Mike from Rosemary’s Billygoat was performing as part of The Kramps, a Krampus-costumed Cramps cover band and took a stage dive that went a bit wrong. I believe it was a case of his being overridden by the spirit of Krampus. Once you get in those suits, something happens. Krampus takes over.  Ambulances are summoned.

This might be a leading question but did you sense a BDSM vibe when checking out the traditional Krampus festival in Austria and is that what drew you to it?

I wasn’t aware of that. Or not very. Come to think of it, I also made a trip several years ago to see the Penitentes flog themselves on Good Friday in Taos Mexico, so last year’s outing to see Krampus would be my second whip-oriented cultural sightseeing trip. But of course these are very different things. Krampus whippings are really just devilish playfulness. Historically, the Church borrowed a pre-Christian practice where whippings were administered as a form of good luck (an ancient idea preserved in our idea of birthday spankings). The figure administering the whippings didn’t change much, but he was teamed with Saint Nicholas, and the meaning of the whippings changed into punishment for sins.

Is there an ideal female version of Krampus besides a female wood demon with tits?

I am trying to picture the “wood demon with tits,” and it is eluding me, but in a pleasant way. But the Krampus folklore is actually intimately tied in with a very important female figure, a sort of witch queen. In the Austrian Alpine regions where the Krampus originates, they called her Frau Perchta, and her entourage was called the Perchten, some of who were good and others bad. She came at year’s end to bring both blessings and punishments and was represented with two faces: one facing forward and beautiful, and the other crone-like and facing backward. The Church didn’t have room for this sort of ambivalence, and demoted the goddess to a witch, and her followers to devils. So these bad Perchten were the origin of the Krampus. As you might imagine, the Frau Perchta figure is becoming popular again as a figure of female empowerment as in this Salzburg exhibition by artist/photographer h. rogra.


What do people typically have to do in your mind in order to be punished by Krampus, kids and adults, as I suspect their sins might differ?

At least nowadays, kids are merely threatened by Krampus, intimidated with a crazy display of rattling chains and clanking cowbells and switch-swinging. That’d be when Krampus visits the house with St. Nicholas. But in the Krampuslauf, the public events where herds of Krampus run down the streets, it’s all about smacking adults, never kids, and honestly it’s mostly young men in costumes smacking young women. In the old days, only men could not dress as a Krampus, and only as long as they were unmarried. In a particular Austrian valley, they even called the switches or rod that the Perchten would swing a “life rod,” (“Lebensrute”) I mean you don’t need Dr. Freud, to tease out the fertility subtext here.

Photo by Lulu Mari

Photo by Lulu Mari

You made several costumes this year for the festivities and stuck as close to the traditional method as you possibly could, will you do anything different next year to make your costume more authentic?

Yeah, I am not particularly good at carving, but I tried to make my masks (which are really made of cardboard, fiberglass, and epoxy products) look like chiseled wood. I like the masks from the more traditional areas that are carved from pine. Much as I like the traditional stuff, we have to adapt to our climate and what’s on the market here. So heavy wooden masks and leather goat hides with fur will probably never play a big role in our events here. This was our first year, and all the work our crew put into suits is really amazing, and everyone contributed their own problem-solving know-how with a variety of approaches. It’ll be interesting to see how we can synthesize all this next year to perhaps achieve more of a family resemblance between troupe members as well as to the authentic European prototypes.

Photo by Phil Glau

Krampus is mainstream now. I’m seeing it everywhere when it used to be a very niche thing, so what would you like the kids to take away from the meaning of Krampus?

Hmm… I will tell you my pet peeves that have resulted from this broadened exposure. The most common American misunderstandings would be pairing Krampus with Santa Claus when he’s really paired with Saint Nicholas, an entirely different figure associated with December 6, not the 25th. And referring to Krampus as “the anti-Santa,” when in fact, he is supposed to be the collaborative subordinate of St. Nicholas.

