Everyone hates the ReDeads from Ocarina of Time, right? Those gangly, groaning bodies are beyond unsettling, and no iteration since Ocarina of Time has managed to replicate the horror of hearing their moans, their screams, and the paralysis as they edge towards you. Although I can quite comfortably cut them down now, I still find them unpleasant to confront even as an adult. However, I must confess that my 12-year-old self was so disturbed by them that I went to great lengths to alleviate my feelings of dread.
To embarrassing lengths.
I’ll never forget the moment I first saw the ReDeads while watching my older brother play Ocarina of Time. A few of my family members and I were sitting around the TV in the living room, watching him emerge from the Temple of Time as Adult Link. The new world he entered felt off and unsettling. It was unexpected. The Temple of Time courtyard was dark, cold, and devoid of music, and it didn’t bode well for the town just beyond the exit.
It turned out that my dread was justified. I heard the groans and saw the lifeless bodies. I looked at the ReDeads, stood around the burnt remains of Hyrule Castle Market, with their heads and arms drooped down limply. One was mere feet away from Link, standing outside what was once the Happy Mask Shop. It was disturbing, and completely out of left-field compared to the rest of the game I’d seen so far.
However, the thing that struck me most was the moaning. The constant, deeply unsettling groans of the half-dead, half-alive bodies. What made it worse was that I couldn’t help but think these were the zombies of all those lively people who I’d spoken to seven years ago. Did Ganondorf… win?
Fast forward a year or so to when my brother let me borrow his Nintendo 64 and play Ocarina of Time for myself. I quickly fell in love with the game and powered through the first half as Child Link. However, I knew that it was only a matter of time before I had to confront the ReDeads. I dreaded hearing their moans in the Market’s ruins again, so I thought hard about what I could do to avoid them. However, it seemed there was no way out. I couldn’t leave the Temple of Time from any other exit. I couldn’t warp without a song. I couldn’t turn off the game and spawn somewhere else, as Link would simply return to the Temple of Time. I had no choice but to go through the Market. I had to run past them.
Then, a genius idea came to my 12-year-old mind. The thing that distressed me most was the groaning, so I decided to simply turn off the sound. Problem solved! But wait, my younger sister was watching me play. I couldn’t just admit to her that I was scared of the ReDeads! My reputation as the older, braver sister was at stake. So, I came up with a brilliant excuse for turning off the sound.
“Ewwww, his voice is so horrible!” I declared, as I swung Adult Link’s sword for the first time and heard him say “hyut, hyah!” in a much deeper voice. I turned the sound down to zero, under the guise that I hated his deep adult voice. Whether or not my sister bought it, I’ll never know. But it was enough to let me overcome my fear of the ReDeads and run past every single one of their sluggish corpses, out of the market and into Hyrule Field. To keep up the charade, I left the sound off for a while, and I remember worrying that I would miss hearing new things. But it was worth it to save my sanity and my dignity.
On that shameful day, the ReDeads got the better of me. However, I eventually built up my bravery and sought revenge. When I reached the Bottom of the Well in Kakariko Village, I was ready.
For whatever reason — possibly because I wanted physical evidence of overcoming my fear and facing my greatest challenge — I set up a camera in front of the tiny TV in my room, to film me beating the Bottom of the Well. With my sister watching me once again, I went down into the well, down to the pit of poisonous water, and prepared myself to fight the ReDeads clustered in the nearby cave. A dramatic battle began.
They were all bunched together, moaning and edging towards me in unison. I lunged at them with my tiny Kokiri Sword, desperate to kill them before they had a chance to wrap their arms and legs around me. I knew I could use the Sun’s Song to freeze them, but I wanted to use my sword and shield to defeat them, fair and square.
Warning: This video has some mildly explicit language.
I mashed buttons repeatedly, twisted the joystick furiously, and ran back and forth to reorient myself. After nearly joining the dead myself and refusing to retreat, they were finally dead. Dead for good. I remember feeling so proud of myself. I beat not just one, but five of them. All on my own.
I may not have been able to face them as Adult Link, but I think it’s fitting that my childhood self finally overcame my fears as Child Link and silenced the ReDeads — for real.