It’s 2:00 AM, and there you are, wired on caffeine again. You’ve exhausted the blogs and webcomics. Since you’ve already given up on sleep, why not give these videos a watch?
10Edward Muscare’s ‘Pretty Woman’
It seems difficult to make Roy Orbison’s 1964 hit single about love and loneliness creepy, but this lip-synched rendition by a withered old man in a cheesy Mr. Rogers sweater manages to do just that. The “singer” would be unsettling enough with his constant glances toward the camera and his attempts at “dancing,” but there’s a truth behind this video that makes it much, much worse.
This man’s real name is Edward Muscare, and he’s a registered sex offender. As a condition of his parole, he was prohibited from using the Internet. After this video went viral, the police took note of his online shimmy-shamming and hauled him back into court. It just goes to show that you really can’t tell what lies behind the smiles of some people.
The nonsensical text introduction to this animated abomination serves as a warning. This clip is only 90 seconds long but packs plenty of trippy chaos into that short time. After it’s over, all we have are questions. Who is the new friend we’ve just made? Why was he screaming and laughing? And just what was on that videotape found in the ruins of a certain blue planet in the year 2571? What’s the echoing noise at the beginning? Church bells?
Searching the Internet for “Jason Kovac,” the apparent musician and artist, reveals nothing. Some of the characters resemble the art style of old G.I. Joe cartoons, but it’s impossible to tell which episode. The bizarre frog-like creature and the floating head defy categorization.
In the end, searching for answers to this short film is pointless. There appears to be no greater meaning behind it. There’s certainly no subliminal message embedded in the frames.
8Dining Room Or There Is Nothing
David B. Earle is an artist and filmmaker from Denmark with a steadily growing portfolio. No matter how diverse his style may become, it’s likely that he’ll be best known for this one-minute film. Intended to be played on loop infinitely, it challenges the viewer to an interesting game: See how many loops you can watch without closing it reflexively.
According to Earle, “When looped, there is no actual beginning or end, and no real sense of where the beginning and end actually are. This piece was inspired by a personal paradoxical desire for empirical proof that there is nothing on the ‘other’ side of life.”
There’s so much in this video that haunts the viewer, but perhaps the most terrifying aspect of it is the young woman’s stare. She seems to gaze right through us, looking into our souls and finding . . . well, the title says it all.
7The Wyoming Incident
When one thinks of masked hackers, the first thing that comes to mind is probably Anonymous and their Guy Fawkes disguises. But they are not the first to hide their faces while disrupting the status quo. On the evening of November 22, 1987, two local channels in the Chicago area were interrupted by a broadcast signal intrusion orchestrated by a man wearing a Max Headroom mask.
In this clip, a poor local newscaster is interrupted by the mysterious message “333-333-333.” It claims to have a “SPECIAL PRESENTATION” in store and that “YOU WILL SEE SUCH PRETTY THINGS.” In between similarly vague yet disturbing messages, grayscale faces with a variety of creepy expressions are shown. All throughout, the music that plays is best compared to an NES game soundtrack written by Cthulhu.
The broadcast intrusion depicted in the video may be falsified, orchestrated for an alternate reality game by the goons at Something Awful, but it remains a creepy blend of nightmare fuel in all its forms.
6Baby Laugh A Lot Original Commercial
Dolls are definitely a go-to for horror. Maybe it’s the Uncanny Valley effect. Maybe it’s seeing a child trapped for eternity in an unchanging state. The Baby Laugh A Lot is so mortifying, it’s almost a work of art. Her face is permanently smiling, like she just got a face full of the Joker’s toxins. Her laugh is shrill and robotic, with no childish warmth.
The commercial Remco came up with for this terror toy is certainly no better. The children turn their heads when the doll begins its cackling, and their expressions are of tightly contained mortal fear. One child holds her hand to her mouth—to suppress not laughter but vomit. The announcer can’t contain his own laughter, suggesting that Baby Laugh A Lot is some kind of disease that spreads like kuru, an infection caused by cannibalism that drives people mad.
In this video, an unseen computer user attempts to visit a YouTube channel whose name bears the number of the beast. The account is suspended, but this intrepid Internet explorer will not be deterred. Showing all the common sense of your average horror-flick teenager, he or she hits refresh over and over. Slowly but surely, the text, images, and layout of YouTube start to take on a more sinister tone.
Eventually, he or she does come upon the satanic channel, and the videos it contains are abstract and horrifying. The images and sounds are disturbing enough, but when the user attempts to escape, the browser refuses to close. While YouTube’s layout has changed dramatically since this video’s release, the effect is still chilling. It’s because the video taps into a fear we all have about the site and the Internet in general: The ability to create and share any kind of content we want provides unlimited freedom, but some content, like some knowledge, is not meant for us to know.
4Mass Of Daddy Long Legs In A Tree
In Western societies, many people are afflicted with arachnophobia. Whether or not you’re one of these unfortunate souls, this video will have you scrambling for the insect repellent.
According to the description, the uploader of the clip found this cluster of twitching biomass on a tree in Nogales, Arizona. The cameraman runs his finger over a pale, moss-like cluster, and it stirs eerily. Then he scrapes the group with a twig, and what pours forth will give you a great reason to avoid trees in Nogales, Arizona.
Why do we have such a long-held fear of these mostly harmless creatures that are so much smaller than us? One theory is that we’ve retained it as a defense mechanism from our earlier years when we rightfully feared their venom. Or maybe it’s just all those twitchy legs.
Bedfellows, a short film by Drew Daywalt, follows one of the oldest fears of humans: fear of intimacy. We’re afraid to be close to someone because, in that state, we are at our most vulnerable. It doesn’t matter if you’re a frail weakling or a hulking bodybuilder. A warm embrace can still conceal a knife in the back.
This fear of intimacy manifests itself in this video in the form of a question: Do you really know who’s sleeping next to you? As is so often the case with good horror, it’s the anticipation of the answer that makes it so nerve-racking. We can see the face of the “bedfellow,” but she won’t until it’s too late.
It’s long been ingrained in pop culture that playing with Ouija boards is a bad idea. They started a house fire in Paranormal Activity, gave Regan wicked indigestion in The Exorcist, and now they’ve ruined an otherwise delightful dinner party in Don’t Move, a short film by the Bloody Cuts film company.
The short film details what happens when a group of British twentysomethings call out to the underworld with the old cardboard medium. What answers is a shadow-cloaked ghost demon that makes the smoke monster from Lost look like London fog in comparison. He wants to play a game of “Red Light, Green Light,” but the penalty for losing is horrific evisceration or face removal.
Once the rules are made clear to the partygoers, it’s every man and woman for themselves. Tensions mount and buckets of blood are spilled in this film that’s definitely not family friendly. Next time, why not bring Parcheesi to game night?
1The Swedish Rhapsody
This clip is quite possibly the freakiest of numbers stations broadcasts. Number stations are shortwave radio stations that broadcast encrypted messages across the globe in the form of creepy music and creepy people repeating strings of numbers in a creepy way.
What possible purpose do these stations serve? “This system is completely secure because the messages can’t be tracked, the recipient could be anywhere,” says Akin Fernandez, the creator of the Conet Project, a comprehensive archive of the phenomenon of numbers stations. “It is easy. You just send the spies to a country and get them to buy a radio. They know where to tune and when,” he says.
This track in particular is nightmare-inducing because of the distorted ice cream truck music and the little girl speaking German numbers over and over. It becomes even more sinister when you realize that it’s possible this message was used as the order to kill someone.
So, how about some ice cream?
Chris Tanner enjoys horror, video games, and wine. You can check out his 140-character ramblings on Twitter.