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The top 10 “Oh Shit!” moments in video games

Resident Evil 4

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By Adam Rosenberg

Video games may well be the greatest source of “oh shit!” moments in fiction. With movies and television and books you’re really just along for the ride, whereas games force you to actively engage with the world around you. As terrifying as it can be to watch as Victim #26 is confronted by a ghostly killer without warning in Horror Movie Sequel #347, the experience strikes on a much deeper level when you yourself are the agent of the unfolding action.

We’re taking some time today to look back at some of those classic “oh shit!” moments in gaming. Do these line up with your own favorites? Are there others that hit you even harder? This isn’t a definitive list, it’s a starting point. Share some of your own favorite “oh shit!” moments in the comments below, and don’t forget to watch IFC’s “Scared Shitless” back-to-back horror movies every Saturday in October at 8/7c!

Dead Island – A most unexpected trailer

The game itself is quite enjoyable, but the top “oh shit!” moment for Dead Island goes to its initial reveal trailer. Essentially a gameplay-free short film, the trailer serves up a brutal scene of a family as they are literally torn apart by a horde of zombies. What’s unique about it is the presentation, amounting to a pair of concurrently playing sequences that show the same event: one at normal speed in chronological order and one in reverse that plays in slow-motion, all with a very quiet, calming piano theme playing behind it. Seeing the pieces all fall together in the final seconds is deeply disturbing, and the finished product is one of the best trailers we’ve ever seen, in this or any other medium.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare – Getting shot in the face

Modern Warfare 2‘s infamous “No Russian” airport shooting might be more horrifying, but it was Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare that provided one of this biggest “oh shit!” gaming moments of this generation. An early level sees you, a captured and newly deposed leader, shuffled into a car in a nameless Middle Eastern nation. In the sequence that follows, you drive slowly through the war-torn streets until you reach a large, open outdoor space where one of the game’s chief antagonists is waiting. Following a brief speech, he pulls out his sidearm, takes aim at your face… and fires. It’s a trick that seems so common now, but that Call of Duty 4 level very effectively set our expectations moving in one direction only to bring them all to a crashing halt in no more than the time it takes to pull a trigger.

Halo: Combat Evolved – A flood of Flood

Over the years, Halo‘s “other” enemy — the zombie-like Flood — has transformed from dreadful terror into hated gameplay hook. The puffy, explosion-prone beings may be absent from the upcoming Halo 4‘s story, but their first introduction in Halo: Combat Evolved amounts to one of gaming’s most chilling moments. Master Chief was already lost and stranded on what appeared to be an unusual alien world, but he discovered real terror deep below its surface as the Flood make their series-first appearance in an overwhelming horde. Many look back on that moment now and scoff, but their collective “oh shit!” shouts echo back to us even now.

Dead Space – The whole damn thing

Dead Space effectively out-Resident Evil‘d Resident Evil. Visceral Games’ atmospheric sci-fi horror tale follows engineer Isaac Clarke as he explores a dead spaceship that’s been overrun by fearsome alien creatures known as Necromorphs. These twisted beings infect regular people, turning them into nightmare visions that hunt you every step of the way. There are so many moments in Dead Space that make the blood run cold — and in Dead Space 2, for that matter — that it’s easier to just point at the whole game and go “oh shit!”

Silent Hill – Welcome to horror

There’s a different “oh shit!” moment for nearly every flavor of Silent Hill fan, a series built around horrifying imagery and building tension through desperate situations. Really though, it all comes back to those first tentative steps that we all took through the titular town. No one really knew at that point what was to come. The fog. The desolation. The white noise. As open as that environment is, it always felt so alarmingly claustrophobic. It teased you too. The game didn’t start with OMG THERE ARE MONSTERS IN MY FACE. It keeps you dangling on the hook for awhile, for quite awhile, before the first hints of nastiness rear up and try to kill you.

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Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.