Because sometimes pop stars want to chop someone up with a chainsaw for a laugh
Interpol – ‘Evil’ (2005)
With terrifying doll movies being hot right now, how could we not kick things off with a creepy-ass puppet? Christened ‘Norman’ by Interpol fans, the psychotic puppet busts scarecrow grooves on a hospital trolley in the aftermath of a horrible car crash.
The backstory: Talking to MTV, first-time music video director Charlie White said he had two objectives when it came to tackling this: “Spooky and not too hip.” He stuck the song on repeat for an entire weekend, pausing only to snack and sleep, which is where the idea of a car accident dawned on him. White said Norman is an amalgam of the idea of Interpol: “It fits the profile for both band and fan: it’s pale, thin, with dark hair and a boyish-man quality about him.”
See also: The Happytown Murders
MGMT – ‘Kids’ (2009)
Featuring a less-than-attentive mother (played by avant-garde musician Joanna Newsom) who leaves a terrified 18-month-old toddler to navigate hordes of unrelentingly disquieting creatures, this Ray Tintori-directed video drummed up a debate on whether subjecting a baby to such horrific imagery might constitute as a form of child abuse – so the band released a “behind the scenes” video of the toddler happily hanging out with the monsters on set.
The backstory: In the aforementioned “behind the scenes” video, Tintori describes how the video was a re-enactment, of sorts, of his experiences at his local video store as a kid: “I would walk through the horror aisle at the video store – it was a corridor of terror. I didn’t quite understand what any of these images on the boxes meant but I just knew that they scared the shit out of me – and that they were kind of cool.”
See also: Braindead, Bad Taste, Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal
Maylene and the Sons of Disaster – ‘Open Your Eyes’ (2011)
When FEARnet hosts the world premiere of a new music clip, you know you’re in for a terrifying treat. And that’s precisely what we got with the Scott B. Hansen-helmed music video starring bad-ass actor Danny Trejo (Machete, Three From Hell, “Breaking Bad”) as a heartless maniac whose torturing ways are put to an end once and for all by a trio of women out for vengeance.
The backstory: The whole thing fell into place out of the band’s love for Trejo. In various interviews, vocalist Dallas Taylor commented on how they’d once been on the same flight but never got the chance to meet him and, “ever since then, wanted him to be in one of their videos.” As luck would have it, by a curious twist of fate, Hansen and Trejo were acquainted and the stars eventually aligned.
See also: Any ’80s grindhouse movie
David Lynch – ‘Crazy Clown Time’ (2012)
Somewhere during his lauded filmmaking career, Lynch decided to try his hand at playing guitar, initially just to create sound effects for his movies. Then, the self-professed “self-taught non-musician” ended up creating something that resembled actual music – and released his first solo album in 2001. This seven-minute long video, shot to accompany the titular track of his second album ten years later, is nothing short of NSFW bonkers, depicting the most deeply disturbing garden party ever.
The inspiration: In conversation with Entertainment Weekly, Lynch described it as “intense psychotic backyard craziness, fuelled by beer.”
See also: Blue Velvet
The Initiation: Mykki Blanco (2013)
Deepfake technology is becoming all the more common – check out Ctrl Shift Face on YouTube, with his uncannily realistic (or is that alarming?) video editing skills. Ninnian Doff went a step further five years ago on Mykki Blanco’s sinister, psychedelic ‘The Initiation’ video, in which we see the Harlem rapper’s body crawling around London in full Cronenbergian body horror style – with an extra face slapped on the top of her head.
The Inspiration: In an interview with MTV, she explained her decision to rap in “the tongue of the Illuminati,” and it would seem that the two different faces serves as a metaphor for identity and virtuality: “I got on Wikipedia and Googled Latin phrases from A to Z, and I just started to cull what I liked and what made sense. If someone actually decodes ‘The Initiation,’ the song has a lot to do with identity and virtuality.”
