I couldn’t watch 50 Shades last night. 2 minutes into the first scene and it came rushing back to me; how much I flipping hated the dialogue in that book.
Speaking of mentally scarring things… Have you lot ever heard of the game Phantasmagoria? If not, let me summarize for you:
Phantasmagoria was a ‘live action’ point and click horror game, released by Sierra Games in 1995. I was 6 years old when this game came out and only a bit older than that when I first experienced it. As you may know, I have three older brothers and one older sister. And one of my favorite things to do as a kid was watch them play games. On the computer, those games ranged from Doom, Doom 2, Diablo/Diablo 2, Lucas Arts adventure games such as Full Throttle and Day of The Tentacle, and yes; Phantasmagoria.
I love Phantasmagoria, but I’m not exactly sure what my siblings were thinking letting me watch this game. It’s a horrible, horrible, pants-shitting, terrifying, evil game.
Now, there’s two things I can surely blame on this game; Luke’s fear of mirrors and my inability to withstand even written portrayals of cannibalism. Because I’m pretty sure that game was the first time I associated the first with horrible traumatic murder scenes and the latter, well… There’s no actual cannibalism in the game, but we’ll get to that in a second.
The plot of the game is simple; dumb blond and girly photographer couple buy a unnecessary huge house that used to belong to a magician. Dumb blonde accidentally unleashes a demon sealed in a hidden room of the house, demon possesses girly photographer; horrible shit starts to happen.
Even back then there are things I loved about this game; the ghost activity in the house is very eerie and subtle. There is this painting room with a blank canvas that gradually starts to form a picture as days go by and in the last day it forms a portrait of the demon.
There’s a fortune telling machine that is… fucking creepy as hell… and gives you a different message everyday; things like that. I think aside from the painting, my favorite thing is the ectoplasm baby. One of the rooms in the house is a nursery and hovering above the crib there’s an ectoplasm blob sort of thing. In one of the chapters when you enter the nursery you’ll hear a baby crying, the rocking chair will start swinging and a woman’s voice will sound singing a lullaby until the baby silences.
Now, as it was common in the 90s, this was a multi-disc game. It consisted of seven discs and, if I remember correctly, each disc is one day Adrienne (our dumb blonde) spends in the house. Disc 4 was the only one that took place at night; it was one of my favorite discs along with disc 7.
Disc 5 however… *shudders*
The mirror disc, is what I called it, and it is a very plot relevant disc too. On disc five of Phantasmagoria several of the mirrors become glowy and you can interact with them. Doing that will reveal what the previous owner of the house, under the influence of the demon, did to his wives (he married five times). One of those deaths was pretty cool to me, even back then, in which the guy impales a woman through the eye with a wine bottle (yeah, I was never normal; even as a kid).
For the most part though, I liked to not be around during the mirror disc. I saw all the mirror scenes the first time I watched the game though and the one that truly horrified me was the one where he has the wife bound to a chair, and force-feeds her bloody animal entrails until she chokes to death. It made me very ill and even as I write this I’m struggling not to remember it too much because it really makes me gag.
I also didn’t know those were animal entrails at first; I thought they were hers. Which yeah… *gags*
Remember that scene I mentioned where Luckas makes a guy eat his own ear? I told Wifey that it made me sick because I could picture the sounds of chewing and gagging and… ugh. Same with this scene. The second time I watched a playthrough; when I knew the scene was coming, I closed my eyes, but the sounds… They still got to me. So after that I got into the habit of leaving the room for the duration of that scene and another that entails shoving a gardening tool full of mulch into a woman’s mouth.
Aside from the mirror disc, there is a cat drowning and a rape scene in this game. Which are things I was not shielded from in the slightest when watching my siblings play it. I don’t know to what extent this contributed to my ability to tolerate certain things in media, but I’m pretty sure it helped at least a bit.
Aside from all of that, there are some pretty nifty things in this game, from eerie music to jump scares galore… It’s a fantastic horrifying experience if you’re not as sensitive as me.
So, why am I bringing this up? Well, I got an email from GOG.com saying that ‘a game on your wishlist is on sale’. It was this game. I thought about it and realized that, at 26 years old, I still don’t have the courage to play it through.
I think I’m going to watch a playthrough on YouTube though for nostalgia’s sake.