Sometimes the point of a video is to make the viewer uncomfortable yet intrigued while watching, much like watching a good horror movie.  There are many theories out there that look into why we, as people, search out different forms of art in order to frighten ourselves.  Many of these theories counter each other, but more or less all come back to one topic that seems to be relevant throughout each theory, curiosity.  The human race is quite a curious race of beings, we always want to know what’s over the fence, and when we can’t see what’s past the barrier, boy do our minds think up some crazy stuff.  Think of the movie “Seven” by David Fincher, I’m sure the one scene that stuck in your mind the most was the “What’s in the box” scene.  We don’t know immediately what was found in the box, but have a good idea that it’s something not good.  And by not showing what is in said box, David Fincher allows our minds to conjure up the most horrifying thing possible.  Genius in horror film making.  The main reason people watch these psychological horror movies, in my opinion, is to evoke fearful emotions that can not be evoked in everyday life.  And by overcoming these fears aroused by the film, that makes the viewer in essence stronger and less afraid of everyday fears.

There’s also the gorefest, monster, and slasher flicks.  Those too also satisfy our curiosity by actually showing what would happen if we were to look over the fence.  On the other side would be a complete mess and our curiosity would be fulfilled.  We would know to stay away from that side of the fence.  They also allow us to explore fears that may be impossible in our world; but because some fears may be impossible, it doesn’t mean that we still can be afraid of the possibility of an alien race coming to turn us all into the latest craze of fast food on their planet.  Like the psychological style horror films they also evoke fear, albeit, different fears, but in the end we came, we saw, we conquered and are now stronger for doing so.  If you want to look a bit deeper in to the psychology of horror movies I found this great post that does a great summary of it, check it out here.

So, how does music fit in with all of this talk of horror movies.  Well, as films, music also evokes emotions within us, for me, listening to music is a much more emotional experience than watching a movie.  It can elicit the same emotions that films can, but since our minds are doing the visuals for the songs, we create a more personal and vivid picture than any movie could.  Heavy metal in general is the closest thing thing that music has that compares to horror movies.  Themes commonly addressed are usually the same themes found in aforementioned horror flicks.  Since this post is about music videos, I’ll go into deeper detail on the philosophy of metal one day in the future.(Disclaimer: I’m not saying that all metal is like a horror movie, just a good portion of it has the common themes.  Metal can also be fun, make you laugh, and raise different many emotions other than fear).

Like films, music videos use the same techniques to achieve similar results because in the end they are both a form of visual art.  Today I will be taking a look at music videos that go for the horror movie path and create emotions that challenge our fears and make us uncomfortable.  What are some music videos that invoke fear in you?

Between the Buried and Me- Alaska

Here’s a fear that anyone that many people can relate to. Writers Block.  You just don’t know what to put down on the paper.  No ideas on what to write about next or how to continue your story.  Maybe you have a million ideas but can’t find a way to commit they to paper.  The song “Alaska” deals with such fear.  The video does an excellent job of visually portraying what it’s like to have writers block with the pens representing the demand(outside or personal) of needing to write and all the jibberish written representing the frustration.  The general insanity of the music reflects the sense of anxiety that we endure when we just can’t come up with a good enough idea or words.

Opeth- Porcelain Heart

To me this video deals with the fear of shame.  The band and video director do a great job of creating a bleak atmosphere to reflect the emotion of shame.  In the video we see the protagonist committing some not so wholesome acts of lust and violence.  This is contrasted by the shots of what I believe to be the protagonist in modern times returning to where he committed these shameful acts.  You see everything covered with sheets and dusty making a lonely feeling like the feeling you get when you are shamed(personally or publicly, but in this case it seems to be a personal feeling of shame).  While the modern protagonist is in the old mansion he is haunted by the ghosts of the shameful acts he committed in the past.  The lack of resolve at the end also confronts our fear of ignorance.

Metallica- One

I’m pretty sure just about all my readers know this one along with its theme and meaning.  I wanted to include it because it deals with so many fears that we all have, despair, loneliness, war, death, abuse, along with many others.  What really gets me about this video is how uncomfortable it makes me feel to watch it.  The part when the song hits the “fast” part along with the scene from “Johnny Got His Gun” where he communicates “kill me” with Morse code more or less sums up and confronts almost every major fear we have.  Truly disturbing and deeply emotional.

Agalloch- Not Unlike the Waves

This song creates an atmosphere of depravity, and of being alone or lost.  And the video does a great job visually depicting that.  From the lack of color to the images of to the band members roaming lost in the woods mixed with the low-fi recording of the music you really get a feeling of desolation.  One thing I love about this song and video, while creating these feelings of said fears it also generates a sense of beauty of nature visually and aurally.

Swashbuckle- Cruise Ship Terror

I have to admit, I have this horrible fear of Peter Jackson dressed up like a pirate brutally murdering me and my high-class friends while we’re out on my yacht.  This one mimics the funnier horror movies out there such as “Dead Alive”(Brain Dead for non-Americans).  It takes a horrible situation and makes light of it making the reality of it less horrible, rending the situation hilarious.

Tool- Sober

This video always creeped me out back when it was in rotation nearly 20 years ago.  What this song deals with is the fear of being controlled.  On the surface it talks about being told not to do drugs and always listen to the man, but as with all Tool songs there is a deeper meaning and the fear of being controlled in general is how I interpret the song.  The video shows “Gumby” having to hide his habit and living in secrecy for fear of being shamed and eventually goes insane having to hide his secret.  The “Jacob’s Ladder” shakey effect really puts this video over the top on the creep factor.

Mr. Bungle- Quote/Unquote

Disclaimer-This video has some disturbing images!!

Coulrophobia is the fear of clowns.  And honestly, I can’t think of something more fear inducing than a clown.  They may appear all jolly and happy on the outside, but underneath the layer of paint and big clothes you will never know what their real intentions are.  It’s the fear of the unknown that make clowns so terrifying, along with some of the evil clowns that worked their way into pop culture, The Joker, Pennywise, John Wayne Gacy, and that clown from “Poultergeist” just to name a few.  Mr. Bungle uses this fear to craft their first album which is based on these evil beings.  The video for “Quote/Unquote” depicts the most terrifying carnival ever.

Lady Gaga- Poker Face

I can’t say enough as to how horrifying this video is.  Be forewarned, you will have nightmares and may put you into a catatonic state while you overcome the fear of viewing this video.

Naw, I can’t do that to my faithful readers, so enjoy “Saddam A Go Go” by Gwar.