Written by Jonathan Wojcik


Mere weeks before the Halloween season, in July of 2018, an eeeeerie visage rocketed to infamy across social media virtually overnight; a creature an astonishing number of people found uncommonly hair-rasing, even viscerally distressing to stumble upon in their late-night browsing, and here she is!

...Really? That's IT? This total cute-patooter!? Apparently, her sudden wave of viral fame traces to a prank WhatsApp account, "Momo," which simply responded to any online messages with graphic depictions of gore and death. Hardly more than yawn-worthy for a horror meme, but our sweetie pie was appropriated for the account's user icon, and seemed to hit just the right sweet spot in the uncanny valley to propel a rather tired cliche to momentary stardom.

It wasn't long, however, before "Momo's" true origin was uncovered in full, and it's a crying shame that only her face went viral, because that's really only the half of her true charm.

The true "Momo" is a sculpture created by artist Keisuke Aisawa as an entry for the Ghost Gallery III art exhibition, and it's clear from her stunted, legless torso, chicken-foot hands and subtly pointed lips that she's supposed to evoke a sort of distorted bird-woman.

Momo is, in fact, Aisawa's interpretation of the yokai Ubume, said to represent the reincarnated soul of a woman who died during childbirth. Tracing back even further to Chinese folklore, the entity was once closely associated with birds or even took an avian form herself, and even in Japanese, the name "Ubume" is written with the character for bird.

Some say the Ubume is a malevolent kidnapper, stealing away infants to raise as her own. Others hold that she may more protective of children, even sneaking into homes to watch over them in the night. In still other tales, she may appear before you with an illusionary baby in her arms, and implore you to hold it. Accept, and the "baby" will revert to its true form of an enormous, stone weight, pinning you in place or even crushing you to death. It should probably be mentioned, though, that the "stone baby" gag is actually shared by a number of other yokai, and not an Ubume trademark.

So, that's "Momo" for you; a ghostly bird mom who may or may not be friendly. Case closed, except of course for the fact that this particular Ubume is only one in a long, glorious line of other ghostly ghouls concocted by the same artists through the special effects company, Link Factory, most of which were created under their "GRUDGE GIRLS" banner since as early as 2013.

Information on the girls is scattered and poorly archived, but we're going to do our best to round up and review a decent selection of them here. They're not necessarily intended to be part of a series with Aisawa's Ubume, but it's not inappropriate to think of them as Momo's extended family!


Many of these beautiful phantasms can be found only in a few old tweets, retweets or image previews; their actual, original links are long gone and the photographs practically qualify as "ghosts" themselves. All I am able to extrapolate from this being is that she was displayed somewhere in public to reflect back the faces of visitors.

The head made entirely of stretched and gnarled hands is already extremely badass, but putting a mirror in the center is even more interesting. I suppose this may be a spirit associated with either vanity or envy. I'm not sure if she's truly meant to be legless or just wasn't completed, but I think I'll go with intentional leglessness, which I am always a fan of.


More "orphaned" photos, with a name I'm making up myself based on how some of the others are officially named.

The dual entities here are an amazing contrast. The figure hanging from the noose is both comically and horrifically pitiful with her tiny, degenerated body, elongated neck and bulging eyes, but she in turn hangs from the neck of a much more foreboding and elegant tree-woman, missing normal arms but with a tangle of ghastly limbs snaking from her head like a gorgon's hair.

Perhaps the tree was possessed by the spirit of this poor suicide victim, and now protects the infantile vestige of her former body? It's a being far too beautiful and terrifying to be on display in such plain surroundings. This deserves to be the centerpiece of some equally beautiful and terrifying public park.


There's a simplicity to putting a human face on a jellyfish that shouldn't even be interesting, but there's something about this that actually manages to feel a little chilling to me. Maybe because it looks only just fake enough to be almost believable. I don't know what kind of story she might have as a "ghost," but the thought of a soul trapped in a jellyfish is pretty chilling. Does she have any more control than a regular jellyfish, or does her gelatinous head just rhythmically, reflexively pulse like most medusae, incapable of even choosing its direction? Does she even have any more awareness than a jellyfish? It's somehow equally unsettling whether she does or she doesn't.


