Written by Jonathan Wojcik
Things From Safari Anomalous!
As many spooky doohickeys as I've owned and reviewed over the years, I've seldom ever touched upon the "high end" of horror merchandising; the professionally designed masks, decorations and props available to monster geeks with significantly larger incomes than my own, painstakingly hand crafted in limited runs by dedicated, independent horror FX workshops around the web. This season, I'll be reviewing items from a number of these classy creature craftsmen, site by site, and we're going to start off with one of the fanciest out there! Run by sculptor and makeup artist Kristen Phillips, Safari Anomalous offers a modest but unforgettably bizarre and beautiful catalog, of which we'll be reviewing a fairly significant chunk!
Delightfully, a majority of said catalog is organized into two categories of swarming, parasitic bees and swarming, parasitic grubs. I feel like I've probably said these exact words before, but if you're going to have two major categories of anything, they might as well be swarms of things. The "grub" selection includes a grub mask, grub hands and even just a huge, multi-purpose rubber sheet of the little guys, with full-body grub suits available by special request. These are all roughly between $150-$300, and if only I had a couple thousand to spare, I think I'd just have an entire bedroom wallpapered in grubs. Fortunately, you can at least buy loose grubs in packs of thirty for only $20, the most affordable item on the site and a good investment if you need a more durable alternative to the real thing.
The Hive Corpse
On the buzzier, fuzzier side of terror, the life sized "hive corpse" prop is sold for a whopping $900, but if you run a professional haunted house attraction, it seems well worth it. The mummified positively beautiful honeycomb-encrusted mummy with ultra-realistic latex bees, also offered on their own if your life demands at least something made by Kristen. Their little wings are even translucent!
The Motion Swarm Mask
Safari's bee props nicely represent different stages of "infection" by these flesh-eating insects, and while Hive Corpse is the ultimate fate awaiting their victims, this mask represents the the early onset of infestation, made to order with more than 400 individually glued bees. It's a shame there's no demonstration video, since the bees are slightly raised to realistically wriggle with the movement of the wearer. What's more, the mask is offered in both black skin - giving the illusion of a denser swarm - or more gruesome, sting-pocked flesh!
The Hive Head Mask
Actually the "middle" stage of parasitic bee infection, Hive Head Mask is a relatively meager $150, and while maybe not as striking as a solid swarm, it may be one of the most disturbing of what Safari calls its "specimens." The gloriously trypophobic honeycombs, the look of blissful, mindless torment and that little, round entry hole that used to be a mouth all go to show the potential effectiveness of bee-based horror if more people would just give it a chance. Imagine this poor bastard just staggering around, an endless droning echoing from its puckered maw; at once the sound of several thousand bees toiling away in what were once body organs and the soft, agonizing howls of something only dimly aware of its humanity. We've all known what that's like! Well, you do anyway. That is, you will. You all will.
The Basel Experiment
Moving past the swarming arthropods, "The Basel Experiment" is available as a wearable mask or display bust for six-hundos, and the attention to detail looks worth every penny. Check out their close-up shot:
Every single eye on this mask looks Hollywood-prosthetic-quality, veins painstakingly produced with fine, red thread and painted over with shiny, slimy gloss! I could almost believe these are actual, real eyeballs, but that doesn't make a very durable mask, believe me.
One of Kristen's unique, original characters, Doktor Plague is sold in a $500 mask, hat and cowl combo, with removable tinted lenses in its haunting eye sockets. The mask, of course, is probably the bulk of the price, and you can probably see why:
On close inspection, it's obvious that Doktor Plague isn't just wearing an exceptionally nasty mask. Doktor Plague actually is some sort of unnatural, beaked humanoid, once covered in reptilian scales until disease stripped away a majority of his - or her - soft tissues. I'm sure these photos don't even do the real thing justice; the detail looks simply exquisite, from the dying veins draped across its weathered bone to the glistening, uncomfortably human teeth jutting through its blistered flesh!
The Stalactite Creatures
Sadly, my personal favorite of Safari's "anomalies" were not only always well beyond my price range, but are no longer offered at all, having disappeared from the site a few years back. Regular readers know too well my inordinate love of sea squirts, moss animals, barnacles and other strange, strange sessile organisms, so a giant, dangling alien cocoon-fetus on a stalk is one of those things my life may feel forever incomplete without. Their cute little back-story indicated that they may be the embryonic stage of something else entirely, but if you ask me, they're beautiful just the way they are, dangling like rotten fruit from subterranean ceilings and snapping those adorable, sharkish chompers at whatever bugs, bats or heads might be foolish enough to pass so close. They're an almost uncannily perfect representation of my actual dream pets, the kind I fantasize about culturing in a secret basement on a steady diet of door to door missionaries. Regrettably, nothing close enough exists in
your our reality which I am definitely from, so I'll probably have to just keep eating those myself. Ugh.
Whether you operate your own horror attraction or just want to admire things you can probably never afford, give Safari Anomalous a visit!