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Cryptidcore is an aesthetic traditionally associated with Cryptozoology, or the study of creatures from urban legends and folklore, and the romanticization of the adventure and mystery surrounding conspiracy theories, ghost-hunting, cryptid-hunting, and the supernatural. Most fans of the aesthetic are a part of, or want to be a part of, a community that gets to solve something beyond themselves with their friends and witness something strange and fantastical. Alternatively, some people interested in the aesthetic empathize or even want to be a cryptid themselves.

Many parts of Cryptidcore have been inspired from media associated with cryptids and conspiracies, such as Gravity Falls, Twin Peaks, Welcome to Night Vale, Sightings, Unsolved Mysteries and The X-Files. Cryptidcore enthusiasts are often fans of these fictional works, and a love for cryptids and mysteries often comes from the love for the original works.

The visual aspects of Cryptidcore originate largely from the places these cryptids are allegedly located in (mostly the forests and deserts of the United States), as well as the kitschy tourist trap culture capitalizing on the people who have a fascination with these cryptids. Cryptidcore is also generally vintage, and takes visual inspiration, especially in regard to fashion, from the 1970s - 90s. This is largely due to the rise of tabloids and fiction revolving around these mysteries during that time.

History[]

In the early 1970s, after countless horror and sci-fi films and shows, a new breed of speculative horror was born. The TV show Kolchak: The Night Stalker centered on a reporter who researched aliens, vampires, and Bigfoot in night-shrouded forests, sewers, city, and suburban environments.

This went on to inspire the most famous occult-detective TV shows, namely David Lynch’s Twin Peaks and The X-Files (although neither had as much to do with cryptid mythology as The Night Stalker did). These continued on the aesthetic of After Hours-type environments added with the threat of supernatural horror.

During the early-to-mid-2010s, it was common for fandoms to create moodboards that encapsulate the aesthetic of the work or certain characters. Scooby-Doo (1969), Twin Peaks (1990), The X-Files (1993), Welcome to Night Vale (2012), Gravity Falls (2012), and Buzzfeed Unsolved (2016) are some fandoms that had a strong moodboard culture.[1] These works of fiction are all in the same sort of genre of supernatural and cryptid-oriented mysteries. Many fans thus are a part of all of these fandoms and noticed the similarities in the aesthetic to tie these works together under the Cryptidcore umbrella.

The term "Cryptidcore" first emerged from tumblr user on-a-crescendo in 2014, where they give a list of visuals, such as "kitschy t shirts and keychains from souvenir shops depicting the local urban legends and monsters," "tin foil hats," and "muffled x files, gravity falls, and twilight zone theme songs playing in the distance."[2] This post gained popularity, and the tag was born. As the text post was passed around and fans of different media made moodboards, the fans of Cryptidcore started to make aesthetic posts outside the context of fandom.

Many Cryptidcore elements also originated from the Regional Gothic trend on tumblr in 2015. Much of the trend was focused on elements of mystery, unreality, and the uncanny valley. Images such as deer in darkness, forests, diners, etc. in the Regional Gothic trend were popular, and have clear crossover with Cryptidcore.

Visual[]

  • Dark forests
  • Abandoned buildings
  • Polaroid cameras
  • Kitschy t-shirts
  • Key chains
  • Glow-in-the-dark iconography
  • Alien imagery
  • Supernatural-themed tourist traps
  • Ouija boards
  • Tin foil hats
  • Old alien or supernatural movies
  • VHS tapes
  • Pocket knives
  • Old newspapers of cryptid sightings
  • Cryptozoology field diaries

Fashion[]

Cryptidcore includes fashion that is casual, vintage, and retro style. Preferenced to practical and comfy outfits, typically with browns, beige and muted colours.

