The 10 Scariest Analog Horror Series On YouTube
Rooted in the chromatically aberrant aesthetic of 1980s and 1990s newscasts, TV shows, and VHS tapes, analog horror has become a huge trend on YouTube. An evolution of the creepypastas and ARGs that have dominated the internet for more than a decade, some of these series have real artistic merit worthy of a Sundance premiere.
While the horror of YouTube’s pioneering days typically involved cursed Internet URLs or haunted Nintendo 64 game cartridges, these stories tell tales of cosmic horror and creatures from gruesome alternate realities, and they’re perfect for those who find modern Hollywood horror unremarkable.
A surreal horror series created by cartoonist Kris Straub, Local 58 consists of nine short videos, the first of which was uploaded in October 2017. It tells a very vague and confusing story described as a collection of broadcast hijacks, most of which suggest something sinister is happening on the moon.
Key episodes hint at a horrific lunar power potentially destroying the United States, though the true narrative could never be presented so concisely. It’s the perfect series for lore hunters who like to dissect every frame of media and come up with their own theories.
The Mandela Catalog
A collection of eleven videos divided into two seasons, The Mandela Catalog is a story centered on the concept of fear and how it can be used to control the masses. Early episodes seem to delve into religion and how religious institutions have the ability to use fear to manipulate followers, and later episodes explore television and the media, implying that these can also be effective tools to instill fear in a population.
This is, of course, speculation; the story is far too murky to draw any definitive conclusions. That said, The Mandela Catalog warps and twists, literally and figuratively, familiar faces and scenarios into something truly terrifying.
petscop is not a clear example of analog horror, although it shares many hallmarks of the genre and helped popularize the new wave of retro-inspired internet shorts. A collection of twenty-four videos designed to be a let’s play of an unreleased PlayStation game, petscop slowly merges nostalgia with horror in a way that digs into the minds of those who fondly remember games from the 90s.
The series is much more than a parody, let’s play with a touch of horror, of course. It features strong themes of abuse, neglect, and revenge, and some see it as a sort of allegory for the hugely controversial practice of rebirth therapy.
An example of a single analog horror episode, Local people is about a man who believes that strange entities use his home as some sort of link when he crosses dimensions. He claims that these beings are the only species capable of this inter-dimensional travel, but his obsession grows to the point that he attempts to travel with them to their “corner world”.
Local people is far from terrifying, but it’s a prime example of the genre’s creativity and versatility. Cornerfolk is little more than a slideshow, but it’s imaginative enough to keep viewers engaged even when the main subject is something as mundane as the corners of someone’s house.
Primarily known for his bright and stylistic animations, YouTuber Gooseworx surprised his subscribers in 2018 with a quirky video titled “The Blue Channel” which appeared to be a static recording of a television displaying only the color blue. Things got a lot stranger, however, in 2021 when the “Blue_Channel: Thalasin” video debuted.
A parody of an old paid programming advertisement, the video is about the fictional drug Thalasin which would allow users to induce certain emotions on demand. Still, things go from weird to downright disturbing when the segment cuts to a version of the drug meant to “expand the emotional palette.”
The Walton Files
YouTuber Martin Walls’ The Walton Files debuted in April 2020, and it’s since been heralded as one of the best examples of analog horror on the internet. With over an hour of content on offer, it’s one of the most comprehensive series of its kind, and it baffles and horrifies audiences with a bizarre and convoluted tale about a restaurant chain with dark and disturbing secrets.
The Walton Files borrows quite extensively from the ideas and concepts popularized by Five nights at Freddy’s series of games, though Martin Walls’ videos arguably take more sinister turns and are far more subtle in their approach.
This house has people in it
Released in 2016 as part of a slate of avant-garde horror films produced in part by Adult Swim, This house has people in it is an esoteric short film that sees a series of strange events occur at what should be a normal birthday party in a suburban home. Most of the quirks come in the form of flashing Easter eggs and you’ll miss it, but even less discerning viewers will find the movie downright horrifying.
Supposed to be footage captured by a home security system, the film directs viewers to the AB Surveillance Solutions website, which bridges the gap with a broader ARG. Although not often explicitly cited as a work of analog horror, This house has people in it certainly helped set the stage for subsequent viral YouTube series.
Said to be a sequel to Marble hornetsan Internet ARG series that started in 2009, ECKVA is a series of scrambled recordings captured by someone known as SH Hawkins. As horrifying as they are mysterious, these music videos are said to come from the abandoned ECKVA broadcast studio.
As is the case with most analog horror series, much ECKVA is vague and difficult to interpret. The main appeal comes from its unique presentation, with episodes sometimes deviating from the typical blurry faux-VHS format to include high definition found footage or animation segments.
The back rooms
Popularized in 2019, The back rooms could pretty much be described as a piece of internet folklore surrounding an alternate dimension made up of anomalous architecture made horrifying by its weird nature. While it started out as little more than a creepypasta, the concept has proven to be fertile ground for amateur filmmakers on YouTube.
Many accounts have uploaded what they claim are images found from The back rooms, but no series is more celebrated than the one developed by YouTuber Kane Pixels. Incredibly well-made and wildly imaginative, it’s arguably more intense than most horror productions released by major studios today.
Gemini Home Entertainment
Since the end of 2019, Gemini Home Entertainment is almost indescribable. Almost as famous as Local 58the series often said to have started the analog horror trend, Gemini Home Entertainment tells a terrifying tale of parasitic human-like creatures, otherworldly invaders, and cosmic horrors far beyond human comprehension.
Designed to be a collection of VHS tapes, Gemini Home Entertainment is eerily authentic, and woe betide anyone who might be fooled into thinking these are real movies. The series ended in 2021, and it’s a must-watch for anyone who loves this kind of lo-fi horror.
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