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The Human Latch — Gary Mars and Penny Ichor

Human latch explained
Since March 2024, the concept of the human latch has been making rounds on social media

On March 24th, 2024, an individual using the YouTube handle Baddreams1985 shared a video titled “The Human Latch.” The content centers on Gary Mars, a television host, who discovers his human latch. As depicted in the video, this discovery leads to a transformation so disturbing that it triggers a significant upheaval among the audience. The video abruptly cuts off, leaving viewers to speculate about the events that unfolded. Embedded closed captions indicate that the footage is from around 1990, featuring Gary Mars dressed as the TV presenter for a show called “Mars Mania.” The vintage quality of the video, reminiscent of older VHS (Video Home System) tapes, lends authenticity to the footage. But what is this human latch? Is it an actual footage where Gary Mars transform into something hideous? The human body’s “latch” is a (speculative) physiological “switch” that initiates “cellular reversal,” a process where all of the body’s proteins reassemble into a “mirror image.” All I could think was that the mirror proteins and regular proteins would resemble chiral molecules in appearance but functionality. Would the body simply disintegrate into a heap of little organic debris? Or would something different occur?  The human latch, as it turns out, is nothing more than a creepypasta. In short, it is fake. The human latch incident never happened. That leads to the question, how did so many fall for this video. To look at that, you need to understand what Analog Horror is. And then, about that one scene from the 1990 horror movie, Jacob’s Ladder.

Human Latch and Analog Horror

Analog horror, a subgenre within horror fiction, emerged as an extension of the found footage film genre, originating online during the late 2000s and early 2010s with web series like No Through Road, Local 58, Gemini Home Entertainment, and Marble Hornets. Characteristic features of analog horror include its utilization of low-fidelity graphics, cryptic messages, and visual styles reminiscent of late 20th-century television and analog recordings. The aesthetic is deliberately crafted to evoke settings typically found in the 1960s to 1990s or incorporate elements from that era. Visual and audio distortion, along with glitch-like effects, are frequently employed to simulate the technological constraints inherent to the subgenre. The term “analog horror” derives from its incorporation of elements associated with analog electronics, such as analog television and VHS a prevalent method for recording video and audio during that period.

Manipulation of existing media from the targeted time period is another hallmark of analog horror, exemplified in series like The Mandela Catalogue. These works often leverage the perceived limitations of their formats to their advantage, with effects and graphics designed to evoke curiosity and instill fear in viewers. Productions like The Backrooms utilize the constraints of replicated equipment to obscure the use of modern software tools like Blender and Adobe After Effects, enhancing the visual authenticity of the series. Analog horror exhibits influences from found footage horror films, including classics like The Ring (1998) and The Blair Witch Project (1999). David Lynch’s Inland Empire has notably influenced works such as No Through Road and Petscop, the former being a foundational short film in the analog horror genre’s development, and the latter a web series deeply rooted in analog horror aesthetics.

What is meant by the human latch

According to the video uploaded by Baddrema1985 on YouTube, Biologists and anatomists have long debated the existence of the “Human Latch” a physiological anomaly embedded within human anatomy. According to the most advanced theories, this latch acts as a genetic failsafe, a remnant of our evolutionary past. When activated, it initiates a catastrophic cascade of cellular reversal, a process where the body’s structural proteins unfold and reassemble in a mirror image of their original architecture. According to the video, the transformation into a human latch is irreversible and fatal. This was followed by screams from the audience, and the video comes to an abrupt end. This led many to believe that the footage of human latch was genuine, when it is was a hundred percent fake and edited footage. In fact, the user who uploaded have also uploaded some follow-ups to the original human latch video, and it seems like he is making a shared universe of sorts.

The Gary Mars TV show presenter. Credits to Baddreams1985

The Gary Mars TV show presenter. Credits to Baddreams1985

The second video of the human latch is about Penny Ichor, a research student from Harvard who comes upon the Gary Mars tapes and is hell bent on trying to find the truth. After intense research she decides to remove her human latch, and unfortunately, this does not go well for her, as she is found dead in her dorm room five days later. Again, no explanation is given to as what the human latch actually is, and the video cuts off by showing a blog of human tissue that, according to the video, is what Penny removed from her own body. The third video shows an interview with an audience member from the 1990 Gary Mars human latch experience, who says that Gary Mars transformed into something. Again, this something is left ambiguous.