Photo by Phil Glau

And I felt compelled to write a whole article for Atlas Obscura delving into the conflicting visual representations of the figure, and how the turn-of-the-century postcards standardized him almost like Coke standardizing Santa Claus. The book “Krampus, the Yule Lord,” seems to have muddled things too, leaving American graphic artists or would-be costumers thinking of the creature as a slim sexy satyr with rock-star hair, or that he has something to do with Loki and Nordic mythology, which is simply a storytelling contrivance and nothing to do with the folklore. There’s even a silly movie out that treats the Krampus as a sort of cryptozoological X-files case. I think eventually America will develop its own somewhat standardized Krampus, just like we have our coke-swilling Santa vs. the UK’s Father Christmas. And being American, this figure will be based what sells. So we’ll get a composite figure stewed up from comic books, the label on Krampus beer, or the salesperson for skateboards, and tennis shoes. But our group is going to keep some touchpoint with the older tradition. Our group has already hosted talks by European participants who are interested in coming back with their costumes, and I’ll be giving my own slide lectures, and working on a folklore book. We’ll see what comes out of it all. I’m sure it will be an interesting mix of naughty, nice, and naughtier.

Photo by Cathleen Cotter Photography

If you are in Hell-A this month, you can see what Krampus events await via the official Krampus Los Angeles site. For those who can’t make it to the events, you can always check out the amazing pics and videos people are posting on the Facebook community.

Photo by Xian Pitt

Photo by Xian Pitt

Also Bizarro author, Troy Chambers, has made an incredible Krampus doll which is currently available to invade your naughty home…


Gruß vom Krampus, Bizarros!

Twisted Tuesdays: Monsters of Urban Legend & Folklore

by Tracy Vanity


The Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books made me obsessed with urban legends as a kid. I loved thinking that KFC chicken could be made out of rats and a serial killer could call you from upstairs while you’re babysitting and murder all the kids you’re supposed to be taking care of. The monsters in these books were of particular interest since they could be from anywhere and take on various forms…

cleaning crew

These spooky tales, originally told flesh-to-flesh, can now spread to millions of people through the internet. Slender Man has surely taken off and now he has a quite entertaining twitter account, as does The Rake. You should follow them at your own risk!


Every country and culture has many of their own scary stories and urban legends, but here is a highlight of monsters found in urban legends and folklore from around the world:

-In the 19th century, the Bell Witch was a brutal poltergeist who haunted the Bell family, assaulting and cursing them.


The Black Dog is a hellhound found in the British Isles and even Latin America. This ghost is said to be the harbinger of death.

Little Black Dog

Bloody-Bones is usually said to live near ponds, but according to Ruth Tongue in Somerset Folklore, “lived in a dark cupboard, usually under the stairs. If you were heroic enough to peep through a crack you would get a glimpse of the dreadful, crouching creature, with blood running down his face, seated waiting on a pile of raw bones that had belonged to children who told lies or said bad words.

put on yout face

The Brosno dragon is basically the loch ness monster of Russia. He also looks like dinosaur.

-There are many variations of The Bunny Man legend which spread around the U.S. but basically he runs around wearing a bunny suit and murders people with an axe.


The Bunyip is an Aboriginal creature which deals in water-based areas of Australia. It doesn’t seem to do much but this video that Carlton Mellick posted before makes this monster seem a lot creepier:

El Cipitio is some kind of ghost or paranormal entitity from El Salvador of a boy with a giant belly and backwards feet who flies and throws pebbles at people. He is said to be the child of some “illicit” couple.

-The Crawfordsville Journal described the Crawfordsville monster as being “about eighteen feet long and eight feet wide and moved rapidly through the air by means of several pairs of side fins. It was pure white and had no definite shape or form, resembling somewhat a great white shroud fitted with propelling fins. There was no tail or head visible but there was one great flaming eye, and a sort of a wheezing plaintive sound was emitted from a mouth which was invisible. It flapped like a flag in the winds as it came on and frequently gave a great squirm as though suffering unutterable agony.”

“According to the book De Kinderen van Het Bezeten Bos which was written in 1937 the legend of Deogen is said to have began when area nuns began finding the burned bodies of young children in the Sonian Forest in Belgium, near Brussels. It is said in the book that 80 children were murdered and the bodies dumped throughout in the forest and set ablaze but a more accepted number was only 8. Very little is known of the case excepting that which is found in the book which is believed by many to have been a work of fiction.

Draugar are pretty metal. These undead creatures from Norse mythology possess superhuman strength and come up out of their graves as wisps of smoke, increase in size, and kill people by crushing them, drinking their blood, and driving them insane.


-In Scandinavian folklore, Gjenganger are like ghosts in that they have died and come back from the dead but are in full human-like form and can cause damage if they’re pissed off or evil.

