The League of Tana Tea Drinkers

LOTTD Our mission is to acknowledge, foster, and support thoughtful, articulate, and creative blogs built on an appreciation of the horror and sci-horror genres.

Horror bloggers are a unique group of devoted fans and professionals, from all walks of life, who keep the genre, in all its permutations and media outlets, alive and kicking. Often spending long hours to keep their blogs informative and fun, horror bloggers share their unique mix of personality, culture and knowledge freely to fans of a genre difficult to describe, and fun to fear.

We honor exemplary horror blogs with our own special insignia: one that signifies the heights to which we aspire, and the code of excellence we follow to promote horror in all its wonderfully frightening forms, from classic to contemporary, from philosophical to schlockical.

The League of Tana Tea Drinkers are bloggers who toil away the extra midnight hour to present the best in horror blogging to reach the heights of horrifying excellence. We know what rapture it is to sip tana tea in the full moon light, and feel the thrill of walking the dark passageways in cinema and literature, searching for the unusual, the terrifying, and the monstrous. For the fun of it.

Keep watching the skies, and reading the horror. LOTT D is coming for you!

--jmcozzoli, Zombos' Closet of Horror

March 3, 2011

Groovy Age of Horror Asks: What Do Cute Versions of Monsters Tell Us About Horror?

When my first nephew was born, I started paying more attention to cute, cuddly toys that would make nice gifts. As soon as I found out about Uglydolls, I knew I had to get him one. They're monsters, but cute! Babo (pictured above) is the first one I bought. Two things are worth noting here: 1) the Uglydoll monsters aren't just not-scary--they're positively cute, and 2) much of their cuteness derives from the very features that identify them as monsters. In Babo's case, the usually-fearsome horns and teeth are made to look small, harmless, even silly by how wide the head and mouth are, and of course by being more rounded than pointy. Also, their placement seems to form a line down Babo's face that emphasizes how far apart his wide-set googly eyes are.

Uglydolls are a notable example, but far from the only one, of monsters being depicted in a cute, funny, or silly way designed to make us smile or laugh rather than be afraid. Jim Henson's Muppets, the monster cereals, the Rankin-Bass tv special Mad Monster Party?, and the Monsters, Inc. movie all fit the bill.

The first time I heard of Cthulhu plush toys, I couldn't help smiling, because the very idea of a Cthulhu plush toy seems so ironic and incongruous. How could anything ever described by H. P. Lovecraft be cute and cuddly? And yet:

Again, it's not just that this monster fails to be scary--he succeeds at being cute. And the facial tentacles that identify this as a monster, and specifically as Cthulhu, here take on the quality almost of bunny ears. ThinkGeek's product description nicely plays the horror of the Cthulhu we've come to know and loathe off of the obvious cuteness of the toy:

From "The Call of Cthulhu," by H.P. Lovecraft, we learn of a gigantic creature. It has existed for longer than memory, and has traveled between the stars. It can never die, and its very existence puts all that we know or think we know into question. It is truly alien, viewing humans and our society the same way we would view tiny insects. Cthulhu is a mass of tentacles and claws and feelers and scales. It is truly a vision of a nightmare, which, of course, means it would make a perfect addition to your home or office!

As a charming plush, this cute little monster will be happy to glare evilly at anyone – just for you. Look at that tentacled face – absolutely, other-worldly adorable. Come on; give that widdle, cuddley-wuddley, widdle Cthulhu a kiss. You know you want to. And if you are really nice to this small plush version of Cthulhu, when the real one wakes up…it might not eat you.

Now, why is all of this so appealing, and does that tell us anything interesting about horror? I posed this question to my horror blogger compatriots in LOTT-D, and they've certainly risen to the occasion! Here are the roundtable discussion contributions so far (I'll update as more roll in):

Monster Magazine World
Vault of Horror
Cinema Suicide
Classic Horror
Dr. Gangrene
Zombos' Closet

1 comment:

msmariah said...

I know what you mean. I don't know when stuffed little monsters became so darn popular. I will say that the creatures (adipose) in the 4th season of Doctor Who were absolutely adorable.