YouTube is full of “This is totally real, guys” ghost videos, and if you don’t spend at least one night around Halloween browsing through a bunch of them, you’re not truly getting into the spirit of the holiday. Here are what we consider the most eerily convincing videos in the genre.*
*Note: Science has found zero empirical evidence for the existence of ghosts, aliens, demons or any other supernatural creatures, and these videos will surely not fool an expert in video fakery. Unless he or she watches them alone, late at night, in the dark. Then they become very convincing.
#6. The Levitating Girl
It’s just a dude strolling through the woods in Russia, when he sees something … weird:
Approximately 99 percent of “supernatural” videos can be revealed as hoaxes simply by asking “Why was anyone filming this?” As much as Cloverfield and The Blair Witch Project have attempted to convince us otherwise, people usually don’t have cameras glued to their faces unless they know someone is about to be shot out of a cannon or something. So that’s our question as soon as this video opens:
Twist ending: The dog is actually several smaller dogs in a suit.
A Russian man is out filming his dog in the woods, waiting for something quantifiably adorable to happen. Maybe the dog was supposed to do a backflip or something. Instead, he runs off, having apparently sensed black magic in the trees. The cameraman chases after him and stumbles across these two girls and holy shit, one of them is flying:
“Honey, can you bring me the stepladder? Yeah, she’s stuck in the air again.”
The older girl in orange watches appraisingly as the tiny one in red floats 10 feet above the ground. Camera Manikov steps in for a closer look, making all of the noise in the world as he does so, and the girls spot him. The hovering child drops back down to earth and the two run off.
They would have flown off, but they’d expended their spell slots for the day.
Now, the obvious answer here is that the girl is on a wire. There’s even a convenient gap in the filming — as the guy is moving in closer, the camera is pointed at the ground for a second or two, and when it snaps back up, the little girl is already back on the ground. We don’t ever actually see her descend, which if wires were involved would be a dead giveaway. You’d see her tilting awkwardly or her clothes pulling up at odd angles wherever the wires were attached, even if she were wearing a harness. So clearly, she’s being held aloft by wires that are connected somewhere in the trees …
Yeah, you see — right … hm …
Um, in the … uh, trees …
Right in that one area …
Or maybe a crane? Someone could’ve, you know, moved a crane out there to the left or right of the girls and tied a harness to that …
Sure, let’s go with that.
Ok, well, it’s probably just … CGI or green screen or something. Maybe it’s a viral ad created by a tourism bureau in Russia designed to ensure we never, ever go to Russia. Or, if we do, that we never enter the woods alone. Mission accomplished, guys!
Also, are we racists for finding the foreign videos creepier? Like this next one…
#5. The Headless Ghost
In this video, we have four kids wandering around looking for a ghost in an abandoned school in Iraq (one description says India, but since they’re speaking Arabic we’ll go with Iraq). The boys are kind of wandering aimlessly through stairwells and empty classrooms for a solid two minutes, which would arouse suspicion under our “Why is anyone filming this?” rule if not for the fact that we know they are explicitly waiting for the lights to suddenly dim and for a hallway full of disembodied 19th century clothes to start doing the Monster Mash. That doesn’t happen. What happens is much creepier:
About halfway through, while conducting yet another unremarkable sweep of a hollowed-out classroom, they seem to find what they are looking for:
Which they celebrate by not acknowledging it or reacting in any way.
A headless goddamned ghost appears right in goddamned front of them. You literally see it materialize on camera — of all the entries on this list, this is the one you absolutely have to watch (here’s a shorter version that cuts right to the ghost if you don’t have 4 free minutes). Seriously, your mind will be blown like Eric Stoltz’s penis in The Rules of Attraction. As they swing the camera lazily through the room, the ghost just walks very purposefully toward them like it’s delivering a pizza, while a long, low moan emanates from its phantom lungs.
“I should never have started smoking ghoooOOOooost cigarettes!”
Surely at this point our ghost hunters are propelling themselves the hell out of that school on pants-shredding jets of crimson-tinged fear diarrhea. Except they aren’t. In fact, they have no reaction at all, and they continue scouring in the haunted building for another two boring minutes until the clip ends. (At least the “moaning” isn’t coming from the ghost — it’s the beginning of a call to prayer in a neighboring mosque. You hear the service continue throughout the rest of the video.)
