Internet screamers have been around for many years, their beginnings going back to 1996, at the latest. These viral sensations have come in several of different forms — games, pictures, and videos — but all of them were made with the same intention: to lull a hapless victim into curiosity, concentration, or relaxation — only to be jolted into shock, if not outright terror, through the material’s unexpected ending.
Of the various internet screamers that have gone viral, most are in agreement that the earliest ones to come into wide awareness were the Sabotage: Optical Illusions Slideshow by Liquid Generation, and the Scary Maze Game by Winterrowd. The popularity (or infamy) of these creations resulted in hundreds, if not thousands, of other similar gimmicks being created — altogether horrifying internet users, and necessitating the publishing of several features on how to avoid getting victimized. Nevertheless, internet users have continued to fall prey to the same old screamer ploys despite the fact that most screamers contain what should be tell-tale hints of a coming scare:
1. weak audio, initially to get the victim to increase the volume on his or her speakers (or worse, headphones) which then maximizes the shock value of the ending; some materials explicitly ask the victim to increase the volume for greater clarity
2. irritated and angry comments on the post (or the comments feature has been disabled)
3. in the case of YouTube videos, a disproportionately large number of dislike votes
All the same, as is true for practically every prank, while everyone hates being the stooge, most people revel in the cruel glory of victimizing their friends and family. Here are some of the most jolting screamer videos that are likely to earn pranksters the greatest amount of scorn:
11. The K-Fee Screamer Ad Campaign
In 2004, several screamer videos were created by German advertising agency Jung von Matt/Fleet to promote K-Fee, a canned coffee drink, which led many to wonder, “Screamer videos to promote a coffee brand?” Well, the connection becomes evident with the line that appears at the end of each advertisement: “So wach warst du noch nie,” which translates to “You’ve never been so awake.”
All of the K-Fee screamers begin with a seemingly ordinary and relaxing scene but end with some sort of monster popping out to terrify viewers. And as K-Fee had hoped, the videos went viral — the most popular ones racking up hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube and horrifying countless TV viewers. Here are some of the ads:
K-Fee Golf Commercial
Golf is so calm and relaxing that many people criticize it for being extremely boring. Not this type of golf, though.
K-Fee Beach Commercial
Garnering over 450,000 views, this one is the most popular of the K-Fee screamers. And why shouldn’t it be? After all, who doesn’t love a good romance on the beach? (Well maybe not this particular beach…)
K-Fee Auto Commercial
This one begins like an ad for a classy car brand. But similar to the other K-Fee ads in its category, this one ends in a wreck.
And then K-Fee brilliantly used the same concept to promote the “Lite” variety of their coffee. This one’s scary as well (maybe even scarier), but in a much different way.
For all those wondering, “Jetzt auch mit weniger koffein” translates to “Now with less caffeine.”
10. The “Swearing” Baby
The best screamers on YouTube are often misleadingly titled to give the viewer a false sense of security and also to provide a prankster with a framework for sharing the video. For this “swearing baby” video, the proper introduction would go something like, “Hey, look at this. It’s sooo cute. The baby swears! But you have to listen very carefully or you won’t hear it.” That would likely convince a victim to increase the volume on the speakers and watch the baby very closely. Then, boo!
9. “Jingle Bells” Backwards
The revelation of hidden messages when songs are backmasked — played backwards — has fascinated the public for years. In the eighties, various Christian groups claimed that backmasking was being used by prominent musicians for Satanic purposes. Some of the accused artists included Led Zeppelin, Styx, and Electric Light Orchestra. But a hidden message in the Christmas classic and incontestably wholesome “Jingle Bells”?
The thing about backmasking is that practically any song backmasked sounds quite creepy, thus scarily setting the stage for a cruel surprise. So, is a hidden message truly revealed when “Jingle Bells” is played backwards? Not really, but by the end of the screamer above, no one will disagree that the video really does contain a hidden message.
