's 2016 Horror Write-off:

The Haunted Videos

Submitted by Gareth Barsby

'Damn it!'

I threw the VHS against a wall. Then I threw another VHS. And another. They all had the same show on anyway.

Ten copies. Ten copies of Barney Goes to the Funfair, and all of them had what they were supposed to have. All of them had Barney singing songs about love and sharing toys, all of them had Barney prancing around eating candy floss, no blood, no glowing red eyes, no murders. When I was a kid, we all joked about how Barney was evil, now here I was, miffed that Barney wasn't evil enough.

Everyone on the internet has a story about buying a VHS copy of their favourite childhood show or a copy of their favourite childhood video game, only to find a bloodier, more sadistic version of the show or game. Someone online told of a video tape of Sesame Street that included Big Bird feasting on Snuffleupagus' corpse. Another person told of a version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 which ended with Sonic strangling Tails to death. Neither of them included footage of these new versions, as they said they destroyed the tape and cartridge after their experiences. A shame; I always hated that little fox.

After hearing all those stories, I decided I had to have a haunted VHS or game cartridge of my very own. I wanted to see cute little cartoon characters ripped to shreds. I wanted to see video game critters trapped in Hell.

Ebay. All of these were found on Ebay. The haunted Sesame Street video and the haunted Sonic game came from Ebay. Every cartoon VHS I saw I bought from Ebay, especially if the username included the word "demon", "hell" or "666". One user called "grotesquebeastfromhell13" was selling a whole stack of children's VHSs for only a fiver, and I told myself that had to be a sign.

Every video from grotesquebeast I watched, and every video disappointed. I forced myself to watch Ariel sing, Teletubbies say "Eh-oh" and Mickey Mouse frustrate Donald Duck, all to see if there would be walls covered with blood and mangled corpses.

Countless Disney movies. Countless silly cartoons. Countless saccharine pre-school shows. All for the slight chance that one of them might include death.

It was when I finished that tenth Barney video that I realized how much of my time and money I had wasted. Money that could have gone to food or something more important.

So to make up for the horror I didn't get to experience, I broke out one of my favourite horror DVDs, Drag Me to Hell. The Sam Raimi film where a loan officer named Christine denies an old woman an extension on her loan, so she gets cursed to experience myriad torments before being dragged to Hell.

No, this wasn't the film I knew.

The prologue with the kid going to Hell was missing.

Christine actually gave the old woman the extension and then said with a wide smile, 'Doing good deeds is really really good!' Then she sang a song about why it's good to be good on a bright day under a beaming rainbow. THE END appeared in golden letters.

I played the movie again. No prologue, happy song.

I took out my Silence of the Lambs DVD. Hannibal Lecter was now an ice-cream man, who helped two anthropomorphic lambs start conversations and make friends.

I took out my Hellraiser DVD. Frank was having lots of fun playing with building blocks before being visited by a man with lollipops in his head.

Then I saw some red text. Just like in the stories online. It didn't say "You will die" or whatever it was in those stories though.

Instead, it said: "We wanted a change."