Over time, the art of the music video has moved closer to the realms of short movies. Music videos of the past were constrained by TV standards, dictating length and topic most strictly. It appeared for a while that the music video would die out as the digital age forced former music channels into the realms of reality TV and retro-themed hours. However, YouTube and its platform of millions has ensured that the music video is as relevant an art form as any.
The original short-film music video was Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Though it seems campy now, it set a precedent for Horror themed music videos. Horror as a movie genre is popular, attention grabbing, and full of internationally recognised tropes and imagery. It is easy to see why musicians gravitate towards the macabre for their visuals.
The horror genre itself is a challenge to push artistry to the limits. Many musicians have created musical masterpieces which through expansion could comfortably find a place in the horror canon.
10. Mr. Bungle - Travolta/Quote Unquote
Though Mr. Bungle could well be included in the previous bands known for horror visuals, their less mainstream cult status and the freakiness of this particular video earns them a spot.
Rather than a concrete plot, Travolta is a barrage of creepy and intense images/clips. However, this was no barrier for the acclaimed Eraserhead, and is one of the reasons that there is so much continued discussion of David Lynch’s masterpiece. Some of the imagery is inspired by cliché horror tropes, such as creepy dummies with shifty eyes and mutilated dolls. However, their depiction is elevated to high horror.
The most unnerving character is the bondage masked cleric (Mike Patton). The juxtaposition between the sacred establishment and profane freedom is a strong ideological contrast. Patton’s vocals are delivered through the open zip of a bondage mask, of which will never cease to be creepy outside the fetish community.
The bondage cleric has the look of a new horror icon waiting for a complimentary backstory. The setting, a macabre rave with glitterballs substituted by a gang of lifeless but swaying men hung on meat hooks, is ripe for further exploration. A compelling movie could be created using these attributes. A plot pitting the bondage cleric against oblivious and intoxicated ravers.