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Halloweek 2013 – Doll-O-Ween #1: Thomas Edison’s Dolls

hblf, lfneJason L Blair28 October 2013

Thomas Edison is known for many things: inventing the phonograph, championing direct current, perfecting the incandescent light bulb, slandering George Westinghouse, killing an elephant as a spectacle (warning: video link). But did you know he also invented some really creepy dolls?

Released in 1890, Edison produced 2500 of these dolls, foreseeing them as must-have items for children. Unfortunately for him, only 500 of them were sold. And many were returned by customers unhappy with their purchase.

You see, unlike the other dolls available then, these dolls talked. A tinfoil phonograph, actuated by a wooden crank that played a fragile wax record, projected a high-pitched nursery rhyme. You had to crank the handle at the speed you wanted the doll to talk, but those phonograph machines were hard to turn so mostly the dolls sounded like possessed creatures screaming in terror.

You can see for yourself in the video below.

Only a dozen or so of these dolls are still in existence. The one above, about as bare bones as you can get, netted close to four grand. I can only imagine what a doll with mechanism, record, and full outfit would catch on the market.

I imagine some grandparents of Little Fears characters may have one of these stowed away in their attic, passed down to them from their mother who got it from their mother who got it from their mother. I wonder what would happen if one of those characters tried to use the doll today.

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Inspiring Fear: The Haunting Hour Season 4!

hblf, lfneJason L Blair09 October 2013

Attention Little Fears fans (and anyone who likes good television): The new season of RL Stine’s THE HAUNTING HOUR starts this Saturday, October 12th!

I was initially drawn to the show because of its subject matter and its anthology format but it has proven to be one of the best anthology shows to come around in a long, long time. I cannot recommend this show enough.

Check out the Season 4 promo trailer below:

If you haven’t seen the earlier seasons, or want to have copies of your own, the episodes are being released on DVD in sets.

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LFNE Book 3 Kickstarter is Live!

lfneJason L Blair22 August 2013

It’s my birthday today and I’m celebrating with the Kickstarter launch of Little Fears Nightmare Edition Book 3 – Blessed are the Children! Here’s the teaser video I created for the Kickstarter.

I am very excited by the potential of this book and I hope you’re intrigued by the premise. I consider Book 2: Among the Missing to be the best tabletop work I’ve ever done and I aim to exceed that with Book 3. The Blessed are an incredibly interesting group of kids and Book 3 will offer insight into a previously unexplored part of the Little Fears universe.

If this sounds interesting to you, please check out the Kickstarter page for details on this next book, check out the backer reward tiers, and post any comments or questions there. For review, here’s what’s up for grabs by backing Book 3:

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Inspiring Fear: Click

hblf, lfneJason L Blair06 May 2013

Three boys. Two girls. A decrepit building. A light switch.

I’ve heard folks say the best horror is simple. While some may disagree with that assertion, films like William Prince’s CLICK certainly make a strong argument. This short film runs fourteen minutes and some change and is achingly spartan in its design, concept, and plot. It presents not only a beautiful-in-its-simplicity horror story but a fantastic premise for a Little Fears session. Imagine your group as the kids who investigate the aftermath of this film. I would love to play in that game. Absolutely wonderful.

If you have fifteen minutes to spare, you can watch the entire film below. It’s well worth your time.

(Warning: Adult Language)

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Inspiring Fear: rain

hblf, lfneJason L Blair01 May 2013

As some of you may know, I’m a big fan of adventure games. While visiting AdventureGamers.com earlier (a site for which I also write), I was reminded of the game rain, due out this year exclusively for the PlayStation 3.

In rain, you play as a boy trying to catch up to a girl who is being chased my monsters. During your pursuit, you stumble into the monsters’ path, and have to avoid them as well.

Also, you are invisible. As is the girl. As are the monsters. You only see others as you are seen: in the steadily falling rain. Going under cover allows you invisibility and gets the monsters off your tail. For now.

Upon watching the trailer below, I immediately thought of Little Fears, specifically the World in Between from Among the Missing. The fiction in rain could easily be something that happens when a child slips through the cracks of our world.

I’m going to be keeping an eye on this game, and urge Little Fears to do so as well. No release date for rain beyond this year but I have a feeling this will be worth it no matter the wait.

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Inspiring Fear: Huntsman – The Orphanage

hblf, lfneJason L Blair01 February 2013

It’s an exciting time for PC games with a lot of developers, especially the indies, trying new genres and new ideas within old genres. One such game that Little Fears fans might want to put on their radar is Huntsman – The Orphanage, a horror game from an outfit called ShadowShifters. Played through a first-person perspective, you must elude the ominously-named Huntsman as you try to escape the titular facility with only your smartphone and your wits to guide you. Judging from the trailer, it seems the smartphone will be incredibly important in not just your survival but others’ as well.

