Build a Better Halloween Party: 20 Creepy Video Clips

You can festoon your apartment with all the dollar-store cobwebbing you want, but it's atmosphere that'll make or break a good Halloween party. Over-the-top decor and a spot-on music playlists are, obviously, crucial. But we'd argue a few carefully chosen background visuals go a long way. After all, nothing makes a better conversation piece than an out-of-context, deeply WTF-inducing video clip caught out of the corner of your eye. You know, just like at ManRay. (You remember ManRay, don't you? Don't you?)

These clips aren't the scariest or the goriest; we're going for strange and eye-catching here -- these babies are meant to hold their own, with the sound off. (Hint: If you actually want to implement this at your own party, you could string these together as a YouTube playlist, but if you're really serious about it, we recommend tracking down the orginals and cobbling together a high-quality clip reel. Just sayin'.)

We tried to avoid the obvious cliches. As fond as we are of them, Tool videos and scenes from Jacob's Ladder or Nightmare Before Christmas are right out. Inexplicable nightmare fuel, however, is very much in. Here's 20 of our favorites, in no particular order.

1) "Angel Named Satan"

A nugget of insanity swaddled in kid-friendly Claymation, this has a little bit of everything: a shapeshifting angel who speaks in a metallic hiss, a surreal pitch-black outer space setting, and the destruction of an entire race of lumpen clay mini-golems.

2) Sesame Street: Creepy toys, robots, and satellites

Yes, a mansion full of haunted dolls is exactly the sort of image pre-schoolers need burned onto their retinas. Thank you, Sesame Street, for teaching us how to count, read, and wake up screaming.

3) Wicker Man (1973)

Here's our most obvious tribute to ManRay, as the deeply unsettling pagan fever dream that comes at the end of the original Wicker Man was a staple of the old goth club's A/V arsenal. If you've never tried to drunkenly puzzle this one out in a dark room while Soft Cell's "Sex Dwarf" blares in the background ... well, you don't know what you're missing.

4) Wicker Man (2006)

Aaaaannd in fact, the ending to the new Wicker Man film is no slouch, either. After all, it's got Nic Cage wearing a helmet full of bees, fer chrissakes. Here's a best-of clip, so you don't have to slog through other 90 minutes of Neil LaBute's woman-hatin' stinkbomb.

5) Gallery of heads, from Return to Oz

If you came in contact with Return to Oz (a bizarre tale that involves electroshock therapy, humanoids with wheels instead of arms and legs, and a gallery of disembodied heads) at the right age, you probably came away precociously traumatized. Informal internet surveys indicate that this particular scene was perhaps even more psychologically scarring than "Large Marge" in Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. You be the judge.

6) Child Eating Pale Man, from Pan's Labyrinth

This is well-trod territory, but we can't pass up an opportunity to showcase this, Guillermo Del Toro's gift to the world of scarred-for-life.

7) "My Name Is Mok," from Rock & Rule

We hadn't heard of Rock & Rule until recently, but apparently, it's some kind of freaky Canadian national treasure. If you can get beyond the furry-esque artwork, you'll find an early-'80s dystopian rock opera brimming with flying cars, futuristic weaponry, and Cheap Trick -- oh, and Lou Reed as the Devil. ("Mok," if you're nasty.) Nelvana, way to give Don Bluth a run for his money in the "cutesy-yet-nightmarish animation" department.

8) Brothers Quay's "This Unnameable Little Broom (The Epic of Gilgamesh)"

We tried to resist putting the Brothers Quay on here, but we're only human. We defy you to tell us that this is not one of the strangest things you've ever seen.

9) Probe scene, from Fire in the Sky

Hey, Hollywood -- enough with the sexy vampires already. What we need is a few more alien abduction scenes as horrifying as this one.
10) Tap dancing with the Goddess Bunny

You know, it sort of melts our hearts (and brains) to see something like this: an unspeakably disturbing performance that requires absolutely no special effects. The Goddess Bunny isn't a camera trick, but rather a Brazilian drag queen whose limbs were ravaged by polio. Of course, Marilyn Manson snapped Bunny up immediately for "The Dope Show," but here's something a little more candid.
11) PTSD rabbits, from Watership Down

Speaking of bunnies, Watership Down -- despite being filled with talking rabbits -- is one of the least cuddly-wuddly movies ever raked across our still-chewing-gum-soft young minds. (Though, to put it in perspective, we watched maybe the first 10 minutes of The Plague Dogs, another Martin Rosen/Richard Adams production, before flinging the casette across the room.)

12) Charlie goes to Hell, from All Dogs Go to Heaven

OK, so the whole damn runtime of All Dogs Go To Heaven is pretty beyond the pale -- it involves an enslaved 8-year-old girl and murderous, sinful stray dogs -- but this scene goes all the way into trauma-land: thanks to his scummy ways, Burt Reynolds-voiced pooch Charlie gets a little taste of hell. After this two-minute trip to Hades, Bluth tries to salve the wound with adorable puppies, but THE DAMAGE IS DONE.

13) Scene from Julie Taymor's Fool's Fire

There's no better indicator that we're finally in the halcyon days of finding creepy stuff on the internet, because we'd spent YEARS trying to track down this Julie Taymor mindfuck, and at last, the tubes giveth. So yeah, Fool's Fire is Poe with puppets and midgets and sex and fire. And you thought PBS was boring.
14) "Visions of Frank"

As fantastical visions of schizophrenic delerium go, Jim Woodring's Frank is pretty goddamn adorable.
15) Crispin Glover sings to the rats, from Willard

Crispin Glover: Hollywood's King Midas of creepy. If you like this, you'll LOVE his music video for "Clowny Clown Clown."

16) Creepo Clown Dancing to Old-Time Music in Crawlspace

On that note: What Halloween party would be complete without one of these?

17) Heart of Karl" trailer

It's a low-budget Silent Hill on meth and peyote -- and makes just as much sense with the sound off. Thank you, Boston Underground Film Festival, for bringing this to our attention.

18) Montage, from The Cell

Hats off to Tarsem for making even J. Lo watchable (er, sort of) in this VR trip into the mind of a serial killer. Keep those horse vivisections and demonic baptisms coming, Tarsem.

19) Monster encounter, from Silent Hill

Ludicrous as it was, Christophe Gans's film adaptation of the Silent Hill game franchise wasn't a total failure. Forget the plot; the gibbering, faceless monsters is where it's at.

20) Horrible worm baby, from Eraserhead

We had trouble picking just one David Lynch clip to include in this roundup, but finally settled on this one. Transcendentally meditate on this.


--Alexandra Cavallo, Shaula Clark, and Ryan Stewart

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