Nightmare Fuel / Nine Inch Nails


  • Some videos border the line between this and genuine horror. Notably the one for "Down in It," footage from which was analyzed by the FBI as possible footage of a "gang killing" before it was revealed what it was.
  • While nothing explicitly scary happens in "Closer," the grimy, late 19th century setting, out-of-date film stock and unsettling images makes the whole thing feel like some ancient lost silent film.
  • "Deep," in which Trent drives around in his car, looking like one of the Uruk-Hai creatures from The Lord of the Rings, due to the fact that he had stolen a valuable safe, and was sprayed with a toxic dye that won't come out.
  • "Happiness in Slavery." (NSFW) In case you might think of checking this one out for yourself, here's a summary: A man, played by performance artist and Supermasochist Bob Flanagan, gets naked, lies down, and allows a machine to rip off his penis and gradually chop up the rest of his body, then grind him into meat, all depicted quite graphically, though about as artistically as possible... And in black and white. Its uncanny realism, making it look like an honest-to-God Snuff Film, is why Broken: The Movie has never been released commercially. You've been warned.
  • "Starfuckers, Inc.," a rare music video from NIN, features Trent and a typical 'Hawt Blonde Gurl' going to a filthy carnival that looks like it's taking place in the Deliverence town, featuring all sorts of celebrity Take That! including a hideously obese Courtney Love. The video doesn't get insanely freaky until the end, where it's all in strobe lights and Hawt Blonde Gurl shocks everyone by revealing she's Marilyn Manson!
  • The music video for "Pinion," a short instrumental track, is downright unsettling. All grainy and colorless, the video starts with a creepy shot of a dirty urinal flushing, with the music lightly tapping away. As the track builds, the video pans down the pipes, getting more intense until you see a leatherbound human being with his mouth against the pipe; twitching silently as he's getting drowned. Holy mother of God.
  • The video for "Came Back Haunted" (EPILEPSY WARNING) was directed by David Lynch, and it shows. The seizure inducing flashing, the constant camera shaking on the scenes showing Trent's face, the very strange looking photographs and clay models, it's exactly what one would expect out of a music video from the man who made Eraserhead.
  • "Help Me I Am in Hell" has a video of a man having a meal of steak and wine in a room full of flies. One has to wonder how many flies he must've ingested while keeping such a straight face..


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    The Downward Spiral 
Original Album
  • Let's be honest here- pretty much the entirety of The Downward Spiral is this. From the opening THX 1138 samples to the noisy, droning Last Note Nightmare at the end of "Hurt" (which brings to mind flatlining ECG). Even the Mood Whiplash of "A Warm Place" manages to count, in a Nothing Is Scarier sorta way (it's the soundtrack to the point in the album's plot where the protagonist realizes how hopelessly fucked up he is, after all). What would you expect, from a Concept Album about a character's self-destruction, descent into insanity and eventual suicide?
  • "Mr. Self Destruct", possibly one of the most harrowing "I Am" Songs ever recorded.
  • "The Becoming" has background music that consists of people screaming in fear and the song twitches and jerks like a malfunctioning robot hellbent on murder.
  • Special mention must go to "Big Man with a Gun", which could be perceived as a rape scenario, or otherwise the protagonist going on a major power-trip, or actually him going on a violent and murderous rampage (according to the repeated lyrics "SHOOT!"). Either way, this is the point where the already dark and nihilistic album takes a turn into the supremely fucked up. The intense speed of the song, a highly distorted (and almost unrecognizable) scream of pleasure taken directly from a porn movie and the fierce distortion in the music and vocals building throughout, combined with the lyrics, make this deeply unsettling, particularly when followed immediately by "A Warm Place".
  • "A Warm Place", despite its ambient sound and its place as a brief moment of clarity in the album and its narrative, nevertheless feels eerie considering what follows it...
  • "Eraser". Already starts uneasy with distorted guitars and pounding drums, but gets pretty terrifying at the end as Trent screams "KILL ME" (and possibly "HELP ME") until his voice dissolves into the surrounding noise.
  • Sometimes when performing "Reptile" live Trent will in the middle add "Please, don't hurt me" which is followed by a horrific crying scream, the most scariest example would have to be the one from "Woodstock 94 performance, where it sounds like Trent is genuinely miserably screaming. Chilling. (4:33)
  • The Title Track itself, what with the detuned guitar riff, the flies buzzing, the muffled screaming "NOOOOOOOO-" and thunderous drumming, and the main protagonist's Split Personality taunting as the poor bastard tries to take his own life. It sounds like it's rotting and falling apart.
    "He couldn't believe how easy it was"
    "So much blood for such a tiny little hole"
    "Problems do have solutions, you know"
    "In one determined flash"
    "Everything's blue"
    "Everything's blue in this world"
    "The deepest shade of mushroom blue"
    "All fuzzy"
  • "Hurt" is equal parts terrifying and tearjerking, but its Last Note Nightmare is nothing short of chilling... depending on your prespective.

