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Web Video / Winter of '83

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Hey, can you help me with this?

In January of 1983, most of the people living in the town of Fawn Circle, Minnesota disappeared.
In the investigation that followed, a significant number of video and audio recordings were uncovered.
The recovered material had significant, irreparable damage.
The most relevant recordings were assembled into what you see here in chronological order in an attempt to explain what happened to Fawn's Circle.

Winter of '83 is an Analog Horror web series produced by Lewis Lovhaug of Atop the Fourth Wall. The series, which is composed of Found Footage and audio recordings, tell the story of a mysterious event which took place in the town of Fawn's Circle, Minnesota, during a severe snowstorm in January 1983. Many of the entries involve local station K83FC, the logo of which is used for the series logo.

The episodes were gradually uploaded onto YouTube on April 1, 2022. It can be found here as a playlist of videos and here as a singular video.

Winter of '83 includes the following tropes:

  • The '80s: This series takes place in the early eighties, primarily the titular Winter of '83. Though we do get some scientific recordings from Dr. Chandler that were recorded in late December of 1982.
  • Apocalyptic Log: The series covers a set of recordings from January 3 to January 7, 1983 as the town of Fawn's Circle is struck by a mysterious event. A series of recordings from December of 1982 to the day before the events occurred provide the origins of the monsters themselves.
  • April Fools' Day: Its release date. Subverted in that unlike a lot of other videos Lewis has put out on past April Fools Days, which were jokes and/or comedic, the events are horror played straight. The only real thing related to the day is after the stinger, the last moments showing a card with the words "April Fools" on it. Ultimately played with, as it is definitely something unexpected amidst the silly and/or funny videos one would expect.
  • Arc Words:
    • "Hey, can you help me with this?"
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • Segment 9, where Carl Denby starts going through the mini-cassettes he acquired from Scott's Manor comes to an abrupt end when, after he notes the sound of a tree branch scraping against a nearby window, it abruptly shatters. It would appear he was in actuality attacked... until Segment 11 picks up shortly after that incident, where it turns out it was a branch, and that it broke through said window, forcing Carl to move to a different room to record.
    • While Dr. Chandra is discussing how the creature has been affecting magnetic tape and UHF frequencies in the 12/27/82 tape, he is interrupted by the utterance of "Hey, can you help me with this?"... except, as it turns out, we have just heard the origin of that saying: Chandra's colleague Dr. Matthews requesting help moving an unknown item in the lab. This is also where we get the original "Thanks for the help, bud."
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: The snow bacteria seem to operate under this principle, genuinely believing that humanity would be better off becoming part of them, referring to themselves in the collective sense, akin to a cult. Dr. Chandra, for his part, assumes that they want to become like humanity with their godhood delusions, but they correct him that they want humanity to be like them, and see no problem with killing people and converting their cells into more of them, thinking it to be for the best.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: The Medicine Lake Campgrounds Informercial reveals that the campgrounds offers Ice Fishing! Stargazing! Searching for Steven Millbanks! BLEED!
  • Cassandra Truth: In the final recording, Dr. Simmons repeatedly dismisses the already-frantic Dr. Chandra's concerns that the snow bacteria is dangerous. That is, until Chandra drops the bombshell that the bacteria can mimic their faces, and then they declare "YOU WILL BE LIKE US". Simmons starts to come around, but by then, it's too late...
  • Captain Obvious: "LOOK AT HIS ARMS, THEY'RE MADE OF SNOW!" On the other hand, it's somewhat justified, as it's not so obvious to the person this is being told to, because she's too beside herself with relief to see who she thinks is her brother alive to notice the snow arms, with fatal consquences. Averted in the compilation, which mutes said line.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Deputy Blair dropping 3 f-bombs in his brief appearance. Especially notable in that it's Lewis Lovhaug voicing him.
  • Creator Cameo: Lewis Lovhaug himself voices the unnamed employee of Sid's Electronics Boutique, and Deputy Blair.
  • Deadline News: During a winter storm warning, the weatherman is murdered and replaced, a stilted voice telling viewers to join them out in the cold.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • Apparently, "Sid's Electronic Boutique" has been having a shoplifting problem. As such, Sid's method of making sure his lone employee isn't part of said problem... is to give him an expensive camera, and force him to film himself locking up the store during a blizzard. And as the employee notes, if he was stealing things, he'd hardly be filming himself while he was doing it.
    • Denby attempts to escape the town for help, taking a camera with him in hopes of showing others what happened. But being a creature made of snow, the monster is far more powerful outside, while Denby is vulnerable and without a vehicle (the creature even manipulating broadcasts to convince people to go outside). And despite listening to the tapes himself, he fails to realize bringing a camera with an ultra high frequency would only draw the bacteria to him like moths to a flame. Needless to say, he doesn't make it.
  • Double-Meaning Title: The Winter of '83 means both the time of when the event happened and the last days of K83FC.
  • Downer Ending: All the named characters are either killed or missing, along with most of the rest of Fawn Circle. The only evidence of what happened are human remains discovered when the snow melts and surviving tapes that rescue workers and law enforcement encounter; the few survivors found are only able to corroborate the severity of the storm and are ultimately forced to leave the town due to severe damage; and it's revealed in a TV lineup for another network that it's going to happen all over again in another town.
