If you are reading these words right now then chances are that you like to read books. Lots of them. And I’m willing to bet that you don’t just read for the beauty of the font nor for the quirks of the characters. A good chunk of what we all do when we pick up a book is enter into a new and fascinating world. A place that you want to know more about. Heck, if it isn’t RR Martin or Stephen King, a place you often want to visit.
Well the world is stranger than you might think, and there are fascinating places around us that inspire new and strange places more often than you would think. Like a city that doesn’t stop moving. Imagine living on a ship – always moving, growing crops, generating its own power, entirely sustaining on its own a community of refugees and boom you’ve got Snowpiercer. It might not be a train but it is hard to deny the parallels. Especially since both Snowpiercer and The Science Barge are born out of Climate Change (http://nysunworks.org/thesciencebarge)
Wait, what? I live in Birmingham and it is lurvely (or however you Brits say it). Well don’t get your knickers in a twist. I am referring to the Black Country, the inspiration of R.R. Tolkien’s Mordor of fame and legend. This piece of Birmingham was so blanketed with pollution from the extraction of coal and the production of iron and steel that it became completely black with tar and dust. The very air became sulphurous and rotten, and the weather was best described as chewy. By all accounts it has cleaned up a bit since ten, but give me a decade and ten million dollars and Mordor shall be great again!
Okay, no, I lied. It’s just that these things are awesome and I don’t have a lot of time to write right now so here goes. Imagine that the Forest Moon of Endor advanced a couple of millennia and we now had ewoks running around in business suits. All the trees were cut down to make room for industry but, somewhere deep inside them, some savage and primal ewok spirit calls for a return to the branches that raised them. Don’t tell me that Ewok skyscrapers would look exactly like these super trees of Singapore (https://edition.cnn.com/2012/06/08/world/asia/singapore-supertrees-gardens-bay) because if you do I’ll have to call you a damn dirty liar. Which, looking at the start of this paragraph, I guess I am. Damn.
Honestly you are probably screaming “low-hanging fruit” at your monitor right now and I don’t blame you. It is a well-known fact that Arkham is modeled after insane asylums. It’s kinda in the name right? Here’s the thing. It is modeled after a very specific and notorious mental hospital located in Massachusetts. Welcome all to Danvers State Hospital.
This fun little structure was a favorite place for HP Lovecrafts stories because of the sheer horror the exotically large and monolithic structures exude. It looks like a haunted house, is chock full of strange features that include spooky batperson capable tunnels and is, in the words of one observer, “A vast complex of shadows, arched doorways and exposed brick that is riddled with recessed torture areas for the treatment of patients.”
Welcome to Arkham.
The producers of Silent Hill have made no secret of its origins. Imagine an idyllic small American town, the sort of place that celebrates apple pie and plays football on the weekends. Now imagine that underneath it is a century old coal mine still filled with the stuff. Set all of that on fire and see what happens.
The coal mines beneath Centralia went ablaze in 1962 and everyone was told to get the hell out. Then firefighters were told not to fight it because its coal and you can’t defeat a raging flame behemoth made of coal with simple hoses and water. The fire has never gone out.
In the time since the evacuation order, a literal hell underneath the city has torn open sinkholes, blasted open steam pits and spit plumes of smoky carbon monoxide all over the town. It is easy to see on a typically smoggy and hate-filled day the denizens of Silent Hill moving just beyond the mist, waiting to snatch you up and juice you with their sharp incisors. The place spent decades just begging to be used for horror. And finally Konami had the courage to grab it. Real life horror is just a bus ride away!
In fact, if you don’t believe me, watch the movie based on the game. The producers of the movie literally visited Centralia to get a better feel for the setting they were shooting.