Collecting examples for trope: faces of miserable captive souls (usually bubbling)

First noted wrt Ahriman here. I’ve scoured TV Tropes for this article and it looks like I’ll have to write it myself, so I’m calling for any examples you can think of. The basic idea:

It appears to be a combination of the “pile of skulls” trope with the idea of a face trapped behind a membrane or veil. The skulls part is horrifying in the same way that a wall of trophies is impressive: it implies enormous achievements and therefore implies the creator is likely to add you, personally, to the trophies.

The veil in particular appears to be associated with depersonalization and torture:

The membrane probably represents the idea of another dimension that’s usually hidden, visually, behind a veil (an example of the metaphor being made literal), and the face or body pressed against it is analogous to the spiritual “contact” impinging on what we see in the natural world.

You can find some visual examples by doing an image search on “trapped souls”: E.g.

Starter examples:

Although it’s very anime, this trope appears to be universally archetypal for our human conception of “Hell”.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This is not the same idea as a shoggoth, which appears very similar but is just eyes and teeth. That’s more directly an idealized representation of ni…I mean predation and predators: eyes for the feeling of being watched, mouths for eating you, and a dark blob for night time and the idea of a pack of chaotic individuals made coherent by a common malicious purpose. The faces of torment thing isn’t usually scary because it could attack you, but because you don’t want to become part of it.

About Aeoli Pera

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8 Responses to Collecting examples for trope: faces of miserable captive souls (usually bubbling)

  1. Zeb Zebley says:

    first thought:
    there’s no individual structure or definition. these blobs can’t defending themselves- they have no backbones. and no ability to move. they’ve also become something’s effluence.

  2. Anon says:

    The movie What Dreams May Come had this in one scene. The main character descends to hell to rescue the soul of his wife (who had gone there after committing suicide) and at one point has to walk over a floor made out of the damned. It looks more like perpetual misery rather than painful torture like in the pictures you posted, though. I found the clip on youtube, it has the id RJqxTCIcf_U (I’m not sure if my comment will get filtered as spam if I post a full link). At the end of the clip he focuses on a specific woman’s face on that floor, but IIRC (it’s been a long time since I watched that movie) he eventually finds his wife in some other part of hell, so that face turns out to be a red herring.

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