The creepy music video used to be a staple of MTV. The concept peaked in the mid ’90s, with Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson stretching the boundaries of viewers’ tolerance for horrifying images, and then slithered away. Recently, though, the genre seems to be experiencing a comeback. Thanks to Lady Gaga‘s avant-garde, postmodernist weirdness and Tyler, the Creator‘s knack for the grim, unsettling and bug-eating, music video watchers are once again learning to enjoy discomfort.
To commemorate this proud music video tradition, we’ve paged through the online MTV Yearbook and found five classic videos that fueled our childhood nightmares and had our parents dialing up the school psychiatrist.
Just as Duran Duran broke through the glass mirrored ceiling with the “Girls on Film” video and opened the floodgates for our current T&A-centric music video culture, this 1988 Metallica cut was a landmark for the “eery” video genre.
Death in Vegas–“Dirt”
Androgynous demon fascists, people with animal heads, scary little girls…par for the course when it came to late ’90s aggro-electro.
If you thought the movie “9” was 74 minutes too long, this is the music video for you. Also, pipe guts at minute 4:44.
With this video, Madonna proved that rock dudes didn’t have a monopoly on nightmare fuel. But it was also her usual wet dream fodder, thus teaching us how to be afraid and aroused at the same time (a valuable skill, since we were terrified of girls back then). This video may have been conjured while on shrooms, but we don’t recommend watching it while on shrooms.
Alice in Chains–“Grind”
Every Alice in Chains video seems to take place in a dirty, murky pit of hell. This is the creepiest of the bunch, mainly because of the terrifying cymbal monkey at minute 2:58.