Zombie Pranks

I tend to ask silly questions, questions people avoid asking because it either may prompt a negative reaction or actually provoke discussion. Now you’re wondering what the question is.

Zombie Experiment NYC (Photo credit: AMC)
Zombie Experiment NYC (Photo credit: AMC)

What will it take to horrify people?

In my Monday Mayhem series, I’ve always included something to stir an emotional response. Given I’m writing horror in the context of terror, I wonder many times what horrifies a person.

Alfred Hitchcock was a master of suspense. He once explained how a person simply sitting in a chair could turn into a scene filled with anxiety and breathless moments. Of course, it’s not very suspenseful when someone sits in a chair. It’s actually quite boring, to say the least. But, as he once said, place a bomb under that chair, all of a sudden the scene becomes interesting, suspenseful and replete with horror. Will the person remain calm? Will they run? Will they try to defuse the bomb? What will run through their mind during the last seconds of their life? How did it get there? Who put it there? Why did this person have to be the one sitting there?

Alfred Hitchcock
Alfred Hitchcock

Once again, I ask, what will it take to horrify people?

I’m an avid YouTube watcher. I have several set-top devices that can stream video directly to my TV or display device. Most of my viewing, though, happens on my computer. I enjoy searching for fascinating videos I feel no one else has seen before.

The other day, I came across a genre of videos I first found funny but under later analysis found equally shocking. They are zombie pranks. You can search for it yourself and you will see a multitude of content specifically geared toward humor.

The very first video I saw Zombie Experiment NYC deals with zombies roaming the streets of New York City. If you’re thinking actors in zombie suits and makeup, you must’ve seen it before. The video quality and presentation is top-notch. I later found AMC produced it as their answer to Dish Network’s removal of its network.

Zombie Experiment NYC - Mailman (Photo credit: AMC)
Zombie Experiment NYC – Mailman (Photo credit: AMC)
Zombie Experiment NYC - Girl 1 (Photo credit: AMC)
Zombie Experiment NYC – Girl 1 (Photo credit: AMC)
Zombie Experiment NYC - Girl 2 (Photo credit: AMC)
Zombie Experiment NYC – Girl 2 (Photo credit: AMC)
Zombie Experiment NYC - Girl 3 (Photo credit: AMC)
Zombie Experiment NYC – Girl 3 (Photo credit: AMC)
Zombie Experiment NYC - Bench 1 (Photo credit: AMC)
Zombie Experiment NYC – Bench 1 (Photo credit: AMC)
Zombie Experiment NYC - Bench 2 (Photo credit: AMC)
Zombie Experiment NYC – Bench 2 (Photo credit: AMC)
Zombie Experiment NYC - Walker (Photo credit: AMC)
Zombie Experiment NYC – Walker (Photo credit: AMC)

What I find utterly fascinating is the reaction of people on the streets to these zombies. Some are dressed in city worker clothes, much of their costumes authentic, dripping in blood, skin in pieces, yet some folk do not react at all to the zombie invasion. Seriously—I write about zombies, and if one of these actors approaches me with death in their eyes and hunger in their jaw, I’d run for the hills!

Another video I found is London Zombie Prank. It’s one guy in London dressed as one of the undead, blood and all, horrifying the British in their parks, streets and historical sites. Funny stuff. But, again, what if the guy was real? I saw folks laughing at the thing. One fellow ran after the zombie. No fear.

The last video, which I will not link to, had a guy in a zombie outfit crawling into the middle of dimly lit road from a cemetery. You read that right. Cars passed, yet no one hit him. He should be thankful.

I’m not sure what to make of the reactions of the people in the videos. Perhaps laughter is the body’s mechanism to cope with shock and disbelief. Perhaps standing around doing nothing in a horrifying situation is the mind’s way of shutting down to other gruesome acts. Not sure. Or is it we’ve become so desensitized that we recognize truth from fiction? Your guess is as good as mine.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale October 22.

What will it take to horrify people? Have you ever played a prank on someone?

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25 thoughts on “Zombie Pranks

  1. Cool. Just hope no one unloads a gun in their face just to be sure!!! When they hold the zombie march in Brighton there are rules about coming out of character when not directly on the march (eg in shops, etc) as there have been a few (isolated) incidents in the past with zombie participants going too far and terrifying/upsetting some of the locals.

  2. mass hysteria will be what horrifies folks. seeing people running in sheer horror, running for their lives – that’s what will get other peoples attention…

    • Agree. The fact that we don’t suspect or we don’t know anything about what is to happen is what’s terrifying (see: suicide bombings and other terrorist acts). Zombies are metaphors and they should remain fiction, because they’re awesome in that area. Zombies in real life is scary and bites a huge chunk of ass.

  3. So, no one had a shotgun. Wow. A little unprepared, aren’t we?

    This whole idea is an interesting premise for fiction.

    No one thinks the threat is real. For years, the internet has been flooded with pranks like these. This is the most elaborate prank of late, but it’s a prank nonetheless. Nothing more than the fabrication of a bored, technologically-gifted youth. By the time the threat is understood, it’s too late. The skeptics and the cynics were wrong and now the world has ended. No fanfare. No warning. Turns out it wasn’t a ruse at all. And unlike the movies, there is no happy ending. Those left behind are worse than hunted. They are lost, forgotten. No one remembers the world as it was before. They’re all that’s left and all they want to do is forget.

