The music video isn’t an art-form that’s known for being scary. However, musicians ranging from Taylor Swift to Michael Jackson have crafted memorably sinister music videos. This Halloween season, let’s look at the scariest music videos ever made.
‘Thriller’ by Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” isn’t as scary as the other music videos on this list, but it certainly has some creepy moments – combined with a dose of humor. This music video showcases some of makeup artist Stan Winston’s scariest work, from the numerous frightening zombies that dance with Jackson to the terrifying cat monster that the singer transforms into.
This clip also boasts a vocal cameo from Vincent Price, the high priest of old horror films, performing the spoken word section towards the finale. The fact that “Thriller” gave Price one of his final moments in the limelight gives it a special place in the heart of all diehard horror movie fans.
‘Blank Space’ by Taylor Swift
The song “Blank Space” has an undercurrent of malevolence, and Taylor Swift leaned into that for the song’s video. Upon first viewing, this song video might seem darkly humorous, but subsequent viewings reveal it to be one of the scariest music videos ever. Swift portrays a cold-blooded, unstable psychopath in this video who abuses her boyfriend mercilessly.
She even eats a forbidden fruit at one point in the video, drawing a direct parallel between her and Eve/Satan. This video bears some similarity to Pink’s video for “Please Don’t Leave Me,” which also features the singer as a contemptible girlfriend. The difference between the two is that “Blank Space” is a lot less goofy and therefore more upsetting. Whether Swift intended this or not, this music video is perfect Halloween viewing.
‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)’ by Marilyn Manson
Any discussion of scary music is incomplete unless it touches on the reigning king of shock rock, Marilyn Manson. Portrait of an American Family, the debut album by Manson and his band (formerly called the Spooky Kids), didn’t gain much attention, although it did earn the group a small but devoted cadre of fans. The band’s cover of the classic Eurythmic’s song “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” helped catapult them into the mainstream, thanks in part to its shocking video.
The clip has a gritty, ugly aesthetic that’s vaguely reminiscent of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. The clip for “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This” highlighted the singer’s penchant for strange outfits that make Madonna’s cone bra look normal by comparison. This video proved Marilyn Manson to be a master of macabre imagery – his videos still manage to scare and confuse audiences decades after his time in the music industry began. What’s a good Halloween without at least one Marilyn Manson song or music video?
‘Closer’ by Nine Inch Nails
Trent Reznor’s band Nine Inch Nails was never particularly concerned with commercial success – otherwise, they would be making very different music. It’s surprising that their most well-known and beloved song has such a dark, disturbing music video. The song’s crazy imagery, from Trent Reznor’s bizarre glasses to monkeys in compromising positions to creepy mechanical devices make this one of the scariest music videos of all time. The video’s juxtaposition of creepy footage and an incredibly salacious song make it incredibly upsetting – and striking.