Anthology Review: “The Creepypasta Collection” edited by MrCreepyPasta

          Creepypastas are often what many think of when it comes to today’s Internet culture, especially during Halloween time. For those (like two or three of you) who have no idea what a creepypasta is, it’s an Internet urban legend that has been passed through message boards or shared online as stories. They range from photographs with a mysterious backstory, others with detailed lore that continue to be rewritten to this day.

          And who better to provide a voice for these horror stories than the famed YouTube narrator with the voice himself, MrCreepyPasta? Published not too long ago and just in time for October, MrCreepypasta has edited and published an anthology of what he considers to be the best of the best when it comes to creepypastas and horror stories found on the World Wide Web.

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         Now since this is an anthology and has twenty-one stories in total (and the fact most internet users have a short attention span), I won’t go into too much detail on them. I’ll just present the title, explain the plot and how it left an impression on me (without giving away spoilers). Also, keep in mind that I don’t consider any of the following stories terrible, since this is a creepypasta collection and not a crappypasta collection.

          With that said, let’s dive into the anthology edited by MrCreepyPasta, “The Creepypasta Collection: Modern Urban Legends You Can’t Unread”.

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          First up is “Picture This” by Vincent V. Cava, about a talented but depressed artist who grows obsessed over his online critics, eventually leading him to become a serial killer who any troll he comes across. I hadn’t heard of this story before, but it definitely left me self-conscious and (dare I say?) creeped out.

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          In the days of the online world, most of us have run into a couple of those trolls and bullies who love to peg people down a notch. To watch a fictional character do what he loves after years of suicidal thoughts, then feel intense anger over the slightest of criticisms is tragic, albeit horrifying as we see him take on a new hobby. Less about scaring the reader and more about showing the tragedy of a killer, “Picture This” is a good way to start off the anthology. The writing is concise, the narrative intelligent and the story packed with plenty of gore, it’ll make you think twice about posting a negative comment.

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          “Creeping Crimson” by Michael Marks follows more of the traditional horror format. We have a newlywed couple who are on the road, but suddenly stop to stay at a dingy hotel with a group of colorful characters such as a suburban family and a gay couple. All of a sudden, the vacation turns into a nightmare when our couple are trapped in their room, and a blob-like monster is slowly leaking into each of the rooms to slowly kill them one by one.

          Paying homage to “The Blob” a couple times, the author does a good job at creating an atmosphere of suspense and being trapped. I have to give kudos to the author for actually building us character we grow to like. Aside from a couple of clichés that may irk some readers, “Creeping Crimson” provides a traditional horror story that isn’t exactly a creepypasta, but still leaves you paranoid. The build-up to the monster is done well, the characters leave an impression on you, the imagery is gory (especially when describing the characters’ deaths), and the ending does go out of the normal form most stories would go. It’ll leave you terrified of Jell-O for a while.

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          “Teeny Tiny” by Max Lobdell is another one of those creepypastas that, much like “Picture This” is more sad than scary, but definitely leave you uneasy whenever you hear about anorexia and weight loss. The story about a young girl who goes to great lengths in losing weight is downright disturbing on its own. It’s not just because we see a girl recalling how her mentality led to rash decisions, but because of how much it seems like something a teenage girl might do in this day and age. Quick to its message, uncomfortable as an afterschool special on anorexia and bulimia, and decent in its writing, “Teeny Tiny” does its job fine.

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          “The Horror in the Vault” by Isaac Boissonneau is a story on here that definitely goes along the lines of a creepypasta. Formatted in a way similar to that of “Carrie” and “Illumnae”, the narrative is basically a written record of tapes, email transcripts and information files on this monster who escapes from a crypt found by archaeologists. After the monster escapes into the forest surrounding two neighboring towns and begins abducting any living creature, we slowly question what it is and why it is doing this, all with unreliable characters.

          The way it’s structured, “The Horror in the Vault” does what you expect from this sort of style. There’s uneven dialogue, there’s professional-looking excerpts, and all of the emotions come from when the characters explain their points-of-view. It all leads to the reveal of an ancient monster whose design is so terrifying that I dare won’t give it away here. Written well, packed with mystery and formatted in a style I’ve grown attached to, “The Horror in the Vault” isn’t that bad of a creepypasta.

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          “Perfume” by Michael Whitehouse tells the story of a young woman who goes to the abandoned house that’s haunted by the ghost of her abusive grandmother, and her confrontation with both the past and the poltergeist. Not bad per se, the story does move slowly and starts off with leaving you scratching your head confused. Although it’s like that for half of the story, it does lend itself to a creepy atmosphere as we see her walking through the house. Not good or bad, “Perfume” is okay for a quick read.

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          Speaking of quick reads, “A Dark Stretch of Road” by Barnabas Deimos is a pretty short story to put on here. The story revolves around a lesbian couple who are driving down a desolate road…and that’s it. There’s a monster you don’t see coming, but it isn’t given any background or explanation. I know it’s strange to say regarding how creepypastas are more about what isn’t seen/known than what is, but the ending does come out of nowhere. Honestly, the one thing that does pop out is how the author does a great job of writing two lesbian characters, which is impressive considering how you don’t read creepypastas with gay protagonists. If you want to read a creepypasta only a few pages in length but with a delivery you don’t see coming, this is a good short.

