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25 Songs That Are Truly Terrifying

Creepy, chilling tunes from Pink Floyd, Eminem, Nick Cave, more

As Halloween approaches, feel free to ignore "Monster Mash" in favor of this handful of more austere chillers: Vintage murder ballads, dissonant classical spine-tinglers, psychedelic freak-outs, shock-rock creep-outs, Southern gothic alt-rock gloom, art-noise desolation and more.

Tom Waits, “What’s He Building?” (1999)

This dramatic monologue from a nosy neighbor is set to a palette of eerie sound effects – subdued metallic clangs, low-rent electronic flutters – that would be the envy of any haunted house designer. Always a creepy dude (not for nothing did Francis Ford Coppola cast him as the bug-gobbling Renfield in his take on Dracula), Tom Waits wheezes here like he's shining a flashlight underneath his chin to spook an edgy campfire scout troop. In fact, they way he repeatedly intones, "What's he building in there?" – emphasizing the word "building" each time with a worried compulsion – eventually makes the narrator sound far more suspicious than the eccentric loner he's spying on. At least until the unsettling coda, where we hear the whistling from the home of the eccentric builder for ourselves.

Tori Amos, “’97 Bonnie And Clyde” (2001)

Eminem's revenge fantasia "'97 Bonnie And Clyde" was an upbeat yet horrifying track where the bleached-blonde MC detailed a father-daughter trip to the beach, with some hints that "Mama," in the trunk, wasn't exactly along for the ride willingly. Tori Amos's reinvention for her 2001 covers album Strange Little Girls ups the American-gothic quotient with horror-movie strings, dimestore-synth beats, and a flip of the song's perspective – her strangled delivery and parental tenderness make the monologue sound as if it's coming from the victim as the life is being bled right out of her. "'Bonnie & Clyde' is a song that depicts domestic violence very accurately, right on the money," Amos told MTV in 2001. "I did not align with the character that he represents. There was one person who definitely wasn't dancing to this thing, and that's the woman in the trunk. And she spoke to me. … [She] grabbed me by the hand and said, 'You need to hear this how I heard it.'"