Greetings, horror fans and other devoted readers, who I love so much! This week, I’ve been very busy undoing all my hard work at the gym by scoffing bag after bag of Crispy M&Ms. Oh, and seeing my sister. That was the main thing. We did watch movies together, but they were more psychological thrillers than horrors.
So, what do I have for you this week? Well, I thought we’d examine yet another curiosity of the interweb, a video known only as Obey The Walrus. Unlike last time, this video doesn’t have a basis in cold hard literature, and its animation isn’t half as dazzling. But it’s certainly good at striking fear – or merely mirth – into the hearts and minds of anyone who watches it. As usual, I’ll post the video at the end of this article for you to view.
The video purports to be the product of a Latin American cult, ‘La Morsa’; however, a quick search shows that the cult isn’t mentioned anywhere else on the internet. Obey The Walrus begins with a red-eyed mask-like face thing singing ‘The Incey Wincey Spider’ in Spanish, which is fairly inoffensive in itself. The song then speeds up, and we’re treated to some trippy imagery, likely liberated from someone else. Are you terrified yet?
After THIS, some sped-up footage is shown of a transgendered person, who is unusually thin, twirling a parasol and tap-dancing with a rather serious expression (I suppose it DOES require a lot of concentration). The music that accompanies this – a chorus of singing children – has been manipulated and distorted, and may even be playing in reverse; it’s hard to tell. In any case, the song is discordant and quite unpleasant to listen to.
The dancing woman continues to move in an increasingly unnatural manner, and eventually she approaches the camera and stares down the lens, as though peering into the viewer’s soul. Aaaaaand then we finish with a picture of the walrus. Ah. So we’re supposed to obey him… or her. Will do, filmmakers. Ta muchly.
Now, a quick deconstruction of the short video reveals certain elements which are meant to unsettle whoever watches it. Children singing is ALWAYS creepy, which is probably why I refused to sing during school assemblies as a child. “I’ll have no part of this hellish cacophany, thank you! I’ve got a reputation to uphold amongst my, er, invisible friends.”
Before I go into detail about another element that is bound to upset certain viewers – uncanniness of the human form – I’d better explain who the dancing figure is. Her name is Sandie Elizabeth Crisp, and she’s also known as the Goddess Bunny. She happens to be a sufferer of polio, which explains her unusual appearance, but from various videos and interviews I’ve pulled off the internet, she seems to have a positive outlook and refuses to let her condition hold her back from doing her song and dance. All told, she’s a smashing woman.
Going back to the element of uncanniness in the video… Sandie’s tap-dancing performance is deliberately presented in an unsettling fashion. Her movements are, again, sped up, and she seems to lurch wildly from side to side. Without an explanation of her illness, the viewer can only wonder why her arms and legs are so thin. If this video DID come from a Latin American cult to indoctrinate outsiders, what were they doing with this person? Was the Almighty Walrus forcing her to dance? Starving her? The imagination of the viewer is left to run rampant in the absence of proper explanation – a clever move on the part of the filmmaker.
Something I touched on for my creepypasta-based undergrad dissertation was the notion of the Uncanny Valley.
Basically, a representation of the human form can be unnerving if it appears slightly… off… in some way. There’s a sliding scale of unrealistic and realistic, and somewhere in the middle is where things get troubling. This explains why I’ve always disliked caricatures.
It’s unfortunate that the maker of Obey The Walrus is playing off Sandie’s illness to instill a sense of uncanniness in the viewer, but apparently it works. Physical deformity is something we human beans naturally feel uneasy about, likely for the reasons given above, and possibly on an evolutionary level as well. Personally, I think the scary music is what makes this video. I’ve watched Sandie’s tap-dancing routine in isolation, and it’s not creepy at all. Well, except for the part at the end when she stares into the camera. I’m not sure why she does that. Maybe there was a speck of dirt on the lens?
And now, I’d like to speculate at the final unnerving element of the video – the whole idea of cults. The YouTube video’s description says, and I quote:
Obey the walrus, known in Spanish as “Obedece la Morsa”, is a video that was allegedly created by a Latin American cult known as “La Morsa” (The Walrus) and it is said that “bad things” happen after watching the video.
I think everyone is afraid, on some level, of the idea of subliminal messaging and thought reform – the idea that some unseen force is capable of shaping the way a person thinks and acts. It’s suggested that bad things happen upon watching the video, which is bound to put viewers on edge. It’s akin to The Ring’s ‘you’re going to die in seven days’ thing, and to promises of misfortune if you fail to pass on your obnoxious Facebook friend’s chain message. This isn’t a new thing, either – think about folk tales of Ancient curses from vexed strangers. All the more reason to obey the eponymous Walrus from the video… er, somehow. (The video doesn’t actually mention what the Walrus wants, but it may have to do with tap-dancing. Where did I put my tackety boots?)
To sum up, there’s plenty of things that Obey The Walrus uses to insight fear into the mind of the viewer. Doesn’t always work, apparently, as many comments I found allude to mere amusement, but you can’t win ’em all. Make of it what you will, but also remember that appearances aren’t everything. Check out some of the videos about Sandie Crisp – she’s a pretty interesting lady.
Next week, I promise to complete at least two reviews – proper ones this time – and keep those eyes peeled for a guest review by my wonderful, talented and wonderfully talented friend and fellow blogger, Emma… who actually did Film Studies for more than a single year in college, ahem. Until then!