“According to legend, Goatman is an axe-wielding, half-man, half-animal creature that was once a scientist who worked in the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. The tale holds that he was experimenting on goats, the experiment went awry, and he began attacking cars with an axe, roaming the back roads of Beltsville, Maryland. A variation of the legend tells of Goatman as an old hermit who lives in the woods, seen walking alone at night along Fletchertown Road.”


“A hidebehind is a nocturnal[1] fearsome critter from American folklore that preys upon humans that wander the woods,[2] and was credited for the disappearances of early colonial loggers when they failed to return to camp.[3][4] As its name suggests, the hidebehind is noted for its ability to conceal itself. When an observer attempts to look directly at it, the creature hides again behind an object or the observer and therefore can’t be directly seen: a feat it accomplishes by sucking in its stomach to a point where it is so slender that it can easily cover itself behind the trunk of any tree.[5] The hidebehind uses this ability to stalk human prey without being observed and to attack without warning. Their victims, including lumberjacks who frequent the forests, are dragged back to the creature’s lair to be devoured.[2][3] The creature subsists chiefly upon the intestines of its victim,[6] and has a severe aversion to alcohol, which is considered a sufficient repellent.[6] Tales of the hidebehind may have helped explain strange noises in the forest at night.[7] Early accounts describe hidebehinds as large, powerful animals, despite the fact that no one was able to see them.[7]”

“In 1893 newspapers reported the discovery of a Hodag in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. It had “the head of a frog, the grinning face of a giant elephant, thick short legs set off by huge claws, the back of a dinosaur, and a long tail with spears at the end”. The reports were instigated by well-known Wisconsin timber cruiser and prankster Eugene Shepard, who rounded up a group of local people to capture the animal.[1] The group reported that they needed to use dynamite to kill the beast.”

-In Chilean folklore, Imvunche is a deformed, hairy monster boy with a snake-like tongue that protects the entrance to a warlock’s cave.


-There have been many sightings of The Jersey Devil even to this day:

Kuchisake-onna is a Japanese spirit, mutilated by a jealous husband and said to torment little Japanese children. She is known to wear a surgical mask and goes up to kids, asking if she looks beautiful. If they say “yes” she removes her mask and reveals her mouth which has been split open from ear to ear. If they say “no” she chops them up. Creepy shit.


La Llorona is well-known in Latin America. Spanish for “The Weeping Woman,” the version I was told was that she is the ghost of a woman who was abandoned by her lover and ends up drowning her children and herself in the river. Her ghost is seen crying in the middle of the night looking for her children. In Thailand there is a similar ghost called Phi Tai Hong.


-The Lambton Worm is a huge dragon-looking beast that terrorized a village in the UK and has a song which I can’t really understand but the pictures of the “worm” are cute:

-“In the folklore of Bali, the Leyak (in Indonesian, people called it ‘Leak’ (le-ak)—the Y is not written or spoken) is a mythological figure in the form of flying head with entrails (heart, lung, liver, etc.) still attached. Leyak is said to fly trying to find a pregnant woman in order to suck her baby’s blood or a newborn child.[1] There are three legendary Leyak, two females and one male.”


-The Manananggal of the Philippines is a vampire-like creature, typically depicted as a woman who has bat wings and long straw tongue to suck blood from people and fetuses out of pregnant women.

-The Melon heads were deformed children from a Michigan insane asylum who were mistreated, went feral, and escaped into the forest.

-A Nachzehrer is a German vampire ghoul, who eats the dead and is created when a person dies by suicide or accident. It apparently loves munching on grave clothes.

-Like the name suggests, the Owlman of the UK is a giant owl-like man with claws, wings, and glowing eyes.


“In most accounts, the Pope Lick Monster (named after the Pope Lick Creek below the Pope Lick Train Trestle) appears as a human-goat hybrid with a grotesquely deformed body of a man. It has powerful, fur-covered goat legs, an alabaster-skinned face with an aquiline nose and wide set eyes. Short, sharp horns protrude from the forehead, nestled in long greasy hair that matched the color of the fur on the legs.

Numerous urban legends exist about the creature’s origins and the methods it employs to claim its victims. According to some accounts, the creature uses either hypnosis[1] or voice mimicry to lure trespassers onto the trestle to meet their death before an oncoming train. Other stories claim the monster jumps down from the trestle onto the roofs of cars passing beneath it. Yet other legends tell that it attacks its victims with a blood-stained axe. It has also been said that the very sight of the creature is so unsettling that those who see it while walking across the high trestle are driven to leap off.

