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Analog Horror

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Some old audio tapes and videotapes are better left untouched. Especially ones you find in an Abandoned Area or a grainy, glitchy Emergency Broadcast that comes in on an old TV in an abandoned hotel. If you find an old VHS tape hidden under a floorboard in a No-Tell Motel, don't put it in the VCR!

Analog Horror is a Horror Web Original subgenre of found footage. As the name implies, Analog Horror typically revolves around emulating the look of analog media in the late 20th century, such as VHS tapes, FM radio, cathode-ray tube televisions, et cetera. Unlike most found footage films, it's far rarer for Analog Horror to feature visible characters recording the footage. Instead, the footage is often made to resemble "official" (albeit often local) media, such as television broadcasts, employee training tapes, and police archives. If human protagonists are present, they're often the ones who are finding the footage, deciding to share it with the audience with their own commentary. Many Analog Horror series invoke an unnerving atmosphere through footage being corrupted or hijacked (such as through government interference or sometimes more supernatural means), and some feature eerily casual descriptions of unnerving phenomena as a core element. A common theme of Analog Horror is to begin a video relatively normally and slowly reveal more disturbing elements as it continues. Unlike most Disguised Horror Stories, though, it's usually made very clear from the beginning that something is "off" in order to build suspense.

Channels that host Analog Horror videos may pose as a number of things. LOCAL58 and Channel 7 both pose as their namesake TV channels, Gemini Home Entertainment poses as a distributor of VHS tapes, and The Minerva Alliance and Analog Archives pose as organizations that collect anomalous footage. Some creators, like Battington and Martin Walls, have decided to simply upload their series under their own name, forgoing that specific ARG element entirely.

Despite its obvious predecessors being Found Footage Films like The Blair Witch Project, Analog Horror also has origins in Creepypasta and Alternate Reality Games, such as The Wyoming Incident and Marble Hornets.

Digital Horror uses many of the same storytelling techniques of Analog Horror, but with a setting based on the internet of the late 2000s and early 2010s as opposed to the 80s and 90s.

Because videos of this genre often rely on ambiguous storytelling techniques, Analog Horror is a big magnet for Wild Mass Guessing.

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    Examples of Analog Horror series 
If a series has its own TV Tropes page, then the links are to that. If not, the links are to the YouTube channel (or whatever video hosting site it's on)