I gotta say, this really wasn't the right name for this one. Her eyeball may be large and prominent, but it's still not the first thing I notice. The first thing I notice is how her face is asymmetrically assembled from scrambled chunks, like she was broken apart and glued back together all wrong, but she's also got an extra nose, so she might not even have all of her own pieces.

Eyeball girl was also a full-body costume at some point, and the larger eye could even look around!


I don't know this one's name, but she looks like she's possibly just meant to be some kind of demon or oni, from the horns anyway. With her googly eyes and giant lips, she's the most cartoonish and least "gory" of the grudge girls, but that kind of makes her one of the scariest looking. Those ropey, twisted arms are pretty interesting too.


I really WOWED when I saw this one. The way the human elements and fish elements are...perpendicular? Would that even be the right term?...is something I'm amazed I've never really seen before, and the result is one of the eeriest, most novel, and just plain coolest merpeople I have quite possibly ever seen. The way the fish's huge, blank eyeball is also the woman's left eye, how her arms end up on the "top and bottom" of the fish, the sheer grisliness of the fish face itself and the cold, pale color scheme combine into a visual that could only be more haunting if we saw it actually swimming in the murky depths.

It's also some damn impressive prosthetic work with another live model.


No, I didn't accidentally stumble over to a fetish site; this mucus-dripping woman still has a partial thumbnail on the official website, but the link is dead, and this is the most complete version of the image I can find anywhere else. This is upsetting, because I'm sure there must have been more to this girl than just a gooey face. If anyone ever figures out what the rest of her was like, please e-mail me about it.


I don't know what the original story was behind this one, except that she's two people who somehow became a single ghost, and now looks like she's in the process of dividing like a giant cell!


We're now up to the Grudge Girls recent enough to still have official names and bios up on Link Factory's website, which my spouse, Rev, has translated for us! Carnivorous Girl's bio is as follows:

"In contrast to her general demeanor of ennui is the mischievous little demon pouncing unexpectedly, without any make-up. That uncontrollable devilish face only comes out when night rolls around, and just might represent this surprising woman's true intentions! Caught up by that "not quite a girl, not quite a woman" charm, who knows how many men have become a stain on the sheets? Her thirst for blood still unquenched, she gazes blearily at you from atop the bed, ready to embrace her next target!"

There's actually wordplay going on here, because the term "carnivorous girl" is Japanese slang for a woman who aggressively pursues men or otherwise behaves "unladylike," contrasted with the slang term herbivore man for a meek and submissive male. I like how the character's "demeanor of ennui" serves as an excuse for the actress to mess around on her cell phone, because it has to get pretty boring to just lie there all day.

The monster portion is a very cool design, stylized into a "mantis" with bulging eyeballs and "claws" made up of many oversized fingers, complete with adorable nail art! That face has an incredibly strong Beetlejuice vibe I really appreciate, too.


"Making her entrance in a classic "cursed girl" white dress with flowing black hair to match, it's Slit-Mouthed Girl. In the deep of night at public parks, on roads with no one else around, you can find her standing and holding her head at an angle in the most charming way. I wonder what kind of man she'll mumble a curse at with that big mouth split down to her chest tonight? Her bloodless pale skin and dress stained with dark blood make for a great contrast!"

You should all know the legend of the Slit Mouthed Woman! The original was said to have been slashed ear to ear by a mugger, and now stalks the city at night asking travelers whether or not they still find her beautiful...but no way could she ever look as good as this version. The enlarged, skewed head and even more enlarged mouth, running all the way down her neck, is far too cool an image and implies an even more brutal death than the original tale.

At this point, we're seeing the Grudge Girls featured in a 2016 haunted apartment event, essentially an art gallery packaged as an interactive horror show! The "story" holds that each visitor is applying to actually live there, and must make the right impression on each of the girls to even survive, let alone move into the place, with Slit Mouth's encounter explained thusly:

"The first resident you'll meet is Slit-Mouthed Girl, getting dressed up in front of a mirror. While turning around, she asks, "Am I pretty?" I wonder if this easily flustered girl was getting ready to make breakfast? She is holding a kitchen knife...

