The Next Nightmare?
Well Zombie, actually.
In its basic format the players pulled numbers and tombstones blind from a bag, set up some Fate and Time cards, dimmed the lights, popped in the tape and gathered around the board. The board was just a circle of broken tombstones with a few spots called Black Holes (into which players were put by the Gatekeeper as punishment) and a central coffin where each player would place a card upon which he or she had written their "greatest fear" in grease pencil. Players rolled dice, moved around the circle like young Conan on the wheel of pain, and tried to not be the player currently taking a turn when the Gatekeeper popped up on the screen. When he did he shouted at you accompanied by a thunderclap and demanded you answer him with a, "Yes, my Gatekeeper!" and then he punished you for no good reason. Obviously the only way this works is if everyone is into the spirit of the game as the other players are responsible for enforcing all this madness. The company, A Couple of Cowboys Ltd. (out of Australia, I believe), would go on to make 4 of these Nightmare/Atmosfear games, each featuring a different host drawn from the playing pieces of the game itself. These characters consisted of a zombie, a poltergeist, a mummy, a werewolf, a vampire, and a witch. If you were a monster/horror fan, this was right up your dark and dangerous alley.
The game was rebooted as Atmostfear: The Harbingers where it gave the players a little more control (and sadly less difficulty, which turned out to be less fun for me personally), and then remade in DVD format, which added a random factor that the VHS tapes simply could not have. Two games were made on DVD.
In order to play any of the Nightmare sequels one had to be in possession of the original game, as that was where the board and pieces were to be found. The sequels were really just a new VHS tape and some extra cards.
You can find the videos on YouTube if you are curious.
So all that long introduction over, Nightmare 2: Zombie was hosted by Baron Samedi, which was one of the playing pieces from the original game. This one had a bit more humor to it than the first with the Baron being a jokester compared to the Gatekeeper. His look was meant, as is his name, to invoke the Voodoo loa associated with zombies. Let's go ahead and have a look, shall we?
And there he is. His dusty black tailcoat and top hat are imagery associated with Baron Samedi of Voodoo fame, but he's also a zombie himself, so he's not really meant to be a perfect analog. The Baron's personality was jovial but deadly. Unlike the previous host, who demanded a "Yes, my Gatekeeper!" from a player when he called upon them, the Baron expected the player whose turn it was to stand tall with speed and reply, "Yo, Baron, I can dig it!" whenever the player heard a "Thrill me!" from the host. That's actually a multi-layered joke there. Hip lingo that hasn't been fresh since before he went into the ground, zombie, graveyard, dig it...get it? I knew that you would.
Another feature of the VHS series that was absent from my viewing of the DVDs was the progressive changing of the host along the hour of play. With the Gatekeeper we saw a basically normal man become more and more monstrous until finally his eyes had become demonic and his skin an unhealthy shade. With Zombie they stepped up the game and had the Baron progressively rotting. At first it is not noticeable, but by the end he's pretty nasty.
|Starting to look a little rough there, buddy.|
|By this point he's pretty much full rot and hella mean.|
And then there was the timer. Each game was an hour long, during which time the host would pop up at intervals that grew shorter and shorter until it seemed he just didn't leave you alone in the last 5 minutes. All play stopped while the host was on the screen, so not insignificant part of the challenge was in beating the clock.
And that's the clock. When the host is not on the screen a digital display counts up the seconds and minutes you've been playing.
The Gatekeeper's timer was just an innocuous night sky, but for Zombie they went with a clever EKG readout.
|Literally seconds left to go...I have seen the Baron beaten even at this late stage...once.|
|"You lose, jive turkey"|
As for the Baron's look itself, I quite like it. He's a fresh take on an old rotting monster with his out-of-date hepcat jive talk but he wears a classic ensemble and rots on the screen. If you are so inclined you can hop over to YouTube and find the music video that was on one of the tapes advertising the game and its sequels where the Baron will thrill you with his MJ dance moves as well. Of the various Nightmare tapes, this was probably the one we played most as well, because it was truly difficult (for us at least) and had a sardonic wit about it. Here's a zombie I can get behind. So I say, "Yo, Baron, I can most definitely dig it."
|"Nighty-night,kiddies, keep those pumpkins lit."|