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As we've pointed out before, you can tell a lot about a people from their folklore. Even their ghost stories speak volumes about all of the underlying neuroses that create our nightmares.

But then there are some ghost stories that just leave you absolutely freaking baffled. We're talking about spooks like ...

7
The Shirime

Approximately 100 percent of the people reading this are about to get their Halloween costume idea for next year. You'll see.


Watch out, whatever-the-hell-costume-this-is!

The thing is, considering how consistently insane they are, Japanese ghost stories are about as formulaic as an episode of House. Typically, most of them read like this: Some traveler happens upon a mysterious stranger, mysterious stranger reveals that he's some sort of insanely deformed ghost and then the victim runs screaming, or the spirit disappears, or someone gets eaten by something.


"Something."

Which brings us to the story of the Shirime. In this tale, a samurai warrior is walking around Kyoto late one night when he is accosted by some naked pervert, seemingly the dumbest rapist in all of Japan.

Before the samurai can draw steel and carve this guy up, however, the perv bends over and ...

... wait for it ...

... reveals he has a huge eyeball peering out of his ass.

That's about where the story ends.

Yeah, Japanese folklore takes the "keep it simple, stupid" approach to spooky bullshit. They just ask you to imagine a samurai staring down at some guy mooning him with an eye up his ass, and make up your own ending.

Variations of the theme might replace the Shirime with a snake-necked woman, or a woman without a face, or a chick with a slit mouth, or that thing from Pan's Labyrinth. Basically, give somebody eyes where they wouldn't usually have eyes, and make them chase a samurai around, and you've got a Japanese ghost story.

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6
The Hantu Tetek

If you thought Japan had a kinky and disturbing mythology, we'd like to introduce you to Malaysia. Specifically, the Hantu Tetek, whose name is most commonly translated as "breast ghost," but we're pretty sure that "titty specter," "booby phantom" and "gazongular apparition" are all just as acceptable.


Censored due to paranormal activity.

As you may have guessed, these female spirits have an impossibly humongous rack, and their entire shtick is to float around, smothering attractive and virile young men with their ectoplasmic unfunbags. And while you might think that doesn't sound like a bad way to go, put away those Ouija boards, gentlemen, because this one just gets weirder.


You can take them back out when it's time to ask Hitler for quiche recipes.

First of all, the jug spook is said to be a hideously obese old hag, and her triple-Z-cup namesakes are on her back.

It seems the Hantu Tetek has been appropriated in Malaysia as a kind of bogeyman story to keep children in line, as a version of the story has the ghost hunting down kids who stray too far or stay out too late, and wrapping them up in her titties so nobody will ever find them again.


OK, so there are worse ways to die.

Fair enough, but geez, isn't there some less-obscure threat that we can use as a deterrent in this situation? We mean, Occam's razor, people. Even in Malaysia, you're more likely to be attacked by grizzly bears than by marauding ghouls with weaponized bazongas.

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5
Raw Head Bloody Bones

Many American localities have their own individual roaming-monster stories to bring in the tourists and scare the crap out of them for profit. New Jersey, for example, has the Jersey Devil. Missouri, not wanting to be outdone, vomited out some bizarre story about a pig skeleton with bear claws that reads like a mash-up between Red Riding Hood and Pumpkinhead.


Way to steal shit from Missouri, Blizzard.

As the story goes, a powerful but more or less benevolent witch lived alone with a pet razorback hog named Raw Head. The hog was able to walk and talk like a man, because hey, magic. Up until now, it sounds like a Disney musical cartoon, but it only gets edgier and less family-friendly from here.


Sorry, kids.

One day, some asshole hunter decided that it was easier to shoot domesticated talking pigs than it was to go into the forest and bag some regular non magic ones, so he snuck into the witch's yard and kidnapped Raw Head, butchering him and making a day's income on the meat. At this point we'd like to stress that we can think of probably a hundred more profitable uses for a talking pig than carving it into regular pork chops, but hey, we're not from Missouri.


