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Music Videos We Didn't Know Were Made By Horror Directors

Updated June 21, 2021 602 votes 102 voters 4.1k views16 items

List RulesVote up your favorite horror-directed music video.

At MTV's height, music videos were a place where budding directors could get their feet wet before making a movie. Similarly, already well-established filmmakers would make the occasional music video to expand their portfolio - or simply because they liked the band. The directors' film backgrounds allowed many music videos to come from a cinematic point of view. Some of the videos they created are stylistically like what they've shown us in films, while others are completely different.

Would you have guessed Brian De Palma directed a music video for Bruce Springsteen? Or Texas Chain Saw Massacre creator Tobe Hooper was behind a Billy Idol video? Or that George Romero worked with the goth-metal band the Misfits? Probably not. We've included a few exceptional music videos below in which horror directors were behind the production. Which are your favorites?

  • 1

    'Dancing with Myself' By Billy Idol, Directed By Tobe Hooper

    Video: YouTube

    Tobe Hooper, director of the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Poltergeist, was also the man behind the grooving zombies in Billy Idol's 1982 hit "Dancing with Myself." Idol sings his song from a rooftop in a post-apocalyptic landscape as zombies awaken to the noise and climb the building's walls to get to him. When they do, Idol is no longer dancing alone. 

    A signature Hooper sequence involves a man swinging a hammer over an unsuspecting woman's head (much like Leatherface does in Texas Chainsaw), all while grooving to the song's infectious beat. Who better to direct a film filled with zombies than a man with arguably the best horror film of his generation under his belt?

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  • Video: YouTube

    Michael Jackson was a huge fan of John Landis's An American Werewolf in London. He surprised the director when he told Landis he wanted him to direct the video for the 1982 title track from Thriller. Jackson wanted to transform into a creature of the night much in the way David Naughton transformed from tourist to werewolf in the movie. 

    Landis, Jackson, and makeup artist Rick Baker, who won an Oscar for his work in the film, decided Jackson's transformation should be more in the vein of 1957’s I Was a Teenage Werewolf, as the singer found most movie monsters "too scary." The dancing-in-unison zombies were Jackson's touch and made the video one of the most popular of all time. The video is also much more than the almost six-minute traditional song, as there's a whole cinema-release short that begins before the radio-released version, bringing more of Landis's talents to this masterful video.

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  • Video: YouTube

    One Hour Photo director Mark Romanek made some of the biggest music videos of the 1990s, one being Nine Inch Nails' "Closer," which appears to be set in a Victorian laboratory complete with bondage gear, taxidermy animals, women in various states of undress, and body parts. The video was censored by MTV ("scene missing" title cards appear during censored scenes) and is based on works by Joel-Peter Witkin and animators the Brothers Quay.

    Romanek filmed the video on old film stock to get the proper look:

    They had stopped making it three years before and we found some of it. All the new color film stocks have this T-Grain, like little Ts that are interlocking. The film stock we used had the original, old granular grain. The new stocks are just really modern looking, really sharp, really contrasty, very fine grain. We didn't want that. Normally you don't want to use that kind of stock because the colors will be off. It does have a shelf life but in this case we didn't care, the more f*cked up it was, the happier we were.

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  • 4

    'Here With Me' By The Killers, Directed By Tim Burton

    Video: YouTube

    Tim Burton directed The Killers' "Here With Me" in 2012 - which features Winona Ryder, the star of Burton's 1990 film Edward Scissorhands - and based the video on Mad Love, a 1935 film starring Peter Lorre as a doctor who becomes obsessed with an actress and buys her wax figure. 

    In the video, the obsessed fan (Craig Roberts) snatches Ryder's wax lookalike and takes it to several locations around the seaside resort of Blackpool in England, where she appears to him as if she is a real person. At the end of the video, he pulls her wig off - and his wig, as well - and lights the wicks that appear at the top of their heads. They drink wine and wait to melt. The storytelling is truly something out of this world.

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