13 Classic Rock and Pop Videos for Creepy Halloween Viewing

It’s that spooktastic time of year when we like to binge horror movies, dress up for costume parties, and embrace the dark side of life. And if you’re planning a haunted house or Halloween party, why not have some creepy-cool music videos to go along with the season? Here’s a list of clips from across different genres to enliven your next ghoulish gathering. The sound doesn’t even need to be on for them to be entertaining.

Videos by American Songwriter

1. Screaming Lord Sutch, “Jack the Ripper” (1963)

If you’re jonesing for old school kitsch, check out this clip from Screaming Lord Sutch, who predated both Arthur Brown and Alice Cooper for horror-themed stage antics. The video featured Sutch dressed as the song’s famous, knife-wielding murderer, prowling a luridly-lit set and killing four women (bloodlessly) over the course of three minutes. Sutch had a ball weaving his sneering visage into and away from the camera lens.

2. The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, “Fire” (1968)

One of the earliest shock rockers (he heavily influenced Alice Cooper), Arthur Brown didn’t need any set pieces or narrative drama to get your attention. The masked, caped madman and his flaming headpiece were entertaining enough as he spastically danced and gestured through this performance clip. The use of the negative video effect for many shots imbued them with extra gothic quality.

3. The Rattles, “The Witch” (1970)

This Teutonic group recorded a second version of this song with singer Edna Bejarano, and it went Top 5 in Germany and Top 10 in the U.K., reportedly selling a million copies worldwide and becoming the first German band to chart in America. (Nineties Goths likely know Rosetta Stone’s hard rocking cover.) The slightly macabre feeling of this video was driven mainly by Bejarano’s bewitching look as she gazed deep into the camera while walking towards it in woods at dusk.

4. Chris de Burgh, “Don’t Pay the Ferryman” (1982)

De Burgh is best known for the romantic ballad “Lady in Red,” which makes this amped-up rock anthem and video even more delightful to watch. Dressed up in his best Dracula attire, de Burgh was accompanied by images of a mist-shrouded graveyard, cloaked figures, and a ghostly-looking bride. No lady in red to be found here! The original version featured lines from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, read by future Buffy the Vampire Slayer actor Anthony Head, but the spoken word section, submerged in the mix, was cut for the single version.

5. Greg Kihn Band, “Jeopardy” (1983)

What started off as a seemingly happy, upbeat wedding day gradually devolves as Kihn, standing at the altar, begins to see couples around him merged in weird ways like being handcuffed or having their hands fused together. When he lifts the veil to kiss his bride, she transforms into a zombie, as does the rest of the wedding throng. As Kihn tries to escape, a long tentacle from a hell-spawned creature attempts to take him down. Still thinking of going through with those nuptials?

6. Michael Jackson, “Thriller” (1983)

The most influential music video of all time broke all the rules, incorporating narrative parts about dates gone hellish to extend the clip. It was directed by John Landis (An American Werewolf in London) and featured make-up from Oscar-winner Rick Baker, who turned Jackson into a werecat and a zombie. “Thriller” moved from playfulness to creepiness and back again as the singer terrorized two girlfriends with monster transformations. Beyond the dancing zombies, the song’s Vincent Price narration was icing on the cake.

[RELATED: New ‘Thriller 40’ Trailer Promises a Look Behind the Curtain of Michael Jackson’s Iconic 1982 Album [Watch]]

7. Rockwell, “Somebody’s Watching Me” (1984)

This minor-key pop gem from Rockwell was a tongue-in-cheek examination of paranoia, and it lent itself to this cheeky video that nodded to Psycho, Halloween, zombie movies, and various other horror tropes. It came out mere weeks after Thriller, and featured Michael Jackson singing the chorus. The most memorable line: I don’t feel safe anymore / Oh, what a mess / I wonder who’s watching me now (who?) / The IRS? Scary!

8. Ozzy Osbourne, “Bark at the Moon (1984)

As befitted heavy metal’s Prince of Darkness, this video from the infamous singer integrated as many Hammer Horror elements as it could—a creepy, horse-drawn carriage, a rainy funeral, an ominous asylum, a caped figure, and a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde transformation. (Or should we say Dr. Ozzy and Mr. Werewolf?) Perfect background imagery for your next horror-themed soiree.

9. Twisted Sister, “Be Chrool to Your Scuel” (1986)

Long before forensics shows allowed for far more bloodletting and close-ups of dead bodies on network television, Twisted Sister released this off-the-wall clip for their ‘50s-flavored anthem. It features guest appearances by Alice Cooper, Bobcat Goldthwait, and loads of flesh-eating high school zombies courtesy of make-up guru Tom Savini. Banned by MTV back then, this gory but tongue-in-cheek video seems tame these days. For Beverly Hills 90210 fans, look for a young Luke Perry in the opening shot.

10. Oingo Boingo, “Insanity” (1994)

The final studio album from this quirky ensemble generated this unsettling clip, complete with intense, under-lit shots and close-ups of a maniacal-looking Danny Elfman. The video offered a mixture of live action shots and stop-motion animation featuring possessed puppets and dolls and disembodied doll parts. Playing this in the background with no sound is sufficiently creepy enough. Add the seething, biting lyrics about religious hypocrisy, and you ramp things up another notch.

11. Soundgarden, “Black Hole Sun” (1994)

It’s probably scary for fans of grunge to think that its peak period in the early ‘90s already qualifies as classic rock, but here we are. This psychedelic song got the phantasmagorical video treatment it seemed to call out for as a seemingly joyful, peaceful suburb melts into a nightmare world that looks like a David Lynch movie on an even more serious acid trip. Director Howard Greenhalgh once said he was inspired here by the opening of Lynch’s 1986 film Blue Velvet. That tracks.

12. Backstreet Boys, “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” (1997)

Is this a scary song? Hardly. It wasn’t even released around Halloween—it was a summer song. The video did take place in a haunted house, though, and featured the Boys living out their spooky fantasies by getting to dress up as all the classic Hollywood horror characters, from the Mummy to Dracula to the Wolf Man. And there were real-live rats involved.

13. Mötley Crüe, “Looks That Kill” (1984)

Once we had 12 spooky-ish videos, we obviously had to add one more to make it an unlucky 13. And once we decided an apocalyptic scene depicting questionable treatment of scantily clad ladies by ’80s metal dudes was scary enough for the 13th slot, we could have picked Scorpions’ “Rock You Like a Hurricane,” or maybe KISS’ “Lick It Up.” But the Crüe’s “Looks That Kill” ends with the Motley boys gathering in a circle, raising their studded fists in the air, and conjuring up a burning pentagram. Plus, Mick Mars, as ever, looks like a recurring character from The Munsters.

Photo by Fin Costello/Redferns

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