Two Human Latch Similar Cases

After reading about the human latch, two things are coming into my mind. The first is prions, and the second one is spontaneous human combustion. Prions unquestionably stand out as one of the most terrifying entities in the realm of infectious agents. These minuscule, highly contagious particles arise when protein molecules within the nervous system undergo misfolding. Once a single faulty prion infiltrates a healthy individual or animal, it catalyzes the misfolding of adjacent proteins, initiating a gradual yet irreversible chain reaction that literally erodes the brain, resulting in the afflicted person’s eventual demise. The diseases induced by prions are termed Spongiform Encephalopathies, owing to the striking resemblance of infected brains to hole-riddled kitchen sponges.

Among the roster of prion diseases, Kuru presents a harrowing picture, causing death by depriving the infected of the ability to chew and swallow, leading to a slow demise from starvation. Fatal Familial Insomnia mercilessly afflicts otherwise robust individuals in their thirties, abruptly disrupting the body’s sleep mechanisms, plunging victims into psychosis, coma, and ultimately death within months. Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) manifests with symptoms of dementia and muscle tremors. Alas, all known prion diseases are untreatable and invariably fatal. Prions can infiltrate the human system through three primary avenues: direct contact with infected nervous tissue (potentially via surgery or consumption of contaminated meat), inheritance of the misfolding protein gene, or, chillingly, through spontaneous occurrence—whereby an error in protein synthesis occurs within the brain.

In laboratories, scientists have managed to aerosolize prions, creating a lethal spray capable of infecting the brains of mice. The alarming reality is that prions exhibit an extraordinarily high infectiousness, boasting a 100% infection rate within the same species. Thus, once a prion from another human enters one’s nervous system, the onset of a prion disease is virtually inevitable. Additionally, there exists a genuine risk of transmission from animals, either through consumption of tainted meat or potential contact with the infected animal’s bodily fluids, although the precise mechanisms remain elusive to scientists. Remarkably, despite their virus-like infectiousness, prions elude conventional methods of eradication because they lack the fundamental characteristics of living organisms. They withstand extreme conditions, resisting destruction even when subjected to autoclaving, rendering sterilized surgical instruments potential vectors for transmission between patients. Conventional cooking methods offer no reprieve; boiling, acid exposure, alcohol immersion, and radiation exposure fail to neutralize their infectious potential. Prions exhibit remarkable longevity, retaining their infectious properties in the environment for decades; brain specimens infected with prions and preserved in formaldehyde thirty years ago remain as potent today as they were then. To add a final chilling layer to this already terrifying scenario, prion diseases typically incubate silently for many decades before symptoms manifest, meaning individuals could be unwittingly harboring prions within their bodies at this very moment. It’s estimated that as many as one in every 2,000 individuals in the U.K. carry infectious prions without displaying any outward signs of illness, a disquieting statistic that underscores the insidious nature of these enigmatic agents.

A cow infected by Prions. Look at the similarity to the human latch

A cow infected by Prions. Look at the similarity to the human latch

Spontaneous Human Combustion (SHC) refers to the perplexing phenomenon of a living or recently deceased human body igniting into flames without any discernible external source of ignition. Beyond documented cases, depictions of this purported event can be found in literature, with both real-life occurrences and fictional portrayals sharing striking similarities in terms of the circumstances surrounding the incidents and the condition of the victim’s remains.

On July 2, 1951, Mary Reeser, a 67-year-old woman, was discovered burned to death in her home after her landlady noticed an unusually warm doorknob. This prompted the landlady to alert the authorities, who found Reeser’s remains reduced to ash, with only one leg remaining intact. Remarkably, even the chair she had been sitting in was completely destroyed. Reeser had taken sleeping pills and was also known to smoke. Despite the widespread belief in spontaneous human combustion (SHC), a contemporary FBI investigation dismissed this possibility. Instead, a common theory suggested that Reeser may have fallen asleep while smoking a cigarette, causing her gown to catch fire and ultimately leading to her demise. Her daughter-in-law speculated that the burning cigarette could have ignited her clothing, with her body fat fueling the fire. Notably, there were no combustible materials nearby, and the floor was made of cement.

