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10 Ultra-Creepy Music Videos That Will Rock Your Nightmares [NSFW]

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With October drawing near, we’ve been seeking some musical inspiration for the Halloween season — and we’d like to share that holiday spirit in the most disturbing way possible, by compiling a little playlist of some seriously horrific music videos from a wide range of genres.

The consistent theme throughout these selections is a creepy (or straight-up horrifying) visual component, which can turn even a seemingly mellow tune into high-octane nightmare fuel.

Among these 10 clips — which feature a few well-known artists as well as some obscure but fascinating oddities — there’s a little something for every taste, provided you’re not afraid to lose a little sleep tonight.

This is by no means a comprehensive collection; there are dozens more like these that we can spring on you in the near future… and we’re open to suggestions!

Aphex Twin — “Come to Daddy”

This video may be the first alphabetic entry on this list, but it’s also fitting in the #1 spot, because it’s widely considered to be one of the scariest promos ever made. Experimental electronic artist Richard D. James has a thing for inserting mutated versions of his own face into his visuals, but he and director Chris Cunningham take that concept to horrific extremes for this 1997 project — cloning James into malicious child versions of himself, who then conjure a grotesque, skeletal monster which terrorizes a nice old lady just for the hell of it.

Daft Punk — “Human After All”

Before French robot-rockers Daft Punk became international pop icons in the wake of their gorgeous score for TRON: LEGACY and mega-smash album RANDOM ACCESS MEMORIES, they were creeping people out with music videos for “Technologic” (scary robot baby) and “The Prime Time of Your Life” (lots and lots of skeletons). But the video for the title track from 2005’s HUMAN AFTER ALL, expanded to the feature-length film project ELECTROMA, is memorable for starting out funny — depicting a world where everyone is a humanoid robot similar to the band’s iconic personas — and suddenly taking a nightmarish turn when the pair declare their individuality by crafting human masks for themselves. It doesn’t end too well for them.

DYE — “Fantasy”

No list of nightmarish music videos would be complete without at least one animated entry, and this Hentai-inspired, graphic horror clip for electro-chill band DYE is one of the all-time creepiest — and, I might add, the first entry on this list to earn the NSFW tag in a big way. The wordless story involves a group of teens breaking into an indoor swimming pool for an illicit party… which quickly turns from frisky to frightening. We’re talking monstrous, Lovecraftian tentacles bursting out of every human orifice, in the fine tradition of Japanese hentai comics and animation, culminating in an epic climax that will blow your mind (no pun intended).

Health — “We Are Water”

Extreme horror fans will dig this one, in which a young damsel in distress turns the table on her hulking, homicidal tormentor in the nastiest way imaginable. The first time I watched this, I had a pretty good idea where they were going with it… but I never imagined they’d take it quite as far as they did. In fact, this may be one of the most violent music videos ever made that isn’t associated with an extreme metal band (there are plenty of those out there, and I’ll get to them soon enough), and the fact that Health’s brand of electro-rock doesn’t really put you in the mind of genital mutilation, decapitation and geysers of blood makes it even more shocking.

Interpol — “Evil”

Most of us grew up with the belief that puppets are generally benign, and teach kids the alphabet or how to be nice to each other. Then we got older and irony reared its ugly head, giving us hilarious abominations like WONDER SHOWZEN and the like. Today, puppets can be totally horrifying — especially if they come dangerously close to human (more on that below), as the protagonist of “Evil” demonstrates. Designed by the same studio who worked on HELLBOY and several installments in the ALIEN and PREDATOR franchises, this mannequin-like accident victim is made more disturbing by his musical interaction with flesh-and-blood humans… and those realistic eyes and teeth totally jack up the creep factor.

Lou Reed — “No Money Down”

If you’ve read my past work, you know I’m obsessed with “The Uncanny Valley,” a theory which states anything that looks almost but not quite human is inherently nightmarish — and here we have a prime example. The late, great Lou Reed always had a certain otherworldly vibe about him, but this video takes that notion to the ultimate extreme… and suddenly the whole thing goes from creepy to straight-up horrifying in seconds as the robotic Lou suddenly decides he’s had enough of this silly charade and decides to literally rip his face apart. As scary as this whole concept is to begin with, I guess that was the only remaining thing the filmmakers and effects team could do to make it even scarier.

MGMT — “Kids”

While the song itself is a sweet alt-pop confection, the visual accompaniment is disturbing for two very big reasons: first, there are tons of hideous monsters in it, which in itself is nothing any horror fan isn’t used to; but second, these twisted monstrosities are clearly and repeatedly terrifying a very young child — who is undoubtedly going to sue the shit out of his parents for all the therapy he’s going to need as a result sticking him in this video. If you’re not put off by the blatant toddler-torture, you should try to count all the insane costumes, masks, prosthetics and other effects lurking around virtually every corner of this clip.

Mykki Blanco — “The Initiation”

I’d never experienced the ouput of LGBTQ performance artist Mykki Blanco before this video crossed my path… but now I’m totally into his work. The concept here can be summed up easily: various dudes sprout angry-looking second faces on the top of their heads — and these faces can talk, sing and even fight in gladiatorial combat. That’s weird enough just to think about… but when you see it in action, it’s pure nightmare fuel. Imagine Regan from THE EXORCIST laying down some sick rhymes during that “spider walk” down the stairs, then kicking someone’s ass a la FIGHT CLUB, and you’ll get the general idea. Maybe you’ll laugh, maybe you’ll shudder… I’m guessing a little of both.

Rose McGowan — “RM486”

Known best to horror fans for her role in Wes Craven’s SCREAM, the often provocative and outspoken McGowan has mostly abandoned the Hollywood realm for new creative pursuits — including this experimental multimedia project shot by acclaimed director Jonas Åkerlund, in which the actress transforms her nude, hairless body into an ethereal alien being, changing shapes and colors like a living mood ring as the film progresses. Not all of these forms are quite so comfortable to look at, as this admittedly sensual creature looks like she might devour you at any moment… but the end result is a beautifully surreal blend of horror and sleek eroticism.

Soundgarden — “Black Hole Sun”

We’re going back to the vaults to close out this list with a classic track from the iconic rockers’ chartbusting 1994 album SUPERUNKNOWN. Dark and mystical concepts are woven throughout this album, but they reach a horrifying peak with the music video for this melancholy hit single, in which candy-colored, David Lynch-inspired suburban scenes become hideously (and literally) twisted by the title anomaly; their already unnatural Stepford-like facial expressions warp into monstrous, oversized grimaces before the entire neighborhood is finally sucked into a cosmic vortex. Oddly enough, the original version of the video was far less creepy, having been released with incomplete digital effects.

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