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          “A Trick of Perspective” by Matt Dymerski is definitely a creepypasta that makes anyone paranoid. The story is about a man who claims that the world is littered with creatures whose limbs can contort in such a way that they can hide in plain sight, and his experiences with trying to prove their existence to the world. A good idea, but what makes it stand out in the anthology is how it causes you to feel uncomfortable. After reading this, tell me you don’t end up looking over your shoulder every once in a while. Dripping with apprehensive writing and taking every advantage of its Lovecraftian idea, “A Trick of Perspective” will make you question what you see.

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          If there’s one story on here that combines comedy and fear well, it has to be “Down in the Library Basement” by Rona Vaselaar. The story is of a young woman who helps her injured mother run a local library, but begins to question why she has to read a book aloud in the basement before closing. Probably my only complaint from this is the ending, which felt out of place in my opinion. Maybe Rona Vaselaar’s written another story that gives further explanation, but it feels like she had so many opportunities for the big reveal. Still, I have to give her credit for mixing in comedy and horror into this (I still laugh when the protagonist describes her first days in the library XD). Overall, it’s a good story to keep you interested.

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          “Voices in the Spirit Box” by Michael Marks does another fine job of following the traditional horror format while breaking the mold, much like the author’s previous work. About a brother and sister who try to contact their dead parents through an Ouija board and spirit box, the story does a decent job at developing character and leaving you genuinely creeped out. There’s a twist in the end that you don’t see coming at first, which leaves you questioning what happened in the end. Good execution, good writing, good story.

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          “When Dusk Falls on Hadley Township” by T.W. Grim definitely left me scratching my head. Not only does the story of a town being possessed by an ancient evil while warding away newcomers seem vaguely familiar, but it start off really inconsistent. We meet a few interesting characters, but then it gets stranger and weirder when we go from explaining the town’s history to a man suddenly murdering his wife and young daughter, followed by us suddenly going to an old hermit preparing a sacrifice to this demon-monster that terrorizes Hadley Township every night. I have a feeling there’s a backstory to it, but it feels pretty cluttered. Not bad, but the story could’ve relied on more explanation.

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          “They Die Nameless” by Aaron Shotwell works better when it comes to explaining and not explaining much better. Mostly made up of journal entries dating to 1964, the story is about an archeologist who discovers mystic tombs belonging to King Tut’s rumored, nameless children. After opening their sarcophagus’s the archeologist’s sanity slowly spirals out of control to the point of him even forgetting his own name. Although it isn’t as detailed and well-elaborated as “The Horror in the Vault”, Mr. Shotwell does a good job at showing us a tragic soul who loses everything he has as he’s stalked by two ancient Egyptian spirits. And the ending is just chilling to the bone, especially with the last sentence. Overall, it’s a good read for anyone into a creepypasta with a journal format.

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          “The Nice Guy” by WellHey Productions has to be one of the most relatable and terrifying on this list, much like “Picture This”. Greatly like other creepypastas, “The Nice Guy” starts off as a campfire story and is told to the reader, with the narrator explaining how this is what he’s heard and whether or not it’s true. So what’s it about? Three coworkers named Kirby, Thomas and Frank are all listening to Thomas talk about a scary story he’s heard about a former boss of their company who did everything to make a subordinate named Phil Kerbson, an overall nice guy who does whatever his CEO wants without question.

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          His catchphrase is even, “Sure thing, boss.” That is, until he snaps over all the work his boss piles for him. Most of us can identify with Phil, and definitely grow to downright despise his boss for all the crap he puts him through. He’s sort of like one or all of the CEOs in “Horrible Bosses”, and I almost kept picturing  Kevin Spacey throughout the story. This then leads to a twist ending that’s worthy of “Jeff the Killer” or “Psycho.” Great story, amazing storytelling, relatable victim, great story.

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          “The Yellow Raincoat” by Sarah Cairnes is definitely a creepypasta here that relies heavily on dream-like imagery and nightmarish vagueness. The story is of a heavily depressed slacker who sleeps, seeing himself as a failure and driving himself into a make-believe world in his mindscape. However, that soon changes when he’s stalked and attacked by a mysterious man in a yellow raincoat in his dreams. Although we fully don’t know what the symbolism of the yellow jacket is, I thought it was a good idea for the author to leave it up for interpretation. Perhaps it’s a representation of adulthood punishing him for becoming a man-child, or his subconscious torturing himself to the point of insanity. Either way, it’s a good story to read during the day, but not when you fall asleep.

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           “Depression is a Demon” by Goldc01n has a brilliant setup that I believe was cut too short. The title itself explains the plot, but doesn’t give us much other than having a young boy explain his father’s suicide and what happened thereafter. It’s not bad for a quick read if you’re interested, and could’ve used much more of a plot in order to leave a larger impression. As a whole, “Depression is a Demon” is okay.

