Several years ago, I was writing about a new generation of video games that were pretty damn frightening and believable. Of course, with the popularity of games like Dead Island, they’re getting more hyper violent and freaky than ever.
As gamer Andrew Alonso told me, “Blood and horror are mainstays that have been with us for years, starting with the first Resident Evil in 1996. There is something extremely satisfying about killing zombies. Games like Dead Island are outlets.”
There was even a point when Fangoria magazine had a gaming column, and Dead Island also recently made the cover of Rue Morgue.
The first mainstream horror video game, based on the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, was pretty cheesy by today’s standards, but as Fangoria editor Michael Gingold told me, “Horror films and games kind feed the same demographic, young males, though there’s reports that female gamers are getting into it, and younger women are getting more into horror films than ever. Women’s interests in horror and games seem to be on a parallel track.”
And Tom Savini, the godfather of gore make-up (the original Dawn of the Dead and Friday the 13th) told me, “I had the first Space Invaders game that came out, and that was a miracle back then. When I was making Knightriders with George Romero, we would sit in the hotel room and play Space Invaders and Pong for hours.”
Recently, Entertainment Weekly compiled a list of the scariest moments in video games, including Fatal Frame (clearly influenced by the J-horror trend); F.E.A.R. with its frightening dead nurse and shadows; the giant spider of Limbo; Eternal Darkness, which had a non-linear, nightmare style quality and the twisted lullaby in BioShock. Oh, and the zombie dogs of the first Resident Evil Game, of course.
Although they may never be as terrifying as a well done horror film, gaming has definitely become quite scary over the years.
Screenwriter Dave Callahan, who adapted the movie version of Doom, told me, “If you were to turn out the lights and play Doom 3 on a large monitor and wear headphones, it’s probably a lot scarier than most movies will ever be because you don’t have the comfort of people around you, and the stereo speakers are right in your ears. When I played Manhunt, it bothered me to the point where I couldn’t play it anymore. The Resident Evil and Silent Hill games are definitely some creepy sh*t!”