Sometimes the universe throws you a freebie.

The witch, infuriated by the death of her abomination against God, cast a spell over its bones so that they could walk and talk again, but rather than the cute little Disney piggy he once was, Raw Head returned as a bloody, skeletal engine of vengeance. He swore to get his own back against the hunter, but not before suiting up Batman-style with body parts from several other dead animals: the fangs of a panther, the claws of a bear and the bushy tail of a raccoon.

When he meets up with his own killer, most versions of the story include this cute but obviously plagiarized fairytale routine.


Do you have any idea how hard it is to find pictures of a skeletal pig/panther/bear-coon?

"Land o' Goshen, what have you got those big eyes fer?" he snapped, thinking the kids were trying to scare him with some crazy mask.

"To see your grave," Raw Head rumbled very softly.

"Land o' Goshen, what have you got those big claws fer?" he snapped. "You look ridiculous."

"To dig your grave," Raw Head intoned softly, his voice a deep rumble that raised the hairs on the back of the hunter's neck.

"Land o' Goshen, what have you got that crazy tail fer?"

"To sweep your grave," Raw Head boomed.

We have no idea what "Land o' Goshen" means, but to cut a long story short, the skeleton hog eats the hunter and then steals his horse and clothes. Legend has it that old Raw Head, still just a pig skeleton with rotting animal bits, can still be seen riding through the Ozark Mountains every Halloween on his stolen horse and wearing presumably ill-fitting man-clothes.


Artist's representation.

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4
The Toyol

We're not done yet with Malaysia. Their "toyol" is ... a mischievous fetus-ghost.


Gollum?

We'll stop and note here that, for some reason, all of Malaysia's horror legends seem to revolve around huge breasts, deadly vaginas and evil fetuses, but we're not in the position to explain exactly what that says about Malaysians, as we are not mental health professionals.

Anyway, the toyol is said to be the spirit of a deceased human fetus summoned by an evil wizard to enter people's homes and rob them of whatever its cute little fetus-sized hands can carry. Because enslaving the tortured soul of an abortion is clearly the easiest and most convenient way to steal a fucking wallet.


"This kid could be worth 50, 60 bucks."

Superstitious Malaysians are frightened of toyols, keeping their money and valuables near mirrors and needles (the spook's biggest weaknesses), but really, the whole story is kind of sad. Imagine your life ending before it has even begun, then finding that your afterlife mirrors the plot of Oliver Twist. Sure, their masters are big enough dicks already for sending ghosts into your house to steal your shit, but won't anybody think of the children?

Fortunately, there are many ways to protect your stuff from fetus-ghosts: In addition to avoiding the aforementioned needles and mirrors, it is said that they'll forget all about their master's orders for the chance to play with scattered marbles, sand, rocks or other things that pass for "toys" in poor Malaysian villages. Leave out some Legos or Pokemon cards and you would probably blow their little minds straight back to fetus-hell.


This is way cooler than marbles, sand and rocks.

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3
The Headless Mule

This charming bedtime story comes all the way from Brazil, whose chief exports are soccer and really messed-up shit. According to this quasi-Christian legend, a prostitute slept with a chaste priest, and God decided that this deserved some particularly terrifying divine intervention.


In His defense, God had been pretty wasted the night before.

Typically, God is known to punish people with barren fields and plagues of frogs and whatnot, but this time, He decided to shake it up a little and turn the woman into a giant purple mule with no head and fire spewing from the ragged neck-stump. This was during God's surrealist period.

Depending on the story, this monster straight from Dr. Seuss' nightmares is accessorized with a floating bridle, still has the voice of a woman and changes back into a normal, living hussy by day. We would argue with God about how little sense this makes as a punishment, but then he'd probably turn us into octopus mummies or vampire watermelons or something.


"Seriously, Yahweh, cool it with the research chemicals."

