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Seeing Through Delusions


Back in episode 11 we discussed madness in Lovecraftian games and how, if at all, it relates to the real world. Paul made mention of the new rules in Call of Cthulhu 7th edition that deal with delusions and attempts by investigators to see through them. I was reminded of this today when I stumbled across a comment on Reddit from someone with schizophrenia, who talks about how he tries to determine whether he’s hallucinating.

This is fascinating stuff, and Paul was comforted to learn that he wasn’t too far off base.

The Good Friends Interview Rafael Chandler

Jackson Elias

We wrapped up our first interview and first video podcast this morning, where we talked to RPG designer, video game writer and novelist Rafael Chandler. We asked Rafael lots of questions about his work and influences, and he answered with a fluency and charm previously unheard on the show.

If you want to read any of the books and games we discussed, you can find them on Rafael’s website,

Paul will edit the audio portion of this interview, and we’ll put it out as a normal podcast episode next week. If you can’t wait until then, or just want to see what we all look like, the video is up on YouTube now.


Jackson Elias

Tomorrow morning, technology willing, The Good Friends will be recording our first ever video episode. This is because we will be interviewing our first ever guest via Google Hangout and streaming it to YouTube. We’ll put the audio portion out as a normal episode at a later date, but we decided that we may as well leave the video up on YouTube as well. We shall link to it once it’s done.

Don't worry -- we don't bite

Don’t worry — we don’t bite

And who is this guest? None other than that renaissance man of splatter, Rafael Chandler! Rafael will be talking to us about the Lovecraftian influences on his desktop RPGs, including the newly revamped Books of Pandemonium, and on his novels. He also swears almost as much as Scott does, so that Explicit tag on iTunes will be earning its keep.


You think this looks scary? Wait till you see Matt before his first cup of coffee!

We shall offer up the appropriate sacrifices to the dark gods of technology, and all being well, you should be able to see us as of some time tomorrow. Now where did I put that goat?

Jigoku (Japan, 1960)


At last we come to the final film of the October Horror Movie Challenge, and happily it’s a good one. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I will continue posting reviews, but not anywhere near as frequently. I’m tired and I need to sleep.

hell 1

It’s easy to think of Hell as being a peculiarly Christian concept, but as a lecture we observe early in Jigoku reminds us, it is found in other religions as well. The hell which gives Jigoku its name and substance is a Buddhist one, but it is no less terrifying than anything found in Dante’s Inferno.

hell 3

For the first hour of its running time, Jigoku is largely a mixture of melodrama and morality play. It follows a cascade of horrible events stemming from one violent  incident, ending in a series of unlikely and bizarre deaths, something like a Final Destination film as reinvented by Monty Python. While this portion of the film has its share of sin, betrayal and murder, it left me wondering why Jigoku has a reputation as an unusually potent horror film for its time. Once everyone was dead and the action shifted to Hell, the reason for this reputation became apparent.

hell 8

The last forty minutes of Jigoku are a cavalcade of bizarre imagery, atrocity and blood. The hell depicted is one of inventive torment, and we see characters boiled, dismembered, flayed and buried alive. While the level of gore is not excessive by today’s standards, it is quite shocking for a film from 1960. Japanese genre cinema has a well-earned reputation for its extremity, and this seems to be where it all started.

hell 12

If that description makes Jigoku sound like a splatter movie, that would be misleading. It is, first and foremost, a morality tale. The protagonist, Shirô, is tempted into sin by a demon posing as his friend. The sin that starts the spiral into death and damnation is Shirô allowing himself to be convinced to take no action when his demonic companion runs over a drunken Yakuza thug on a dark road. This single action brings tragedy in many forms, and while Shirô is not a malicious character — in fact, he comes across as quite the innocent — it is his inaction that damns him all the way through.

hell 14

As a relative innocent, Shirô seems less fitted to Hell than the venal companions who join him there. As the story develops, it seems that Shirô may have a chance at redemption, but the forces of Hell are set against him, and his struggle to do the right thing in the face of this adversity makes the last third of the film tense and thrilling as well as blood-soaked.

hell 15

Jigoku is a beautiful film to look at. Even before the descent into Technicolor Hell, there are some wonderfully creative uses of location, especially that of a rope bridge over a gully. Once we enter Hell, the film becomes quite theatrical, and I was reminded often of the films of Powell and Pressburger in the stagy sets, spot lighting and vibrant use of colour.

hell 16

If I had to find fault with Jigoku, it would be that the earthbound portion of the film lasts too long. It is never dull, but considering that it is largely the set-up for the scenes in Hell, the fact that it makes up two-thirds of the film seems excessive. Once we get to Hell, though, all concerns about pacing are dashed.

hell 17

Religious horror films are hardly novel, but it is refreshing to see one based in Buddhist scripture. Despite this, Jigoku would work as a Christian allegory with surprisingly few changes. More than this, it is a ground-breaking horror film that pushed boundaries at a time when western cinema was still bound by law, censorship and misguided notions of good taste.


I never thought I’d say this, but I’m looking forward to taking a break from horror films. It will be a short break, but watching something else will be a much-needed palate-cleanser. I need to get the taste of blood out of my mouth.

For the most part, I have hugely enjoyed the films I’ve seen over the last 31 days. Most of them had been on my notional list for some time, and few of them disappointed. While I found Blue Sunshine and Pin dull, and Trilogy of Terror too silly for words, there wasn’t a single film I actually disliked.

Picking a favourite is difficult, as various films appealed to me in different ways. The Dead Inside stands out as the film which entertained me the most, and its mix of horror, comedy, drama and song was refreshingly different.

Viy was also wildly entertaining. I never would have suspected that a 1960s Soviet film based on a 19th-century Russian story would be so funny.

Many of the films were delightfully bizarre, something I have come to value in horror, but Beyond the Darkness and Horrors of Malformed Men were the real standouts on this front.

While none of the films really scared me, Short Night of Glass Dolls (especially the ending) and Don’t Deliver Us from Evil unnerved me. The emotional sadism of the latter shocked me more than any amount of spilled guts could.

I could go on like this, recapping what I loved about each film, but if you want that, just read the damn reviews!

While October may almost be over, I enjoyed writing these reviews enough that I plan to continue with them. My goal is to post a review here every time I watch a horror film I have not seen before. I am not insane enough to keep up the pace of a film a day, despite the damage done to my psyche by Beyond the Darkness and Horrors of Malformed Men, but I should manage one or two a week.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have one last film from the Challenge to watch and review.