Similarly, Margaret Hogan, an 89-year-old widow residing alone in Dublin, Ireland, was discovered nearly consumed by fire on March 28, 1970. Plastic flowers on a table in the room had melted into liquid, and a television with a melted screen sat several feet from the armchair where Hogan’s charred remains were found. Despite the intense heat, her feet and legs below the knees remained undamaged. Although a small coal fire had been burning in the grate the previous day, investigators found no connection between this fire and Hogan’s death. An inquest concluded that she died from burning, with the cause of the fire labeled as “unknown.” Similarly puzzling incidents occurred in subsequent years, including the case of Beatrice Oczki in 1979 in Bolingbrook, Illinois, and Henry Thomas in 1980 in Ebbw Vale, South Wales. Forensic analysis in Thomas’s case suggested the involvement of the wick effect, a phenomenon where body fat acts as fuel for a fire.

Mary Reeser's story. A case of spontaneous human combustion

Mary Reeser’s story. A case of spontaneous human combustion

In December 2010, the death of Michael Faherty, a 76-year-old man in County Galway, Ireland, was classified as “spontaneous combustion” by the coroner. Dr. Ciaran McLoughlin, the attending doctor, stated during the inquiry that despite thorough investigation, the circumstances led to the conclusion of spontaneous human combustion, for which there is no satisfactory explanation. Lastly, a case highlighted in The Skeptic magazine involved two children from the same family who perished in separate fires at the same time. While the coincidence was unsettling, evidence revealed that both children had a history of playing with fire and had been disciplined for it in the past. After considering all evidence, the coroner and jury ruled both deaths as accidental.

Human Latch and Jacob’s Ladder

Another thing that kind of reminded me of what the Human Latch could be is that mystery from the 1990 horror mystery film Jacob’s Ladder. In the film, Jacob learns from Michael that the harrowing experiences he endured on his final day in Vietnam were attributed to an experimental drug called “the Ladder,” administered to troops without their consent. The film concludes with a message stating that reports of BZ, NATO’s designation for a deliriant and hallucinogenic substance known as 3-quinuclidinyl benzilate, being tested on U.S. soldiers during the Vietnam War were denied by the Pentagon. Director Adrian Lyne cited Martin A. Lee’s book “Acid Dreams: The CIA, LSD and Sixties Rebellion” as partial inspiration for this storyline. However, Lyne clarified that while the book discussed LSD experimentation by the CIA, it did not suggest the use of BZ—a potent hallucinogen known to induce manic behavior—on American troops.

Human latch Jacob's ladder

A scene from Jacob’s Ladder

So what is 3-Quinuclidinyl benzilate that was used in Jacob’s Ladder? BZ is a powder that is white and crystalline and tastes unpleasant. It has no smell, does not cause irritation, and shows symptoms several hours after contact. It has a half-life of three to four weeks in wet air and is stable in most solvents; even heat-producing bombs can disseminate it. It is highly tenacious on most surfaces, in both water and dirt. BZ is insoluble with aqueous alkali but soluble in water, trichloroethylene, dimethylformamide, and most other organic solvents. As a potent anticholinergic agent, BZ induces a cluster of effects known as the anticholinergic toxidrome, encompassing both psychological and physiological manifestations. The most debilitating aspect is the onset of delirium, marked by cognitive impairment, hallucinations, and an inability to perform basic tasks. Additionally, typical physical symptoms of anticholinergic activity are evident, including pupil dilation (potentially leading to temporary blindness), rapid heartbeat, dilation of blood vessels in the skin, dry mouth, and elevated body temperature. These conspicuous symptoms are often summarized by the mnemonic “Mad as a hatter, red as a beet, dry as a bone, and blind as a bat” (and variations thereof).

It looks like the creator of the human latch creepypasta has been heavily influenced by the BZ from Jacob’s Ladder, and has created his own version of it.

Next, read about What Really Happened During the Las Vegas Shooting, and the Saudi Influence to it. Then, about The Couple who were Abandoned in the Middle of the Ocean!

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Written By

Abin Tom Sebastian, also known as Mr. Morbid in the community, is an avid fan of the paranormal and the dark history of the world. He believes that sharing these stories and histories are essential for the future generations. For god forbid, we have seen that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

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