Video Filter: What’s He Building In There?

How many videos can one song inspire? Better yet, how many videos can one Tom Waits poem/song inspire?

I guess it should come as no surprise that “What’s He Building?” from the album Mule Variations turns up so many different auteurs on YouTube. In good Val Lewton fashion, the song scares through subtlety. Sure, all the creepy sfx create the mood but it’s also all the unknowns in this song that makes it so unnerving. The lyrics hint at nefariousness and elbow-nudge us their suspicions. And of course, Tom’s raspy, bull-horn-filtered, vocal performance carries it’s own weight in scary-gold. But in the end, it’s up to our imaginations to put creatures in the shadows.

That said, let’s bring out the divx! ArthurGordonPymJr uploaded a video to YouTube with a MTV digital watermark on it, as did PoisonMushrooms. I guess this must be the official video. But there are lots and lots of other versions to view. Here’s a sampling (with notes) compiled from YouTube. (I didn’t have time to search Dailymotion or MyspaceTV.)

danielossio – 1:05 edit / typo animation

quebrantacujas – Digital8 Handycam

hobosailor – high school project

druie – storyboards

adammedia – college project


sinkinghill – slideshow

LoveandGuns90 – Thomas Edison’s Frankenstein


shalgerardngo – Super 8

nathanbe – lip synch, Fedora

yakoenicol – lip synch, umbrella

welshcs – college project

robotdeathderby – :30 edit / animation

michael2B – :58 edit / Iraq antiwar video

MPStudios – RESOP

uglythings – 2:60 edit w/ diegetic sound

endorfina1 – 1:21 edit / animation

lifezinger – cooking (warning: excessive salt + shirtless man)