YouTube commenters seem to think the ghost is simply one of the boys who went to go look out the window; that the bright light coming through obscures his head and gives him a washed-out ghostly look for the camera. But again, watch the video — when the camera sweeps across the floor a few seconds earlier, nobody is standing there:
And it really does look like a translucent figure materializes into an empty freaking room. You can even see it beginning to bleed out of the wall and take shape when the cameraman first shakily stumbles in:
Maybe the dude was just wearing really translucent clothing that day.
If this is all an accident of the lighting and their shitty cell-phone cameras, then it was a lucky damned accident, considering they were specifically there to hunt ghosts in what they thought was a haunted abandoned building. If they doctored the video with effects later, then this is a remarkably subtle job. These are giggling teenagers goofing around, and we’re pretty sure they gave us a creepier ghost effect than any of the Paranormal Activity movies. So good job, guys — you successfully creeped us out, one way or another.
#4. The Jakarta Angel
You’ve got to love security camera ghost footage. Black and white, low-res, easy to fake. So you see a video like this on YouTube and expect the “Jakarta Angel” to be some bright blur, probably a lightning bug that landed on the camera. Instead, you get this:
This security footage from Cilandak Square in Jakarta, Indonesia, starts on a relatively empty public square at night. Then, about 7 seconds in, a big, bright, winged thing plops down onto the pavement like one of Zeus’ electric titanshits, then bounces out of sight less than a second later:
“Whoops, never mind! Thought I saw a virgin.”
A group of bystanders rush onscreen, flocking to where the creature landed and searching around like maybe it dropped its keys:
“Proof of the afterlife is one of things on our scavenger hunt list!”
It almost looks like it could be viral marketing for something like Diablo III or a new season of Supernatural, but the footage has been floating around for over a year now and so far no one has claimed it. One part of your brain knows this is just a computer-generated effect. But goddamn, did they do a good job — notice how the glow from the flaming angel beast even lights up the structure on the opposite side of the frame:
And the light from the “angel” has a strange weight to it — you can see it pulse outward at the bottom as it suddenly gains mass after striking the ground. Anyway, maybe a Pixar animator got bored and threw this together just to mess with people. After contacting all of his or her friends in Jakarta, Indonesia, to stage it. Including, of course, his or her friends with access to the security footage of that particular public square.
The alternative is that a seraph chose to rocket all the way down to Earth for, like, 2 damn seconds in front of what appears to be a laundromat. Maybe someone carelessly dropped one of those limited-edition 50 State Quarters, and it really needed Wyoming to complete its collection.
While we’re on the “fallen angel” genre …
#3. The Fallen Angel of Catalonia
When a video begins with a couple of guys crashing through the woods at night like one of those “searching for Bigfoot” specials on The History Channel, you can already tell that it isn’t going to end well (and that they aren’t going to find Bigfoot). That’s the case with this video, reportedly shot in the woods of Catalonia, Spain (hence all the Spanish):
The two men are apparently investigating strange noises. It’s not totally unbelievable that they would want to bring a camera along — strange noises potentially mean a large and equally strange creature, so it would behoove them to get it on tape. As they follow the noises, they start to find giant white feathers, which honestly are kind of out of place in the middle of the forest, seeing as oversized swans and/or geese typically don’t go tearing through the underbrush at midnight:
But raptors do.
Here’s where an optimistic person would think, “Oh, this is probably some inspirational Christian video, and they’ll run into a white-robed woman who will smile and offer them tidings of comfort and joy!” That is not what happens.
Eventually the men come across what at first appears to be a person crouched in some gnarled bushes, but when the creature turns to look at them, all of that “person” bullshit goes out the window:
“Oh, what a relief, it’s just chupacabra.”
If you freeze-frame it, you can see that while the thing may be humanoid in appearance, its eyes are badly sunken in, its head and face seem overly large (and awfully pale), and its pupils catch every ounce of the virtually nonexistent light coming from the camera. So, it’s either a seriously haggard meth addict with Riddick-like powers who wandered out into the woods of Spain to scream at the talking scorpions living beneath his fingernails, or it’s someone in heavy monster makeup. Most likely, it’s the latter and the whole thing was staged by a couple of friends wanting to either get on the news or become Internet famous. It’s not even that great of a costu- … wait, what are those, stumps on its back?
“Listen, I know I should be focused on this other worldly discovery, but we really need to get him to a dermatologist.”
You know, it looks like it used to have wings … until someone (or something) ripped them off.
Well, someone could have built those out of plastic or latex and fastened them to … uh, their deteriorating drug-addicted friend’s back, solely for the purpose of a detail that’s never clearly focused on and is mostly obscured by the curling skeletal fingers of tree branches. In the middle of the woods. In the middle of the night.
