Category Archives: Monsters At Home

Monsters at Home: Shadow of the Colossus

What keeps the sixteen colossi of the Forbidden Land going in the long years they spend sitting around waiting to be killed?

club

Shadow of the Colossus is one of the first titles that’s likely to come up in any discussion of games as art. Its narrative, its design and its melancholy themes are tied closely and cleverly together for a slow-burning emotional impact. But as ever with artistic masterpieces, much of the nitty-gritty of daily routine is skirted over and left unexplained. Let’s have a look at the monsters’ secret home lives…

WHAT DO THEY EAT?

As a player wandering around the Forbidden Land the best you’ll manage to forage is the odd lizard tail. That’s about the size of a lentil from a colossus’s perspective so clearly it wouldn’t sustain one. These vast golems who collapse into natural rubble when defeated must have to chew up and shit out great chunks of the landscape itself to keep themselves nourished. The sods.

flying

How DO THEY socialise

If you’ve played Shadow of the Colossus (and a kiss for you, loyal reader, if you haven’t and you’re still reading this) you’ll know that much of the game is taken up with long contemplative treks through the lonely lands at the edge of the world as you search for your foes. In other words they live in total isolation, and as walking prisons for splintered segments of evil energy it’s probably best they don’t mingle all at once. But what’s to stop the big flying one heading up over the plains for a nice day out? Collecting the little boar-like ones for a gentle race over one of the bridges perhaps, or organising a bit of heavy-footed dressage for the larger quadrupeds. No-one should be alone with their sorrow.

wine

What do THEY drink?

When the colossi are defeated, the evil black force sealed within them oozes out to violate our protagonist, progressively debilitating his appearance with each “victory”. On the one hand this invites us to consider the consequences and morality of a traditional heroic narrative. On the other hand it suggests to me they’ve got carried away with the red wine.

What do THEY watch on telly?

These huge lumbering creatures of stone and moss are enjoying the recent revival of Fort Boyard on Saturday mornings, although they feel the Fort is something of an under-developed character.

rock garden

What DO THEY do for fun?

The big ones with their clubs as big as towers are clearly only hoping someone will turn up and bowl them a pagoda for a nice game of rounders. The aquatic ones with their constant electrical discharges are probably just trying to generate enough power to get a soundsystem going. In fact the twelfth colossus, blasting around in the water with that nice big flat rock garden on his head, could have a promising career as a party boat if it wanted.

shadow-of-the-colussus-stab

How DO THEY reproduce?

Any speculation about the sex lives of the colossi must inevitably turn to their secret, sensitive parts – the sigils that are the key to their defeat. These ticklish, glowing areas that act as seals to their enchantment are euphemisms of the first rank. Considering that you spend the entire game sifting through fearsome tufts and ridges to locate these erogenous zones and successfully penetrate each colossus with your weapon, it’s tempting to see the whole game as a glorified Joy of Sex manual. In which case, Shadow of the Colossus’s sex lessons can be summed up by saying – hold on for as long as you can and just keep poking.

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Monsters at Home: Cthulhu

Cthulhu! The green, sticky spawn from the stars is HP Lovecraft’s most famous creation, a monstrous entity the mere awareness of whose existence can drive a man mad. Let’s have a look at what it gets up to in its spare time.

What does it eat?

‘A mountain walked or stumbled… a gelatinous green immensity’, writes Lovecraft. You don’t get to Cthulhu’s size on a fad diet. But how’s it been getting any food, shut away in slimy stone for untold epochs? Well the Great Old Ones aren’t composed purely of flesh and blood, we learn. Their shapes are ‘not made of matter’. So it could be absorbing all manner of other-dimensional sustenance down there in sunken R’lyeh. Preternatural French Fancies. Gibbous goujons. Daemoniac crispy pancakes.

How does it socialise

Cthulhu and its kin slumber in ‘great Cyclopean cities of Titan blocks and sky-flung monoliths, all dripping with green ooze and sinister with latent horror… They could only lie awake in the dark and think whilst uncounted millions of years rolled by. They knew all that was occurring in the universe, for Their mode of speech was transmitted thought. Even now They talked in Their tombs.’ The ability to slump immobile at home and yet still be updated second-by-second on everything that’s going on everywhere else has only reached humanity in the last few years with the advent of Twitter. It seems  the Great Old Ones invented it untold aeons of years early.

What does it drink?

‘There was a bursting as of an exploding bladder, a slushy nastiness as of a cloven sunfish, a stench as of a thousand opened graves, and a sound that the chronicler could not put on paper. For an instant the ship was befouled by an acrid and blinding green cloud, and then there was only a venomous seething astern.’

