The Creepypasta Collection: Modern Urban Legends You Can’t Unread (7.5 out of 10) – compiled by MrCreepyPasta – Published by Adams Media – Paperback, 301 pages – 09.02.16 - $12.00
Internet culture and social media has had an intriguing impact on the world of oral tradition and urban legends. Before everything was so connected, these tales were often circulated through advice columns or by bored parents who secretly wished that they were living inside a horror film. Now that so much of our entertainment is predicated upon our connectivity to the internet, and we still have an inborn desire to freak ourselves out, the floodgates to the world of creepypastas have been opened.
For those unfamiliar with this term, creepypasta is a broad term that describes horror stories and legends that users post online, many of which are uploaded with statements of their validity—I swear this is real! or Whatever you do, don’t try this ritual at home! If you’ve heard of Slenderman, you’ve heard of creepypasta. Perhaps the most popular place for these terrifying, bite-sized tales of serial killers and supernatural occurrences is creepypasta.com, which has recently released a collection of short stories culled from some well-known creepypasta contributors and up and coming horror authors.
Like most anthologies, “The Creepypasta Collection” has its hits and misses, but the most fascinating thing about all of the stories contained herein is how steeped they are in the digital culture, often spinning yarns about how this seemingly normal entity called the internet is now a possible instrument of demented happenstance. For example, “Picture This,” by Vincent V. Cava chronicles the obsessive dangers of internet trolling—it’s a bit far-fetched, but the story’s implications about the duality that exists between who people are in real life and who they are online is very pertinent to today’s internet culture.
Then there are some throwbacks to classic splatter horror and Lovecraftian insanity like “Creeping Crimson” by Michael Marks and “The Horror from the Vault” by Isaac Boissoneau. “Crimson” is a visceral stack of horror archetypes that I absolutely love—old hotels, strangers who find themselves in peril together, ritual sacrifice and incomprehensible monsters. On top of that, it’s a great look at the lengths that families will go to protect one another—even when a surging mass of red goo is at the door. “Vault,” with its nods to gothic horror and madness, feels a bit old school in this anthology, but that’s one reason that it stood out to me—it was a nice break amid the tales of internet treachery.
Stories about mental illness have always been a goldmine for horror authors, and this anthology has a few gems that take deep, gory dives into the realities of depression and psychosis. For straight up, stomach turning gore, “Licks from a Bear” by Max Lobdell is a journalized trip into self-mutilation, “Depression is a Demon” by Goldc01n personifies suicidal thoughts as the demonic entities that they really are, and “Teeny Tiny,” also by Lobdell, is a truly frightening look at the wreckage of an eating disorder.
All in all, “The Creepypasta Collection” is a great collection of horror stories with a modern flair, and it’s perfect for the upcoming Halloween season.