    Zombies? Aliens? Epidemic? Insert terrifying apocalypse inducer here.

    • I saw one guy on YouTube playing one of these zombie pranks nearly get his head blown off by gangsters. It wasn’t a shotgun, but it still could cause some serious damage.

      Well now, isn’t this an interesting idea. It’s almost like a plot twist of The Boy Who Would Cry Wolf. Hoax, hoax, hoax then bam! it happens. I like it. There’s something to this idea. Write it up, send me the first draft by the end of the week. I’ll critique it and we’ll have it in the masses hands by next Monday.

      Zombies, aliens and mummies, oh, my!

      And thanks for your most awesome support with my book. Even I can’t wait until it hits the street!

  4. Thank you for visiting my blog.I agree that gore does not horrify.I believe it’s a mediocre attempt to incite an emotional response when the plot or story line are insufficient enough to do so.If you really want to scare me let my mind create the details.I look forward to the day when a movie truly terrorizes me. Bring on the nightmares! Good luck with your book.I can’t wait to read it.

  5. Having that I just recently had a zombie hangover (see my “Zombie Week” series, dated to my birthday week), my senses are upped should zombies suddenly sneak behind my back and chew my ass off. I know better. These things may be slow, but they’re sneaky! (Thank you, George A. Romero.) Had I been walking on those streets I would bash their heads in, though I don’t know if I can really. I’m fascinated by zombies and the thought of killing one elates me, that much is true, but should I been faced to that situation, like IN REALITY, I will literalize the expression: “doing it in my pants” before I could even run for my life (or whatever is going to be left of me). Thanks for sharing Jack and good luck with the book! 🙂

  6. […] Jack Flacco- Jack inspires me every Wednesday with his Women Who Wow Wednesday feature (this past week he featured the women of “The Incredibles” which was so awesome!), and because he is a published writer with his book, Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse, ready for release in October. If you like zombies, Canada, Women Who Wow, and excellent writing, check him out! […]

  7. People are too plugged in to notice their surroundings…and if they do notice they have seen it all on TV and movies and are way too desensitized. I am no better, if I saw a zombie on the street I would start taking pictures…oh well 🙂

  8. i will definitely check out those links, man, but here’s my take on what it takes to “terrify” someone:
    i think we’ve become a bit too de-sensatized to it. the old tricks don’t work as well and the new tricks are already getting old. i think it’s why (or so it seems to me) hollywood has decided instead of a good horror plotline…let’s just throw in some gore…or let’s see how far the censors will let us go with the blood and the guts. gore does not make a movie scary…at least to me…it’s the psychological aspect of the story that gets me scared.

    • You know, you’re absolutely right. I think the days of slow scares are over. I wish audience preferences would change but we’re in gore mode at the moment. Gore does not horrify, it indulges in the audience’s desire for a quick scare. I think The Sixth Sense is one of the most perfect movies. We don’t see gore but we have lots suggested violence. And that’s what makes the imagination fly!

      • exactly. The original “Evil Dead” scared me…not because of the gore, but because we couldn’t see the Evil behind the camera. it was assumed there was something terrible there. It was a gory movie, but the element of scare and a low budget had me snuggle with this one. The Evil Dead reboot, eh, the tagline was “one of the goriest films of the year”….so i’m hesitant to see it.

  9. I think that a real good example is the movie Signs. An Ok movie with a really chilling scene. The one where they are watching the news and the alien appears in the news on the film at the birthday party. Theory here but when we see things upfront an personal we began to rationalize it away. But if there is some distance and we are not personalty threatened our mind lets the possibility and fear soak in.

    • I so much remember that scene in Signs. The first time I saw it I had the surround turned up too loud and I jumped in my chair. I think the whole movie was well done. Some things could have been better, but it’s a movie I watch every few years, which is something to say of a work of art.

      • I love that movie! And that scene was indeed chilling. The other scene that makes me jump every time is when Mel Gibson is holding the knife under the kitchen door trying to see the alien and its hand snaps out to grab at him.

        I think that’s true though–when something is farther away, it seems more believable. But in our everyday lives, we don’t really expect to see zombies. And we are a bit saturated with them today. Both of those are probably factors.

  10. The default setting for seeing a zombie must be “prank.” The thing that horrifies me is hitting something while driving. Especially birds.

  11. They look pretty terrifying to me. Did I ever tell you about that street in Vancouver that we accidentally ended up driving down and it seemed full of zombies. Two people walked in front of our car and almost fell on it. Huddled over weirdos stared in windows or sat on the curb, it was so funny. If they had looked more like these zombies we wouldn’t have been laughing :0) I scare at anything.

    • I guess the first question I have is, what were you doing in Vancouver? 🙂

      Isn’t it funny how when we’re not expecting things, things happen? I would have loved to have seen the look in all your eyes when those weirdos showed up. I’m sure it would have been a Kodak moment (hopefully, you know what I’m talking about!)

  12. I think people will never see it as a real event in a city – not until it bites them on the ass. If it was in a country town it may have more believability, problem is, people already ignore street actors 🙂

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