Let’s face it, as a kid the silliest things can scare us. Anything from trees to weird looking food could scare our pants off. Like most kids of the 90s, I watched a lot of television. There was a point where I ventured away from Nickelodeon to MTV. Most of the videos had no effect on me. Some of them I even liked (“Smells Like Teen Spirit”), but then there were the “scary” ones. Videos I had no business watching, yet kept my eyes glues to the screen until it scared me. Looking back at these ten clips now, none of them are scary in the least, not even disturbing. Then again, I was only a dumb kid then. So let’s take a look at the top ten videos that scared my pants off as a kid.
10. “Nothing Compares 2 U” – Sinead O’Connor
There’s a subtle beauty to this video that makes it timeless. The concept is simple: O’Connor lets her haunting vocals carry the video mixed with gothic imagery of her walking through a cemetery. Pretty tame. But the one part that I still remember freaking me out comes at the very end. It’s a brief flash of what looks like a skeleton. Looking at it now, I think it’s an intricate headstone, but the face still looks like a skull. Being so young and not able to grasp the thought of death, this scene horrified me. Keep in mind, at the same time I thought the Crypt Keeper was pretty cool. Yeah, I was a weird kid. Now, I wouldn’t call the image scary at all. It just has a morbid beauty to it I can fully appreciate.
9. “Role Model” – Eminem
Similar to the “My Name Is” video, this one is a barrage of various images and situations featuring the rapper meant to shock viewers. Nothing about this video is scary or even disturbing in the least aside from how much of the song is missing when watching the clean version. So why did I cringe when I watched it as a kid? The damn ending where Eminem, after attempting a Houdini-like escape attempt, fails. The video ends with his lifeless body swinging in the water as the crowd looks on in disgust. This mixed with the sepia silent movie effects (some of those still creep me out) was enough to make me skip this video. I can’t really explain it. I just remember hating this part of the video whenever I saw it and I did my best to change the channel before it ended.
8. “Nookie” – Limp Bizkit
I didn’t really know what to think of Limp Bizkit when they invaded my daily TRL watching in the late 90s. I remember thinking how dumb this song was and wondering what the fuck cookies had to do with the nookie anyway. But the one thing I will always take away from this Limp Bizkit song is the video. The majority of the clip is pretty tame and predictable. It’s Wes Borland that freaked me out. When he cocked his head to the side and stared into the camera with those soulless eyes, I shivered. I’ve never seen someone with pure black eyes and no pupils. Of course, now I know it was just contact lenses. Still, it shook me enough to where I closed my eyes whenever the video came on. Why didn’t I just change? Well, I didn’t want to miss my daily dose of Nsync and BSB.
7. “Waterfalls” – TLC
I was a huge fan of TLC when I was younger and seeing as this was one of the best videos of the 90s, it was always on MTV. Sure, some of the graphics are outdated now, but it’s still an iconic clip. Yet, I hated watching it. Why? Because of how fucking depressing it is. First, we see a young boy killed in blood and his mother a ghostly figure crying over him. Then, we see a man fade from existence through an unknown case of AIDS. By the end of the video the boy tries to reunite with his mother and the woman who infected her lover, is gone as well. I get it, the video is supposed to leave impact with its message. But I was five at the time. And yeah, I probably shouldn’t have watched it. But those two scenes scared me even if I didn’t fully understand what they meant. Sometimes TLC were a little too good at getting their messages across as this isn’t the last time they spooked me out.
6. “The Way I Am” – Eminem
I probably shouldn’t have been listening to or watching Eminem at 12 years old, but I did and yes, my mom thought it was fine. Very little about this video is scary; it’s kind of disturbing, but there’s nothing outright horrifying about it. I remember actually enjoying it and being confused by Marilyn Manson in the background. Was it really him or not? After all, Em did previously portray the rocker in “My Name Is.” The thing that freaked me out was the end when the rapper is about to make contact with the concrete. It was at that second that I realized what he was doing. I flinched and closed my eyes not wanting to see the awful splatter. And the ground turns to rubber. Eminem is okay. I let out a sigh of relief. The fact that two Eminem videos scared when I was young was probably a punishment for listening to his music in the first place.
