Often referred to as the greatest music video ever, Thriller proved to have a profound effect on popular culture, and was named "a watershed moment for the [music] industry" for its unprecedented merging of filmmaking and music.
4.1 Grammy Award
4.2 MTV Award
5 Making Michael Jackson's Thriller
5.1 Filming locations
5.2 Behind the scenes
6 Broadway and litigation
7 See also
9 External links Background
"Thriller" was the first Michael Jackson music video to feature the logos for Columbia Pictures, Paramount Pictures and Epic Records Productions at the beginning. It was less a conventional music video and more a full-fledged short subject or mini-film: a horror film homage featuring choreographed zombies performing with Jackson. The music was re-edited to match the video, with the verses being sung one after the other followed by the ending rap from Vincent Price, then the main dance sequence to an instrumental loop, and a climactic dance segment with Jackson singing the choruses. During the video, Jackson transforms into both a werecat and a zombie; familiar territory for Landis, who had directed An American Werewolf in London two years earlier. The video was also a crossover because MTV at the time did not regularly air black musicians. Jackson became one of the first African American musicians to prominently feature on the station.
Co-starring with Jackson was former Playboy centerfold Ola Ray. The video was choreographed by Michael Peters (who had worked with the singer on his prior hit "Beat It"), with Michael Jackson. The video also contains incidental music by film music composer Elmer Bernstein, who had previously also worked with Landis on An American Werewolf in London. The video (like the song) contains a spoken word performance by horror film veteran Vincent Price. Rick Baker assisted in prosthetics and makeup for the production. The red jacket that Jackson wore was designed by John Landis' wife Deborah Landis to make him appear more "virile".
Jackson, who at the time was a Jehovah's Witness, added a disclaimer to the start of the video, saying:
Due to my strong personal convictions, I wish to stress that this film in no way endorses a belief in the occult.
To qualify for an Academy Award, "Thriller" debuted at a special theatrical screening, along with the 1940 animated motion picture Fantasia.
Jackson dancing with the undead.
It is the late 1950s. A teenaged Michael and his unnamed date (Ola Ray) run out of gas in a dark, wooded area. They walk off into the forest, and Michael asks her if she would like to go steady. She accepts and he gives her a ring. He warns her, however, that he is "different". A full moon appears, and Michael begins convulsing in agony – transforming into a horrifying werecat. His date shrieks and runs away, but the werecat catches up, knocking her down and begins lunging at her with his claws.
The scene cuts away to a modern-day movie theater where Michael and his date – along with a repulsed audience – are actually watching this scene unfold in a movie called "Thriller" starring Vincent Price. Michael's date is scared, but he is clearly enjoying the horror flick (part of the dialogue of the unseen film contains Landis' signature line "See you next Wednesday" before the audience screams again). Frightened, his date leaves the theatre. Michael hands his popcorn to the stranger next to him, and catches up to her, smiling and saying "It's only a movie!" Some debate follows over whether or not she was scared by the scene; she denies it, but Michael disagrees.
Michael and his date then walk down a foggy street, and he teases her with the opening verses of "Thriller". They pass a graveyard, where corpses begin to rise from their graves as Vincent Price performs his rap. Michael and his date then find themselves surrounded by the zombies, and suddenly, Michael becomes a zombie himself. Michael and the undead perform an elaborate song and dance number together, followed by the chorus of "Thriller" (in which Michael is changed back into human form, due to his refusal to wear massive amounts of make-up while singing), frightening his girlfriend to the point where she runs for cover.
The girl is chased into an abandoned house where Michael (who reverts back to zombie form) and his fellow zombies back her into a corner. As Michael slowly reaches for her throat, she lets out with a blood-curdling scream, only to awake and realize it was all a dream. As a human Michael calmly asks "What's the problem?", he offers to take her home. As the two depart, Michael glances back at the camera, grinning and reveals his yellow cat-like eyes (accompanied by Vincent Price's one last haunting laugh).
After the credits, when they concurrently show the zombies dancing again, the disclaimer humorously states, "Any similarity to actual events or persons living, dead (or undead) is purely coincidental." Landis' An American Werewolf in London likewise offered this disclaimer. After the warning the zombies dance back to the grave then another zombie comes into view and gives a horrifying grimace to the camera that freeze frames before blood runs down the screen and the screen turns to black.
Directed by: John Landis
Produced by: George Folsey, Jr., Michael Jackson & John Landis
Written by: John Landis & Michael Jackson
Starring: Michael Jackson
Co-Starring: Ola Ray
Director of Photography: Robert Paynter, B.S.C.
Special Make-up Effects Designed & Created by: Rick Baker & EFX, Inc.
Choreography: Michael Peters & Michael Jackson
Edited by: Malcolm Campbell & George Folsey, Jr.
Art Director: Charles Hughes
Costume Designed by: Kelly Kimball & Deborah Nadoolman Landis
Production Manager: Dan Allingham
First Assistant Director: David Sosna
Scary Music by: Elmer Bernstein
Performed by: Michael Jackson
Featuring 'Rap' by: Vincent Price
Produced by: Quincy Jones & Michael Jackson
Written by: Rod Temperton
Recorded & Mixed by: Bruce Swedien
Available on Epic Records & Cassetes
 Grammy Award