Other legends explain the creature’s origins, including that it is a human goat hybrid, and that it was a circus freak who vowed revenge after being mistreated. In one version, the creature escaped after a train derailed on the trestle. Another version claims that the monster is really the twisted reincarnated form of a farmer who sacrificed goats in exchange for Satanic powers.”


-In 1930’s Chicago, a young female hitchhiker dressed all in white, was picked up by several drivers only to vanish once the car stopped in front of the cemetery. One of many variations of the vanishing hitchhiker stories, Resurrection Mary was said to have been a young woman who had stormed out of a ball when her boyfriend pissed her off and was killed by a hit and run driver while on her way back home.

the bride

Robert the Doll was a super creepy doll owned by painter in Key West who was said to move, talk, giggle, knock over furniture, and do other scary shit. The painter kept the doll until he died and now the doll resides in Fort East Martello Museum and is said to curse anyone who takes photos of him.

Rokurokubi (轆轤首, rokurokubi?) which are related to Nure-onna are yōkai found in Japanese folklore. They look like normal human beings by day, but at night they gain the ability to stretch their necks to great lengths. They can also change their faces to those of terrifying Oni to better scare mortals.

In their daytime human forms, rokurokubi often live undetected and may even take mortal spouses. Many rokurokubi become so accustomed to such a life that they take great pains to keep their demonic forms secret. They are tricksters by nature, however, and the urge to frighten and spy on human beings is hard to resist. Some rokurokubi thus resort to revealing themselves only to drunkards, fools, the sleeping, or the blind in order to satisfy these urges. Other rokurokubi have no such compunctions and go about frightening mortals with abandon. A few, it is said, are not even aware of their true nature and consider themselves normal humans. This last group stretch their necks out while asleep in an involuntary action; upon waking up in the morning, they find they have weird dreams regarding seeing their surroundings in unnatural angles.”


Shadowpeople are dark paranormal entities seen all over the world, scientifically explained to be caused by a psychological disorder or sleep paralysis.


“The Sihuanaba, La Siguanaba, Cigua or Cegua is a supernatural character from Central American folklore. It is a shape-changing spirit that typically takes the form of an attractive, long haired woman seen from behind. She lures men away into danger before revealing her face to be that of a horse or, alternatively, a skull.”


Spring-heeled Jack, aptly named, is known for his bizarre appearance and giant leaps. He was first spotted in the UK in the 1800’s and is said to either look like a beastly man with long claws and fiery eyes or like a complete gentleman.


-If you read the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books, you will already be familiar with the Wendigo. In Algonquian legend, the Wendigo is a demonic cannibal spirit which came out especially during winter. Anyone who resorted to cannibalism was believed to become a Wendigo. In Scary Stories, a Wendigo carries a man up into the sky until he become a pile of ashes.


Are there any favorite legends I left out? There are so many! Now I’m off to bed. Sweet dreams Bizarros!

Day 24: Carved (2007)

By Sam Reeve

Carved, aka The Slit-Mouthed Woman, is today’s film for Japanese Horror Month. I first came across this when reading about Koji Shiraishi, who directed Noroi, another film to appear this month that I quite enjoyed. Unfortunately Carved is not as good, but still not an utter failure.

Carved is a paranormal slasher flick with child abuse being one of the major themes, as every main character is either a current or past abuser or victim. An evil ghost, the slit-mouthed woman, possesses women’s bodies and kidnaps children so she can abuse and murder them. Two teachers are solving the mystery so they may save the children, but are put in danger themselves.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: Mostly I found Carved to be pretty average and not very spooky or jumpy. What I did find disturbing was the scenes of child abuse (there are quite a few), and the one brutal flashback scene where a little boy has to kill his own mom. The makeup and special effects were a bit creepy, but nothing to swoon over.

The film was most definitely watchable, so if you’re looking for something just average, not terribly gory, or just want to see more j-horror, give Carved a try.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK: What annoyed me the most  were things that are apparent in pretty much all slasher flicks – the characters in peril don’t seem to understand the concepts of “go out the way you came in” and “be quiet when the killer is near”. Of course, maybe slasher flicks just couldn’t exist without that kind of crap, but one can dream.

Below you can find the full movie with English subtitles. One more week until Halloween!