Crazy Childhood: Thriller
Because all music videos need spooky Vincent Price voiceovers.
Michael Jackson's Thriller (1983)
Directed By: John Landis
Starring: Michael Jackson, Vincent Price, Ola Ray
Ah, Michael Jackson. Though he's been through some bad times during his career until his untimely death, he truly was a genius, especially in the 80's. That glorious decade is when he gave us some of the best songs of not just the decade, but pretty much all time. Songs like Bad, Smooth Criminal, Beat It are truly the essential peaks of Jackson's title as The King Of Pop.
But probably my favorite song by him would be, of course, his #1 single Thriller. What's not to like? It has Vincent Price performing a rap at the end of the song with some of the most haunting lyrics you'll ever hear. It's the perfect theme song for Halloween.
One year before the song was released to the public, a music video was made and eventually went on to music video history. But how? Well, for several reasons. One, the director and co-writer was John Landis (An American Werewolf In London), the effects were created by Rick Baker (Men In Black), it has the popular zombie dance, and it runs for 13 minutes!
I'm not kidding, this things for 13 frickin' minutes. Despite the fact that Thriller is more of a short film rather than a music video, it's still considered to be a classic. How does it fare up? Well, I found it entertaining, but like in any music video from the 80's there are some pretty silly moments in it. Because there's not much of a plot to describe and not a whole lot to compare about what's good and bad, I'd figure I'll just go through the whole short film with you, a la Nostalgia Critic. Here it goes!
So the music video starts off with an opening statement by Michael Jackson:
"Due to my strong personal convictions, I wish to stress that this film in no way endorses a belief in the occult."
Uh, MJ, you're in a music video with dancing zombies. Like we're supposed to take that statement seriously.
We then see Michael Jackson driving his girlfriend (played by Ola Ray) home through the dark woods until the car runs out of gas, so they have to walk the rest of the way. I have nothing against the guy, but is it me, or does he sound more feminine than he usually did?
As they walk down "Certain Doom Road", Michael eventually asks Ola Ray if she'll marry him. Of course, she says yes. Well, I guess this scene is pretty nice and abosolutely nothing can go wro--
So, Michael turns into a werewolf and chases after helpless Ola Ray through the woods. Sooooo, what was the point of proposing to her in the first place? And for that matter, why did he do it during a full moon, the time when people turn into werewolves? Well, anyway, Ola Ray runs and runs and runs until she's cornered by the Thundercat himself.
So, it turns out that....it's just a movie. Yeah, a real bummer. And we see Michael and Ola watching it. Well that doesn't make any sense! Michael Jackson and Ola Ray are watching a horror movie starring Michael Jackson and Ola Ray! It's like seeing Super Mario actually playing the Super Mario game! Oh, wait....
So, Ola is frightened by the movie while Michael enjoys it. Makes sense. He would definately give Captain EO two thumbs up. Ola leaves and Michael catches up with her. To comfort her, Michael sings her the lyrics to his song Thriller. That would be fine, if you actually paid attention the lyrics. That would techinally make Ola feel more frightened.
They continue walking until they pass a graveyard, and soon all sorts of zombies awaken from their slumber to terrorize our heroes.
Just when Michael and Ola think things can't get any worse, Ola sees that Michael has immediately turned into a rotting zombie!
No, not that: THIS!
Though, to be honest, that previous picture looks pretty close.
Yeah, Michael Jackson's a zombie now! Why is he a zombie? I have no fickin' clue, though be honest, it's not as confusing as Michael Jackson turning into a car in Moonwalker. So as Ola sorta disappears from the scene, what's the first thing Michael does as a zombie? Dance, of course!
And yes, this dance scene is, in fact, awesome. Though the only thing I don't care for is that the music just loops on and on. You can replace that music with the music from the Bebe's Kids video game and no one would tell the difference.
So, after dancing up a storm, Ola Ray FINALLY decides to run into the safest place possible to hide---a haunted house. But the zombies are right on her tail and Michael gives his best scary face suitable for the icon of his Youtube account.
AND, it turns out it was just a dream. Wow. How 100% anti-climatic. Well, it looks like Michael takes Ola home and it looks like the video can end on a happy not---
Oh. Never mind.
So that's pretty much the end of the music video. So how does it fare up? Well, despite all the cheesy stuff that it has, it's still a pretty awesome video. The song is still top-notch, the choreography is great, and the make-up effects by Rick Baker are extremly well-done. But again, there are some incredibly cheesy moments as I mentioned already. The plot makes no sense, the background music is too repetitive, and it's not very scary. And it turns out that this wasn't the only time Michael Jackson attempted horror. In 1997, Stephen King, Stan Winston and the King of Pop teamed up for a 39 minute video called Michael Jackson's Ghosts, the longest music video in history.
I'd review this, but I had enough of Michael Jackson's mediocre storytelling techniques for a while. Overall, a good music video, just don't go into too much thought storywise.
More Halloween action along the way!