It was my intention not to write about individual effects in the latest Trick of the Mind series, however I feel the overwhelming interest in the Zombie Arcade Game warranted at least something to be said and thus this can at least serve as an obituary to the lost bandwidth from sites who insist in streaming the entire clip.
Derren said he made a zombie shoot ‘em up game which would put a third of the people who played it into a catatonic, trance-like state. The game was then strategically placed in a pub and the trance was achieved and demonstrated with one player. He was subsequently placed on a hospital trolley and wheeled across the night streets of London, accompanied by his two compliant friends. He was taken to a disused warehouse, which resembled the layout of the game and was given a gun whilst his friends were ushered in to a side room where they would watch him play the real game when he was awoken in it.
After an unsuccessful attempt to escape and much shouting, swearing and screaming like a girl being taunted with a spider by her smirking brother, the young man appeared to soil his pants and preceded to shoot at the zombies, as if he were playing the arcade game. After much blood lose, severed limbs and a lawsuit from the National Union of Zombies (I think I made that up) Derren apparently calms the gentleman down and re-induces the trace-like state and wheels him back to the pub. He is awoken in front of the arcade game and when the exuberant chap is ‘vox-popped’ he describes game as being exciting, realistic and comments on the sound. To allay any concerns the Zombie player might have had governing his experience, Derren replays the footage back to him, providing the viewer with shots showing no evident psychological or emotional damage.
I’m unsure whether I expected the out-pour of concern and emotion from people horrified by the stunt or not. You see, I totally loved it, considered it to be a work of art as well as shear genius, but also found it to be shrouded in Derren’s usual push to be controversial by testing the outer limits of the warped boundaries he has created for himself with an explosion comparable in magnitude to that of a small nuclear explosion.
At the time of transmission I thought the perceived and shown induction in the pub was very clever; it even raised a smile from me – a feat only achieved by a handful of people. However, I may have changed my mind on reflection, I’m not sure. I wouldn’t go as far as saying it was in the same league as the swinging-pocket watch followed by the ritual of sucking lemons, but I’ve thought about it enough to conclude that I’m still sitting on the fence over it. Yes, the one as indecisive as an apple is blue, is precariously perched on the edge of the fence – I’m just hoping I don’t fall into the pit of oblivion which is teetering under my feet.
I can understand why people were appalled, sicken, disgusted or maybe even contemplated switching channels – people don’t turn their televisions off when they find something they don’t like; they watch it in its fully technicoloured glory and then complain afterwards!
I have seen many points of views ranging from people who were worried about epilepsy, long term emotional and psychological damage to concerns over the ethicality of the setup. I, however, do not express these concerns. Maybe I’m wrong to hold these views or maybe I don’t take everything I watch on television at face value and realise there is often more than meets the eye. This does not only apply to Derren, but the whole media environment our society has been encapsulated in. Just think. Just remember to question and think.
I now feel slightly uneasy; I have just written all of the above quite freely and easily but I know I have fallen into the trap – I have failed to mention what I actually thought of the effect. What can I say other than to climb onto my rooftop and announce to any passing pedestrian: IT WAS BLOODY FANTASTIC!
The effect was roughly fifteen minutes long and swept the viewer through a tidal wave of emotions extremely well. And who else could get away with playing peak-a-boo whilst crossing the road, the placing of hands on another man’s knees, hidden camera scenes (along with thrown in tension), using a flashing light as an induction technique, wheeling an unconscious person on a hospital trolley through the streets and to get him to shoot at zombies? Oh, fantastic. Brilliant. And the drama… I’m just speechless. I really couldn’t ask for anything more.
If I’m honest I feel this effect has surpassed every other individual effect Derren has performed – it has drawn everything together, been mashed up into a globular bullet, shot through the television set and hit the viewer between the eyes, rendering them clinging to the sofa with beads of sweat dripping down their face; struggling to catch their breath.
And what does Derren think? I’m sure he is laughing like a child in a candy store who is already high on sugar.