During the 80s and 90s, MTV was THE station to watch. Anyone who was anyone watched the Top 10 Videos of the Week and new video premieres.

Reliving this nostalgia, I started looking back at some of my favorite and not so favorite videos. I mean, some of these videos were terrifying. Now they just seem silly, but to a young impressionable mind… some of these videos scarred me for life.

“Land of Confusion” by Genesis (1986)

Okay. I get it. Genesis was more about the performance aspect and creating visual art. But this video is creepy AF. The oddly shaped puppets that look like a Jim Henson Nightmare. The disembodied heads, creepy Reagan family sleeping with an ape, and the mocking of the “Heal the World” video with a mouth in “Madonna’s” belly. How did they ever expect anyone to sleep after this video?! Yes, it was a political art statement and the underlying message does still relate to today’s climate… but do you know how many sleepless nights I had after viewing this video?!

Overall Creepiness Level: 5 out of 5.

“Losing My Religion” by REM (1991)

I like REM. I like Michael Stipe’s haunting vocals. But as an impressionable kid, this video creeped me out. The idea of a fallen angel being taken advantage of by curious humans. Ugh. And when the dude actually puts his hand inside the gaping wound on the angel’s chest. That poor old man-angel. Barf. Even now, the video just weirds me out. These images coupled with Stipe’s haunting vocals and bizarre dancing are just… yeah. I’m creeped out.

Overall Creepiness Level: 4 out of 5.

“Don’t Come Around Here No More” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (1985)

I love, love, LOVE Tom Petty. His voice is so distinctive and the music of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers truly stands the test of time. Couple their music with an Alice in Wonderland themed video, and what could go wrong? Nothing except for that last scene where Alice becomes a cake and is served to all the inhabitants of Wonderland. My poor child brain interpreted this as ‘Hey! Cannibalism is cool.’ I couldn’t eat cake for months after watching this video. Especially any cake with red frosting or filling because I kept equating it to blood.

Overall Creepiness Level: 3 out of 5.

“Touch of Grey” by the Grateful Dead (1987)

The Grateful Dead are pretty awesome. I am also slightly biased because I’m a Bay Area native. It’s kinda a sin in this area to not respect and love the Dead. But the “Touch of Grey” always weirded me out as a kid. When the band members became performing skeletons (Hey, I was 4 and couldn’t see the damn strings at the time) it freaked me out. Now I watch the video and see it as comical. I love the song and the Dead, so I can forgive them for scaring me a bit in my youth.

Overall Creepiness Level: 2 out of 5.

“Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler (1983)

Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” is a powerful ballad to come out of the 80s. But when those choir boys’ eyes start to light up and they start circling around and stuff… Um… Wha…?Maybe this video is why I’m so creeped out by all boy choirs. I’m afraid it’s a cover-up for a full scale alien invasion. Then there’s the whole bit at the end where the choir boys are grown up and there’s some kinda weird sexual tension between them. Ew. Just… No.

Overall Creepiness Level: 4 out of 5.

“Black Hole Sun” by Soundgarden (1994)

“Black Hole Sun” is arguably my favorite song by Soundgarden ever. And Chris Cornell… ugh. But that video with the sun swallowing the earth and melting everyone like wax figures?! This came out right about the time I was learning about the solar system and the death of stars and how our sun was gonna eventually swallow us all. Nothing like a music video to drive that point home and lead you to many sleepless nights.

Overall Creepiness Level: 4 out 5.

“Sex and Candy” by Marcy Playground (1997)

I’ll be honest. I don’t even get it. What does this video have to do with sex or candy? If you suffer from any degree of arachnophobia, this is not a video for you. The lead singer’s head is sticking out of the ground with spiders crawling around. Just makes your skin crawl thinking about it. It also doesn’t help that the song itself has a creepy tenor to it.

Overall Creepiness Level: 3 out of 5.

“Hot for Teacher” by Van Halen (1984)

This video is creepy for some many reasons. From the odd voice overlays to the teacher stripping for underage boys. It is all different levels of bad. As a teacher myself, I dread this song and video because a) it’s the most overused pick-up line, b) no normal teacher ever looks at their kids that way, and c) why are we promoting Mary Kay Letourneau type lifestyles? Barf.

Overall Creepiness Level: 5 out of 5.

Any Video by Tool or Primus

I think Primus and Tool basically get off on making viewers slightly uncomfortable and creeped out. Yes, their music is good. That is an undeniable truth. But there isn’t a video by either group that doesn’t send the viewer into a strange, weird, and uncomfortable place in their minds. Don’t believe me? Just watch a random video by either on YouTube (and don’t say I didn’t warn you).

Overall Creepiness Level: 10 out of 5.

There are some highly trauma inducing videos out there. What are some videos that creeped you out in your youth?

  • Katie Newray

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