When Halloween rolls around, there are very few songs that seem appropriate for the holiday. It’s not like Christmas, where every other band has released a song or album for the occasion. Sure there’s “Monster Mash,” but that’s a novelty song that gets old after exactly one listen. As far as music videos, yes, there’s Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” but what about newer material? Anything to watch to get into the Halloween mood?
As it turns out, there’s a surprising amount of music videos from indie artists that are appropriate for the holiday. While there’s a multitude of music videos out there that are scary, weird, or otherwise disturbing, the following videos are all either homages to horror movies or generally filled with Halloween-reminiscent imagery.
Islands – Hallways
The mildest video on this list, “Hallways” features Islands frontman (and only constant member) Nick Thorburn singing accompanied by a skeleton backup band. There were plenty of other videos involving skeletons to choose from here (“Sufer’s Hymn” by Panda Bear, “Skeleton Boy” by Friendly Fires, and “Dance With Me” by Ra Ra Riot to name a few), but Hallways features the most unique-looking skeletons, particularly after Thorburn himself returns as a more grotesque one, dangling eyeball and all.
The Hives – Abra Cadaver
This blast from the past (Tyrannosaurus Hives seriously came out over 11 years ago?) is not just appropriately named for the occasion, but also features a zombie-themed video complete with graveyard scenery and hands popping out of the ground. And if that fails, singer Pelle Almqvist is always good at giving an unsettling glare.
We Are Scientists – Impatient
Probably the most light-hearted video on this list, “Impatient” features We Are Scientists bassist Chris Cain turning into a werewolf and singer Keith Murray fleeing in terror….only it turns out that werewolf Chris Cain is still himself and just wants to take selfies with people. We Are Scientists are known for being a pretty quirky band (I recommend following them on social media), so a ridiculous slasher spoof is pretty much exactly what you’d expect from them.
Toro Y Moi – How I Know
Another horror movie spoof, this video features three men walking into a haunted house and being killed by its ghastly inhabitants in a variety of bizarre ways (bubble gum asphyxiation, spaghetti electrocution, and decapitation via record) before becoming ghosts themselves and….having a dance party? I guess it’s odd enough that Toro Y Moi, known for pioneering the mellow genre “chillwave,” made a video like this, but then again his video for “Low Shoulder” shows a woman being abducted for an occult ritual, so I guess the tone of the music doesn’t always match the video.
TV On The Radio – Wolf Like Me
If you can’t guess from the track name, this video is another take on werewolf-themed horror movies, made to deliberately look like an older film with intertitles and select color over the black and white. While the song itself is amazing, the wolves kind of look like shoddy stuffed animals. However, to show they don’t take things too seriously, the last title card just says “…so yeah, we’re werewolves.”
Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks – Little Fang
Oh yes, there’s an Animal Collective-affiliated video on this countdown, this time coming from singer Avey Tare’s aptly named side-project “Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks.” This very WTF video (as if Animal Collective members made any other kind) features all sorts of strange Halloween-esque motifs including disembodied faces, creepy old timey masks, talking portraits, and scary clowns. Sure, the central character is a cat stuffed animal, but that makes it all the more unsettling in some ways.
Franz Ferdinand – Evil Eye
Hey, speaking of unsettling and WTF, who knew Franz Ferdinand could make a video like this! This music video is essentially a compilation of clips that range from scary to gross to downright bizarre – notably singer Alex Kapranos’s face appearing on a fat guy’s belly. It’s made to look like a mishmash of exploitation films/low-budget horror movies, and Kapranos’ mustache is the final creepy touch.
Kasabian – Vlad The Impaler
This video really went for the retro slasher movie feel, with British actor Noel Fielding playing the titular character of Vlad the Impaler. Only this, time Vlad is less Romanian historical tyrant and more your typical movie serial killer, seen chasing and killing everyone that looks like they’d be a horror movie victim with a giant stake. It’s a great video, even if it is unfortunately from a much shorter version of the song. Also, the video was directed by Richard Ayoade of “The IT Crowd.”
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Heads Will Roll
This music video starts with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs playing in a small nightclub, only to be joined on stage by a werewolf with some killer dance moves reminiscent of Michael Jackson. It sounds kitschy enough, but when a bright light gets in the werewolf’s eye, he goes nuts and proceeds to slash and dismember the club’s inhabitants – Yeah Yeah Yeahs included. The blood being replaced by red confetti is a nice touch too. The whole thing vaguely resembles a scene from An American Werewolf in Paris, even if this music video is potentially better than the movie. Richard Ayoade directed this one too, so he might be on to something here.
Wolf Alice – You’re A Germ
This countdown concludes with the ultimate music video take on the slasher movie. The members of Wolf Alice get killed not once, but three times by different horror movie villains including a hooded axe murder, a horde of zombies, and a chainsaw-wielding clown. Band members try hiding in closets and unsuccessfully starting cars to really hammer in the slasher spoof factor. If another music video wants to up the ante on this one, it will probably have to involve the band members dying at least six times.