You know what’s totally lame? The woods. Only losers go into the woods, ever, for any reason.
#2. The Disneyland Ghost
Right away this video is suspicious just from the description — a ghost hanging around the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland? That’s a fake haunted house. Why would any realm-shambling specter waste its time in a place where people are expecting to see automated rocking chairs and Muppets dressed up like phantoms? It just seems like that would be super boring.
Anyway, the video starts with someone (presumably a security guard) filming a bank of four monitors displaying video feeds from four different cameras in the park, near the Haunted Mansion attraction:
He (or she — we really have no way of knowing, because the camera operator never speaks) zooms in on one screen for what initially is no apparent reason. But then it slowly becomes clear:
“John, if this is another one of those screamer videos? I swear to Christ …”
It just looks like a smudge in our still shots, but in motion it’s a clear yet transparent human figure, merrily strolling down the path like someone out to test their new Predator cloaking device. The guard tracks it across all four screens as it walks right through the closed gate, crosses the street and then struts out over the river before fading from view:
It didn’t even buy a Mickey ears hat.
So what is it? It’s clearly a person (or the shade of a person) just kind of jaunting along like a haunted iPod commercial, but what could produce that image on the security feed? A lot of YouTube comments jump to the conclusion that it’s a reflection on the monitor, which would make sense if the room the monitors are in were about 60 feet long, and wide enough for someone to stand far enough away to make the appropriate scale and to walk a long enough distance to cast a seamless reflection on all four screens. Beyond that, the screens are stacked, not side by side, meaning the security office would have to be two stories tall and the person casting the reflection would have to teleport from the top level to the bottom level midstride in order to maintain the illusion. Either that or the reflection is being made by a very tiny man.
Then there’s this shot:
Again, it’s easier to see in motion, but that’s the figure appearing on two cameras simultaneously, which means it pretty much has to be something that is actually on the video. In other words, we have to stand back in awe, if not at the existence of Disneyland ghosts, but at whoever went through the shitload of time and effort this took.
It would (presumably) have to be CGI that was doctored directly onto the security tapes and then filmed on a separate camcorder during playback. Maybe the guard stole four separate tapes of footage, took them home to add the effects on each one and then brought them back to the park to play them on the security bank in perfect sync without anybody noticing. After all, it’s not Air Force One, it’s Disneyland. How hardcore could security possibly get? Well, they do have four cameras monitoring a single walkway …
Not to mention all the cameras in the bathrooms.
Uh, maybe it’s part of the ride?
#1. The Hand Demon
If there is an Internet video out there creepier than this one, we’re not sure we want to see it:
This video starts with someone running through their house swinging a camera around while what sounds like an air-raid siren drones in the background. At first, it seems like maybe a hurricane is raging outside and he’s making a video inventory for the insurance company:
“That’s the 108” LED TV, complete with Bose stereo system and all six seasons of 30 Rock.”
But when the horror starts, it’s anything but subtle. And by that we mean that when the cameraman gets to the bedroom, everything becomes a Tool video. He switches on a flashlight as bizarre, pale-grey arms begin growing down from the ceiling. First it’s just a few, but soon it’s a dozen or more:
To be fair, his friends did warn him about the dangers of leaving a high-five hanging.
Then, several spindly baby arms reach up from under the door and flex against the doorjamb like tiny soot-covered Hulkamaniacs:
This is not how one goes about breaking down a door.
More hands start grasping out of the wall, even coming straight through one of his posters, because phantom chimney-sweep forearms care nothing for personal belongings:
He pans over to one undisturbed patch of wall just as a surprisingly benign eye appears and blinks at him:
“Oh, sorry, I usually wait until you’re asleep to start watching you.”
Finally, a creature made out of a wriggling mass of hands and fingers forms in the center of the room. It gives him a few seconds to dye his pants brown before it attacks him.
Its superpower is groping people on subways.
The fact that this is CGI is as obvious as the crap in our pants that appeared after watching it. But that’s some goddamned well-made CGI — see how the light is reflecting off of the skin of the arms?
It’s … you know, almost like that flashlight really is shining on something in the room …
The giant hand-creature in the immediate foreground?
Again, totally fake. And again, try going to bed tonight without imagining a dozen tiny black baby arms reaching under the gap beneath your closet door. That’s what horror is all about — you watch these at work, during the day and your rational brain writes it off as some film student’s demo reel. Watch it again, at night, alone and you will believe in ceiling hands.