See also: The Fly
Jamie T – ‘Zombie’ (2014)
In a scene the Ally Pally-filling singer/songwriter surely hasn’t experienced for a while, Jamie and and his backing band, The Pacemakers, are performing at a lifeless English pub to a bunch of apathetic patrons. So oblivious are they, they don’t even notice when the band start turning into rotting dead-ites on stage.
The Inspiration: Possible that the whole undead thing was a reference to him coming back after a long hiatus. In interview around the time of the release, he discussed just why he’d taken a break from the music industry since his ‘Kings & Queens’ 2009 tour: “I kind of felt at the end of the last record it was a good place to put a stop on it. I’ve been doing this since I was a kid so I took time out in order to keep my music fresh.”
See also: Shaun Of The Dead
Wolf Alice – ‘You’re A Germ’ (2015)
Taken from debut album, ‘My Love is Cool,’ ‘You’re a Germ’ is both musically and lyrically shit-scary enough, but the grindhouse-inspired video takes things to the next level. This Chris Grieder-helmed video sees the band holed up in a log cabin pitted against pretty much every single horror trope in the book: hordes of zombies, killer clowns packing chainsaws and a Jason Voorhees doppelganger…
The Inspiration: Being the die hard horror aficionados that they are – something this video makes starkly apparent – the band “always buy one [horror movie] on the road to watch together on long drives… Joff can do a brilliant Leatherface from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre impression and it was only a matter of time before we made our own [horror movie].”
See also: Friday the 13th Part 2
Le Matos feat. PAWWS – ‘No Tomorrow – A Turbo Kid Tale’ (2016)
Directed by the three-headed-horror-beast that is RKSS (genre filmmaker collective Anouk Whissell, Yoann-Karl Whissell, and François Simard), ‘No Tomorrow’ serves as a musical prequel to the 2016 sleeper horror hit Turbo Kid. Here we follow the misadventures of Turbo Kid‘s much-loved central character, Apple – with rotting corpse in tow – in a desolate wasteland. True to the original, gore-soaked, post-apocalyptic ’80s throwback feature film, this video is just as delightfully demented.
The inspiration: Given Turbo Kid‘s huge success on the international festival circuit, the creators launched an Indiegogo campaign to expand the movie universe. The video for ‘No Tomorrow’ takes its inspiration from that, and was released online on September 27, 2016, just one day before a Turbo Kid sequel was officially announced.
See also: Turbo Kid
Radiohead – ‘Burn the Witch’ (2016)
Should the impending R-rated horror take on The Banana Splits prove successful, we can assume that that won’t be the last kids show to get the terror treatment. One music video that did exactly that was Chris Hopewell’s take on Radiohead’s ‘Burn the Witch’ which turned warm childhood memories of Gordon Murray’s Trumptonshire trilogy into pure, unadulterated nightmare juice. It all starts off in a seemingly quaint village until everything takes a disturbing turn for the worse, culminating in a government official being burned inside a Wicker Man statue as the local townsfolk salute the camera.
The inspiration: The video’s animation consultant, Aardman alum Virpi Kettu, told Billboard how she was of the understanding that “[Radiohead] may have wanted ‘…Witch’ to raise awareness about the refugee crisis in Europe” and the “blaming of different people… the blaming of Muslims and the negativity” that could lead to sentiments such as “burn the witch.”
See also: The Wicker Man, Midsommar
Korn – ‘You’ll Never Find Me’ (2019)
Rounding out the list is Andzej Gavriss’s wild new companion video for nu-metal pioneers Korn’s latest single ‘You’ll Never Find Me.’ Unabashedly drawing inspiration from Stephen King’s short story Weeds, which was adapted for the big screen in the movie Creepshow, this re-imagining sees a scientist happen upon remnants of a meteor and a green, mossy substance that has sinister effects.
The Inspiration: Just as in King’s short story, the malevolent moss takes control of everything that crosses its path. Korn’s new album ‘The Nothing’ is scheduled for a September 13 release, and the band is touring with Alice in Chains this summer, who coincidentally just recently unleashed the episodic sci-fi horror film, Black Antenna which you can enjoy here.
See also: Creepshow