Guest post by Liz Morris, marketing assistant with Bloomsbury Academic
Happy Halloween! In this spookiest of seasons, we have pulled together a list of some of our favorite unsettling music videos for your enjoyment—or terror.
Let’s kick off the round-up with Radiohead’s “Just.” If this music video had a genre, it would be suspense. No, there aren’t any jump scares, butchered animals, or monstrous faces, but this video will leave you with an eerie mix of confusion and dread.
The video has a two-part structure: your standard jam session with the band, and what feels like a short film dictated through subtitles. The viewer follows a man dressed in a suit, who attracts quite a crowd whilst laying in the middle of the sidewalk. People repeatedly ask him what he’s doing and why he won’t move, but he refuses to answer them until the end of the video. His answer, which is conveniently and horrifyingly redacted from the subtitles, instantly kills everyone in the crowd. Nothing more chilling than an ambiguous, open ending.
Rockwell stumbles around his house, anticipating horrors around every corner. The camera angle creates a sense of voyeurism, and the video speaks to the justified paranoia that arises when you do not feel safe in your own home. Rockwell likely intended “Somebody’s Watching Me” to be a commentary on celebrity culture, which still stands, but in this world of social media and increased surveillance, this song has a new level of relatability.
Metallica’s video for “Until it Sleeps” is chock full of Catholic imagery, which I personally find terrifying. There are themes of pain and imprisonment woven throughout the video and lyrics, leading the viewer to suspect that the artist may find both solace and struggle within his religious beliefs. If you want to watch Metallica’s cosplay of Adam and Eve and the crucifixion, check out the full video.
This music video is meant to perplex you as much as it is meant to disturb you. Will you see a monkey strapped to a crucifix? Yes. Will you see a gentleman in a top hat holding a severed pig’s tongue with absolutely no context? Also yes. The video is littered with shots of tortuous-looking medical equipment covered in cockroaches, alluding to some cruel experimentation in the name of science.
Last but certainly not least, the video I found the most unsettling: “Sweet Dreams” by Marilyn Manson. This video is a mix of grunge and horror, complete with ghoulish make up, a house in desperate need of demolition, and the lead singer wearing a cowboy hat and riding a pig.
This was one of the many music videos I watched during my “research” that featured pigs. If you’ve been following along, you might’ve peeped the severed pig’s head in the “Closer” music video. Perhaps pigs are a reoccurring image in the horror genre because they are one of the easiest ways to conjure the idea of slaughter, of something bred to be killed. Or maybe, they are meant to remind us of the stomach-lurking realities of the meat-production industry. For me, the latter gives me shivers.
That concludes our Halloween music video round up, but we hope you are able to celebrate this autumnal season with much good music and only a few jump scares.