30 Days of Mortal Kombat: Part Two

2: Least Favorite Character(s)

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Oh there are SO many…I don’t know if I can pick just one? As much as I love Deadly Appliance (Alliance) for rounding out some great characters and introducing characters like Kenshi, Bo’ Rai Cho and Nitara, I really really question the logic behind the “Red Dragon”.

Seriously? Who even are these dumbasses? Who the hell is this little hack using hookswords who claimed to have defeated the amazing Kabal? Who is this dumbass in pseudo Nazi gear with a laser chest? They’re trying to make these losers seem important by tying them into the already catastrophic storyline of Armageddon? Lovely.

Mavado and Hsu Hao are literally the worst. They’re that guy who is trying to be cool and edgy and instead looks like a complete moron in the process. I found it amazing that one of the things the Alternate Timeline did was kill them both off hilariously. Even Netherrealm Studios hates these guys, and yet they still manage to have fangirls. Logic. There is none.

Dishonorable Mentions:

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What do I see here? I see one AMAZING character and two poorly developed hacks. Kobra is an obviously cheap ripoff of Ken Masters and Kira is just some wouldbe edgy chick that a fangirl would make. The two of them are not as much of a shame to the makers of the series as Mavado and Hsu Hao, but they have been reduced to injokes in X, with Erron Black stating that he killed Kobra in casual dialogue, and Kung Lao making fun of Kano by calling him Kira. The only members of the Black Dragon I want to see or hear about are Kabal and Kano, let’s leave it that way.

30 Days of Mortal Kombat: Part One

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*techno music*

Although I dismiss it as a fragment of my “edgy emo” past, this hyperviolent, crazy awesome, and unintentionally hilarious series still has a place in my heart. While the series has evolved from “funny” to “nauseating”, I can’t help but feel nostalgic for some characters, fatalities, and other junk. Do I consider myself a member of the fandom? That’s a more difficult question to answer. I consider myself an avid fan, but I would consider this to be one of the most troubling fandoms of all. Between the teenaged boys fapping to dessicated women and the teenaged girls distilling great characters to parodies of themselves, I generally try to avoid being too open about my love for the series so I don’t seem like part of a whole boatload of crazy.

Anyway, let us begin.

1: Favorite Character

This has changed over the years somewhat. I still like Dairou the forehead-zilla and his foe-yay interactions with prettyboy Hotaru. So what’s changed? I’ve finally accepted something that I knew for YEARS since my exposure to Conquest…

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I -fucking love- Quan Chi. He is what I wish every truly evil villain to be- sinister, conniving and manipulative. He’s creepy but elegant and intriguing. Brutal, but cunning. Although I was introduced to him in Conquest, and I absolutely loved him in that, I became a bigger fan with my introduction to Deadly Appliance (Alliance). I lost interest in Mortal Kombat for a VERY long time after Deception, with Armageddon being a complete mess and the reboot being tarnished by what I felt was a pretty crappy plot, but regained it with X thanks in large part to Quan Chi being absolutely amazingly well-crafted for the game. Granted he spends most of the story mode getting beaten up, but his dialogue and mannerisms are on point. Ironically, the game where he actually gets his just desserts is the game where he shines the most. Also, dat voice.

Honorable Mention

I had my doubts about X starting over with what basically amounted to a whole new cast. A whole new group of young champions from Earthrealm, (which are also great characters) were introduced, but it wasn’t them that caught my attention…

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It was the new Kahn. Kotal Kahn is such an interesting character. While his predecessor fell into the pitfall of being a cliche angry villain who likes yelling a lot, Ko’atal is more of an anti-hero, as in he’s not that terrible of a person, just prone to doing foolish and evil things when under duress. He served as the Blood God to the Mayan people at one point, and oh does it show, as 90% of what he does involves drawing blood in some manner. He even gets the “heart rip” fatality this time and it actually makes sense with his character. He, oddly enough, reminds me a LOT of the Pillar Men of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, in both appearance and mannerisms, and I think that’s part of why I like him. I think it will be neat to see what Netherrealm Studios does with this guy, and hope they don’t simply find a way to dispose of him.

Horror vs. Gore-rror: What Makes Things Scary?

Scary Story Telling Dog

THE HORROR!!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what makes some things scary and what makes some things…not scary as of late. Is repulsion really “horror”? What separates horror from shock and disgust, or are they interchangeable?

For me, these things are not mutually exclusive.

Horror and terror can be easily summed up in VSauce’s excellent explanation as to why things are creepy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEikGKDVsCc

There are many different categories, therefore of fear, I believe. As a writer, reader, and avid consumer of all things horror, I find that I prefer “horror” and especially “terror” types of scares when it comes to things. Intrigue and the unexplainable, hell, even the incomprehensible, interest me. However, there is a distinct type of “scary” that I do not avidly subscribe to as being actually frightening, that being gore.

