Evil Media: Haunted TVs, Tapes And Tunes

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Scott Derrickson's Sinister introduced us to the boogieman Bughuul: an evil entity who gets at his victims through recorded images (he has a particular fondness for Super-8 film, the retro fool). With Sinister 2 out this Friday, here are ten more examples of haunted media in the movies.

Ringu (1998)

Evil Media - Videotape

Hideo Nakata's terrifying original Ringu introduced most people to the concept of Sadako Yamamura's cursed videotape. Functioning like a chain letter, watching the disturbingly jagged contents of the VHS prompt a ringing phone and a short time to live, unless the tape can be passed on to someone else who watches it within the alotted timeframe. Sada herself also makes creative use of a TV screen later on, kind of giving us two evil media for our buck here. It all gets very cyberpunk and complicated in the sequels, for more on which, head over here.

The Evil Dead (1982)

Evil Media - Book

Bound in human flesh and inked in blood, the Necronomicon Ex Mortis is not a tome you want to read aloud, unless you want to get raped by trees, smashed around a cabin or sent back 1000 years through a portal. Sam Raimi's Book Of The Dead is wholesale nicked from HP Lovecraft: the fabled Necronomicon of "the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred" makes multiple appearances in the lugubrious loon's short stories. In which its readers rarely keep their sanity.

Videodrome (1983)

Evil Media - TV Station

James Woods stumbles across the signal for what appears to be a snuff TV station broadcasting out of Malaysia, in David Cronenberg's typically inscrutable psychological thriller. It doesn't go well for him from thereon in. The bonkers plot sees Woods losing ever more of his grip on reality, experiencing his body turning into a VCR and his TV acting as a portal to who-knows-what. Turns out the broadcast signal causes hallucination-inducing brain tumors, intended to lead to a new world order where TV has replaced everything. Because of reasons.

Shutter (2004)

Evil Media - Photographs

Following a hit-and-run accident to which he failed to own up, photographer Ananda Everingham starts finding ghostly images on all his pictures when he develops them. It's the vengeful spirit of Achita Sakamana, who was having a bad time of it even before the crash, and is not going to stand for any of it now she's dead. Further photos continue to provide pieces of the puzzle, until a final, really devastating reveal.

Unfriended (2015)

Evil Media - Social Media

Bringing us right up to date, director Levan Gabriadze's clever horror takes place entirely via social media screens - Facebook messages, Skype conversations, YouTube videos and so on. A group of friends hook up online to chat, and find they have an unwelcome hanger-on whose window won't close. A literal ghost in the machine - a sort of supernatural hacker - it has an agenda...

The Lords Of Salem (2012)

Evil Media - Record

A record of almost unlistenable drone is mysterioulsy delivered to a Salem radio station in Rob Zombie's sombre chiller, causing all manner of psychological discombobulation to recovering junkie DJ Sheri Moon. Some historical digging reveals that the peculiar tune has its roots in the witch trials of centuries past, and its hypnotic effect awakens the townswomen's dormant affinity for the comfort of the coven. Not all of those executed "witches" were innocent.

Poltergeist (1982)

Evil Media - TV

"They're Heeeeere", says little Heather O'Rourke, following the protrusion of a skeletal hand and subsequent ecto-blast from the TV screen in her parents' bedroom. Quite why the ghosts find it convenient to travel by medium of cathode ray isn't ever really explained, but it's a clever exploitation of the undeniable spookiness of television tuned to a dead channel.

My Little Eye (2002)

Evil Media - Online Reality TV

A group of strangers unwisely sign-up for an online version of Big Brother, only to become suspicious that nobody seems to know about it or be watching. A spot of hackery uncovers the disturbing fact that the URL is a Google-invisible string of numbers, and that the enterprise is a top secret betting syndicate where the odds are on who'll die next. One broadsheet critic pondered who the super-rich sicko subscribers might be, and decided Mr Burns from The Simpsons was a likely candidate.

Stay Alive (2006)

Evil Media - Videogame

A series of violent deaths are all linked by the victims having recently played the same PS2 game - a survival horror affair involving the historical "blood countess" Elizabeth Bathory. Known to have died in Hungary, Bathory has apparently been conducting her afterlife shenanigans in the American state of Georgia, and has remained remarkably on-the-ball with her use of technology (although she's had help from the programmer that now lives on her estate). She eventually manifests outside the game, and its surviving players take her on using its rules in the really real world. It's all, you might say, quite silly.

Halloween III: Season Of The Witch (1982)

Evil Media - Advertising Jingle

If you ever doubted that advertising was evil, look no further than the anomalous Halloween threequel. Michael Myers does not appear, but we do get Daniel O'Herlihy as an evil toymaker selling Halloween masks that kill their wearers. But they don't start hurting you as soon as you put them on. Oh no. They require the most annoying song in the world to trigger them, via microchips containing bits of Stonehenge. It's a druid thing.