For this Halloween month, the editors at Konbini are preparing a terrifying series for you. From creepypastas to underrated horror movies, to curses from other places, a daily article will keep you shivering until the Day of the Dead.
Close your eyes. Concentrate and imagine yourself fifteen years back. You are about ten years old, or even less, and a funny thing called the Internet is starting to take up more and more of your life.
Your family’s Windows XP is already outdated, it has experienced the sparkling gifs sent for Christmas as well as the tasteless PowerPoints transferred by your uncle. But this time he is about to experience his first screaming.
Your friend, older brother, cousin or anyone else you once thought was trustworthy starts a video for your prying eyes. Everything is going very well, a white car is moving peacefully through a green landscape, accompanied by peaceful music. “Look closely at the car, you can see a ghost in it if you concentrate!” recommend your (fake) friend.
The car disappears behind some bushes, and suddenly… “BWAAH!” A horrible zombie appears in front of the screen and drains your body of all happiness. You are scared to death, paralyzed, close to cardiac arrest. Meanwhile, your funny “friend” is having fun while you seriously consider banishing him from your life forever.
In France, the video has had several names: “Scary car”, “creepy car“, “white lady’s car” etc. Back to the origin of a trauma.
The very first one screaming of the internet?
The “Ghost Car” video (original title) was released on YouTube on July 20, 2005 and now has over 38 million views. It is one of the oldest viral videos on the platform, where YouTube was launched in February of the same year, five months earlier. Historically, it is very likely that this video is the very first screaming of the Internet.
By its unpublished nature, the video was quickly shared, duplicated. The mrssmithereen channel who first uploaded this video was very quickly copied.
These videos say bait-and-switch spread by word of mouth, from Caramail to AOL. In the same family, we can also think of the “Scary Maze Game”, a simplified video game which, after the third level, showed a frightening image accompanied by a shrill scream.
The goal was mostly to scare the interlocutor, but also to be able to film him and then upload the video where he is traumatized by this poorly made zombie. The first “reaction” videos were born.
American Zombies, a pub from across the Rhine
Back to our zone zones: where does this famous video come from? A clue in the description of the original “Ghost Car” video helped people better identify it: “Ghost in a Business Car” (Where “Ad about a ghost in a car” in Morsay’s language).
In fact, this video is part of a series of advertisements for caffeinated drinks from the German brand K-fee. Between 2004 and 2005, nine commercials of approximately nine seconds were broadcast on German and then British television to promote the drink.
The concept is pretty much the same every time. The spot begins with a scene of leisurely life accompanied by peaceful music: a fishing trip, a yoga session, two lovers on the beach or, of course, a drive in the countryside.
The calm is then broken by the sudden irruption of a zombie (the one from “Ghost Car”) or a screaming gargoyle. We will also learn years later that the zombie and the gargoyle were played by American actor brothers Brad and Adam Johnson respectively.
Finally comes the conclusion told by a whispering voice: “You’ve Never Been So Awake” (in German : “So wach warst du noch nie”). The caffeinated drink that was supposed to wake you up on the same level as screamingthen appears accompanied by a frantic heartbeat in the background, as if to echo your probably equally loud heartbeat.
Less shocking alternative versions
The K-fee brand has made a lasting impression in Germany and internationally. She even received professional awards for the best marketing campaigns. Since then, the video has also been the subject of small dedicated studies and other amateur documentaries, such as the one from Wollstone Studio’s YouTube channel.
We learn, for example, that the company behind K-fee received letters of complaint from viewers “trapped” by advertisements. In a slightly more dangerous register (for motorists) there had also been similar ads on the radio which functioned as screaming sound.
Precautionary messages were even briefly put in place before the spots to keep sensitive people away from television. Well, you probably didn’t know it, but there are several versions light of some of these ads where screaming is replaced by much softer things, like a teddy bear or a feminine young man with a soft voice:
These advertisements were also dedicated to the new “Lite” version of the K-fee drink, which was reduced in caffeine. On our part, we hope to have repaired some traumas in history.
An anecdote about your first internet scare? Don’t hesitate to tell us about it at: firstname.lastname@example.org