The rise of VHS horror games

The introduction of VHS cassettes in the 1970s was a revolution in bringing horror closer to people. Two decades before, television became the primary medium for affecting public opinion, trumping newspapers and radio. This bore a generation eager to sit around a humming electronic box in their living rooms, allowing all kinds of foreign images to infiltrate their homes. But these broadcasts were typically newsreels and government-approved screenings—images under state control. VHS put more power to the viewer, who could decide what to watch and when, just by inserting a box-shaped pack of plastic into a tape player and letting its…

Dead End Road

Horror lurks behind the nighttime driving of Dead End Road

There’s something existentially terrifying about driving at night. For my money, it has to do with that unpleasant combination of velocity and darkness. The swath cut by your headlights is only enough to catch fleeting images. Is that a hitchhiker you see on the side of the road, or an unnervingly convincing scarecrow? The red eyes in the darkness ahead might be the taillights of a truck, or something much worse. Like any great horror film, a highway at night gives you only glimpses of what’s actually there; it lets your imagination do the rest. I should mention here that,…


Dead End Road will conjure up the dread of late night driving

A couple years ago, I had a job that required me to work late. I’d have to drive home on the verge of midnight a few days a week, through an unlit part of town I wasn’t very familiar with. There were jackrabbits in the field by the office. I saw one alive once. More often I’d spot them at night after a day’s worth of traffic had its way with the area, leaving misshapen heaps of red in the street like clumps of smeared oil paint. I never hit one myself. There were barely any cars out that late…