8. Pretty Ballerina Stumbles
The television screen with static on it should serve as a clue that there’s something fishy about this video. But curiosity (and the prankster) will still often win.
7. Watch This While High
People who are under the influence of drugs (both legally and illegally) usually have heightened senses and are thus extremely sensitive. While that should warn most prudent pranksters not to mess with drug users, it’s admittedly tempting to see just how horrified (and filled with rage) they could get. This screamer probably resulted in more than a few joints being dropped on the floor.
6. The Elmo Song
Everyone adores Elmo! But maybe not so much after listening to his song on this screamer.
5. UFO Crashes Into Plane
News about UFO sightings are interesting enough, but the claim that footage exists of a UFO crashing into a plane is too tempting for most to ignore. The title of the video and the warning that begins it further heighten expectations. However, what the viewer ends up seeing is a black dot — seemingly an actual plane — moving steadily across the sky, while a much more erratically moving dot — supposedly the unidentified flying object — eventually catches up with the aircraft. And then the prank catches up with the viewer.
Well, at least no one can say that they weren’t warned that the video would be shocking.
4. Scary Rocking Chair
Believers in the supernatural have long been fascinated with videos of ghosts supposedly being caught on tape. This particular video sets up the scene quite effectively with a pale green hue and what appears to be the faint glowing of light from a television screen. Then, a little after midway through the clip, a white rocking chair, conveniently situated in the center of the screen, begins to rock despite the fact that no one is sitting in it. And finally, a black figure suddenly begins racing towards the camera, and the demonic face of a possessed Linda Blair from the 1973 classic The Exorcist is frozen on the screen.
3. Google Earth: Couple Caught Having Sex
Google Earth, an information program that obtains images via satellite aerial photography and makes the images available to internet users, has been extremely useful to those monitoring widespread disasters. During the huge 2010 Haiti earthquake, for example, the program was able to capture the unbelievable extent of the calamity’s damage. However, Google Earth has also unwittingly caught some hapless individuals in uncompromising situations. In 2013, for example, a Google Street View camera, photographed a couple in Australia stopping by the side of the road to have sex.
The screamer featured above deceptively promises a Google Earth capture of a couple having sex. Instead, the ending punishes peeping Toms for their curiosity.
2. Michael Jackson’s Ghost
Around a month after Michael Jackson‘s surprising death in 2009, Larry King did a show on The King of Pop for one of the episodes of Larry King Live. A part of the program was filmed in Jackson’s private quarters at the Neverland Ranch, and shockingly, Michael’s faint ghost appears to have been filmed as the camera panned across one of the ranch’s corridors (video above).
Whether the shadowy figure was truly Jackson’s spirit manifested, or was simply the reflection of one of the crew members walking by, was the topic of numerous water cooler debates. And one screamer creator took advantage of the controversy by producing a video, which claims that audio technicians extracted an additional layer of sound from the clip. However, when the video plays, the audio is noticeably faint, forcing viewers to turn up the volume. What a big mistake that turns out to be!
1. Diet Pepsi on Raw Pork
The rumor that pouring Coca-Cola onto raw pork will result in worms crawling out of the meat has been circulated for decades. It has been disproven numerous times, and yet, quite a number of people still believe it to be true. Perhaps it’s because pork is wrongly perceived as a dirty type of meat, while Coke, on the other hand, is often portrayed as some type of magical liquid. And videos, such as the one above, have certainly played a role in perpetuating the wormy falsehood.
Well, it appears that someone has gotten tired of hearing the rumor over and over again, and decided to come up with a screamer to really give people something to be frightened about when dousing raw pork with a carbonated drink — this time, Diet Pepsi. Slyly, the video begins with a skeptical, experimental tone. Then the lighting strangely grows dark at one point. Finally, the shocker is revealed at the end.
Reactions to Screamers
Finally, here’s a compilation of some of the funniest reactions people have had to screamer videos. Surely, many pranksters will be inspired. Enjoy!