I don’t know about you but that sounds a lot like me if I start on the Guinness with an empty stomach.

What does it watch on telly?

Cthulhu’s home, the dread sunken city of R’lyeh, is renowned for its impossible geometry – angles that don’t meet up as they should; perspective and the known physical laws defied, that sort of thing. For that reason it stays glued to Coronation Street – a street in which, in case you’ve never noticed, the Rovers Return toilets can only possibly exist if they’re in the same physical space as the Barlows’ living room.

What does it do for fun?

‘Mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom.’

Zumba, basically.

How does it reproduce?

We hear in At The Mountains Of Madness about Cthulhu’s prehuman spawn, a race of cosmic octopi who filtered down from infinity and waged war with the starfish-headed people of the Antarctic. I was watching a nice documentary about octopi on Discovery the other night. Their little eggs were lovely. Cthulhu’s spawning would probably be on the grim side though – with Lovecraft everything’s Stygian, or unnameable, or noisome. So I draw a veil. Just don’t Google Image search ‘octopus sex’ as I just did. Really. Don’t.

Monsters at Home: The Cenobites

They’re explorers in the further regions of experience!  Demons to some, but angels to others! Or, as Wikipedia puts it a little less poetically, they’re ‘extradimensional sadomasochists’. But how do Hellraiser‘s scourges pass the time when they’re not reaping souls and refashioning flesh?

Not shown: Choc ices

WHAT DO THEY EAT When the Cenobites first appear in the novella The Hellbound Heart, we’re told that they smell of vanilla. So I tend to imagine they’ve just been scoffing a box of Asda choc ices. At 8 for £1 (at time of writing) they’re not exactly a luxury treat, so it’s the perfect conflicted experience for beings who like to blur the line between pain and pleasure. Butterball, the fat Cenobite, probably gets taunted and comes off worst. Like most fat characters in films he’s portrayed as always hungry, as we can see from his gaping stomach wound and constant lip-licking. I bet the others just give him the stick to sniff once they’ve eaten.

HOW DO THEY SOCIALISE With those costumes that evoke the S&M scene AND the priesthood AND butchers’ leather aprons, we can say with some confidence that the Cenobites spend quite a lot of time shopping for clothing and grooming products. So Saturdays find them ambling through the retail district of Hell’s labyrinth, stopping in at their own versions of Debenhams for some underwear (“We Have Such Tights To Show You!”) and Timpson’s to get their boots repaired (“We’ll Tear Your Sole Apart!”).

WHAT DO THEY DRINK The Female Cenobite (yes I know, sorry, that’s how she’s credited) unfortunately has the front of her throat held open by wires so it’s unlikely she gets to enjoy any drinks very much at all past an initial taste. And with Chatterer’s teeth clattering away constantly he doesn’t get much down his gullet either. Still it means there’s always someone to get Pinhead and Butterball home safely after they’ve got slaughtered on cocktails with Leviathan.

WHAT DO THEY WATCH ON TELLY As two of the Cenobites seem to be effectively both blind and deaf, this is probably something of a sore point. But still, the others have found themselves drawn to ITV1 on Saturday nights where hapless humans attempt to solve the challenges of a mysterious Cube which acts as a gateway to pain or pleasure. “Tears are a waste of good suffering!” barks Pinhead at the screen as a hapless estate agent from Billericay slumps defeated amidst a pile of brightly coloured ping-pong balls.

WHAT DO THEY DO FOR FUN We know that they can only reach our world through the solving of puzzles (and not just the Lament Configuration box – we learn from the book that origami can be used to summon them) and so they keep a close eye on new mental and physical challenges. The Sudoku fad left them unimpressed but they’ve had a great time recently sketching hooked chains and bloody foetuses on Draw Something.

HOW DO THEY REPRODUCE Well the dull answer is that they convert other people into Cenobites. It seems they retain some memory of their human pasts though, enough for a confused recollection that intimate fun can involve the insertion of appendages into orifices. But as we can see in this picture of Chatterer and Kirsty, this leads to all sorts of hilarious misunderstandings. Better luck next time!

Monsters at Home: ICO’s Shadows

I’m playing ICO in HD. It was already the most beautiful and satisfying game of all time, maybe, and now they’ve remastered it for the PS3. Going back to the castle feels like coming home. Its oily, smoky, capering monsters look more wonderful than ever. Their eyes flash blue as they frolic in the courtyards and the more finely enhanced they are, the more they seem as fluid but substantial as the shapes you see inside your eyelids when you’ve been looking into the light too long. But what do they get up to when they’re not on screen?