Further Down The Spiral (Remix Album)
  • "The Downward Spiral (The Bottom)." At roughly a minute and twenty seconds in, a genuinely terrifying scream, distorted to sound like it's coming from underwater and then getting closer, bursts out of nowhere. Specially the distorted "The deepest shade of mushroom blue" in several parts throughout the track.
  • "Erased, Over, Out". At normal speed it's already scary with a sound that sounds like a pained, prolonged scream repeated over the course of the track. But speed the track up. I dare you.
  • "Eraser (Denial; Realization)", the penultimate track of the remix album (Rest of the world than in US), is full of disturbing synths, distorted guitar noises and with Trent's slowed down "ERASE ME!" and "KILL ME!" being played throughout the track. And then, the other half of the track starts becoming even worse with loud screeching noises and it ends with the beginning sample from the original track.

    The Fragile 

Original Album
  • While featuring more moments of beauty, THIS album isn't anything better than it's predecessor...
  • "The New Flesh" is terrifying.
  • "The Mark Has Been Made" is mostly an awesome song, invoking the feeling of I Am Legend, Need For Speed Undercover or S.T.A.L.K.E.R. The last 21 seconds are a different story.
    • That is actually part of "10 Miles High" originally on the vinyl version of "The Fragile". It was put in as a little secret.
  • As is fellow B-side "10 Miles High". Featuring a creepy "I'm getting closer..." buildup, then a harsh, heavy, metallic riff explosion, then more quiet creepiness, then more heavy riffing, muffled this time so it sounds distant and decaying, then finally an absolutely terrifying ending with creepy processed chanting:
  • "Underneath it All", the ambiguous penultimate song. The erratic electronics, the vocals rising in volume as it goes on, the sheer despair of the lyrics made note of... chills.
    "Numb all through, I can still feel you..."
    "Hear your call, underneath it all..."
    "Kill my brain, yet you still remain..."

    "After all I've died!"
    "After all I've tried!"
    "You are still inside!"

    "All I do, I can still feel you..."
  • "Ripe", the closing track in the Vinyl version. It's pretty much the definition of an excruciatingly grim ending - the fluctuating acoustic guitars rise their heads above the muck, disintegrating into distorted, raging, disjoint piano until the rotten, diseased acoustics return to make an awfully grim and ambiguous closer to the album's concept. The whole thing sounds as if it's rotting away under a thick sheet of frost... brrrgh.
    • Taken Up to 11 with the complete version "Ripe (With Decay)" from the original CD release. This version which adds the remaining part of the song known as "Decay", where after becoming depressed, the main protagonist tries to find new hope, then loses again! To add some more salt to the wound, dark, thunderous drums blare in the distance while Trent's unsettling chanting are heard in the background. Perfect for the album's Downer Ending.
    • Then again, the song is suppose to represent the idea of returning to that feeling you wanted to leave behind (which in this case, was depression).

"Things Falling Apart" (Remix Album) and "We're In This Together" (halo)
  • Albeit the whole track counts as Tear Jerker, Trent's chanting in the beginning of "The Day The World Went Away (Quiet)" is pretty disturbing. It sounds like some goddamn satanic ritual being made in progress!
  • The remix version of "Where Is Everbody?" may sound pretty awesome compared to the original, but the latter features some very abrasive synths and muffled human screaming being heard in the background.

