By Joseph "Skull Vault" Walter
As the TV obsessed gecko, players needed to enter the "Media Dimension" and jump from channel to channel in order to collect (what else?) remotes in order to have a showdown with the villainous Rez.
Your exploits took you through a cartoon-styled world (complete with non-sensical anvils falling from the sky and Elmer Fudd look-a-likes), a Gilligan's Island rip-off, Kung-Fu films and so much more.
For a youth such as myself, however, one channel stood out as not only memorable, but as completely and utterly terrifying: Scream TV.
Obviously horror-themed, and filled with tropes like living armors, eerily life-like faces that emerged from walls, killer dolls (a'la Chucky), Frankensteins and ghosts, the levels were a blast to play through. But something was very, very off.
First off, its atmosphere was/is extremely potent. The somber halls of the castle-like stages are dim, with the flickering candles and chandeliers as the only light-sources. Then there is the music. Jesus, almighty, what is going on with this music.
It probably seems tame when divorced of context (and not being an 8 year-old) but this incredibly threatening and ominous piece is still uncomfortably playing in my head every October.
But that's not even what chilled me to the bone the most. No, that "honor" would have to go to the horrifying, pixelated portraits that adorned most of the walls.
Sure, we had classic things like giant paintings whose eyes followed you... or did they? They seemed to just be looking each and every way and... holy shit. Why are those eyes a fiery-orange mixed with black!?
But it's the non-moving portraits that sealed the deal of this hellish nightmare. A young, innocent boy with a hatchet driven into the back of his skull, some evil Hieronymus Bosch mural, a fat bearded man with a look of pure cruelty in his fevered eyes, a phantasm-like face peering from pitch-black darkness, beheaded corpses, something like a flaming skull, a decayed Mona Lisa, a weirdly calm-looking man, some kind of vampiric and menacing adversary, a beast that I can't even properly describe and... a dead George Washington?
These pictures, especially with the obfuscation due to the texture pixelation, were the stuff of nightmares. Seeing them in full-clarity would likely still be eerie, but nowhere near as horrifying as what my young mind filled in the blanks with.
Then there were the ominous, blood-stained signs, which the game forced you to look at by taking control of your camera: "STEP INTO THE LIGHT" and "EVIL LIVES WITHIN." Why? Why do this to me?
On a side note, the PS1 version contained one final Scream TV level that the N64 version lacked (although we did get a Titanic level instead, so...)
There, in its most heinous depths, my best friend Michael and myself found what appeared to be a dead end in the form of a morgue. Its bloodstained floor and drain, along with the fact that it seemingly served no purpose, was absolutely terrifying to us.... although we were probably too young to noticed that there was likely some red or silver remote in the chamber.
It didn't matter though, because "EVIL LIVED WITHIN," and we were getting the fuck out of there.