After 13 Years, Life Goes On for Viewers of Disturbing Video Tape

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It’s been over a decade since the disturbing video first appeared; now the survivors of its horror are starting to talk about their lives after watching.

Puyallup, Washington – It was thirteen years ago when the disturbing video tape first appeared, sitting on the shelf of a small, privately owned video rental shop. By all accounts, the cassette was innocuous and unnamed. Even the owner of the store had no idea where it came from, but he willingly rented it out to the curious few who wished to view it.

Urban legends sprung up about the video tape. Some said it contained the visual record of a mass murder. Others claimed it was a snuff film. Still more insisted it held the security feed of a private cell at a local asylum, date-stamped October 23rd, 1997. (Eerily enough, that asylum closed its doors two decades before the time marked on the reel.)

All, however, agreed on this one thing: If you watched the video, you would die in one week.

Despite the dire threats, dozens rented the tape over the following weeks, until it disappeared after one customer, Matt Wilson, a resident of nearby Tacoma, returned the video to Rewind Your Mind, the store where the mysterious recording first appeared.

Now, thirteen years later, Wilson – who still appears very much alive – is ready to tell the truth about how the video has affected his life.

“To be honest, I hadn’t thought about the video in over a decade,” Wilson admitted. “I mean, once in a while it would cross my mind and I’d get a laugh, but until the Video Survivors Group popped up on Facebook two weeks ago, it hadn’t been more than a passing thought. And as you can tell, I’m alive.”

Not only is he alive, but he’s thriving. In 2002 Matt Wilson was the guitarist in an alternative band going nowhere, a group of wannabe Kurt Cobains pounding the pavement trying to break into the region’s rich music scene. Today, he’s one of the most respected plastic surgeons in Seattle.

“I don’t think the tape was good luck or anything,” he said. “I just went on with my normal, boring life, went to college, and followed my dad into the family business.”

The Video Survivors Group on Facebook is full of similar stories. Dozens of renters have revealed the state of their present lives and, with the exception of two who can be considered casualties of life – one died in a car wreck last year; the other choked on a stale gumdrop in ’09 – all are still alive and kicking.

“It’s really a miracle,” wrote Tamara Pickles, who started the page. “We’re all supposed to be dead. Dead! Do you know what that means? But here we are!”

Another group regular wrote, “It’s amazing that we’ve all been able to find each other here, to share in our adventure, to remind us that nobody makes our fate except us!”

The list of members of the group reads like a cross-section of middle-class culture, from contractors to police officers, fast food managers to sewage workers. Mrs. Pickles is a preacher’s wife and member of the Redmond PTA. They range in health from physically fit to Gabriel Iglesias’s “Oh, hell no!” In fact, the only common factor they seem to have is the disturbing video rental.

How normal are their lives? Wilbur Smith of SeaTac talks about his afternoon. “I left work and picked the kids up from school. We went out for ice cream, then went home and watched some My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. We had lasagna for dinner.” Smith collects stamps and listens to Skillet. He wears a size ten shoe and size thirty six jeans. In other words, he’s perfectly average.

Being normal doesn’t mean they don’t have fears. Tamara Pickles believes the rumors about the tape being possessed by demons.

“Why do you think I married a preacher?” she asked. “Who better than a man of the cloth to sock those video rental demons in the nose. He’ll rewind them all the way to the pit where they belong!”

Just one question remains, and the Video Survivors Group has decided to stay pretty tight-lipped about it. What was on the video?

Matt Wilson merely offered a curious smile and said, “Nothing all that important.”

Simon Hawk
Chief Diversionist

Simon Hawk is a thinker, writer, satirist, and full-time oddball. As Chief Diversionist of Knozzle, his job is to write, baby, write with the intention of making his audience think and laugh. Or at least chuckle.


When not hunched over his computer, he spends his time on a balcony overlooking the Arkansas River (pronounced ar-KAN-zas, people!) playing Death Metal’s Greatest Hits on his diamond-studded kazoo. He sometimes pretends to know the meaning of life, but mostly just knows the meaning of obscure words like “sesquipedalian”.


Simon Hawk

Simon Hawk is a thinker, writer, satirist, and full-time oddball. As Chief Diversionist of Knozzle, his job is to write, baby, write with the intention of making his audience think and laugh. Or at least chuckle.

When not hunched over his computer, he spends his time on a balcony overlooking the Arkansas River (pronounced ar-KAN-zas, people!) playing Death Metal’s Greatest Hits on his diamond-studded kazoo. He sometimes pretends to know the meaning of life, but mostly just knows the meaning of obscure words like “sesquipedalian”.