    Year Zero 
  • The concept behind the Year Zero album and ARG: brutal, fascist American theocracy following biological terrorism, a drug-enhanced fanatical military, drugs in the water supply to subdue the populace and increasingly frequent mind-numbing visions of ghostly, god-like hands descending from the sky known as "The Presence." "Proof" found via scrambled messages from the future scattered across websites and audio and video found on USB keys discovered at concert venues.
  • The entire lore is pretty terrifying. Tribute websites dedicated to people killed in a bombing of the Academy Awards, a radio broadcast of an explosion at Wrigley Field, the diary of a child who watches his family die off...
  • The Tear Jerker Hour of Arrival site dips very, very heavily into Nightmare Fuel territory at the end.
    o my god, dj, itís over the capitol. o my god, o my god iím so sorry.
    this is the beginning
    the stars are blowing out like candles, danny jane
    make a wish make a wish make a wish make a wish make a
  • Also, the corrupt, scrambled appearance of the websites, caused due to the sites being sent back in time. Also, said event (as implied by "Hour of Arrival") seems to have occurred during the end of the world (February 10, 0000).
  • Even though it's well known for being featured in the soundtrack of Need For Speed Undercover, "The Warning (Stefan Goodchild Feat. Doudou N'Diaye Rose)"is much more darker and unsettling compared to the original.

    The Slip 
  • "Lights in the Sky" is guaranteed to make the blood run cold in your veins.
  • The Last Note Nightmare of "Corona Radiata", specially with the sounds of an infant screaming and cats hissing being heard in the background.

    Hesitation Marks 
  • "Black Noise" off Hesitation Marks, which destroys and suddenly swallows the entire track under a mix of echoing screams until the entirety of the album ends on a very creepy and uneasy note.

    Not the Actual Events 
  • Not The Actual Events can be classified as this, entirely, from Branches/Bones ending on a cut-off loud scream of Trent Reznor to the creepy, mechanical, dead sounding "Dear World" the paranoid whispery and suddenly frantic "The Idea Of You" or the rage fueled "Burning Bright (Field On Fire", yet special mention goes to "She's Gone Away" which features heavy beats stomping all over the track while Trent's voice and screams echo throughout the entirety of the track, Trent's screams get a special mention as he sounds as if he was in genuine anguish.
  • It should be especially noted that She's Gone Away was originally written for "The Nine Inch Nails'" performance in the new season of Twin Peaks which brings an extra bit of nightmare fuel to the song by associating with David Lynch, Laura Palmer and the acid trip that is episode 8 of Twin Peaks - The Return. David Lynch rejected Trent's first draft of a song for not being "dark enough" for Twin Peaks. You can definitely say that this has filled the void.
  • If you rip and play the B-Side in reverse, you'll hear the three remaining tracks heard from The Downward Spiral album until reaching "Reptile". There is a theory that the reversed tracks may represent the main protagonist's flashback of his (presumably failed) suicide attempt.
  • A rather Meta example: If you open the package after purchasing a digital copy of the said EP, you'll get a rather nasty surprise! You'll find an envelope containing a series of liner note sheets in addition to a black powder and cryptic note. The said black powder will easily stain your hands and many, MANY people who discovered it believed that the powder is dangerous regarding the warning sticker "may contain subversive elements that produce feelings of euphoria and may be harmful and unsettling to the consumer". Fortunately, it's actually made out of a non-toxic material known as graphite. No wonder why Trent had the idea of packaging like this.

    Add Violence 
  • ''The Background World', the final track of the Add Violence EP (and the longest original song in the NIN discography) starts off calm with vocals from Trent and backup vocals from Mariqueen. It starts off very calm but builds to this epic chorus of voices but all of a sudden roughly half way through the music suddenly stops and gives way to a distorted buzzing noise. What begins is an incomplete tape loop that repeats itself approximately 52 times becoming increasingly distorted with every loop until the loop finally and abruptly ends becoming very incoherent and an all out assault on the ears of anyone who may be listening. This 'experience' goes on for 7 MINUTES with some fans liking the experience to a panic/anxiety attack or slowly being consumed by something evil or dark. Zane Lowe from Beats 1 called the last 8 minutes "some of the most sonically destructive music I've ever heard." when interviewing Trent and Atticus before the EP's release, and boy, was he right.

  • Also, the Quake OST. Track 3 has distorted gibberish throughout, along with the horrid, squishing writhings of the Hell Mother Shub Niggurath.
  • For those who played Doom 3, you may notice that Trent Reznor's original theme for the game itself is pretty unsettling compared to the other track used in the retail. It's full of droning, breathing noises, distorted guitar notes, and you can hear the mumbling voices in the background. It's like if you're stuck inside a dark cave with no way to return and getting chased by a horde of monsters. Very disturbing.
    • 37 Ghosts, one of the Hidden Tracks of Ghosts I-IV. It's easily one of the most unsettling tracks on the album, building into what sounds like a cacophony of distorted, digital screams. Listeners have compared it to an anxiety attack or completely losing one's mind in musical form, among other things.