  • Dying Town: According to Sheriff Douglas, Fawn Circle has been struggling with a budget crisis for well over a decade. Segment 7 implies, and Segment 11 confirms outright, that the town was counting on the funding from the experiments going on in Scott's Manor before the monsters attacked.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Taking inspiration from The Thing (even being lampshaded by the TV lineup) the creature is actually a colony of sentient space bacteria that can manipulate snow and UHF signals. It isn't revealed exactly why the monster is killing people, aside from the fact that it seems to believe it's doing us a favor, but it has enough awareness to view itself as God.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold: Played for Horror with the monsters, which can control and spread through snow.
  • Failed a Spot Check: When interacting with the creature in the 12/27/82 tape, Dr. Chandra doesn't pay attention to the fact that, among the list of things it wants to know about humanity, it mentions our blood.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The series outright opens with a text message from the compiler, stating that the majority of the residents of Fawn Circle had disappeared. So when the blizzard hitting the town proceeds to get worse, and the presence of the Snowlems increases, one can already put the pieces together on how that transpired.
  • Foreshadowing: In the Sid's Electronic Boutique commercial and Late Night Movie segments, a snowman shows up just before the characters whose perspective we see are attacked.
  • A God Am I: The space bacteria consider themselves to be God.
  • Haunted House: Scott's Manor. From what Sheriff Chris Douglas explains, the mansion used to be the mayor's home until 1968, when renovations were needed. However, budget crisis struck Fawn Circle and delayed the renovation for over a decade until the University of Minnesota stepped in, renting the mansion out so the city can use the money to kickstart the renovation. It doesn't become this trope until the bacteria escapes.
  • Hell Is That Noise: Whenever one of the snowmen are nearby, a blaring sound akin to a radio signal begins going off. The frequency buzzing get worse when they open their mouths to kill their victims.
  • It Can Think: At first, the scientists at Scott's Manor are delighted that they've made contact with a colony of sentient space bacteria. They find out too late how bad this actually was, as it eventually adapts and breaks out of the facility, even learning how to mimic voices.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Mayor Daniels does not have a very high opinion of K83FC, finding their programming to be of poor quality and their signal too weak to properly turn a profit or block off signal hijackings, hence his refusal to give them a stimulus, which, notably, is 75,000 dollars, an amount far too large for one small town to just dole out.
  • Manipulative Editing: Tied into one of the powers of the bacteria colony. It can manipulate ultra high frequency signals and even hijack them, which allows it to control what they say and do. It can steal data from tapes, cameras and channels, and even burn information back onto them in return. Its voice mimicry works this way- it's not literally speaking, rather it's reusing the data it has consumed to sound like a human. As the segments go on, the manipulations only grow more prevalent.
    • The Arc Words "Hey, can you help me with this?" are the biggest example, the colony having taken the words from a scientist that was studying it before it broke out. It uses this to lure people in, as they think it's only a person asking for help.
    • In the broadcasts by K83FC, various haunting messages are inserted into paid programming and council meetings, as well as images of the murders the monster has committed. It even says to go searching for Steven Millbanks, even though the bacteria has already killed him, to try and get people to go outside.
    • In the Sid's Electronics, Late Night Movie and Winter Storm Warning segments, the footage from the victims final moments are inserted in the middle of commercials and movie premieres in the two former. The monster even blatantly kills the weatherman on air in the latter. After the victims in the latter two are killed, the creature edits their voices with stilted sentence mixing, having them say things to entice people into the snow.
  • Minnesota Nice: In his brief appearance in the story, Sheriff Chris Douglas speaks in a very noticeable Minnesota accent, and speaks positively of K83FC even in light of the signal hi-jacks that keep plaguing the station.
  • Mood Whiplash: After fifteen videos of horror and The Stinger which suggests The End... Or Is It?, we're greeted with a polka rendition of Atop The Fourth Wall's theme with a card reading APRIL FOOLS!. This was removed in the compilation.
  • Nightmare Face: In the second to last analog, Denby encounters a snowman, allowing the camera to finally get an up close perspective of the creatures. While it is mostly snow, its face has already assumed Denby's visage, albeit with completely whited out eyes and grey skin. It tells him that he will become like them... before its face distorts and opens, its mouth almost like a void. There is no mention of Denby in the epilogue. One can assume what happened...
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: The employee of Sid's Electronic Boutique who goes to help out someone asking "Hey, can you help me with this?", and gets kills for his trouble.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Mayor Daniels is a downplayed example, believing that K83FC doesn’t need the stimulus to make things better due to his view on their programming, not to mention said stimulus being an enormous sum of money the city simply doesn't have. Segment 11 reveals that he's relying on the funding from the scientists working at Scott's Manor, though he seems to be unaware of the nature of their experiments. He is, however, not an Ungrateful Bastard. When K83FC offers one of their personal snowplows to help with the sudden burial of city hall by the snow monsters, he thanks them for their help and is more willing to negotiate. Shame the monsters come in and kill everyone before he can do so.