[†] Series is no longer available to be watched.
    Tropes commonly found in Analog Horror 
  • Ambiguous Situation: Many circumstances surrounding the footage is kept vague.
    • In the Local58 video "Contingency," is the video telling people to kill themselves out of sheer pride and patriotism, or is it because it's a genuinely better alternative than whatever the invading nation's military force will do to them?
    • In The Minerva Alliance video "Unusual EAS," is the thunderstorm really a thunderstorm? Is it a Brown Note weather event that people must not look at? It could be anything they don't want you to see.
  • Apocalypse How: Some videos deal with the world ending or transforming into something unrecognizable.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Pretty much every video of this genre inevitably turns into one.
  • Black Market: EAS Scenario creator Harvester's video The Service has this played out to a shocking degree; a criminal syndicate based in the South of England is using a modified version of Teletext to conduct their dealings, including the trafficking of children, distribution of illicit films, and the sales of medicines, recreational drugs and, worryingly, the chemical weapon Cyclosarin. Scarier still, this syndicate's operating almost in plain sight, with the footage shown only being possible because a viewer happened to be watching television with a dodgy satellite dish, allowing them to accidentally gain access to the Teletext system the syndicate uses.
  • Brown Note: Many videos are said to contain harmful stimuli. Local58 has looking at the moon at the wrong time, The Minerva Alliance video "Game Show Spectacular" is said to have killed a boy who watched it, Analog Archives has "spectral frequencies" of light that are harmful to humans (typically red), etc.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: A common source of the strange occurrences in every analog horror series are cosmic threats beyond mankind's grasp.
  • Decade-Themed Filter: Most commonly The '90s with Deliberate VHS Quality, but occasionally older-style filters will be used, such as film grain for things made in The '60s. TV channels found in analog horror would also have different vanity plates, music and visuals for different decades.
  • Deliberate VHS Quality: This is the most common filter applied to videos of this genre, since many videos are set in the Turn of the Millennium or before.
  • Do Not Adjust Your Set: Interruptions are quite common in analog horror, and videos without them are in the minority.
  • Downer Ending: Any analog horror series that does have an ending won't really end with a happy one.
  • Emergency Broadcast: Given that a major part of the media that founded the genre includes EAS Scenarios, a large number of analog horror videos and series feature at least one emergency broadcast; LOCAL58 has "Weather Service," The Minerva Alliance has "Unusual EAS," and so on.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Most videos show a single broadcast, with nothing to suggest it goes on for longer than the video's duration.
  • Facial Horror: BLUE_CHANNEL: THALASIN by Gooseworx features this trope in spades, thanks to the 'original emotions' being peddled by the creators of the titular Thalasin and Thalasin Plus drugs, especially in the case of Nage, Dorcelessness, Andric, Trantiveness, Onlent and the one after Loricnote .
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Many things show up too fast to see, most often in the form of Unreadably Fast Text.
  • Haunted Technology: This is what causes many of the broadcast intrusions.
  • In-Universe Camera: The only cameras in analog horror, due to being a subgenre of Found Footage.
  • Madness Mantra: A (usually threatening) line being shown repeatedly all over the screen, or a voice saying it over and over again.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: This ambiguity is present in many videos.
  • May Contain Evil: A common type of analog horror videos are commercials for products that either have horrifying side effects or are dangerous even if used correctly.
  • Mission Control Is Off Its Meds: For Analog Horror videos that center on emergency broadcasts or newscasts or otherwise are meant to speak with any kind of authority, this is very common. Seemingly normal videos will often degrade into nonsensical advice that at best wants to help despite its surreal nature, and is at worst completely incomprehensible and/or taken over by the villain of the series.
  • Mood Whiplash: Any video that looks innocent or ordinary will inevitably get worse.
  • Nightmare Face: Some series flash these on screen with varied intervals and sounds (or lack thereof) used.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Analog horror rarely shows much of what's causing interruptions and chaos.
  • Obscured Special Effects: It's rare to get a really good look at the special effects in an Analog Horror series. Part of it is to emphasize the Nothing Is Scarier feel, but it's also because these series are typically made with very low budgets that can't achieve the kinds of detailed FX found in Hollywood movies. This is also the reason for the nearly ubiquitous use of Deliberate VHS Quality, as the visual filter makes it even harder to see FX flaws.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX: It's common for analog horror series to make images with free image-making software and website such as Artbreeder.
  • Ominous Visual Glitch: These are quite common, often signaling greater horrors to come in the video.
  • Parody Commercial: A few videos are commercials for fictional products, including drugs (like Thalasin), food (like Life Meat), and technology (like Neurocast).
  • Reality Has No Soundtrack: Music only appears when it logically should appear.
  • Retraux: Most videos have this visual style applied to them. Usually in the video era (mid-1980s to mid-2000s), but occasionally prior eras will show up.
  • Silence Is Golden: Spoken dialogue is surprisingly rare in this genre. The vast majority of these words are on screen. Any spoken words may be distorted beyond comprehension or spoken with a text-to-speech voice.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: As most footage takes the form of either local TV broadcasts or instructional videos, most soundtracks consist of easy listening stock corporate music, which definitely does not match the incoming horror. TV broadcast videos in particular have a predilection for the work of Trammell Starks (former primary composer for The Weather Channel) or similar.
  • Strictly Formula: A major criticism of the genre, as nearly all analog horror videos involve VHS effects, "cryptic" imagery, ARGs and ambiguity about the subject matter. In addition, lot of analog horror videos involve fake emergency broadcasts that may or may not have been hijacked by a third party.
  • Vanity Plate: These are shown to make it look like a fictional company made these videos, or are receiving interruptions.
  • We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties: A common thing to say when a TV station regains control of its broadcast.



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