Editors Note: Barrett Share is a writer for Music Video Sins, CinemaSins, and co-host of The SinCast. This isn’t intended to be a top 10 list, though Barrett assures us that he could rank them if need be. You can find him on Twitter at @MusicVideoSins and check out the gang poking fun at music videos on the YouTube channel.
These are ghastly times for many reasons, but one of them is intentional. It’s Halloween! What better time to dive into the madness and mayhem that is… music videos? That’s right, there’s plenty of horror-themed content out there to keep you occupied for hours during a deep dive through the rabbit hole. And yeah, this eclectic list COULD be populated solely by deathcore acts like Cannibal Corpse, Bloodthorn and The Faceless, but where’s the fun in that? These are the top ten hand-selected, horror-themed videos of all time:
Michael Jackson – Thriller (1983)
The most famous horror-themed music video of all time. The John Landis classic is a bit of a unicorn, in that it’s a nearly 14-minute short film that encompasses multiple realities and only features the title track to the landmark album for less than half of its runtime. And they showed this shit on MTV! Thriller was a video that was made for a YouTube audience, only released 21 years before its existence. It’s also corny, silly, nonsensical, and needlessly complicated. And STILL one of the greatest videos of all time. That dance, man. That dance.
Radiohead – Karma Police (1997)
A car with an anonymous driver relentlessly pursues a terrified victim down a rural road, methodically plodding behind the man’s futile attempt to escape, learned at the Prometheus School of Running Away from Things. Thom Yorke calmly sits in the backseat, periodically witnessing the scene and gently proclaiming, “This is what you get when you mess with us.” Eventually the man collapses, setting the stage for a shocking and brutal final act. Radiohead’s got some classic videos, but this one is definitely their most ambiguous and chilling.
Backstreet Boys – Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) (1998)
You could tell the Backstreet Boys were obviously trolling for their own Thriller moment with this video. Take a random single, throw some campy horror effects on it, and voila! Instant classic! Even though it misses the mark as a spiritual cousin to Michael’s magnum opus, this is a fun and catchy song that can’t help but laugh at itself. Plus, there are several shots of Mummy Nick Carter inquiring about his sexuality, so it adds a bit of existential examination to the proceedings.
Rammstein – Du Hast (1997)
The German industrial/metal outfit has several candidates for this list, but Du Hast is by far the most interesting from a narrative structure. A masked contingent of criminals awaits a nervous interloper in an abandoned warehouse, while his female companion nervously waits in the car. Shenanigans ensue, drinks are poured, threats are shouted, and the pyrotechnic budget is maxed out by the twisty end of the video. Rammstein already had a hook with its fuzzed-out guitars, metal disco aesthetic and husky-voiced lead singer, but they still went all-out with their videos.
Die Antwoord – I Fink U Freeky (2012)
You may not be familiar with this South African dance/rap/hip hop/zef hybrid, and you’ll be forgiven if so. The male/female duo produces some of the weirdest and most disturbing content out there, especially in their music videos. I Fink U Freeky is chock full of this, including a dancing child with a penis nose, a rodent emerging out of Yolanda Visser’s nether-regions, and roach-infested omelets, just to name a few! But seriously… try to keep this song out of your head for the rest of the day after you hear it.