  • Oh, Crap!: Carl Denby has two moments of exclaiming "Shit!" at the end of each of his two last analogs. The first is when he realizes that it's not Darcy who entered his office, shooting at it and fleeing into the snow. This leads to the second moment where he comes face to face with another one with his own face on it, repeating it in terror. It ends up being his last words.
  • Open Secret: Of sorts. The townsfolk obviously do not know what the team from the University of Minnesota is researching, and several of its members, such as Dr. Chandra, were reported missing...yet at the same time, the law enforcement and bureaucrats know who they are, with several townsfolk working on renovating the manor itself and seeming to know said scientists as well.
  • Police Are Useless: Zig-zagged. On the one hand, the police refuse to look for Steven Millbanks, believing that he has simply eloped with his girlfriend, which Darcy is more than certain isn't the case, owing to her personal knowledge of her brother, and Denby later on can't contact them. This, however, is because they disappeared into Scott's Manor where they all became victims of the monsters and thus can't help. The Only Sane Man of the group is Deputy Blair, but Sheriff Douglas is also very reasonable and courteous when investigating the manor with the K83FC news crew.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Happens in Segment 13, where the monsters clarify their motives before attacking.
    Dr. Chandra: Yes, damn it! I'm saying that these things want to be us!
  • Present-Day Past: Aside from attempts to incorporate period-appropriate stock footage and computer graphics, the show really doesn't do much to cover up the fact that it's shot on early 21st-century HD cameras.
  • Rage-Breaking Point: After managing to get inside the city counsel building, Deputy Blair is considerably tired and breathless when trying to explain that he was looking for help. But when Mayor Daniels brings up how they were unable to contact the police department for several days, Blair snaps:
    Mayor Daniels:: We've been trying to get in touch with the police department for days, where the hell has everyone been?!
    Deputy Blair: (agitated) Where have they been? (audibly approaches Daniels) Where have they been?! (grabs Daniels) THEY'RE AT SCOTT'S FUCKING MANOR, WHERE YOU TOLD THEM TO GO!
    Mayor Daniels: (taken aback) Da- I- That was days ago!
    Deputy Blair: They never came back! Their cars are still fucking out there! I found Sheriff Douglas' badge in a snowbank covered in blood! YOU FUCKING SENT THEM OUT THERE TO DIE!
  • Re-Cut: The compilation movie released on May 8, 2022 fixes a few mistakes done in the original episodes.
  • The Reveal: The town of Fawn's Circle is revealed to be attacked by snowman-like monsters.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: After a certain point, having been made fully aware of the origins of the Snowlems and the threat they pose, Carl Denby states this is "beyond [his] pay grade" and decides to leave town as soon as possible, blizzard be damned. This causes his death when he crosses paths with a snowman while outside.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Snowlems: The menace terrorizing the town is a horde of evil snowmen.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Due to the monsters' ability to control UHF and magnetic media, this can happen at any time. The Medicine Park Campgrounds Infomercial is a great example as relaxing strings are played over murder scenes, decrepit houses and more.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: As the unnamed Sid's Electronic Boutique employee pointed out, if Sid was so paranoid about shoplifters, he could've just installed security cameras in the store.
  • The Stinger: We're shown a TV lineup from another channel, KSNT-74, from the following December. It quickly turns red and ominous, revealing that the theory of the monsters being unable to escape thanks to UHF signals was completely false and they moved to another town.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Greg Semee. He finds the basement in Scott's Manor. Whether or not the creatures were being held at bay by the door he opens isn't clear, given how easily they later swarm City Hall, but it certainly doesn't help matters.
    • Similarly, the scientists at Scott's Manor for running tests on the bacteria, and Mayor Daniels for letting said scientists use Scott's Manor in exchange for some vital city funds.
  • We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties: Played for horror during the emergency weather broadcast (see Deadline News above).
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Deputy Blair point-blank accuses Mayor Daniels of sending the police department out to die by having them go to Scott's Manor.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: While we know Fawn Circle is in Minnesota, the exact location isn't known. The sign-off segment implies that it is in Redwood County, but the first interview says it's weak transmitter signal only serves their community, but can reach Chaska "on a good day." Chaska is roughly 90 miles from the edge of Redwood County.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: A rather tragic example. The struggling K83FC is denied their stimulus request and seem doomed to go out of business, especially as some of their members fail to show up to city council meetings owing to the snow monsters getting them. Near the end however, when the city hall building is buried under snow, they offer one of their personal snowplows to help with the blizzard, and Mayor Daniels, out of gratitude for their generosity, is willing to give them that stimulus after all...then Deputy Blair breaks in, trying to warn everyone of the snow monsters, but is too late to stop them from breaking in and killing everyone in the building. From there, they proceed to attack the station itself and kill the remaining personnel, upon which they start sending messages telling people to head out into the snow.

Thanks for the help, bud.