It's also said that either removing the floating bridle or simply stabbing the spirit would transform it back into a naked whore who would have no choice but to marry the man who broke her curse. It's kind of like the legend of pulling a sword out of a stone to become king, only you're stabbing a headless mule to nail a hooker, so actually, no, nothing at all like that.

It's theorized that the story emerged from Catholic lore in Brazil to counter the nature-worshipping pagan religions of the locals and to really push the importance of celibacy onto Catholic priests. Because nobody wants a village-terrorizing, galloping, flame-throwing ghost-hooker on his conscience.


The regular ones are trouble enough.

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2
The Hairy Toe

The American folk tale of the hairy toe is absurdly popular all over the Western world, with many variations on detail, but they all follow the same basic plot: A woman finds a huge disembodied toe in the garden, and her first instinct is to take it home and make a stew out of it. Later that night, a murderous ghost appears, howling for the return of its severed appendage. True story.

What we find most striking about this tale is it's the only ghost story we know of in which the ghost is the least-frightening aspect. Somebody actually came up with this legend at some stage to scare kids on dark and/or stormy nights, but we think the point at which it really starts leaking out of the zone of credibility comes long before the apparition appears. Frankly, we're more concerned about the sort of person who sees a damn toe in the lawn and has a Pavlovian hunger response. What color is the sky in this universe?


And what is the state of cat/dog relations?

For all we know, this was first written back in the Great Depression or earlier, so sure, things were probably pretty bleak back then. But still, was there ever a time in history when "dinner" was an appropriate thought to have upon discovering a dismembered corpse? And God, why so specifically a hairy toe, as though that's part of the appeal?

When you think of it this way, is there any aspect of the ghost's vengeful response that doesn't seem completely reasonable? For all we know, the woman just ate the only evidence that could have led CSI to the killer.


He's putting on his mourning shades.

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1
The Highgate Chicken Ghost

We'll preface this with the fact that this is a "real" haunting that some people out there honestly believe. The story begins at Highgate Pond in England with the philosopher and scientist Sir Francis Bacon, who in 1626 had an argument with his friend Dr. Witherbone over how to preserve meat, and probably also over who had the funnier name.

Sir Bacon suggested that perhaps keeping meat cold could make it last longer, but being a doctor in the 1600s, Witherbone found the suggestion as asinine as washing your hands before surgery. To prove his point, Bacon went out and got himself a chicken, plucked it, cleaned it, stuffed it with snow and invented the first frozen chicken. Then he caught pneumonia and died, making him a martyr for KFC.


The leeches aren't working ... bring me more mercury!

The site of Bacon's death is said to have been haunted ever since, but not by any human soul; for over 300 years, the site of Bacon's experiment has been haunted by the ghost of the chicken he killed.


Like you wouldn't be pissed.

Ever since shortly after Bacon's death, people at Highgate Pond have reported seeing a plucked, headless chicken running around in circles and pecking for grubs with the beak it doesn't have. The sightings endured through the World War II, during which, military troops stationed nearby tried to catch the chicken ghost for their dinner, because, as we've already mentioned, the first thing that should come to your mind after discovering some spectral abomination upon nature is what it would taste like with a side of mashed potatoes.

The chicken ghost was last sighted around 1970, when a canoodling couple was interrupted in their yard by a prudish poultrygeist that disapproved of public displays of affection.


Local authorities suspect the chicken ghost of being behind a number of novelty chicken factory bombings.

There hasn't been any news of the demon chook since then, so presumably it completed its unfinished business and moved on to a higher plane.

Jonathan Wojcik has written much more about monsters, Halloween and horror on www.bogleech.com

For more retarded ghouls, check out Gay Bigfoot & the 7 Weirdest Mythical Creatures in the World. Or learn some more crazy Japanese tales, in Bukkake of the Gods: Japan's Insane Creation Myths.

And stop by Linkstorm to find out where you can purchase a hairy toe online.

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