Halloween is officially around the corner. Treats have been made, pumpkins have been carved, and movies have been marathoned. Now it’s time to scare up our party playlists with some of the best Halloween inspired music videos.
Music videos are a quick and easy way for the fiend in you to get your spooky kicks. Below are ten of our favorites that keep the spirits alive and frightening. From dancing zombies to runaway witches, to miserable ghosts and even a surprise visit from the Mistress of the Dark herself, these videos will help get you into the spirit of Samhain faster than you can scream “Trick r Treat!”
::cue Vincent Priceish laugh::
10) Michael Jackson – Thriller (1984)
There wouldn’t be a Halloween music video list without Michael Jackson’s Thriller, so we might as well get it out of the way up top. Not only is it one of the greatest music videos of all-time, it features not one, but two chilling and terrifying horror movies in its 13 minute run-time. It is so influential, artists are still reusing & recycling many of the videos iconic dance moves to this day. It is also the reason I am into horror movies and the process of creating them.
Growing up, my family had a VHS copy of the Thriller music video, that also included a behind the scenes documentary that followed Michael, director John Landis (Masters of Horror) and make-up effect artist extraordinaire Rick Baker as they discussed the various stages of the production process. From Michael Jackson seeing An American Werewolf in London (1981) and wanting to make something with Landis because of it. To Rick Baker taking us through the many stages of Michael’s werewolf transformation, as he sits down after a long day in full zombie makeup.
Nowadays, almost every DVD, Blu-Ray or digital copy comes with hours of special features to get lost in. But back then it was eye-opening. Why my family had this VHS was beyond me. I don’t know who bought it or why. But I’m glad they did.
9) Phantom Planet – Big Brat (2004)
8) The Smashing Pumpkins – Silvery Sometimes (Ghosts) (2018)
The founding members of The Smashing Pumpkins are back after a nearly 20 year hiatus for their latest album, SHINY AND OH SO BRIGHT,VOL 1. The video for the new single, Silvery Sometimes (Ghosts) features the band staying at a seemingly haunted house as part of a radio contest hosted by an extremely lively Mark McGrath.
Halloween shenanigans aside, this video would make the list simply for gifting the world with the image of Billy Corgan dressed as a bunny, looking miserable.
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7) Queens of The Stone Age – Burn the Witch (2005)
In 2005, Queens of the Stone Age released the schlock-tastic video for Burn the Witch from the album, “Lullabies to Paralyze.” In it, a group of angry, torch-carrying townsfolk chase after a woman they suspect to be a witch, as each member of the band pop up, leading the mob in the opposite direction. In the end, their suspicions are correct as the woman in chase turns out to be a bonafide witch. With nowhere else to run, she uses her powers to summon an army of skeletons from the dead and takes out the townsfolk who meant her harm in gruesomely entertaining ways.
The songs bluesy, folkloric tone fits nicely with the video’s low budget look, as if it would be something you saw late night on TV as Elvira pops up during a commercial break and gives her best snark.
6) Ryan Adams – Gimme Something Good (2014)
While there’s nothing especially “Halloween-y” about the video, aside from an establishing shot of a haunted house, Ryan Adams’ Gimme Something Good from his 2014 self-titled album lands a spot on this list simply for including the Mistress of the Night herself, Elvira. Sometimes, that’s all you need.
5) TV On The Radio – Wolf Like Me (2006)
When you can get your story across in a video with little to no words, you have my curiosity. When you add werewolves into the mix, you have my attention.
Directed by Jon Watts (Cop Car), TV on the Radio’s video for Wolf Like Me mixes a B-Movie aesthetic with a silent film approach (title cards and everything). It even featured the old-school claymation for the werewolf action. Starring spoken word poet Beau Sia, a man thrust into an entirely new way of life when he comes meets and falls for America’s Next Top Model winner Naima Mora titular wolf.
Fun fact: TV on The Radio lead singer Tunde Adebimpe made a cameo in Watts’ other directorial effort, Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017).
4) Rockwell – Somebody’s Watching Me (1984)
Rockwell, born Kennedy William Gordy, son of Berry Gordy the founder of Motown Records exploded onto the scene with this Halloween classic back in 1984 after his father originally told him to “not quit his day job”, enlisting the help of Michael Jackson to sing the chorus of your song doesn’t hurt either.
The video itself still (unnerves) to this day thanks to the creepy imagery of disembodied heads floating in places they shouldn’t, blood flowing from the shower, personal cemeteries in backyards and the horror staple, the POV shot.
3) Practical Magic (1996) – Original Trailer
Does this count? It counts. (Editor’s Note: It totally doesn’t count, but it’s our list so go for it!)
While it may just be a trailer for a movie, which celebrated its 20 year anniversary recently, it’s also a pretty great 90s music video featuring songs from the Eurythmics and Meredith Brooks.
2) Rihanna – Disturbia (2008)
Creepy imagery? Check. Haunted lyrics? Check. Did I mention the creepy imagery? Seriously, that shot of Rihanna behind bars with a blonde wig on and her eyes full white? It’s been ten years since the video for Disturbia was released and I still can’t get that image out of my mind.
The uptempo, electropop song was part of the re-release of her album Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded that came out in 2008. The video, with its flash cut edits, double exposure photography and sped up action, give Rihanna and her cast of ghoulies a somewhat uncomfortable, otherworldly feel.
1) Bobby “Boris” Pickett – Monster Mash (1962)
When you make a best of anything Halloween list and open with Thriller, it’s only right to end it with Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s seminal Halloween classic, The Monster Mash.
While there is a cartoon version of this video floating around with Frankenstein’s monster and the Wolfman acting out the lyrics, Pickett’s performance from American Bandstand is simply mesmerizing to behold. The way he stares down the lens and contorts his face into inhuman shapes and sizes still unnerves to this day.
Now, if we could only figure out if the song is about a monster dance party or not.
That’s all for this year’s list of Halloween inspired music videos. Did we miss any? Let us know which videos you think best encapsulate the spirit of Halloween on Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, and in the Horror Fiends of Nightmare on Film Street Facebook group!