Some of the clothing would be things such as:

  • Big sweaters
  • Doc Martens/Combat boots
  • Graphic tees
  • Jean shorts
  • Cargo pants
  • Flannel shirts
  • Corduroy jackets
  • Plaid jackets
  • Trench coat
  • Hoodies
  • Iron on patches
  • Backpacks
  • Lanyards (especially with badges)
  • Converse (the more worn the better)
  • Earthy tones

Activities[]

  • Reading about conspiracy theories
  • Researching local mysteries
  • Long walks in the forest
  • Lying in wheat fields at night watching for aliens
  • Exploring haunted places
  • Writing short horror stories
  • Taking pictures with a Polaroid camera
  • Road trips
  • Camping
  • Ghost stories around the campfire
  • Watching vintage sci-fi /horror
  • Thrift store shopping
  • Searching garage sales for haunted items
  • Planning your wedding with Mothman
  • Taking walks in the woods (especially at night)
  • Being paranoid
  • Researching government cover-ups
  • Anything alien related
  • Watching documentaries
  • Exploring corn mazes
  • Setting up murder boards
  • Keeping notes of everything
  • Researching lost media
  • Staring longingly at aesthetically pleasing images of foggy woods
  • Hanging around diners (Specifically Denny's)
  • Browsing Tumblr, DeviantArt, Amino, Reddit, Disorder and other social media apps
  • Reading creepypastas and nosleeps
  • Searching for numbers stations on the radio
  • Making trips to local state/national parks and state/national forests

Cryptids[]

Grainy and greyscale picture of a shadow - which looks like a winged man - in the sky towards a tree.

Mothman?

A few of the most popular cryptids amongst the cryptidcore folk include:

  • Mothman
  • Slenderman
  • Goatman
  • The Big Grey Man of Ben MacDhui
  • Dover Demon
  • Jersey Devil
  • The Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus
  • Fresno Nightwalkers
  • The Owlman of Mawnan
  • The Loch Ness Monster (a.k.a. "Nessie")
  • Ogopogo
  • Flatwoods Monster
  • The Highgate Vampire
  • The Cactus Cat
  • The Honey island Swamp Monster
  • The Feu Follet
  • The Rougarou
  • Bigfoot (a.k.a the Sasquatch)
  • Bunyip
  • Kraken
  • Yeti
  • The Loveland Frog Man
  • Crungus
  • Passenger Pigeon
  • The Beast of Bodmin Moor
  • Santers
  • Chupacabra
  • Chessie

The cryptids in the world are innumerable and cannot be encapsulated within a single list. It is encouraged that you do research to find your local cryptids.

Media[]

Art[]

  • Trevor Henderson
  • Simon Stålenhag

Podcasts[]

  • Alice Isn't Dead
  • King Falls AM
  • Old Gods of Appalachia
  • The Adventure Zone: Amnesty
  • The Left Right Game
  • The Magnus Archives
  • Welcome to Night Vale
  • Camp Monsters
  • Alien Theorists Theorizing
  • Camp Here & There
  • Freaky Folklore
  • Supernatural with Ashley Flowers
  • Out There: A Cryptid Podcast
  • Unexplained
  • Haunted Objects
  • Martin Mystery
  • Last Podcast On the Left
  • Monsters Among Us

Television[]

  • Kolchak: The Night Stalker (an originator of the aesthetic)
  • Unsolved Mysteries
  • Stranger Things
  • Gravity Falls
  • The Secret Saturdays
  • The Twilight Zone
  • The Outer Limits
  • Supernatural
  • Invader Zim
  • Twin Peaks
  • Midnight, Texas
  • X-Files
  • Eerie, Indiana
  • Sightings
  • His Dark Materials
  • Beyond Reality
  • So Weird
  • Expedition X
  • In Search of...
  • Dark
  • Over The Garden Wall
  • Scooby Doo TV Shows
  • Wellington Paranormal
  • Inside Job
  • Psych: Season 7, Episode 3 (Bigfoot themed)
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Hellier
  • Lockwood and Co.
  • Gargoyles
  • Odd Squad
  • Lost Tapes

Manga & Comics[]

  • Lalin's Curse
  • Higanbana no Saku no Yoru Ni

YouTube Channels[]

  • Buzzfeed Unsolved
  • maintenance tunnels
  • Alex Bale
  • Jessii Vee
  • Jordan Persegati
  • Nexpo
  • The Proper People
  • Wendigoon
  • Strange Aeons
  • Inside A Mind
  • Fire of Learning
  • Dark Somnium
  • MrCreepyPasta
  • CreepyDemon
  • Blameitonjorge
  • Whang!
  • Barely Sociable
  • Scaretheatre
  • That Creepy Reading
  • GamerSault
  • Lazy Masquerade
  • Nick Crowley
  • Reignbot
  • NightMind
  • SCP Explained
  • Dr Bob
  • Detective Void
  • Sam and Colby
  • Planet Weird

