James Williams is a prankster. His longtime girlfriend has been a target of his outrageous ideas before, and she usually takes them pretty well, he says.
This time it was a little different.
Video of a recent prank of his — he scares his sleeping girlfriend into terrified wakefulness by rigging a ghostlike puppet to the front of the television — shows her terrified reaction.
The YouTube video, titled “The Ring-Style Wake Up Prank,” shows Williams’s girlfriend fast asleep on the couch in front of the TV in their home. She was in for a rude awakening.
Williams approaches stealthily and begins to place the puppet he named “Gladys the Ghost” to the TV. (In the editorial intro to the video on YouTube, Williams explained that he made the specter out of papier mache, bubble wrap, brown paper, old clothes, a coat hanger, tape, paint and a balloon for the creature’s head.)
After clamping Gladys to the TV set, Williams hides behind the staircase. He uses two wooden rods connected to the puppet to control its movements, and then he emits a long, ghoulish moan that wakes his girlfriend up. In the darkened room lit only by the TV and nearby fish tank, she sees the apparition, its moving arms outstretched. Not surprisingly, she starts to scream at the top of her voice, and thrashes under the covers.
He comes to comfort her, and they can both be heard laughing, but even after it’s over, she still covers her face, holds her hands to her chest and appears disoriented and frightened.
“I had to stop her running out the house,” he wrote on YouTube, describing his girlfriend’s reaction. “She said, ‘My legs went like jelly, I couldn’t really think what was happening but all I knew was that thing just kept coming at me.’”
Williams, an artist from the United Kingdom, had been setting up the prank for weeks, and the week before he put his plan into effect, he’d even told his girlfriend that he’d seen a woman standing at the foot of their bed one night.
In an email interview with ABCNews.com on Tuesday, Williams said his girlfriend, whom he declined to name, had no clue that he was planning the prank.
“After it, she said she was fine, but the next night when I took her out, after a few drinks she admitted she’d felt a bit on edge in work,” he wrote.
“She’s still talking to me, I’m so lucky to be with her,” he added. “I don’t think anyone else would put up with me! My mum said she should have punched my f***ing face in!!”
The only thing that upset his girlfriend about the whole thing, Williams wrote, were some of the less charitable comments by viewers on YouTube.
“When I saw her last night upset that’s when I really felt bad for doing it,” he wrote. “Most people write lovely things but not everyone. I told her not to read them but she would. Today I disabled all comments on the video.”
Williams pulled the prank on April 25 and Williams posted the video to YouTube a day later. It’s been seen more than 500,000 times since then.