Once upon a time, if you wanted to make a creature squirt blood in an actress's face, you needed some rubber, a complex system of tubes and some food coloring. Now, the digital blood and squirts from a CGI creation. The deep-down visceral horror is gone, because we can explain it as CGI. Older movies, like The Thing , didn't have such technology, and many of the physical effects hold up even to today. CGI rarely, if ever, ages well, with formerly cutting-edge effects now looking like something from a previous generation of video games.
Today, horror is mass-marketed, oversaturated with CGI and clothes that all too easily peel away. There's a craftsmanship in rubber suits and carefully aimed blood spatter that is all too rare today. Many horror fans, tired of the pixels masquerading as guts and gore, the sequels, the reboots, the preboots, the re-imaginings, have been forced to turn to other avenues to scratch the horror itch, either to out-do what is currently being produced, or to see something that doesn't necessarily have to appeal to an audience of tweeny-boppers looking to get spooked.
YouTube has become a holdout of horror, where the effects are physical and the budget is low. Young filmmakers are letting their sensibilities run wild, with either classic monsters, recent pop culture phenomena, or even with their own creatures. Some are forgettable, some are watchable, and a few, just a few, could stand side by side with some of the greats. Here are 15 of the best horror series you can watch on YouTube right now.
16 Marble Hornets
The granddaddy of most online horror series, Marble Hornets opens with Jay inheriting unedited footage of a friend's student film. Curious about what happened to cancel filming, he starts watching them and finds something terrible lurking behind the scenes. Armed with a box of tapes and a cast list, Jay sets out to find out what the hell happened to everybody who was a part of Marble Hornets.
15 No Through Road
Predating Marble Hornets, and a clear influence, No Through Road took its inspiration from The Blair Witch Project. Four kids disappear late one night, and are found several days later, brutally murdered. In the course of the search, their camcorder is found. The recorded footage of an unending road and a man in a mask is released to the public in the hopes that somebody can offer any explanation.
After its release, a surviving friend heads to the same area to commemorate their disappearances and find closure, but history repeats itself and he quickly finds himself in way over his head, trapped on that same, unending road with a traumatised survivor on the run.
14 Sitting and Smiling
Not quite a horror, but certainly creepy, Sitting and Smiling is exactly that. A few times a week, for the past nine months, Benjamin Bennett has sat in front of a camera for four hours and smiled. He has apparently never broken character, not even when someone broke into his house and barged into the room he was recording in. He found that staying in character, remaining seated and smiling, unnerved the burglar enough to leave.
13 Alan Tutorial
Young Alan wants to be successful on YouTube, so he jumps on the popular tutorial bandwagon to try to make a name for himself and earn some fat stacks as an internet entrepreneur, all while having a lot of fun and providing edutainment for his viewers.
Sounds simple, right?
Alan has an unknown disorder that has left him a child in a man's body, trapped in a house with a family that apparently hates him and in his desperation to escape he winds up sleeping in the woods before getting held against his will by a mysterious cartel that wants him to produce more YouTube videos, even if it kills him.
12 Enter Viral
A bit different from what came before, Enter Viral is a studio that produces horror films on a budget of whatever they can find. Although their uploads are sporadic, most of their short films can hit an hour or even longer. They've experimented with editing together random videos recording on iPhones to make a full length film, explored abandoned subways and even gotten to Area 51 and the Vatican to film upcoming flicks.
A woman wakes up in a small, dark box. Her only company is a man trapped in a similar box and trying to escape too. Both of them are branded with numbers on their arms, and the room outside the box contains a lot of pointy, bladed implements.
Similar to Enter Viral, Fewdio produces short horror films, but with a much bigger budget. The studio was set up during the scriptwriters strike, using funds earned from an Axe advertising campaign to produce the horror films they wanted to see, without studio interference. They had a major viral hit with Bedfellows, which taught its audience to be careful about who you're allowing to sleep in your house and won the Chiller-Eyegore Award for Best Short Film in 2009.
9 Everyman Hybrid
Easily the most successful Slender series after Marble Hornets, Everyman Hybrid documents the attempts of Vinnie, Jeff and Evan to get fit on a budget. This quickly goes out the window when a prank backfires, and Jeff's girlfriend disappears under mysterious circumstances. What started as a simple fitness series quickly becomes a video diary of death, violence and human suffering, as three monsters begin to play with the crew.
8 Chilling Tales for Dark Nights
Rather than a video series, Chilling Tales for Dark Nights is a series which uses professional voice actors or YouTube personalities to read horror stories and even make radio plays.
7 Welcome to Nightvale
Similar to CTFDN, Welcome to Nightvale is a podcast, or rather, a radio broadcast from the sleepy little town of Nightvale, where the people dream big, terrifying dreams that repeat several times a year and the town council feed dissenters to the things hiding in the park.
Narrated by the silky smooth voice of Cecil Baldwin, Welcome to Nightvale is at times funny, sometimes sweet, and brings just enough outright terror to the memorable cast of characters to hold anyone's attention.
6 Dr Anton Jessup
For too long, monsters have been vilified by Hollywood and bad science. Given bizarre powers and abilities that make no sense, the modern vampire or ghoul is adrift, unsure of what they're actually capable of.
5 The West Records
Randall takes a job as a videographer for Parker, an aspiring journalist. All he has to do is record Parker's investigation into why a naval base was abandoned, with 3,000 people unaccounted for and missing.
Predictably, things go awry, and they are quickly running for their lives, hunted through the woods by parties unknown. Ultimately, Randall is the only survivor, diagnosed with a battery of schizophrenic and paranoid delusions. The only proof Parker and the rest of the crew ever existed is on these tapes, and Randall is out to find more.
4 Just Acquaintances
After a series of motiveless break-ins, two brothers go missing. An acquaintance of one of them later receives a package with some memory cards and a camera that contains footage of what happened over the last few months before they went missing.
Basically, don't mess around in a graveyard. You never know who, or what, is watching, and how far they'll go to get their stuff back.
3 Who is Mr Tom?
2 Louise is Missing
Louise Paxton is a young woman from Norwich who relocates to London after the death of her grandmother and a bad break up. She celebrates her move to the big city with a series of video blogs that detail her move, her new apartment and her first few months in London. Over time, though, she starts to notice something is off. Someone is wandering around her new apartment when she's not there, strange noises keep her awake at night, and stuff disappears and reappears at random. Could an ex-boyfriend be behind it, or is there something more sinister at play?
1 Dad's Tapes
After his estranged father dies in a hospice, our unnamed protagonist inherits his collection of movies on video tapes. He decides to watch them, to try to reconnect with a man he barely knew. Within minutes of watching the first tape, it becomes apparent that his old man used to run with a very dangerous crowd, who don't take kindly to having their faces plastered all over the internet.
The first channel was infamously shut down after one video violated YouTube's standards for violent content, Dad's Tapes avoids supernatural mischief to focus instead on an all-too human enemy. Some of the videos seem pointless (there's an 18 minute long video of a man watching tv in the dark and nothing else), but the best videos more than make up for the weak ones, especially in terms of the splatter effects.
Gory and grisly, this series cuts right to the bone.
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