The 5 Most Unintentionally Scarring '80s Music Videos


No art form was more significant in the '80s than the music videos that appeared on MTV, the fabled source of our MTV2. And while history and even the songs themselves paint the '80s as a period of shallow prosperity, the music videos seemed to be on a mission to make George Orwell's vision of their decade look like Epcot Center. Sure, other generation may have lived through wars and depressions, but '80s kids have just as much a claim to psychological trauma, on account of videos like:

A-Ha's "Take On Me"

Why it's Scarring:

Our friends and family were concerned that day when we packed all our comic books into a crate, filled it with gasoline, chanted some magic words and proceeded to light the cursed mess ablaze (utterly destroying our childhood in the process). Clearly they didn't see this video, the fools. Oh, how we delighted at the adventures of those bizarrely dressed men as they beat other bizarrely dressed men within an inch of their lives (but no further, because that would be too immoral for our young eyes), never knowing that the drawings which we gazed upon were alive. And that if so inclined, those characters could kidnap us from our own world and whisk us away into theirs.

The metaphysical questions tied up in the video would be enough to make the writers of Lost go insane. If that waitress in the diner had burnt the comic instead of simply throwing it out, would the world of the comic cease to exist? Is it possible that we are in a comic right now? What black magic could give life to a drawing? Is Alan Moore actually the reincarnation of Rasputin?

Yes, it would appear so.

Try reading "Peanuts" the same way now.

Most Terrifying Moment:

Remember that scene from The Ring, when the creepy little girl crawled out of the TV? This video has that moment topped when, about one minute in, a beckoning hand reaches out of a comic book frame. And don't even get us started on the black staring eyes of the police officers in the comic, who like to do their particular brand of policing with giant wrenches. No amount of therapy can make us come to terms with that.

Billy Idol's "Dancing With Myself"

Why it's Scarring:

We always assumed "Dancing With Myself" was about ... well, something much more giggle-worthy than being the last man on earth after the zombies take over. The video paints a picture of a devastating zombocalypse, and a man who managed to survive by looking creepier than most flesh-eaters.

You think you can breathe a sigh of relief when Idol reaches the roof of one of the few remaining buildings, but predictably; the zombies have developed superhuman wall-climbing abilities, a super power that is tough to believe when given to Peter Parker, and even tougher to believe when given to people whose limbs are rotting off their torso.

Luckily Idol is able to thwart their attack with Nikola Tesla's wet dream, a giant electricity conductor that gives him the ability to give sexually suggestive looks that shoot lightning (to be fair, it's rumored Idol actually had this ability for a brief period around the time of "White Wedding"). The video ends rather Shyamalantastically, as Billy Idol stops merely dancing with himself and begins dancing with the zombies, revealing that he probably was one them the ENTIRE TIME and that his attackers were actually rabid fans.

Most Terrifying Moment:

No words can describe the stomach-churning horror we feel about 50 seconds into the video, when the camera zooms in on the grinning faces of a decomposing corpse and Pinocchio from Hell as they laugh at the fate of mankind.

Corey Hart's "Sunglasses at Night"

Why it's Scarring:

If Billy Idol's zombie-infested post-apocalyptic landscape wasn't pant-crappingly troubling enough for you back in the day, you could always count on the '80s to provide another horrific vision of the not-too-distant future.

This time around, it's a totalitarian dystopia in which everyone must wear sunglasses, even at unnecessary times (perhaps Bono finally succeeded in taking over the world?). And, well that would be pretty annoying, we guess. In addition to sunglasses, the video seems to reflect a strange distrust of mail, and particularly the act of stamping it. We presume this is supposed to symbolize something about conformity, a theme '80s musicians were especially sensitive to since all of their songs sounded exactly the same.

But what is truly disturbing is the expressionless, Terminator-like police force that patrols the world making people put on sunglasses. The '80s were famous for creating technophobe-bating visions of a dystopic future, but a fear that sunglasses might take over has to rank as the least threatening technology to ever scare them.

Look at that neck.

Most Terrifying Moment:

At about 2:02, when what appears to be a creepy little kid stares on with clinical detachment as Hart is apprehended and presumably dragged off to his death. Maybe a bit excessive for a song he probably wrote because he thought wearing Ray-Bans made him look like Tom Cruise.

The Motels' "Suddenly Last Summer"

Why it's Scarring:

You might think this starts out innocently, what with an ice cream truck rolling through suburbia, but as any connoisseur of fine horror cinema knows, those involved in the ice cream industry are anything but pleasant.

Pictured: Unadulterated Terror

But, like just about every music video from this decade (apparently), this one stops making sense as soon as possible. We quickly jettison the ice cream man plot and observe as a young woman has a decidedly not PG-rated dream inspired by her beloved trashy romance novel. Things get bizarre when a group of onlookers in matching uniforms shows up. Things get downright terrifying when the ice cream truck rolls back into frame.

We crap our collective pants when the young woman wakes up and finds that the population of the retirement community down the block has invaded her home and are JUST. STARING. AT. HER. And the worst part is, she doesn't even care! Leading children who saw the video to conclude that waking up to a room full of stony-faced geriatrics wasn't uncommon when you grew up.

Most Terrifying Moment:

What the hell do you think?!

Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart"

Why it's Scarring:

If your sanity survived that descent into a highly choreographed hell, we'll assume you've had time to digest what you just saw, and understand why it was scarring. So, uh yeah ... it appears that Bonnie Tyler once did a stint working at an educational institution that makes Hogwarts look like your typical suburban public school. Once night falls, campus transforms into a labyrinthine nightmare populated by mutant bird-people, ninjas who sneak out from the shadows, and FLYING CHOIR BOYS WITH GLOWING EYES. If Clive Barker and Twyla Tharp got together to make a music video, it would look something like this.

All of which begs the question: What the hell does all of this have to do with the lyrics to the love song? Which one of these abominations of nature could Bonnie Tyler possibly really need tonight? Apparently, it didn't matter if your song was about the douchey move of rocking shades after dark, masturbating, or overwrought breakup metaphors, '80s music video directors were going to serve up some psychological trauma, lyrics be damned.

Most Terrifying Moment:

Those glowing choir boy eyes couldn't have been what Bonnie Tyler had in mind when she wrote the line "Turn around, bright eyes." But that didn't keep us from wetting our pants everytime they played the song at middle school dances.

How about some good ol' fashioned Unintentionally Gay Rap Lyrics to lighten the mood. Or check out our look at 6 Famous Songs That Don't Mean What You Think.
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