WHAT DO THEY EAT We don’t know much about the monsters. We do know that their main aim is to drag Yorda into one of those inky Acme-style portals they ooze out of. So we have to assume they love a traditional Prinsesstårta. Sponge layers and cream covered in green marzipan! It tastes like a princess! OK I’ve eaten the cake but I haven’t eaten a princess. I’ve only got my own assumptions to go on. (The cake was good.)

HOW DO THEY SOCIALISE Of all the monsters I’ve written about on this blog, these are some of the most playful. I love they way they scamper about after Yorda, and their natural friskiness leads me to imagine they like nothing more than an innocent game of Kiss Chase (OK, Kiss Chase that leads to the KIDNAP and ABSORPTION of your soulmate and ENSUING HEARTBREAK, but whatevs).

WHAT DO THEY DRINK Castrol GTX.

WHAT DO THEY WATCH ON TELLY The monsters enjoy Grand Designs, Fort Boyard and Take Me Out.

WHAT DO THEY DO FOR FUN It may be sacrilege, and of course you never see it in the game, but I like to think they creep out when Ico and Yorda have moved on to the next area, in order to sprawl on one of those Sofas Of Reasonable Comfort that you use as save points. Although the comfort level of a wrought iron sofa remains to be proved.

HOW DO THEY REPRODUCE I’ve spent a lot of time watching these monsters (OK, beating them with sticks). It’s hard to say which are my favourites. I like the spidery ones, I like the way one of them tries to pretend-vanish into walls like a retreating stain. But I think my favourite is Turkey Lurkey with his grabby wings. And if ‘grabby wings’ doesn’t fire your own sexual imagination then I can’t help you.

Monsters at Home: The 456

Turkey Twizzlers "now only the second worst poultry-based threat to children", new studies suggest

It’s nearly time for another episode in the new series of Torchwood! Unless you live in America, in which case you’ll have to wait until last week to see it. I’m enjoying Miracle Day, although by internet law I’m forced to point out that it’s not as good as 2009’s Children of Earth. That was a Torchwood series that managed to be exciting, upsetting, terrifying and passionate all in one go. And the monsters! They were horrible. Yes, yes, THE MONSTERS WERE US, I know. But that’s a trick that takes some pulling off when you’ve introduced a race as nasty as interstellar paedos the 456. Let’s take a look at their home life.

WHAT DO THEY EAT Due to their embarrassing gastric condition, which has them uncontrollably spewing up viscous acid at all the most awkward moments, the 456 have been put on a diet designed to “settle their stomachs” by their mums. This includes chicken noodle soup, dry Jacob’s crackers and flat 7-Up.

HOW DO THEY SOCIALISE It’s a struggle. The heavy atmosphere they breathe envelops them in a constant blue haze, they’ve got kidnapped children to drag along behind them, and I’ve mentioned the vomiting problem. But they get by. The combination of a toxic fug, kids who shouldn’t be there and people chucking up everywhere reminds me very much of pubs in Manchester before the smoking ban.

Fugging hell.

WHAT DO THEY DRINK Andrews Liver Salts.

WHAT DO THEY WATCH ON TELLY Despite their fearsome reputation, the 456 enjoy a bit of knockabout fun as much as anyone. They’re often to be found in front of You’ve Been Framed. “An injury to one is an injury to all!” they laugh as a cat falls off a slide.

WHAT DO THEY DO FOR FUN Well as we saw in Torchwood, the 456 turn children into hookahs. And please do point out the spelling there, if you’re reading this aloud to your loved ones. We learned that kids produce a chemical that acts as a recreational drug to our vomity friends. And the 456 can control their minds and make them do as they please. Oh it leads to some horrible thoughts, doesn’t it. But that’s why they’re monsters! And this column is about the lighter side of monsterdom. So I like to imagine the 456 staging productions of Bugsy Malone. “We could have been anything that we wanted to be!” sing the sad, dead-eyed children in their gasmasks, crying with fear. You see? The lighter side!

Did the earth move for you?

HOW DO THEY REPRODUCE I think the 456 probably have the most exciting sex life of any monster I’ve covered on this blog to date. Look at them! They travel in pillars of fire, they’re constantly high on drugs, they wave mysterious dripping appendages around in semi-darkened rooms, and three heads are better than one. “We have a request. We want a gift,” they boom seductively. They’d get it. You know they would.

I did not make the following video. But it made me laugh when I was “researching” this post:

Monsters at home: The Silent Hill nurses

Oh, you’ve never played any Silent Hill, you say. Well this brilliant game series, pitched somewhere between David Lynch and the best of Japanese horror cinema provides some of the most unsettling interactive experiences you’ll ever have, outside of a spin on chatroulette. The nurses are among the series’ most recognisable recurring opponents*, and like all its horrors they exist as symbols of unresolved anxieties in the deepening stories of the protagonists. BUT THAT SOUNDS LIKE HARD WORK. So how do they relax?

