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The forgotten era of internet hopping is scary

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“Ghost Car” has all the elements that make an Internet Screamer a success. It’s short, relaxing, then unbearably shocking. Since it was uploaded, it has generated nearly 38 million views and many more reaction videos, tributes and parodies. What’s particularly interesting about “Ghost Car” is that, while many Internet Screamers and other urban legends have mysterious origins, the source of “Ghost Car” is both crystal clear and surprisingly dominant.

The video that was uploaded to YouTube in July 2005 was actually a slightly edited version of a TV commercial that first aired in April 2005. The commercial that would become the viral “Ghost Car” video came from the German company of caffeine K-Fee. It was part of a series of nine 20-second commercials with similar premises. Viewers would be presented with a calm and peaceful scene that would be interrupted by an actor in zombie or gargoyle makeup jumping and screaming at the end. Each ad would end with a text in German or English promoting their canned coffee product. In the case of “Ghost Car”, the text read “Never been so awake? Canned caffeine with coffee.

The facts surrounding K-Fee’s shocking ad campaign have been circulating the internet for about as long as the Screamer he produced. Earlier this year, however, the full story was compiled into a 43-minute documentary by British YouTuber Rhys Lapsley. Lapsley’s documentary presents the complete saga of K-Fee’s infamous commercials, from conception to execution to eternal memedom. Lapsley says he first encountered the video at age six thanks to his father, and the experience led to a lifelong fascination with the clip.

“He showed me the video on his phone and I screamed. It was horrible, ”Lapsley says. “So I just wanted to know more about this video.”

Lapsley’s research included interviews with Brad and Adam Johnson, brothers who respectively portrayed the zombie and the gargoyle in the series of commercials. The brothers address the rumor that the commercials caused heart attacks in some viewers, although this has never been corroborated.

“It wasn’t the first time I heard this,” Lapsey said. “On Reddit there were rumors that some older people had heart attacks but no one really knows.”


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