Video Games[]

  • Alan Wake
  • Bendy and the Ink Machine
  • Death Stranding
  • The Lurking Horror
  • Fran Bow
  • Little Misfortune
  • Little Nightmares
  • Sally Face
  • Night In The Woods
  • Poptropica: Cryptids Island
  • Kentucky Route Zero
  • Thimbleweed Park
  • The Sims 4: StrangerVille
  • Firewatch
  • Oxenfree
  • Oxenfree II: Lost Signals
  • XCOM
  • Moonrise Fall

Film[]

  • Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children
  • E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
  • Scooby-Doo movies
  • Starman
  • Artemis Fowl
  • Casper
  • The Haunting
  • The Mothman Prophecies
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles
  • Ghostbusters
  • Shadows in the Desert: High Strangeness in the Borrego Triangle
  • NOPE (2022)
  • Various horror movies

Literature[]

  • I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison
  • The Mothman Prophecies by John Keel
  • Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero
  • The Owlman and Others by Jonathan Downe
  • Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles series by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
  • The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Claire
  • Cryptids and Other Creepy Creatures by John D. Wright
  • Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  • The Paladin Prophecy series by Mark Frost
  • Rules For Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
  • Goosebumps by R.L Stine
  • Fear Street Series by R.L Stine
  • The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Web Series[]

  • The Walten Files
  • Marble Hornets
  • Local58
  • Boisvert
  • Vita Carnis
  • hiimmarymary
  • Eventide Media Center
  • Omega Mart
  • Daisy Brown
  • Dog Nightmares
  • Monument Mythos
  • BuzzFeed Unsolved
  • Harmony & Horror
  • Gemini Home Entertainment
  • The SMILE Tapes
  • No Through Road
  • this place is not happy (Happy Meat Farms)
  • Cryptid Club by Sarah Andersen
  • The Mandela Catalog
  • Greylock
  • White Stag Education
  • Stone Cold (the Medusa Virus)
  • Local 58
  • The Tangi Virus
  • Any Analog Horror works, including a few already mentioned (this place is not happy, The SMILE Tapes, Gemini Home Entertainment, Monument Mythos, Vita Carnis, The Walten Files, etc.)

Other[]

Music[]

Cryptidcore music is either directly about cryptids, supernatural entities, or eerie feelings. Common genres include alternative, electropunk, indie, and rock.

Artists[]

  • Lemon Demon
  • Tally Hall
  • Mother Mother
  • Nick Seigel
  • Bear Ghost
  • Cavetown
  • The Scary Jokes
  • Julee Cruise
  • Orkforge
  • Jack Stauber
  • The Bad First Impressions
  • MGMT
  • Bears in Trees
  • Vundabar
  • Averno
  • Amanda Palmer
  • Rob Cantor
  • Penelope Scott
  • Jonathan Coulton
  • Yaelokre

Songs[]

  • "Touch-Tone Telephone" by Lemon Demon
  • "Eighth Wonder" by Lemon Demon
  • "Subtle Oddities" by Lemon Demon
  • "Rät" by Penelope Scott
  • "Push Back The Hands" by They Might Be Giants
  • "Cryptid Hunt - Demo" by Averno & Sushi Soucy
  • "Devil Town" by Cavetown
  • "Hayloft II" by Mother Mother
  • "Oh Ana" by Mother Mother
  • "Alien Days" by MGMT
  • "Of Moons, Birds & Monsters" by MGMT
  • "Little Dark Age" by MGMT
  • "Stuff Is Way" by They Might Be Giants
  • "The Moss" by Cosmo Sheldrake
  • "Come Along" by Cosmo Shelldrake
  • "Alien Blues" by Vundabar
  • "Cannibal" by Tally Hall
  • "Turn The Lights Off" by Tally Hall
  • "Harpy Hare" by Yaelokre

Resources[]

External resources to learn more about the aesthetic

Articles[]

Playlists[]

Pinterest boards[]

Vendors[]

Gallery[]

References[]

  1. Information about the use of fandom moodboards as a connection to Cryptidcore can be found here, in the Aesthetics Wiki Google Slide that provides visual examples and citations.
  2. http://web.archive.org/web/20210628164931/https://on-a-crescendo.tumblr.com/post/93508017320/new-aesthetic-cryptidcore-kitschy-t-shirts-and
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