Since she's so delicate, please try to answer without hurting her feelings."

You really BETTER not hurt her feelings. Who would ever have anything negative to say in the first place?!

On completing this and other "missions" around the apartment, visitors were rewarded with an ultra-limited-edition Grudge Girls tote bag. Oh yes, you're gonna see it.


"The residents of the share house are a diverse bunch, and their lifestyles vary accordingly. On pushing your way past the drying laundry in her room, you'll run into Bat Girl in the middle of changing clothes while hanging upside-down. "Ahh! Pervert!" This is the sort of charming encounter you can expect in the share house."

There sure is a lot more here than such a simple title implies. "Bat girl's" hands are only almost batlike wings, she's got a "vertically mirrored" face with both a "human" and "monster" side, and her blinding headlight eyes are nestled in bizarre, fleshy sockets that flare out into the "ears" of the "bat." What a dazzlingly macabre chimera. She's not supposed to be a vampire, but they're the first thing that comes to mind here, because this is precisely the kind of innovation our many Chiropteran nosferatu have been missing for generations.


"The bloodstained bathroom. Hanging out in the bathtub is Wrist-Cutting Girl, blood gushing from both arms. Two razors gleam dully in her hands!

"Oh god oh god, this is bad!"

Or so you think... but what's this? She's just practicing her mizugei."

On close inspection, this is nothing but a quick modification of Eyeball Girl with the addition of multiple arms and copious blood oozing from her seams. I feel like she was actually scarier as the subtler, more ambiguous Eyeball Girl, but her edgier new persona is not without its merits. Mizugei isn't a word that translates well, but it refers to a sort of fancy water show. I'm glad to know Wrist-cutting Girl is actually doing alright, emotionally, and just has a really messy hobby.


Sorry to tarnish such a lovely visual with a huge ungainly censor bar, but, this has to be kept a primarily work-safe website and this ghost sports rows of naked breasts all the way down to the huge, gigantic, pustuled mutant baby head sprouting out of her lower reaches. I don't even want to know what her backstory is, but we're about to find out anyway:

"Mission: Don't Make a Sound.

When it comes to grown women, private space is very important. In such a place, you can't just go around making noises to your heart's content. Even if you're faced with a crying baby, rules are rules. Now, quickly strangle that baby's throat shut!

The instant the baby's voice has been strangled, you'll hear "What are you doing to my baby?!" and from behind the curtain, slightly larger than a man, will appear Trying-for-a-Baby Girl! Her baby was murdered, but instead of moping about it this charming girl looks ahead to the future.

"I'll just have lots more babies and it'll be fine!" she says, and right next to you she produces new life. After killing the baby you'll have to help her give birth. It'll be confusing, but you can it!

That's, uh...some story there, and some "mission" they put you through. You literally pretend to choke a crying baby doll to death, then help Trying-For-A-Baby-Girl "give birth" to a fake fetus, complete with umbilical cord. I know they really mean all this, because there is a video of it. I am going to share it with you soon.


"Mission: Say "These Look Great!" Cheerfully

In the party room, she has prepared some sweets to welcome you to a private showing. Don't forget to look really happy when you say "These look great!"

Huh? You won't eat something with bugs in it? But she went to a lot of trouble for this welcome party. Don't be picky, just try some!

If you like sweets, then you'd probably appreciate some cake. Sweets Girl may be sweet, but she's also a little spicy--she loves playing tricks. Shaking the cake in her squatting position, she'll surprise you when you come to see her.

Once you've gotten over the shock, it's time for a pleasant candy surprise. Help yourself to some of her famous sweets!

I love this whole concept. A huge, spoiled looking cake with a ghastly, heart-shaped mouth full of wet fruit. I almost wish it stayed this way, but it's actually a pretty clever "transformable" Grudge Girl.

When approached, Sweets Girl springs out of her "cake" pose to show that she's just a really weird humanoid with a second mouth and a cake dress. She also offered visitors actual, real snacks, made to look like pieces of feces or decorated with fake insects. Definitely opt for the cockroaches, it's just a little extra protein. It's fine!


