The recent shift in pop culture has steered toward the creation of a new subgenre of horror. This genre is famous for low-fidelity graphics and cryptic messages. These graphics have a vintage device presentation. The subgenre has officially been dubbed “analog horror” because of the eeriness the retro aesthetic contributes to the artform. One of the most prolific series in the analog horror genre is a series of videos that can be found on a YouTube channel called Local 58.
Before we delve into the stories this particular YouTube channel tells us, we must first understand what the subgenre is.
What Is Analog Horror?
Analog horror is a subgenre of horror that engages directly with the audience by telling a story from a second-person perspective. This type of horror usually mimics the presentational aesthetic of the mass media in the 20th and 21st centuries.
The core principle behind analog horror is that this type of horror encourages the viewers to immerse themselves in the faux informational media they are being presented with. To this end, most analog media are created in the format of common and harmless commercials until such time that the content takes a turn for the weird and the worse.
The prime examples of analog horror that can be found on the internet are created in such a way that they tell a narrative through anthologies or a series of videos. These videos often feature self-contained vignettes connected by a common theme, environment, or lore.
The term “analog horror” was first coined when a small channel on YouTube called Local 58 started making rounds. Today this channel is hailed as the pioneer of analog horror media. This series on YouTube is what also propelled the evolution of analog horror into what it is today.
Because of the giant ball of hype Local 58 caused around itself, the series quickly spawned imitators. This hype, over time, gained momentum and catapulted the subgenre into mainstream media exposure.
What Is Local 58 Analog Horror?
Local 58, otherwise known as WLCV-TV, is an ongoing video series on YouTube that is famed for its vintage eeriness packaged as harmless infomercials. This video series was originally uploaded to a now-defunct website called “local58.info”. The content from the website was soon moved to an official channel on YouTube.
When the series finally made its shift, Local 58 quickly amassed a following with thousands of people brainstorming and decoding what the cryptic messages in the videos might mean. While the series, on its own, does not follow a particular storyline or narrative, all of the videos have a consistent theme to give the videos a sense of continuity.
The main plot point for Local 58 seems to be the hijacking of a television station by extraterrestrial entities. By intercepting the signal of the television broadcast, these foreign lifeforms inject their own bizarre and ominous takes for the public to see. The deeper meaning and motivation behind these cryptic messages add to the horror element of the videos.
What Kind of Channel Is It?
Local 58 is known as an analog horror anthology created and illustrated by Kris Straub. The series is currently available on Youtube under the channel bearing the same name as the title of the series.
The setting of the fictional anthology covers the mysterious events happening in Mason County, West Virginia. Local 58 is a public access television in this region that started broadcasting in the late 1930s. In the lore of the channel, this TV station is being hijacked for some time as evidenced by the ominous messages and broadcasts the station has made.
Many of these ominous videos feature cryptic messages involving other planetary entities, mysterious circumstances involving the moon and stars, and multiple references to an organization known as the Thought Research Initiative (TRI).
Local 58 Analog Horror Episodes
For those new to this horror subgenre, here are some episodes of Local 58 you can start with.
You Are on the Fastest Available Route
The video starts with a regular program from the show being interrupted and then replaced by footage taken from a dashboard of a car. From the details available on this screen, we can see that the recording is from November 21, 2014. We also hear that a GPS guides the driver to follow the “fastest available route.”
After a while, we see the driver in the middle of a forest with barely any roads to follow except the automated voice. As they continue onwards, the commands from the automated voice become increasingly suspicious. Finally, the GPS tells him to stop and park.
Once more, the driver complies with the commands. The car stops and turns off its headlights. After a few moments, a roar is heard. Startled, the driver turns on the lights to reveal a bipedal entity in front of the car. After this, the feed cuts once more, this time showing the car driving away from the entity, which seems to be the destination the GPS is pointing to.
The feed freezes once more. When it comes back, we can see that the car is now tipped sideways, the windshield of the car severely damaged. One last roar is heard before the GPS delivers its last chilling sentence. “You have arrived at your destination.”
In this video, we see the station sign off for the day and begin to broadcast the SMPTE bars. Then, an abrupt interruption by an emergency alert from a fictional agency. This agency is the Department for the Preservation of American Dignity (DPAD).
