MTV – where music and monsters met in the 1980s

mtv moon moon

The 1980s were made to push the horror agenda! The slasher genre became a cultural phenomenon, giving birth to the likes of Freddy and Jason, two of the most iconic horror characters since the Universal monsters. New techniques in practical special effects revolutionized horror visuals and blew our minds with amazing transformations in films like The Howling and An American Werewolf in London. The movie industry came home, with cable television infecting the suburban landscape, and VHS tapes not only getting horror into our hands faster, but opening a door for independent filmmakers to bypass theaters completely to make a killing in the direct-to-video market.

mtv elvira

And then came MTV and the music video age. Initially pushing shoestring budget clips of artists performing their songs to promote their latest singles and albums, the “music video” soon became an art form in itself. The more memorable it was, the better. Budgets began to increase as record sales increased. The free advertising of videos had teens hooked, and also made the medium a perfect tool for promoting other things, such as…movies! Movie soundtracks started filling the grooves with songs by popular artists, and the videos for those songs often used clips from the films or went as far as featuring cameos by some of the actors from said films.

mtv alice cooper with jason

Videos transformed into mini-movies. Video directors became feature film directors. Feature film directors began making music videos. And the growing success of horror films began to bleed into the music video world.

mtv fat boys ready for freddy

Sure, there were videos for horror movie theme songs, such as Alice Cooper’s “He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask)” from Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives and The Fat Boys’ “Are You Ready for Freddy?” from A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master.

mtv michael jackson schedule

But even before Michael Jackson teamed up with American Werewolf in London director John Landis to demolish all MTV records with the 14-minute “Thriller” video/short film, artists began mimicking horror films in their music videos, from the classic monsters to the contemporary masked stalkers…even when the songs themselves weren’t specifically horror themed.

And so, with no concern about whether or not the songs were huge chart hits, I give you 10 videos of the 80s that are the perfect marriage of music and monsters. What were some of your faves of the era? Tell me in the comments below! And if the any of the videos no longer play here, just search that shit on YouTube.

Pat Benatar – Anxiety (Get Nervous)


Laura Branigan – Self Control

The Cure – Lullaby

Duran Duran – Night Boat


Greg Kihn Band – Jeopardy


Huey Lewis & The News – Doin’ It All For My Baby


Eddie Money – Think I’m in Love


The Motels – Shock


Ozzy Osbourne – Bark at the Moon


Rockwell – Somebody’s Watching Me

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at
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1 Response to MTV – where music and monsters met in the 1980s

  1. Pervula says:

    I recall the ghoulish video for Billy Idol’s Dancing With Myself was directed by Tobe Hooper, and you can tell.

    There was also that creepy Lou Reed video for No Money Down, which features an animatronic Lou Reed ripping his face off.

    I also remember in the late 80s when Freddy Krueger seemed to host hour long video blocks every other day. I have a number of these recorded at the end of old VHS tapes, I need to find and archive them on DVD.

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