YouTube is a bottomless well of the collective unconscious: If you dig around, you’ll discover sad things, wonderful things, and deeply strange things. Even when it’s not trying to be, YouTube is often an unnerving place. The following collection of creepy YouTube channels mixes intentionally spooky content with channels that may have some other purpose, but succeed in being creepy anyway, as if by accident…
Heaven’s Gate Portal
Heaven’s Gate is a UFO cult from the mid-1990s who dressed up in matching tracksuits, rented a mansion in San Diego, and committed suicide together. Thirty-nine people ate a mixture of phenobarbital and apple sauce, then washed it down with vodka in an attempt to commune with aliens. But that wasn’t the end of the group — current members maintain the Heaven’s Gate webpage and continue updating the Heavens Gate YouTube channel — a collection of recruitment videos, documentaries, and teachings of Heavens Gate’s enigmatic leader.
This channel contains videos of MUSHROOM LAND, supposedly an ’80s or ’90s-era Eastern European children’s educational program. It combines found footage of children’s programs with weird footage of the host, whose eyes are painted on her glasses. It’s really well done, and captures a mood many “scary” YouTube channels try for but never achieve.
No collection of creepy online media is complete without a visit to Mr. CreepyPasta. By far the most popular generator of creepypasta-themed content, Mr. C approaches the material in the mode of a campfire storyteller — reading tales of eerie web lore over simple imagery, accompanied by sound and video effects. Mr. Creepypasta has narrated all the genre’s classics — like Jeff the Killer and and The Real Chuck E. Cheese — but my favorites are his humorous reads of the genre’s “greatest misses,” like THE DAY OF ALL THE BLOOD.
Shaye Saint John
The OG of creepy YouTube content, Shaye Saint John was recently the subject of an entire feature on Blumhouse.com, and we encourage you to check out her entire brain-melting body of work. But if you want the short version: Shaye is a supermodel who was disfigured in a train accident, and rebuilt her body with a collection of mannequin parts. The creation of late performance artist Eric Fournier, Shaye stars in over 50 of the strangest videos ever uploaded to YouTube… and still, over a decade later, no one else has even come close to topping these funny-scary little clips.
The Memory Hole
This is the best channel on YouTube. The Memory Hole collects forgotten VHS tapes — usually home movies — and edits them into surrealistic short films that will make your skin crawl. The footage wasn’t originally intended as scary… but when viewed in the right frame of mind, it’s creepy as hell.
Spider-Man and Elsa Videos
Perhaps you’ve noticed the proliferation of YouTube videos featuring adults wearing cheap superhero and princess outfits and interacting wordlessly. For some reason, kids really respond to this kind of content. The clips are weird, but seem harmless at first, until you dig a little deeper into the “genre” — where you’ll find disturbing videos featuring beloved characters getting pregnant, fondling each other… and worse.
This fan of reborn dolls (dolls designed to look as realistic as possible) loves her little babies so much, she’s made a YouTube channel for them. There’s something about the way she films and interacts with her uncanny children that is so creepy, I at first thought it was on purpose… but further digging suggests that SillyCone Babies is sincere. I’m sure she’s a nice lady, and I am not in any position to disparage anyone for their hobbies… but man, these videos make my skin crawl.
This channel is creepy because it seems so deliberate — but no one has ever offered a plausible explanation for its existence. In 2015, a YouTube account was created called UnfavorableSemicircle, which posted very short videos featuring static colors, a six-digit number, and the Sagittarius symbol — constantly. Before YouTube banned it, Unfavorable Semicircle was posting three videos per minute — a total of over 72,000. Most were short, but some were hours long. Most were silent too… but some featured a voice repeating a number. None of them made any sense.
Not only has no one been able to solve the mystery, it seems impossible to discern what the nature of the mystery even is. Here are the leading theories and why none of them really fit:
- It’s an Alternate Reality Game (unlikely, because it’s never pointed anywhere else).
- It’s an art project (if so, it’s an elaborate and inexplicable piece that communicates no discernible message).
- It’s a recruitment test (also unlikely, as no one has ever solved even a part of the “puzzle”).
- It’s a code of some kind (perhaps there is a key somewhere that would make this sensible — but there doesn’t seem to be any pattern).
- It’s some impossibly esoteric hacker thing (I don’t know enough about this to know it’s even plausible — but if you do, check out this reddit discussion).
- Aliens. (Problem solved!)
Either there are a ton of people being systematically targeted for constant observation by dark government groups using hacked technology and live agents, or clinically paranoid people are using the Internet to reinforce and legitimize each other’s mental illnesses. I know which theory I believe — but I’ll leave it up to you to draw a conclusion from this collection of gangstalking videos.