Five Terrifying Music Videos from My Childhood

Full disclosure: During the decade of the 1990’s, I was a bit of a whiner. I was also something of a nerdlinger, and about 20% of a dorkwad at any given time. My father encouraged me to play outside, constantly threatening to send me to Miss Muckwick’s Home for Soft and Sensitive Little Boys when I refused to join the football team every weekend.

When I tried to explain to him that I couldn’t just up and join the football team each weekend, that there was an enrollment period and tryouts and offseason training, he would just chase me up a tree with one of his many active beehives. It’s one thing I’ll never understand. The man loved bees but despised honey and loathed any sort of pollination.

Anyway, I’m sure some of you have similarly unknowable puzzle-fathers, so let’s move on.

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Since I was clearly not a sports guy, I spent a lot of time either reading or watching copious amounts of MTV. Blah blah blah, things were different and objectively better during the period of time in which I formed opinions about things and luckily people my age are in charge of the Internet right now so my nostalgia doesn’t seem weird. That being said, I truly believe that music videos were scarier back then, if not outright better. Judge for yourself.

5. The Cranberries – “Salvation” (1996)

This may be the most ham-handed anti-drug song outside of a DARE assembly, but the clown with fucking syringes for fingers is effective. How could it not be? Can you think of anything more universally despised than those two things? The only way it would be scarier is if one of the syringes had Guy Fieri’s face on it or something. That would probably be too much for me to handle. 

By the way, this song is actually terrible.

4. White Zombie – “More Human Than Human” (1995)

Watching this video after 20-or-so years of not seeing it at all, White Zombie doesn’t come across as scary so much as aggressive. However, the band footage is interspersed with what look like someone’s bizarre home movies. The grainy, lo-fi video quality gives the images a bit of a Texas Chainsaw Massacre vibe. Something bad is literally seconds away from happening.

3. Silverchair – “Tomorrow” (1995)

I have no idea what this song is about. Like many (but not all) rock songs, it probably isn’t about anything. That isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, and the song still kicks a fair amount of ass twenty years later. If nothing else, the memorable “Pig Man” character haunted many a pre-teen child.  That’s pretty funny, if you ask me.

2. Marilyn Manson – “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” (1998)

Remember when Marilyn Manson was considered threatening? It almost seems quaint now, doesn’t it? However, there was a time when Manson’s music was deemed subversive by the world at large. Here he is turning a nice Eurythmics song into a living nightmare.

1. Nine Inch Nails  “Closer” (1994)

This many not be the creepiest video on the list, but it’s unquestioningly the best source material. 1994’s The Downward Spiral is a modern masterpiece, and the accompanying video for “Closer” is one of the most memorable videos in the history of MTV.  The clip is packed to the brim with enough foreboding surrealism to satisfy David Lynch, and several images–crucified monkey, contortionists, skulls, etc–remain cemented in my brain forever. Great song, spooky video.

And yes, all of Tool’s videos are scary, so I couldn’t decide on one; Go watch all of them.

Anything to add? Share it in the comments!

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