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Korn honors a creepy old tradition in their wonderfully chilling music video “Insane” — exploring the lost art of post-mortem photography.

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Occasionally, a band will give over full artistic expression to the music video director in their absence. I’m glad the godfathers of nu-metal, Korn, embrace horror as much as metal.

In this month’s Metal and The Macabre series (check out last month’s entry here), we examine the theme of post-mortem photography and celebrate Director Ryan Valdez’s breathtaking and eerie visual look for Korn’s Insane

The Concept

korn-insane-youtube-music-video

Soft focusing like the turning of the lens, the photographer (Rob Zabrecky) prepares his field view camera. Meanwhile, the morticians (Scott Bell and Anthony Stewart) prompt up and put makeup on the pale and deceased young woman (Stephanie Anne Joens); she’s mesmerizing, and her motionless eyes are glossed over. The room breathes the 1800s, taxidermy, family photos, and antiques, and, of course, filmed at the perfect location, the Bearded Lady Vintage and Oddities Mystic Museum in Burbank, CA.

When he looks behind the camera, the editing effects are reminiscent of computer glitches. Within the long exposure, the deceased moves, flickers, and screams — unheard to the audience. Paranoid, he looks up; she is still lifeless. Behind the camera again, he’s hallucinating as she gracefully dances and then flashes back to the screams.

Zabrecky is physically a magnetic actor. Done with the shoot, the morticians take the young beauty out of the room. Haunted by what he’s experienced, he sits in front of the lens and clicks the camera.

The profound visual effects of the room morph into an eerie encircling abyss, transitioning to the unknown chaos, and suddenly, the photographer vanishes.

Korn’s Insane lyrics correlate to the visual concept:

“Beaten down, dominated by its sound | Growing deep within my head | Softly dying, its soul is shed | Eating me all up inside | This cancer finds everything I hide | Living my life horrified | Nothing will keep this pacified and out my life | (Lies) does nobody know I’m insane?”

Director Ryan Valdez

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Valdez’s work is remarkable; his visual aesthetics and artistic choices make Insane alluring even without the presence of Korn.

He went on to direct their 2017 single, Black Is The Soul, with a conceptual faceless theme. Between his stylistic music videos for Kat Von D, Bones UK, and Ghost Town, among many artists, he often directs film festival circuit horror shorts, including Beyond Fest 2022 selection, We Got A Dog.

In addition to directing, the Emmy-nominated GFX artist has a gifted and compensational eye for cinematography.

His credits behind the camera include Day of the Mummy (2014), 8 Found Dead (2023), and the upcoming film Tenants.

Valdez reunites with Bloody Disgusting’s Vanessa Decker (Hello Horror on Screambox), and Ama Lea, writer and director for Slashercise, the 80s horror themed workout DVDSlashercise features a terror-studded cast including Felissa Rose, Joe Bob Briggs, Diana Prince, Spencer Charnas, Sarah French, Lisa Wilcox, Sarah Nicklin, Tiffany Shepis, Jared Rivet, and Kelli Maroney.

Post-Mortem Photography

In the mid-Victorian 1800s, the phenomenon of post-mortem photography was on the rise. Loved ones often dressed up their freshly deceased, and the vast majority were young, succumbing to plagues and diseases. Photographers would try their best to have the deceased’s eyes opened to compensate for the blank expression.

Having formal pictures taken to preserve their youthful spirit, the grieving families would find solace and triumph over death. Here’s a wonderful and informative article from Notesfromthefrontier.com on death photography.

Valdez possesses something extra special, both directorial and with great precision behind the camera’s lens. I say give this guy an RJLE or Blumhouse film to direct. The horror genre will keep advancing because of talent like this.

The Details

“Insane” Music Video for Korn

Director: Ryan Valdez
Editing/VFX: Ryan Valdez
Director of Photography: Patrick Lawler:
Producers: Derek Maher, Scott Bell, and Deca Creative
Label: Roadrunner Records/Atlanta Records Corp
Album: The Serenity of Suffering Album

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