Welcome back my friends to Manic Expression’s 31 Days of Halloween. I was trying to decide what to talk about. It had to be something nostalgic, preferably from the 80’s. Then a little song came on my Ipod, it was a massive hit 30 years ago and I realized it was the perfect thing. My friends, I give you one of the most epic music videos of all time. I am of course talking about :
Try to imagine it’s 1983. You are a kid about nine years old, and have just begun to be aware of a singer named Michael, something. You hear people talking about him and how amazing his music is, but have never really heard his music. Then something comes along called Thriller. You buy the album, and listen to the song, and watch the video…and it’s freaking amazing! You are hooked from then on, you ware such a fan you want that red jacket and even try to learn how to moonwalk. Ok, to be fair I am embellishing a bit since I really don’t remember all that well but for the most part that was me when Thriller came out…30 years ago!
Yes, Thriller is 30 years old this year. Well, technically the anniversary of the release date for the single and video will be 30 years on November 12. The album came out in 1982. And no, I don’t know how that works. But man does that make me feel old! I mean, where the heck did the time go? I will always remember one day I said I would not turn MTV off until a Michael Jackson song came on. And then Thriller came on. That worked. Oh, and yes kids MTV did show music videos once upon a time. Thriller was different, awesome…and scared the crap out of me when I first saw it. But I was only nine and wasn’t ready for that werewolf scene. But that aside, the video was freaking awesome right down to that cool red jacket he wore!
Now before I continue, I am aware that Michael Jackson did not have the greatest rep his last few years. It became real hard to admit to being a fan, and I get the troubles he had. I am not going to get into the right or wrong of that, instead let’s take a trip back to when Michael Jackson was a god among men and ruled the freaking world!
I simply love this song, and today it is a Halloween standard. Not hard to see why, since it covers everything that Halloween makes popular. We have horror movies, graveyards, zombies, werewolves, heck even haunted houses at the end of the video. Plus it has Vincent freaking Price doing a voiceover! How awesome is that????Â Add creepy sound and make-up effects and you get a true homage to classic horror films. At the time for a music video to be done almost as a mini movie was a very different idea. Videos were just meant to show the song on TV, there weren’t supposed to be storylines and a narrative! Thriller changed that with a run time over ten minutes and is still considered one of the best music videos of all time.
The film was directed by Jonathan Landis and he did a fantastic job mixing elements from Night of the Living Dead and American Werewolf in London. What is the story? Glad you asked! It starts simply enough on a dark night. Michael and his girlfriend (played by Ola Ray) have broken down (excuse me, ran out of gas) on a lonely road. As they talk about how much they like each other, Michael is about to reveal something when the full moon appears! Michael then starts to convulse, and before the young girls eyes becomes a monster!
The girl watches (instead of, you know, running!) as he turns into a full fledged warewofl! Just an aside, I saw the video of the make-up it took to turn Michael Jackson into that warewolf and it was intense, Worth a watch if you can find it. I give him credit anyone could have stepped in and did that, but Michael Jackson really was under all of that!Â Anyway, the wolf chases the girl and just as he gets the draw on her….
We find it’s all a movie that the girl and Michael are watching. Scared, she runs off and Michael follows. He tries to convince her it was a movie and there is no reason to be scared. They then walk down a lonely alley…this can’t be good. In the video it’s here that we get Vincent Price’s narration as zombies start appearing. They surround the couple, and when the girl turns back to Michael….he is a zombie also!
How? Who cares, it’s awesome! Anyway then we get the huge dance routine as Michael sings the chorus. After it’s done, Michael and the zombies chase the girl into an old abandoned house. They corner her, and just as Michael reaches out to her….she screams and wakes up. Michael is normal, and says he will take her home. He walks her out, but then turns to the camera to reveal yellow eyes! Vincent Price’s laugh over the scene is perfect! Suffice to say the song and the video were monsters hits (no pun intended). The song soared to the top of the charts and won three MTV Music Video Awards.
I kind of glossed over this in the start, but the truth is the reason the album came out a year earlier is because the song Thriller was not the first single released. It wasn’t even the second! I know, crazy! As the album sales waned it was decided to release a third video based on the title track. The rest, as they say, is history. Want to hear something crazier? Michael Jackson regretted doing Thriller because it offended many in his religion. He never intended to scare people or offend them, and said he would never do that again.
However, the legacy of Thriller is ensured. It pops up every year around Halloween and there are even events where people dress up and do the dance.Yes, there are Thriller flash mobs! It has been covered by others, featured in shows like Glee, and yes even parodied to death. Shrek, The Chipmunks, Family Guy, and even South Park have all done homages to it. It was even a video game. So as we approach Halloween, I know I will be watching this video and listening to the song once again. Put simply, the video, dance moves, and song are iconic and wont be going anywhere for quite awhile.
Before I go, let me leave you with this. Vincent Price is known for his horror movies, but for me he is best known for this speech:
Darkness falls across the land
The midnight hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize y’alls neighborhood
And whosoever shall be found
Without the soul for getting down
Must stand and face the hounds of hell
And rot inside a corpse’s shell
The foulest stench is in the air
The funk of forty thousand years
And grizzly ghouls from every tomb
Are closing in to seal your doom
And though you fight to stay alive
Your body starts to shiver
For no mere mortal can resist
The evil of the thriller
And the best evil laugh ever!!!!!
How could I not provide a YouTube link? Enjoy!
So after thirty years, does it still hold up? HellÂ yeah! Ok I admit it is a little silly but no worst than your average scary movie which this is an homage to. It’s just as awesome as it was then in my opinion, and I will continue to enjoy it for many more years. Thriller is a true Halloween guilty pleasure. But the truth is, I have some which are much more embarrassing. In a couple days I will be back to reveal them.