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          “Licks from a Bear” by Max Lobwell is my second favorite in “The Creepypasta Collection”. It takes what sounds like a ridiculous idea at first and then places you in an incredibly psychological place you can’t ignore. In the ever-so-popular journal format used in creepypastas, we follow a young man who suffers from high depression, ADHD, and anxiety who has lost his job and his girlfriend a year prior. Desperate to change his life for the better, he performs a lobotomy-like procedure on himself, detailing in excerpts of his progress.

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          It’s unsettling and maddening it is to see a poor soul like our protagonist willingly go through the procedure. The writing style also complements the eeriness and medical horror, showing the self-hating mentality of his mind. The way he erratically goes through this, succeeds at first, and then becomes frantic to keep his new cognitive ambition is just unnerving and sad to read. And the ending really leaves you disturbed to the core; I can’t say much without giving anything away, but imagine a psychotic Charlie from “Flowers for Algernon”.

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          “Psychosis” by Matt Dymerski is my absolute favorite on this list, and is definitely one of the trippiest of the stories on here (especially if you listen to MrCreepyPasta narrate it before reading the story). We follow a young man who shuts himself off from the world, and in turn suffers from what is called ‘cyber-psychosis’, where he believes that everything is an illusion and that he hasn’t seen a single human soul because they’ve been taken over. But he’s just being crazy…right?

          If anyone here loves psychological horror films, where the terror is in what you don’t see rather than what you do, “Psychosis” is its perfect love child. At first, I liked the story just for being a creepypasta that dives into the mind of an erratic man, especially as he starts to lose his sanity to the point of not trusting his own eyes. But when it gets to the climax, I began to love “Psychosis” for being a mixture of Lovecraftian horror and Internet paranoia. This is a story that makes a call to all the trolls, the forum users, and especially the bloggers like yours truly, asking, “When was the last time you saw a human being face-to-face?” In the end, and especially after reading the ending, it’s a creepypasta worthy enough to scare you.

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          “She Beneath the Tree” by Michael Marks is not that bad either, essentially taking a weird lore about a possessed tree and then involving a family moving into their grandparent’s home. It’s not that badly written, and I especially love the way the author and the narrator makes the tree look so creepy. The characters are fleshed out pretty well, and you do end up caring for them. You especially care to love the relationship between the narrator and his brother, only for it to end in tragedy. If I had any complaints, I’d say the story focused a bit too much on the characters, but then again I’d rather read a creepypasta with memorable characters rather than one with bland cutouts. With good character development and drenched in a spooky narrative, “She Beneath the Tree” will leave you scared of trees.

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          “Smile.Montana” by Aaron Shotwell has a monster that may seem familiar to most readers. Remember the Smile Dog legend? Well, this is a sequel to it, and shows how far our journalist main character goes to ending the chain-mail horror and stopping the deaths it brings to everyone. Not a bad follow-up to say the least, and the ending also leaves you wanting more. Even if you’ve never seen the famous image that’s supposed to drive you insane, the author does a good job of keeping its description simple. Quick to the point, “Smile.Montana” is a decent sequel to a decent creepypasta.

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          Second to last on this creepy (albeit very long) anthology is “Bedtime” by Michael Whitehouse. A simple story with a simple plot, this series of stories revolves around a boy being tormented by a ghostly demon, which leads into adulthood as he tries to rid himself of this monster once and for all. Written in different stories, I remember reading the first part of this a very long time ago, back when I was in high school.

          After reading the first short story, I wanted more, but didn’t know it continued until I read this very anthology. The way Michael Whitehouse writes this particular story left me chilled to the bone, and wary considering I sleep in a dorm bunk. I can’t say much without giving away spoilers, but let’s just say it shows how much some of us want to forget the past, but can’t escape our own demons. Spine-chilling with the demon’s design and personality, written in a prose that’ll have you rooting for our protagonist, and finishing on an uncanny climax, “Bedtime” will keep you awake for a while.

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          The final story in “The Creepypasta Collection” is “Jeff the Killer: Right on Time” by Vincent V. Cava, doing his own take on the iconic creepypasta that’s grown a cult following. It’s not much, a short about a nameless serial killer who crosses paths with Jeff, but I wish I’d gotten more out of it. If there’s one thing we look forward to when it comes to a work involving Jeff the Killer…it’s Jeff the Killer. I feel like it should’ve just been called “Right on Time, featuring Jeff the Killer” instead. Not a bad way to end the anthology, but it could’ve featured more of the iconic psychopath.ccecc4fca30e697046ac2d12eb5246d6

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          Well that’s all of the stories in the anthology. After binging through it and getting signs of Carpal Tunnel syndrome, I have to say this book was a ton of fun to read before Halloween. Some stories could’ve used more imagination compared to others, but the ones that work, they work really damn well.

          If you’re in the mood for a good creepypasta or a new horror story to keep you up at night, go grab “The Creepypasta Collection” at your nearest online store. Also, do help support MrCreepyPasta and his amazing narrations on YouTube at the following link below.

          Link: https://www.youtube.com/user/MrCreepyPasta

          Happy Halloween everybody! 😀

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