5. “Gimme Some More” – Busta Rhymes
The weird thing about this video is at the time I only saw about five seconds of it. It was some sort of countdown on MTV or maybe it was the VMAs, doing a recap of videos. It flashed to a clip of this song where it focused on the blue, yellowed eyed creature that terrifies the woman in the video. It’s actually not a surprise this one scared me as a kid; the monster is still freaky looking today. Still, it’s something I’ll always remember as shaking me to my core. From then on I associated Busta Rhymes with scary videos. Now….not so much.
4. “Thriller” – Michael Jackson
This video has scared all of us at some point in our lives. Though it’s a timeless clip and still outstanding by today’s standards, it’s not exactly scary. I wasn’t even that afraid of it when I first saw it at 5 years old. Despite this, there were still bits that creeped me out. One thing that always unnerved me was the heavy breathing during the title card. I always found it weird and knew it signaled bad things to come. The part where Jackson transforms into the werecat looks a bit dated, especially the parts featuring a static dummy head. But the part that always made me jump was him screaming “Go away!” with the sharp teeth sticking out of his mouth. Though I always expect it now, when I was little I somehow forgot it was coming and it always scared me. The zombies for the most part I thought were cool, except for two specific ones. First, the one that comes strolling out of mausoleum door, whites of his eyes showing. Then the one with blood spilling of its mouth. Both of these zombies freaked me out. And the way the latter one smiles after the blood spills, just makes it all the more creepy. It still freaks me out a bit now.
3. “Unpretty” – TLC
Similar to “Waterfalls,” TLC aims to promote a positive message of loving yourself and not letting anyone else make you feel ugly. Sounds good, so what about the video is terrifying? The part where a woman gets her silicone implants removed. When I first saw the doctor remove the silicone and the pained expression of the girl, it gave me chills. Every other time I saw the video I shut my eyes right as Chili steps into the hospital. TLC spares no one and shows the painful removal up close trying to teach young girls a lesson. And at least for me, it fucking worked. Even watching it now after not seeing the video in years it made me cringe. I forgot how graphic the scene was and it’s disturbing as hell. I never thought a TLC video would leave me scarred for life.
2. “Tourniquet” – Marilyn Manson
As much as I love Marilyn Manson now, I thought he was the creepiest dude when I was ten. I still remember finding my brother’s copy of Mechanical Animals and being utterly confused by the cover. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I accidentally saw this video while watching Celebrity Deathmatch. After Manson won against Charles Manson, they decided to show this clip. And man did it give me nightmares. Though it’s now one of my favorite videos, I still don’t know what the hell is going on. Manson’s movements along with black eyed semi-human/semi-mannequin creatures scared the piss out of me. But it still intrigued me; I’d never seen anything like it before. When I saw the video again, I watched while covering my eyes and peeking out every now and then. Years later, I turned into a dedicated fan. Gotta admit I didn’t see that one coming.
1. “Oh Father” – Madonna
I’ve talked about how accidentally terrifying this video is in the past, so I’ll be brief about it here. I saw this video at a very young age and when it reached the part where the little girl, who is supposed to be Madonna, reaches her mother in the casket terrified me. Not because she was dead, but because of the fucking close up of her lips sewn shut. It’s not grotesque and it doesn’t even stay on the screen that long. But it was enough to disturb me and haunt me ever since. Because of that scene, I rarely revisit the video. It still gives me the chills today. The rest of the video is beautiful and timeless. Yet, that one scene has stayed with me for years. For that reason along it gets the top spot.
Did any of these videos scare you as a kid? What videos gave you chills? Let me know in the comments!