As Halloween becomes a more fully recognized holiday, the robustness of the canon of appropriately tailored songs and visuals will only increase. And yet, there is still only one song and music video that truly warms the heart with regard to this supernatural celebration of the ghoulish and the dead: The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Ava Adore.”
Directed by Dom and Nic (most known for their collaborations with Supergrass and the Chemical Brothers), the goth-inspired costume and set design of the video brings a classic rather than standardly tacky air that indirectly honors Halloween without having to explicitly hit the point over the head. As the camera opens on Billy Corgan in his most Nosferatu-esque attire and skin tone, Dom and Nic film the entire video in one long take to give the illusion of a static shot as Corgan ethereally begins his long stroll commencing through a mental institution that looks almost like a Hollywood soundstage (one of the “operating rooms” Corgan passes reads Theater 9 above the door).
As he continues his eerily-tinged journey through the loony bin, he enters a different, more dinner party-like space where he encounters bassist D’arcy Wretzky and other revelers dressed in costume–but he can’t stay for long as he segues into an all-white room that conjures comparisons to the videos for “The Universal” and “Virtual Insanity.” Now joined by both D’arcy and guitarist James Iha as he makes bombastic gestures amid androgynous couples, Corgan continues channeling the aura of a vampire who has long been dead. A black winged Iha and crowned Wretzky follow the seemingly randomly appearing Corgan (he loves to pop out like some sort of Jack-in-the-box stalker) as he enters the likes of another nineteenth century-seeming dressing room and then a parking garage rave.
To iterate the somber nature of the video, there is the overall funereal theme of the song, packed with lyrics proclaiming eternal love and possession, declaring, “And I’ll pull your crooked teeth/You’ll be perfect just like me/You’ll be a lover in my bed/And a gun to my head/We must never be apart.” While Valentine’s Day is for that fucking cutesy bullshit form of “love,” Halloween reserves a special place for the dark side of that often life-ruining entity the French call l’amour, adding to the hand-in-handedness of “Ava Adore” to this day of gloom.
Lovers are, indeed, peppered throughout every tableau Corgan passes through–ranging from the dramatic (a couple being doused with blatantly fake rain) to the pornographic (a couple humping in Caesar-ish attire, meaning only head garlands). By the end of the video–a carnival of the macabre–all three band members are being projected onto a screen as though they are their own horror movie. And, incidentally, many of us are our own horror movie.
So even if you don’t have appreciation for Halloween, at least have appreciation for the amount of time and painstakingness of Dom and Nic’s elaborate camerawork, the concept of which (speed changes are difficult to sync up to someone mouthing lyrics, you know) almost shut down the entire production of “Ava Adore”–and then what would pop culture connoisseurs of the millennial generation include on their screen at costume parties?