Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tales of TV Halloween Past -- Michael Jackson's Thriller (1983)

Since I've gone on a short musical detour, now seems like the best time to bring in the best music video ever produced, which also happens to be a great blending of horror movie imagery and pop music.

In 1983, Michael Jackson was at his peak, and MTV was known primarily for showing music videos (hence the title). So, in one of those moments of perfect timing, Jackson and John Landis (the director of horror movie classic An American Werewolf in London) teamed up to produce a long-form video for the title track of his blockbuster album.

Though ground-breaking in its day, the impact of Thriller has been somewhat lessened in recent years through a combination of Jackson's downfall and death and the zombie-dance centerpiece becoming a pop culture trope in movies, tv, and youtube flashmob videos.

As a result, more people have likely seen the Chinese prisoners doing the Thriller dance than have seen the video in its entirety. Unfortunately, the complete 13-minute mini-movie is rarely if ever shown on TV -- usually cutting out the first pre-music 4 minutes and much of the center section, and the entire credits sequence. It is also apparently not out on DVD -- nor is the Making Of... video (which was a huge bestseller in its own right on VHS).

So, although I like to only show a tease of the film in question, encouraging you to go out and track down the dvd and watch it, I am including the complete video below. In production values alone, I think it holds up as a short tongue-in-cheek horror film even today. And the song will be stuck in your head the rest of the month (which is as it should be...).

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