A written message from President Lyndon B. Johnson plays with the national anthem accompanying it. The message claims that the United States has been defeated by a foreign nation and that Americans are being called to perform their civic duty of preserving the memory of the American people ‘untarnished and uncompromised’.
Once the message is over, the broadcast continues. Then, the song “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” plays, albeit with a distortion. During this segment, the DPAD coerces viewers to commit vile actions to avoid the invaders.
The message emphasizes that citizens must ensure compliance and that it is illegal to delay the civic act. The message also implies that anyone who does not comply with this civic duty shall be executed. Furthermore, the message adds that the broadcast will continue “until there are none left to read it.”
The message continues that pets and children are to be euthanized as well as delivering a statement that “the 51st state is not a place”. The broadcast is abruptly halted soon after, and Local 58 issues an apology response, adding that the message presented earlier was a hoax.
However, visible behind the current slide being shown is another slide that says to claim that the message broadcasted is a hoax in the event of an accidental and untimely airing. This implies that everything the audience has seen thus far was a real contingency plan that would take place if the worst-case scenario became a reality.
The video starts with a regular program; however, an EAS message interrupts it at midnight. The message claims to be from County Weather Service, which warns viewers, advising them not to look at a particular event going on outside their homes. The message expires, and the regular show returns to its normal broadcast schedule, which is again interrupted by another message from EAS.
The messages this time have been altered. This time EAS claims that the warning has been lifted and that everything is safe outside. The next messages from the EAS encourage people to go outside and witness whatever spectacle is happening. The feed cuts back and forth, signifying a struggle to regain control of the station.
The first party frantically tries to vie for the feed and attempts to issue a warning for the viewers. The hijackers keep intercepting this until they manage to cut the feed off completely from the original station. The hijackers then continue to send cryptic messages through the station detailing how they were brainwashed by the moon itself. After these messages, the feed cuts to an image of the moon while the distant screaming of people can be heard in the distance. The broadcast then abruptly ends.
Serving as the channel’s trailer, the video consists of a series of cryptic messages, which read:
ANALOG HORROR AT 476 MHz
WE BEGIN OUR BROADCAST DAY
IT DOES NOT MATTER
THERE ARE OTHER RECEIVERS
SAFETY IN NUMBERS
The video then abruptly cuts to black.
Show for Children
The video starts with a regular program broadcast that transitions into a bumper. After the bumper, a cartoon comes on that is titled “a Grave Mistake,” which features an animated child-like skeleton character named Cadavre. The cartoon shows Cadavre walking through the cemetery at night while an image of the moon smiles down on him.
Through Cadavre’s journey, he comes across a grave. Wondering if his lover may be inside, Cadavre decides to inspect the tomb. He sees a realistic skeleton which frightens him, causing him to run away. Soon after, he comes across yet another open grave. He finds a bird-like creature and runs away.
At this point, the noticeable quietness of the cartoon is apparent due to the sound cutting out. Cadavre, now visibly tense, keeps walking through the graveyard and finds another open grave. He again inspects what might be inside and finds an entrance to a cave. He proceeds to explore this cave which comes out to a different open grave. Cadavre, now exhausted and unable to move, simply opts to lie face up inside the open grave. The video switches to his perspective and we see a giant, realistic rendering of the moon coming into full view. A few moments later and the cartoon cuts back to Cadavre, now much more realistic and lifeless.
A Look Back
This short video is a compilation of the history of Local 58. The video shuffles through the fictional channel’s past logos; however, an interruption occurs again. Messages begin to flash on the screen similar to those shown in Station ID. The broadcast then becomes a montage of short clips from previous episodes of the series, intercut with glitched footage of normal television broadcasts. After a few more messages, the station’s broadcasting returns to normal.
The video plays as a personalized VHS recording created by an organization called the TRI. The tape begins by having a simple “myth or fact” game about sleeping. The longer the game goes, more and more sinister claims begin to appear such as saying that dreaming is not essential to mental health. The feed cuts to a visual of the “Kleitman Map,” implying that the video is designed to actively prevent watchers from dreaming.
The feed then cuts to a segment of four sequences where the feed is similar to the flashed face distortion effect. After these four sequences, the video tells the watchers that they have now completed the real sleep program and to avoid seeing a specialist.