I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to say that children are involved in the story as well as what seems to be a heavy supernatural element. I got a strong Slenderman: The Eight Pages vibe from what I’ve seen and read but I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

You can keep tabs on the game via the developer’s website or their current page under Steam Greenlight. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on it. You can check out the official trailer below.

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Inspiring Fear: House of Circles

hblf, lfneJason L Blair18 January 2013

Most of the things I post in “Inspiring Fear” share a contextual link to Little Fears, such as having young protagonists, fighting unseen monsters, or shining a light on the power of belief. But this one struck me primarily for the visuals.

This video for “House of Circles” by Cleveland-area rock duo Mr. Gnome was shot on a $2000 budget and looks incredible. The 8-minute film is a fairy tale about a metallic-skinned woman named Queen Machine who has eaten a planet’s sun. A girl who lives on that planet leads an attack against Queen Machine to get their sun back. It’s wonderful (and wonderfully imaginative) stuff. From the young heroes to the dark-winged fairies to a world aesthetic you might find in the corners of Closetland to Queen Machine herself, you can find a lot of cool stuff to work into your Little Fears game. Enjoy.

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Inspiring Fear: Mama

hblf, lfneJason L Blair07 January 2013

I posted about the upcoming film Mama back when I first learned of the short film that inspired it. That was in September and I’d almost forgotten about it until my friend (and Happy Birthday, Little Fears illustrator) Doug Snook sent me a link to a new version of the short film that includes a preface by celebrated director and producer Guillermo del Toro. In addition, I was reminded that the new film is set to come out in just two weeks! The feature-length version of Mama has a release date of January 18th here in the States, and I’m amped to see it. It seems like not only perfect Little Fears inspiration but has such a great premise I have to know more.

You can watch the short film with introduction here and check out the trailer for the feature film below.

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Inspiring Fear: Elevator Prank

hblf, lfneJason L Blair29 November 2012

Hear me out.

If you’re involved in social media, chances are good you’ve seen this one on Facebook, Twitter, G+, or similar. I was relatively late to the party, having just watched it, but I had to share this with you all. The story goes this is candid footage from a Brazilian prank/practical joke show. I didn’t know what to expect which is for the best I think. Just trust me that this most definitely has some ties to Little Fears. Some things about the footage make me question its veracity but it’s still a fun watch with some great scares. Check it out.

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Halloweek #5! Inspiring Fear: Rule of Rose

hblf, lfneJason L Blair02 November 2012

The first I heard of the video game Rule of Rose was back in 2005 when I saw a strange little trailer announcing its impending release in Japan. This two-minute snippet gave no clue to the gameplay or, really, anything about the story. But the tone and music and glimpses of the story’s potential riled horror fans like me into a frenzy. Unfortunately, the game’s fate outside Japan was up in the air until Atlus announced that it would bring Rule of Rose to the States.

Of course I picked it up on day one.

Set in the 1930s, you play as nineteen-year old Jennifer, a girl whose parents were recently killed in an airship accident. We meet her on a bus traveling through the English countryside. After arriving at her destination, she glimpses a young boy who leads her down a trail. At the end of this trail, Jennifer finds an orphanage. Not one overseen by gentle caretakers though but ruled by three sinister adolescent girls who call themselves the Red Crayon Aristocrats. It’s their leader, Diana, who tests Jennifer’s worth through a series of tasks that take her around the orphanage and put her in the path of animal-headed imps, a bound mermaid, and a dog named Brown who not only becomes her companion in the story but an ally in the game. We also meet Amanda, a disturbed girl shunned by the Aristocrats who is only happy Jennifer is there because that gives Diana and the rest someone else to hate. And then there are other kids, including the boy who led Jennifer to the orphanage in the first place, but let’s leave them for you to discover.

The chapters, which run from March to December, are introduced by crayon drawings that set each stage. The cinematics that play throughout are creepy and chilling and pitch perfect. As you endure Diana’s trials, you learn the true story behind the orphanage and its inhabitants, including the connection Jennifer has to the place—something the girl herself doesn’t realize.

I try to only shine light on inspiration you can find either in stores, on a streaming service, or in digital distribution. Unfortunately, Rule of Rose is long out of print. Sellers on Amazon Marketplace currently list it at over $100. You may be able to find a copy of ebay, in the used section of your local GameStop (or regional equivalent), or in a secondary market retailer. As these sorts of games are usually hoarded, you’ll likely have to pay a pretty penny. Or, if you’d rather skip the gameplay and only enjoy the story, playthroughs exist on YouTube and such.

Rule of Rose is not a great game but its atmosphere combined with the twisted world of the Aristocrats is perfect nightmare fuel for Little Fears. And if you doubt me, check out that trailer I mentioned earlier:

For those of you who wish to dig deeper, you can also check out this Rule of Rose Wiki.

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