Monday, July 11, 2011

Back in the land of the living

While the Ten Courts of Hell is undoubtedly the main appeal of Singapore's Haw Par Villa, it would be remiss of me not to give you an insight into the rest of this outdated, near-derelict attraction. Some of it's a lot scarier than what was going on in hell.

I've always had mixed feelings about cheap and shoddy 'theme parks' that substitute exhilarating rides for poorly sculpted dioramas, having encountered plenty of them during childhood family holidays around the coast of England (Blackgang Chine on the Isle of Wight was the ultimate example - unless it's finally fallen into the sea).

On the one hand, they're a nostalgic look into a time when kids were, supposedly, more easily pleased, and before one crazed man's ambitions could be hindered by things like market research and customer feedback.

On the other hand, they're fucking rubbish.

Haw Par Villa

I'll admit I didn't devote the same time or effort into documenting what each of these scenes represents in Chinese mythology as I did for the Courts of Hell. I was too busy being alternately freaked out and laughing uncontrollably at all the truly horrible faces.

Are these things supposed to be appealing to kids?
I find them scarier than anything in hell (and I've been there)

Are those panda babies supposed to look cute?
It's like something from a nightmare

No, no, come on - what the hell is this???
What am I looking at?

I like the expression of the guy on the right

This guy looks like he's melting. Please, someone put him out of his misery

These ones are even worse! Could they seriously not find a better sculptor?

Are they intentionally trying to look totally grotesque and repulsive, or are my standards just too high?

No thanks, love - somehow I've lost my appetite

On second thought, I might stick around for a while

Oh come on - I'm not familiar with the myth behind it, but is that the most imaginative crab-woman design they could come up with? They've literally just put a mermaid's head on a crab. There's no accounting for scale or anything. Lazy!

Do you think the historical Ji Gong (1130–1207) would be flattered by this portrait?
He looks like Skeletor coming out of the shower

How can I annihilate the value of my vintage car? Hey, I know - I'll put a DOC-OFF TIGER HEAD ON THE FRONT

Yeah, alright - some of it's pretty nice

If anyone's been missing the dead animals that seemed to be following me around everywhere in Malaysia, I also saw a dead turtle that no one had bothered cleaning up (there were hardly any other people in sight and I didn't see anything resembling staff).

At least now we know what's in store for the poor guy...

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