Following a feed of the broadcasting schedule, an episode of Skywatching begins. However, an interruption happens with an odd-sounding scream. Then, an amateur broadcast surveils the night sky. The man aims his camera ta Orion’s Belt, then the Pleiades, and then captures the moon. An on-screen text that reads “His Throne” flashes on the moon.
The feed then zooms into the surface of the moon. Moving clouds, seemingly organic formations, and strange artificial constructions can be seen. After a few moments, the feed zooms out, and the moon fades away. After this, loud noises arise as the moon reappears, now significantly larger. You can hear an air raid siren as the video stabilizes. Its final resting point captures something from the bottom, consuming the moon. The video now shows the cameraman walking toward the moon with arms stretched upward. The on-screen text reads “rejoice” as the blaring siren sound, and the feed cuts back to static.
The video begins with a special announcement from the TV station dated July 13, 2022. The message announces that Local 58 will be conducting a digital switchover at midnight. The normal episode of One Step Beyond airs alongside a tribute bumper commemorating the station’s history.
The end of the bumper shows Local 58’s newest and current logo. This comes with a tagline that says “Community Digital Television.” The switchover happens but when the clock hits midnight, a broadcast interruption and the analog signal persists. Moreover, the analog signal is still visible behind the digital signal’s output, the feed from the analog signal insisting that the digital switchover has been postponed.
The entity hijacking the analog signal then begins broadcasting a string of cryptic messages themed around betrayal and the main focal point of the video from Weather Service. Having gained full control of the new digital signal, the hijacker then issues more messages alluding to their connection with the moon. A distorted face appears on the screen before the signal is interrupted by the FGC, an in-universe placeholder for the real institute, FCC.
Is the Local 58 Brand of Analog Horror Based on a True Story?
Local 58 is a fictional TV station and the “broadcaster” responsible for the presentation of the LOCAL58 series of videos. Originally founded in 1939 and whose broadcasts began in 1938 in Mason County, West Virginia, USA, the station serves the fictional towns Edenvale, Lasker City, and Ichor Falls.
There have been a lot of theories about Local 58 even before its recent mainstream media exposure. Fans have long data-mined and collated clues to help them discover more of the lore about the mysterious broadcasts.
The YouTuber Nexpo came up with two theories. The first theory suggests that the creature in the video “You are on the fastest available route” is one of many alien species that aims to invade the earth. His other theory suggests that Local 58 is aware of the hijackings that are happening to terrorize their viewers that something sinister is afoot.
MatPat, from the channel Film Theorists, also has some theories of his own. One theory he has stated is that the moon might be a living Eldritch Abomination. Another theory he also has is that aliens might be trying to invade our planet. Various pieces of evidence back both of these theories are also in the videos/
Trivia About Local 58 and Its Brand of Analog Horror
- Local 58, as well as The Wyoming Incident, managed to create an entire genre of analog horror videos on YouTube.
- A pandemic-themed installment for the channel was planned and in production. This was before the COVID-19 health crisis hit. It’s now in production limbo due to unforeseen circumstances.
- When asked for a temporary name for HIS THRONE, Kris Straub responded with “Steve.”
- The debunked alien theory was so widespread at some point, that the main article was written with that dismissed topic in mind. Kris has publicly debunked the alien theory, saying that whatever is attacking the humans is “alien to our existence” and that he is more interested in “the concept of something utterly foreign and unmappable to human consciousness.”
- Words of God:
- When asked what the 51st state is, Kris responded with “death.”
- According to Kris, the “hoax apology card” that bled through the station’s apology slide is itself a hoax.
- It has been confirmed that Candle Cove aired on Local58.
Analog Horror vs Creepypasta
The internet is home to a lot of genres of horror. One such genre, aside from analog horror, is creepypastas. Creepypastas are not horror stories so much that they are legends that linger on the internet. Many people claim that they can write a creepypasta. However, a creepypasta becomes one if it achieves notoriety.
Due to the surge of analog horror as a new subgenre, it has often been in comparison to creepypastas. However, these two are very different, especially with their very polarizing methods of telling a story. Creepypastas tend to deliver horror content through writing and text, while analog horror uses visuals and imagery to scare.
Check Out Local 58 Analog Horror Today
The world of analog horror brings a new twist to the days from the past. Local 58 spearheads the movement and is a good introduction to the subgenre.
Analog horror can be similar to other horror genres. However, the subgenre ultimately was able to differentiate itself and edify its existence during the latter half of the 2010s.