31 Days of Halloween: Skinny Puppy and the ‘Worlock’ horror show

Skinny Puppy (Photo by Scott Legato/Getty Images)
Skinny Puppy (Photo by Scott Legato/Getty Images) /

The music video for ‘Worlock’ from Skinny Puppy is a dissociative clip show of extreme horror and madness, perfect for Halloween viewing.

During the Halloween season, many people look for musical comfort in the fun and upbeat: the catchy tunes of The Nightmare Before Christmas or The Rocky Horror Picture Show, for instance. Then you have a band like Skinny Puppy, who fused the costume sensibility of the ’80s Goth scene with the harsh, noisy aesthetic of Industrial music.

One of the most influential acts of their kind, they became known for their highly theatrical live performances. Vocalist Nivek Ogre (real name: Kevin Ogilvie) would don costumes, use bizarre props that resembled something out of an abstract-art installation, and wind up slathered in fake dirt and blood by the end of a show.

This affinity for the theatrical was a direct by-product of the band’s fanfare for genre cinema. From their earliest LP, Bites, their songs contained scattered (and often distorted) samples from horror movies.

Considering that Bites came out in 1985 and home video was still a relatively new invention, there was a sense of obscurity to this method. And even with a broader catalog of movies available on DVD and Blu-ray today, there are still Skinny Puppy samples whose source films I have yet to stumble across. (I know there are exhaustive lists online, but accidental discovery is part of the fun.)

For their 1989 album, Rabies, the band took its love of horror to the next logical plateau, and made a music video comprised entirely of snippets from (mostly) 1980s horror films, finding a peculiar yet undeniable synchronicity between sound and image. The song, appropriately, was “Worlock” [sic].

This track remains a show-stopper during live performances for Skinny Puppy and in addition to the horror imagery in the video, it threads bits and pieces of a Charles Manson interview through the fictionalized gore on display.

But there’s a sense of dissociation at work that remains potent to this day: when removed from the context of the films from which they derive, these seemingly random images of madness and over-the-top violence take on a new and unique life. They become a fitting visual accompaniment to a troubled, mournful and screeching howl of a song.

In any case, you’ll find blood-soaked footage from the works of Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci, Peter Jackson and Stuart Gordon, among others. And there are some blink-and-you-missed-it moments I’m still trying to figure out after all these years.

Next. MUSIC. dark

Are you into Skinny Puppy? Do you like Worlock? Let us know your favorite song in the comments.