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…


ANATOMY is a masterpiece of cassette tape horror

The scariest part of The Exorcist (1973) for me wasn’t all the bedroom acrobatics and green puke, it was a much subtler scene. In it, Father Karras sits before large spinning reels as they playback the recorded voice of possessed 12-year-old Reagan MacNeil, all of it incomprehensible gurgled groans and anguished, hoarse throatiness. Karras wants to know what language it is and the guy who’s assisting him has the answer: “It’s a language alright.” He pauses. “It’s English.” Turns out Reagan was speaking English in reverse. It then cuts to Karras later that night, lit by the low light of…