WHAT DO THEY EAT The cardigan-wearing nurses from the original game, with the slug-parasites growing out of their backs, are found wandering gloomy hospital corridors, waving scalpels around. But with only a scalpel to use, they’re going to be limited to food that can be jabbed. So their staple diet is cocktail sausages, cheese and pineapple cubes, and those olives with things stuck in them.

HOW DO THEY SOCIALISE In Silent Hill 2 the nurses got sexy. Of course when I say sexy, I also mean facially disfigured, twitching succubi lashing out at you with iron bars, but still, you know, voluptuous. Fetishy. It’s a representation of the guilt and sexual frustration the main character felt during his wife’s long hospitalisation. So these nurses save their pennies for trips to the mall to get those too-tight, bloodied uniforms just right, and then hit the wine bars.

WHAT DO THEY DRINK The nurses in Silent Hill 3 are best remembered for how bloody noisy they were. All that heavy breathing, and those horrible screams. I hear a similar racket outside the flat when the windows are open on warm Saturday nights. It’s generally fuelled by Jagermeister. So if they can’t get formaldehyde, that’s what the nurses are on too.

WHAT DO THEY WATCH ON TELLY The nurses in Silent Hill: Origins seemed to have surgical masks melted onto their faces. But it would be lazy to see that and assume that they just sit around watching medical dramas. No, as figures of control and repression, they’re far more comfortable with the overbearing likes of How To Look Good Naked and The Biggest Loser. 

WHAT DO THEY DO FOR FUN In the live action Silent Hill film, the nurses were fantastically choreographed. All their jerky lurching was brought to life in as horrible and disorientating a way as us fans could have hoped for. So clearly there have been some dance classes along the way. Lambada, perhaps.

HOW DO THEY REPRODUCE In the recent Silent Hill: Homecoming, you could — unpleasantly — see a foetus growing in the nurses’ wombs when you shone a light on them. But it’s anyone guess how it got in there. This is a game series in which someone vomits up God’s foetus and someone else eats it, after all. To be honest I’d prefer to write the whole thing off as an optical illusion. I don’t want to see any more nurses. They scare me.

*Ok, obviously the most iconic Silent Hill monster is Pyramid Head. But nothing I write is going to improve on the video below, which appeared on YouTube a few years ago, and to be honest has pretty much inspired this whole Monsters At Home strand. Respect.

Monsters at Home: Mr. Noseybonk and the Mara

As 1982 Week continues, we’re going behind the scenes with two of the most feared telly creations of the era, because oh yes – they’re together at last. If you need a primer on either of them before we get going, click Play below…

WHAT DO THEY EAT Oh it’d be easy to assume the Mara’s always shoving the Fruit of Temptation in Noseybonk’s face. But no, not on their evenings off. Instead the Mara will offer Noseybonk a disclosing tablet. Noseybonk will accept it with a curious grin. He wil crunch away at it until the teeth in his perfect white head are as pink as newborn mice. And then how they’ll laugh.

HOW DO THEY SOCIALISE I do try, in ‘Monsters At Home’, to emphasise the carefree, fun times that go on behind the scenes. But there’s no two ways about it, the Mara and Noseybonk are unpopular, feared figures in their neighbourhood. Noseybonk’s banned from the garden centre after *that* incident and the Mara, who works part-time on Saturday in the tattoo parlour, just can’t seem to get along with anyone.

WHAT DO THEY DRINK The Mara enjoys a nice drop of snakebite and Noseybonk will have a snifter of anything.

WHAT DO THEY WATCH ON TELLY Delighting in chaos, and the madness and suffering of others, the Mara enjoys putting its foot up in front of the latest edition of Game For A Laugh. Noseybonk preferes something a little less harrowing, and titters along with Tenko.

WHAT DO THEY DO FOR FUN The Mara loves to play draughts. It flicks on the reverse mood lighting in the Dark Places Of The Inside, pops a Kate Bush tape in the hi-fi, and challenges Noseybonk to best it. Noseybonk looks up from his jigsaw. He surveys the board. His face bobs up and down approvingly. His blank eyes glint. Which leads us to:

HOW DO THEY REPRODUCE All that subtle Buddhist demon stuff, with the Mara propagating itself through tapping into people’s secret fears and desires in dreams – that’s just the day job, and physically it’s a snake like any other. So its true broodiness is expressed with a longing for a pronging from Noseybonk’s most impressive appendage, and a nice clutch of eggs to follow. Goodnight everyone!