The most dramatic childhood horror moment for me occurred at age 13, back in 1992 during a Halloween party at my friend Charlotte’s house in Selston (not far from Nottingham).
We’d all been out with her achingly cool older brothers (early 20’s) to rent horror films (from memory, DOLLY DEAREST and POLTERGEIST 2), but having arrived back to the house at about 9pm, we switched on BBC1 to be met with a title screen for “GhostWatch”, which I’m sure you’re familiar with. Being 13, impressionable and a little immature for my age, the hour and a half-ish long mock-live “real” feed from the incredibly normal looking “haunted” house in London absolutely SHAT me up. What made it so scary was the squeaky clean presenters we all knew from kids TV – Craig Charles (of Red Dwarf fame) and Sarah Green being so incredibly convincing that the show was live.
The juxtaposition between the everyday and absolute horror was incredibly clever. We also had no idea it was a “play”. That, and the fact that the titular ghost, which we screamed at as it was glimpsed and hinted at in incredibly quick camera pans and reflective patio doors etc, was a 6 foot, cross dressing, child-murdering pedophile name “Pipes” by the (at the time) convincing child actresses portraying the two daughters.
I have never been so utterly scared in my whole life, even surrounded by 10-12 prep school mates and my hosts older brothers, because it was portrayed as being live and utterly real. So real-seeming in fact, that it I believe it was banned by the BBC. I bought it a couple of years ago via their website on DVD (the ban apparently lifted) and even at the age of 32, it’s still bloody scary. Yes, it seems hammier now, but the ghost itself, horrible cat scratching noises and the horrific croaking, gasping voice emitting from one of the daughters as she channels Pipes is still terrifying.
Even Charlotte’s older brothers were shaken up, and as we all camped out in the sitting room to sleep – I was scared stiff despite being surrounded by my friends. Usually, I’d have been fine even if I had someone with me – not with GhostWatch, and in fact had to sleep in my brother’s room on a mattress for at least a month following that night. And I don’t mind admitting that!
— quick camera pan….HOLY SHIT DID YOU SEE THAT!!!!
Thanks so much for considering posting my experience, keep up the good work!
— Alex B.
UNK SEZ::Oh how I love GHOSTWATCH! It puts most faux-reality horror to absolute shame! Sorry about your trauma Alex but I stand here in utter jealousy that you got to experience GHOSTWATCH in the fullest way possible without completely loosing your mind! Kids, For more on this highly effective & influential program, check out its official site HERE! And if you’d like to watch GHOSTWATCH in it’s entirety just jump on over and meet Pipes HERE!