"Even the share house's private showing must at last come to an end. On the exit door, in the middle of a punishment game, a crying girl has been crucified. The shape of a keyhole has been peeled off her stomach. Set off to the side is a knife to be used in place of a key.

Could it be that this is what becomes of visitors who don't follow the rules...? It's too bad, but if you don't stab her then neither she nor you will ever be free. Well, get a firm grip on that knife, and go for the exit!

Bound Girl or "Bonds" Girl is Here for completeness, but not technically even a Grudge Girl herself; just someone who supposedly failed before you. This means that she either told Slit-Mouthed girl that she was ugly, refused to even TRY any of Sweets Girl's lovingly made snacks, refused to strangle a baby or any number of other shockingly uncivilized behaviors. You reap what you sow!!

What's more interesting is the girl who pops out to surprise patrons from behind Bound Girl, whose high-pitched speech and bulging eyeball clusters would seemingly indicate some insect heritage, and probably my very favorite kind of insect. You can see she's nothing but a pretty simplistic mask with little of the stunning craft that went into many of these others, but that's understandable, because she's apparently a returning guest from the very oldest wave of Grudge Girls, and most of them were even less elaborate than this. She's one of the last holdouts of their original prototypes!


I always save the best for last, don't I?

"Beautiful sisters with super gorgeous white eggshell skin!

Striking a daring pose on the street, it's younger sister Raw Egg Girl. Along with her unblinking saffron eyes, her charm point is the gross red gel flowing across the concrete!

Next, taking a nap on a bed of fallen leaves is older sister Hatching Girl. Conversely, she sports a pleasant outdoorsy look, her captivating eyes lascivious. When her sexy gaze tiptoes over, she's sure to capture your heart while you stare on!

Go ahead, take all the time you need to process what the hell you're seeing here and how much you're in love with it. The "Egg Sisters" are just ghostly, pale, brittle heads, smashed like eggs, with their eyeballs as the "yolks," and best of all, the eyes of Hatching Egg Girl have their own little vestigial chicken legs. They really mean "her sexy gaze tiptoes over!"

This is just...so...good. It's SO good. I am in a jealous awe at how superb a concept this is for a ghost. Everyone else can pack it right in, it looks like Halloween has already reached its peak, day one! I love how they talk up the sisters being so "sexy" and "beautiful" and how the red gore is a "charm point." You don't have to tell me, bub. I've got eyeballs too, you know. Only Hatching Girl appears in the Grudge Girls apartment, but under the new name Ovulation Girl, and the guest is implored to...fish her out of a filthy toilet with a set of tongs.

"Mission: Tidying Up.

All the residents use the same toilet. I know this is awful, but sometimes it gets a little messy. Even though you didn't get anything dirty, to progress it's important you be ready to embrace your cleaning duties as a roommate. To see if you'll be able to live in this house or not, here you'll be taking a little test.

In the toilet, stained by used contraceptives and menstrual products, lie the secret remains of love that someone tried to flush away.

Throw this sad past in the trash, and help them move on to new love.

So, okay. She's either the ghost of an abortion, the ghost of someone who HAD an abortion, or she's both, I don't know. If either one means you spend the afterlife as a couple of walking eyeball-chickens then I'm really not seeing any downside here. Really, what makes any of these "missions" at all challenging? You get to meet a whole apartment full of cuties, let them know they're cuties, and engage in some rewarding housework to boot. For free!!! FREE CHORES!!! FOR GHOSTS!!! GHOST CHORES!!! You don't think that sounds like a good time!? You're ridiculous. Ridiculous. Get outta here!

Warning for nudity and gore, but a tour of the entire 2015 Grudge Girls Haunted Apartment is still up on youtube for your enjoyment RIGHT HERE! Ring in Halloween with a virtual viewing of the coolest, freakiest haunted attraction none of us will ever get to see any other way!

You even get to see the tote bag, and by the way, it has a profile all of its own:


"With those hands that scooped up filth, you ate bugs, strangled a baby, and stabbed someone.

You've passed your initiation with flying colors, and are now an ally of the Grudge Girls Apartment!

As proof you're a roommate, we present you with the two-in-one bag and murderer oni mask, "Tote Bag You Can Wear on Your Head to Be Pretty"