When I was a kid, I was obsessed with the paranormal and the occult. I did not believe any of it was real, but I still loved it. I loved how the show In Search Of put this very respectable, credible sort of mask on, and winked at the audience, like, “Listen, we all know this isn’t real. But … what if it was? What if we all agreed to pretend that it was?”
Jack Palance was so intense on Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, it was like he dared you to not believe it. It was so great, that stuff. I just loved it. The Time Life Books series you already know I’m talking about before you even look at the link if you’re my generation was also a favorite. In the early days of the Internet, I just about died when I found all the regional urban legends on usenet that never made it to my little part of Los Angeles County.
I saw Blair Witch in the theater. I lurked on unfiction for what feels like ages back before the server blew up like Ricky’s mom. I watched so many found footage movies when they were just this low budget way to make indies, there was nothing left to surprise me when they went mainstream (though I was thrilled for the creators and the genre). I loved Marble Hornets so much, I tracked down like a 200 page PDF all about the Slenderman mythos that existed at the time, and I printed it out so I could make my own notes in it.
And until recently, it’s all just sort of fallen off my radar. I blame … *gestures broadly at everyfuckingthing*.
But when I came across Night Mind recently, it all came back. All the fun of pretending it’s real, with other people who are also pretending it’s real, while we all agree not to talk about how it isn’t real … oh man it just scratches this very specific itch that I didn’t even realize I had until I was scratching it. The SCP and EAS videos are just fantastic.
For the last minute or so, I’ve been channel surfing around Night Mind, Nexpo, and a few of those “people who watched this also watched” channels.
It’s one of those channels that surprised me and legit scared the evershittingfuck out of me last night.
Last night, I spent the evening watching analog horror videos on YouTube. I love the familiar, nostalgic, VHS feeling. I love remembering, from the safety of 49, how I felt every single time I heard the Emergency Broadcast System when I was 9 and a Cold War Kid. I don’t know what the modern day equivalent of walking into a room lit only by the static from a TV with no signal that you are positive you turned off an hour ago is, but if you know in your guts what I just described, that’s how these videos make me feel. It’s fantastic.
This is where I reveal that, until about 36 hours ago, I had not heard of “analog horror“. I hope you still respect me.
So, the story these videos and their creators are telling is genuinely frightening. Some real bad shit is happening with the moon and the television and even though I haven’t paused it to look, I just know there’s all sorts of creepy shit in the static. The way they are telling their story is impressive to me for a million reasons, technical and creative.
I think I watched three of them from this channel (they’re all very short, just a couple minutes each). Then they get to this video that slowly begins to feel familiar as I watch it. By the end of the first minute, that familiar feeling has become a memory. I have absolutely seen this before. But that’s impossible, because I didn’t know this video, this channel, or even this genre existed until breakfast yesterday morning!
I make this agreement with myself when I watch these channels, that’s essentially the same agreement we make when we play an ARG or engage with unfiction in any way: I know it isn’t real, but I’m going to pretend it’s real, and we aren’t going to talk about how it isn’t real. So my head is in a VERY PARTICULARLY RECEPTIVE AND VULNERABLE PLACE as this video WHICH I HAVE NEVER SEEN BUT TOTALLY REMEMBER plays out in front of me.
The video is tense and unnerving and unsettling on its own. But this unreal, impossible, yet undeinably real memory of seeing it before makes it feel like I am now inside one of these creepypasta shorts I’ve been watching. Somehow this specific video has also come out of my head and jumped into the computer in front of me and now this memory that I can not possibly have is clearly existing in my head and also on this video and I gotta tell you, bob, it isn’t great.
There’s a flash on the screen and I am already looking at exactly the right place to see the entity I know will be there. There has been nothing in this video so far that would lead anyone who hasn’t seen it to expect an entity. WHAT THE FUCK HOW DO I KNOW ANY OF THIS WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON.
The video plays for about another thirty seconds and then it ends.
I say, out loud, in my empty game room, “What the fuck.” And then the credits roll.
Oh. Okay. This all make sense, now, and I can breathe again. It’s made by Kris Straub, who I’ve known for years. I am a huge fan of Kris’s Candle Cove and Ichor Falls. Then I see that the video is from an idea by Mikey Neumann, who I have done many outstanding creative projects with over the years and love like family.
Mikey and Kris made this video forever ago, and sent it to me before it was uploaded anywhere. In all of the *gestures broadly at everyfuckingthing* of the last few years, I had completely forgotten about it. Like, the part of my brain where it lived was not reformatted, but absolutely marked as “available for storage” in my mental fstab.
I did that loud, nervous, I’m-so-glad-I-didn’t-die-I-really-thought-I-was-going-to-die laugh that we’re all familiar with for reasons none of us want to remember. Then I was like, “Okay. Okay. Well done, Mysterious Person Who Is Writing My Life. You just gave me the first good scare I’ve had in a long, long time.”
The series is called Local 58, and so is the channel, which is what I had been watching when I saw the video that made me metaphorically shit my pants. I am so glad I found it, and all the other channels like it that it either inspired, or was inspired by. This is fun, this stuff. This storytelling is doing the exact same thing for me in 2022 that the original analog horror did for me in 1982. I have just started Gemini Home Entertainment, (I know it’s not precisely the same but this Omega Mart training video is great,) and I haven’t even done the Night Mind Deep Dive into Local 58, which I know will open new doors for me to peek through.
As I am someone who is habitually late to every party, I’m sure there’s a ton of good stuff out there in this genre for me to discover. If there’s an analog horror series or creator you love who I haven’t linked to here, link them in a comment, if you want. I’m so interested to see what’s out there.