Splatterhouse (1988) | Hell Chaos

Amazing VGM: Hell Chaos (Splatterhouse)

Well, this is the final VGM of the month and I am feeling hella satisfied that I managed to get a Halloween/horror themed VGM up each week. Yes, “Appetite” counts since Starless IS one of the most horrifying games ever created (albeit for all the wrong reasons), and “The Eye Awakens a Jungle” is a pretty freaky track even if Earthbound isn’t a horror game (although mu training, brain surgery on children, and Giygas should be enough to qualify it). So, what better way to end off this month than with a final boss theme from Namco’s arcade horror classic, Splatterhouse?

Just to get things out of the way, the official name for this track is NOT “Requiem of Captain Mozzarella.” That was a name given to it by the person who ripped the soundtrack and submitted it to the Splatterhouse Wiki. I highly doubt that anyone would give a song like this such a ridiculous name, but people still seem to think Earthbound’s final boss theme is called “Pokey Means Business” so meh. Then again, “Captain Mozzarella” is a bit fucked up when you realize it refers to how the flesh on Hell Chaos’s face is melting off like mozzarella on a pizza. Can you imagine how painful that must be? God that is one fucked up design, no wonder Attack on Titan ripped it off.

Anyway, Splatterhouse, similarly to Eversion, is a rare example of a 2D sidescrolling action horror game that is able to drive itself on atmosphere alone. All it needs is its horrifically grotesque visuals (which make me cringe more so than even a lot of games today, which is surprising since this game was released 7 years before I was born), its haunting and atmospheric music, and what little animations it has. If one started listening to the track already, one will notice that it sounds a little more upbeat and hopeful than what one would expect from a horror game. Well, there is a reason for that, SPOILERS!!! (Yes, a game without any story, dialogue, or cutscenes has spoilers. That’s pretty fucking amazing)

The main story of Splatterhouse, like most games of the era, is a typical excuse plot about rescuing your girlfriend after she has been kidnapped by demonic abominations in a creepy old mansion in the middle of nowhere. With the help of the terror mask, that looks suspiciously like Jason Vorhees’s mask, Rick is given the super human strength needed to fight off these demons. The game proceeds as you would expect up until the end of the fifth level, when you realize that the boss of the fifth level… is your girlfriend, who then forcibly tranforms into a seriously fucked up looking monster (even more so than Hell Chaos as far as I’m concerned) and you are forced to KILL HER!!!

The fact that there are two more levels after that fight heightens emotional tension greatly, as you realize Rick (that’s you) is finishing the job alone and after he just lost the most important person in his life by his own hands. Hell Chaos serves the role as the game’s final boss, serving as one last obstacle as Dr.West’s mansion burns to the ground and Rick makes his escape. Given that the terror mask has some type of strange reaction, and because there is a cross over the ground signifying that this is a grave, it seems entirely likely that Hell Chaos is Dr. West brought from the dead as some sort of abomination, or whatever else may have caused everything to occur.

So this is precisely why this track doesn’t go for the typical spoop style, and instead goes for a “climactic showdown in hell” feeling. Rick is likely traumatized (yes he may look like a hulking brute, but that’s just cause the mask, he’s just a normal bloke after all) between all the horrific stuff he saw and needing to essentially put down the love of his life, and as he is just about to escape, this fucker shows up out of nowhere. Rick has one last demon to destroy in order to make it out alive and prevent anyone else from meeting the same fate as Jennifer (his GF).

The song is notable in that it doesn’t start out sounding emotional. In fact it sounds like the most plain battle music one can think of. Given how Splatterhouse is a tough game and can kill you in an instant if you aren’t careful, it means you likely are not going to hear the interlude until you already are good enough to know how to dodge his attacks effectively and have a chance. As if the interlude did not carry enough emotion, that outro is what really drives it home. The end is in sight and you are so close to escape after all this heavy shit, so you better not let Captain Mozzarella here make that all for naught.

If I haven’t talked that much about the general sound of the track, it is because i’m having difficulty with the words given the lack of any real instruments aside from some bell like sounds in the interlude. Everything is to great effect and it is a fine example of how powerful videos games can be as a medium, and all of this was in an age where people seriously thought that “this character without any dialogue or gender distinct features is actually of the female sex” was a seriously shocking plot twist.

You can believe me when I say that there is going to be more Splatterhouse stuff coming up. Anyway that was it for this week’s VGM, see ya’ll next week.

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