Countdown to Halloween: Thriller.

All October I’m taking a look back at my personal history with horror and how it transformed from a fear to a love.  Today lets take a look at that much loved, much respected, usually ranked number one music video of all time – Michael Jackson’s Thriller.



Or as I had to call it as a kid:  Michael Jackson’s video.  No the other one.  The scary one.

I could not say Thriller as a child.  I had this crazy theory that by saying the word I would have nightmares.  I did at first, probably because I had seen the video earlier in the day (or more likely, night).  Then when speaking of the video later I most likely reminded my subconscious of the scarier parts of the video and caused the terrors.


It is a terrifying video but the crazy thing is its also an event.  Its the constant debate over where a great piece of work within a genre escapes those confines and becomes loved by the masses.  Silence of the Lambs escaping the horror ghetto.  The Walking Dead becoming more than a show based on a comic book.  Everyone knew who Michael Jackson was and his work became an event.  Every October MTV would play the Making of Thriller documentary followed by the video.  This would be hyped up for weeks.  Sometimes there would be an entire night dedicated to it.  Scary videos, MTV Halloween party, win a date with Freddy.  You know, all the usual stuff.

(It would have been win a date with Leatherface but Anthrax already did enough damage with a chainsaw and a contest winner.)

THRILLER, (aka MAKING OF MICHAEL JACKSON'S THRILLER), Ola Ray, Michael Jackson, 1983, © MCA/Universal / Courtesy: Everett Collection
THRILLER, (aka MAKING OF MICHAEL JACKSON’S THRILLER), Ola Ray, Michael Jackson, 1983, © MCA/Universal / Courtesy: Everett Collection

That Making of documentary should have helped me with my fears, as behind the scenes features are what finally quelled my fears later in life.  But even the documentary is shot in a way that only adds to the anticipation that these creatures are getting ready to dance and then eat my flesh.  We see Michael getting into the werewolf makeup but not as much detail for the zombie.  Then there is the rest of the zombie crew, shuffling and clicking their prosthetics in a cacophony of rotting body clicks.  There’s not a clip of a normal old man coming in and having hours of makeup applied.  He’s already pretty creepy and gross.

Its still a triumph that I can enjoy on its own right now as a memory of late October nights when MTV was still fun and I still thought monsters could show up any moment.

This post is part of the Countdown to Halloween.  You can read dozens of other fun filled blogs all month long.


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