ma·ca·bre. adjective mə-ˈkäb; -ˈkä-brə, -bər; -ˈkäbrə
1: having death as a subject : comprising or including a personalized representation of death; 2: dwelling on the gruesome 3: tending to produce horror in a beholder – Merriam Webster
Almost everyone has seen Michael Jackson’s zombie-infested Thriller video, but most have not seen these excellent macabre shorts. WARNING: Some of the video clips may contain profanity and/or partial nudity.
Barton Hollow by The Civil Wars. The haunting harmonies of Nashville duo Joy Williams and John Paul White contribute to this subtly macabre music video that explores death and redemption, or lack thereof, as the singers condemn themselves, saying, “Won’t do me no good washing in the river. Can’t no preacher man save my soul.” Director Becky Fluke enhances the mood with black and white cinematography, religious iconography, glimpses of menacing birds, a cemetery and grave digging, which nicely accompany the lyrical yearnings.
Breezeblocks by Alt-J (∆). Far from subtle, this British indie band’s video opens with a drowned woman in a tub, a concrete breeze block mysteriously lying on her chest. Like Chris Nolan’s 2000 film “Memento” or Gaspar Noe’s 2002 film “Irreversible,” this video runs backwards, requiring reevaluation of initial assumptions. Click here to read an interview with director Ellis Bahl.
Creature by Tijuana Panthers. This retro 1960’s mad-scientist-movie-inspired video jibes perfectly with the retro, boppy, twangy-guitar sound cultivated by these California surf guys. From the vidoe’s start, with the doctor feeding a failed human experiment to the gators, to the pretty Laura Petrie-ish lady discovering the title frog-eyed creature, to the excellent creature feature titles, director Bo Mirosseni captures a beloved bygone era.
First Date. This one isn’t really a music video. From Jacksonville director Blair Richardson, this short features the song Kill Kill by Elizabeth “Lizzy” Grant, now better known by her stage name Lana Del Ray. The stylish production and sexy subject matter cause the viewer to feel oddly voyeuristic, until the surprising final moments. With the refrain, “I’m in love with a dying man,” the short film captures the song better than its actual music video. Watch for “Kitty Kitty,” an upcoming short from Richardson.
Gallows by CocoRosie. Sparsely accompanied by bird chirps and minimalist music, Bianca “Coco” and Sierra “Rosie” Casady’s freakishly ethereal voices epitomize the macabre. No more so than the video, though, in which the sisters – in matching Puritan-style black clothing and severe hairstyles – appear to be twins (although in reality they are not). Contrast that with the suggested nudity and unkempt hair during their nighttime activities. Has their tattooed “friend” been sentenced to hang just for loving both? And how can that be wrong when the two are virtually indistinguishable? Curious and curiouser, director Emma Freeman’s stop motion nature decay about three-quarter in adds just the right touch to the decidedly delicious degeneration.
Lotion by Greenskeepers. The song itself an homage to Buffalo Bill, the serial killer Clarice seeks in “The Silence of the Lambs,” the video artfully employs clips from this most Oscar laden of horror films. Although the film centers on Clarice seeking advice from Hannibal Lechter, the video features the gender-conflicted psychopath Bill, his poodle Precious and his quarry Catherine Martin, exclusively. Apt, since the song’s refrain are the words Bill speaks to Catherine in the film, “It rubs the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again.”
The New Religion by Marion Crane. This video, from the Jacksonville hard rock group helmed by S. Thomas Crane, simulates news coverage of a zombie outbreak in downtown Jax. Utilizing local actors and crew, Crane crafted this astonishingly professional-looking creep-fest to accompany a solid song, played on radio stations across the U.S. and Canada, and recently featured on X102.9. From the band’s website:
Shot guerrilla-style in the streets of downtown Jacksonville, “The New Religion” video would combine Crane’s two favorite things: horror movies and rock n roll. Reality TV, materialism, cell phones, celebrity culture – with the song being an indictment of modern culture’s penchant for turning people into mindless drones, the video is a literal adaptation of the song’s call for an exit strategy – an apocalypse – in this case, delivered by a zombie outbreak. The half-serious, half-satirical tone of the clip was a perfect representation of the band.