A reaction of disgust and a reaction of fear, at least for me, are very different. Typically, when one is afraid, one withdraws in on oneself, pulling the covers up to their neck, jumping at every small noise, and bristling with goosebumps. In contrast, when one is disgusted, the reaction is much more outward in the form of a loud “UGH!” or in more extreme cases, projectile vomiting. Horror games are not necessarily overly gory, but may have moments of blood just to establish a clear and present danger to the protagonist. The Silent Hill series does this brilliantly. Even though monsters and deaths may be bloody, the reason why it is scary comes from the fact that the monsters represent one’s subconscious laid bare, as well as the sense of the unknown.

Gore in an of itself isn’t scary in particular and is more of a device to accentuate the mood. Action movies can be gory, as can comedies, adventure films, horror, and fantasy. But gore itself should never stand as a genre, because at that point you risk losing a purpose to storytelling. When we see someone, for example, strangled and ripped apart by a ghostly shrine maiden in Fatal Frame, it serves to ramp up the seriousness of the threat and is not the overarching theme throughout. This may only be shown once, but just enough to emphasize that the ghost is dangerous and to introduce the rope curse. Another example of gore as mood is in Outlast, which, although it had its moments of launching headlong into the “gross out” genre, its gore was mostly pertinent. The best example of this is the introduction, when one enters a room full of bodies that Chris Walker had dismantled. This serves to increase suspicion and fear. Just who exactly did this? It leads perfectly into the first jumpscare with Chris.

A problem arises when we classify gore itself as scary. If we go with this, we end up with the countless “horror” movies produced by American filmmakers that are affectionately called “torture porn”. The Saw series after the first movie, Hostel, the hilariously bad Wrong Turn series, and several poorly executed slasher films. These movies are reviled by some horror fans and celebrated by others, but, for the most part, if the gore is too egregious, the film becomes unenjoyable. Overblown gore can either come across as absolutely hilarious, as in the Peter Jackson film Dead Alive, or vomit-inducing, as in the later Saw films. This extends to video games as well. Horror games that rely too much on gore and too little on scares are generally considered to be bad. By noting gore as “scary” rather than “disgusting” or “useful”, we risk identifying some rather unscary things as horror. Mortal Kombat, anyone? It’s gory, disgusting, and features lots of people dying, but it is far from being horror, even with Mileena’s dental work and a gaggle of soul-stealing maniacs taken into account.

In conclusion, I have no problem with gore being used in writing and sometimes use it as a device myself. However, be very careful when you get too egregious lest you provoke a reaction that you did not intend and send your reader running to the toilet to vacate their stomach contents, or, perhaps worse, make them laugh hysterically. If the purpose of horror, and more appropriately, terror, is to induce a panic for fear of the unknown in someone, then why be blatant with mutilations, when you could make their skin crawl and cause paranoia insead?

The Ethics and Appeal of True Horror Stories

Consider that a Nightmare Fuel Warning

A popular trend I’ve noticed as of late are “True Scary Stories”. Some pulled from Reddit, some from news articles and stories passed on by family members. Some of the storytellers that share these tales even ask for suggestions, (which is pretty neat). While some of these are fairly innocent, albeit pantswettingly terrifying, there are some stories that I feel push a bit too far.

People, as a whole, I feel, are a bit morbid. They may not show it, but almost everyone has a latent dark curiosity about some rather unsettling subject matter. I am a firm believer in “too soon”. Some true stories, such as my favorite true mystery, The Wych Elm Bella, took place far enough back in history to talk about freely and was covered extensively by news reports. The same thing is the case with the Dyatlov Pass Incident, (which is even getting a VIDEO GAME this year). But hearing people talking about modern experiences with death sort of unsettles me, especially incidences that are unsolved. Granted, unsolved murders and mysteries of history such as the Ripper Murders are fascinating, but it feels safer to discuss them considering that both Mr. Ripper and his victims’ close family members are long gone.

But when people talk about family that was murdered or, more egregiously, encountering a taxidermied human being recently, I know personally that if a friend of mine died and someone decided to try to gain fame by telling a story about it, I would be angry. Angry that my friend was reduced to a “creepy jumpscare”. Perhaps I am in the minority, perhaps these stories aren’t actually “true”, or perhaps they had a good reason for sharing the story, but stories involving the actual death of an individual unsettle me.

However, that does not diminish the appeal of some of these stories, especially stories of people encountering the paranormal. They make me feel a little more credible given my own experience with the Bathroom Ghost of Doom, (If anyone would like me to post this story, I will. It will scare the SHIT out of you!). I find that sharing our stories with others can provide a source of comfort to those sharing and help build a community. The storytellers and Reddit are helping to facilitate this and it can help with the healing process, especially for horribly traumatic encounters.

True Horror is a double-edged sword, it seems, but I’m mostly alright with it, even though I enjoy exercising creativity when it comes to horror. I may make a countdown of my personal favorite creepy true life tales from Reddit. In the meantime, check out Mr. Nightmare’s channel for some scares!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnM02drQP-dF7WMgtJHR4Xw