"Scare Tactics" Review
By Shawn McKenzie 04/12/2003
Do you remember a movie from 1987 called The Running Man? It was based off a Stephen King short story of the same name and starred Arnold Schwarzenegger as a man who is forced to participate in a reality game show where the losers were killed. They justified his peril because he was a criminal (falsely accused, but still judged a criminal.) In 2001, there was film called Series 7: The Contenders in which the contestants in a competitive reality show had to hunt and kill each other, and unlike The Running Man, the contestants aren’t criminals. The point of both of those movies was that reality shows are getting increasingly more violent and/or dangerous. The Sc-Fi Channel’s new hidden-camera show, “Scare Tactics,” looks like the first step towards the reality of those fictional shows. For some reason though, I still feel compelled to watch it.
The show is basically “Candid Camera” in a horror movie setting. Shannen Doherty is the host, and sometimes she gets involved in the pranks herself. Essentially, how it works is that someone wants to scare the crap out of someone else (usually a friend or family member that person wants to get back at.) With the help of the show, they put that person in situations inspired by science fiction and horror films. The victims have no idea that they are about to be put in a terrifying situation that is being filmed. Some examples of these “pranks” involve a UFO abduction, a friend being buried alive, a medical testing experiment that goes wrong, a dangerous hitchhiker, Bigfoot, and a psycho killer at a camp. The two pranks I saw that included Doherty were a weapons testing disaster involving her “Uncle Jimmy” and a kidnapping plot. All of them definitely achieved their goal of scaring the crap out of their victims.
I have such mixed feelings about the show. On the one hand, I think scaring people without their consent is a slippery slope to shows that are similar to the movies mentioned above. I realize that everyone signs waivers after the prank is done, but someone could eventually get seriously hurt or traumatized. A woman named Kara Blanc is suing the show because she was led to believe that an “extraterrestrial murderer” had targeted her. They film several versions of the same prank with different victims, so her segment wasn’t the one that aired. Still, she did go through that trauma (though personally I wouldn’t have been scared of a ten foot guy in a rubber alien suit.) The victims don’t choose to be on the show beforehand, like the people on shows like “Fear Factor” who do choose to do the gross and dangerous things they do. I think Blanc should sue her friends and not the show.
On the other hand, the show is more interesting to watch than the hidden-camera shows that go for the laughs instead of the scares. Every victim I’ve seen so far appear to be in their twenties, so I’m not too concerned about someone having a heart attack. Every victim seems to take the scares in good spirits once they find out it was a prank (though I would be curious to see the victims who didn’t sign the waivers.) Oh, and finally, think what you may about her, but Doherty looks good on this show!
I really don’t think we’ll ever get as bad as The Running Man with reality shows, because that would require them to do illegal acts, but “Scare Tactics” is pretty extreme. I only give this show a good rating because it is so fascinating to see these people get scared. Time (and ratings) will tell where we go from here.
DO NOT MISS THIS SHOW!
Try to catch this show every week...
If a better show is on, tape this one...
If nothing else is on, maybe this will be good...
If this show is on, change the channel immediately!