Michael Jackson’s Thriller in 3D: 10 Facts You May Not Have Known About the Classic Video

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King of Pop and legendary artist Michael Jackson may have passed away in 2009, but the memory of his innovative creative pursuits will live on in infamy. This is why I was so excited to discover that director John Landis, will be resurrecting Jackson’s seminal, 1983, fourteen minute, hit music video, Thriller, on Blu-ray and the big screen… BUT in 3D! After years of lawsuits and court battles, Landis, the original director of the Thriller video, has finally obtained the rights to this work of genius, and plans to rerelease the video next year. Though Michael is no longer with us in body, his legacy will live surely live on forever, and new memories can be across generations of devoted MJ fans.

For those of you who may not realize the cultural significance of the iconic music video, allow me to fill you in with some fun facts about Thriller:

1. Stylistically, Thriller was amongst the first music videos to utilize a short film format, to tell the story. Michael himself described the process as;

“My idea was to make this short film with conversation … in the beginning – I like having a beginning and a middle and an ending, which would follow a story. I’m very much involved in complete making and creating of the piece. It has to be, you know, my soul. Usually, you know, it’s an interpretation of the music. It was a delicate thing to work on because I remember my original approach was, ‘How do you make zombies and monsters dance without it being comical?’ So I said, ‘We have to do just the right kind of movement so it doesn’t become something that you laugh at.’ But it just has to take it to another level. So I got in a room with [choreographer] Michael Peters, and he and I together kind of imagined how these zombies move by making faces in the mirror. I used to come to rehearsal sometimes with monster makeup on, and I loved doing that. So he and I collaborated and we both choreographed the piece and I thought it should start like that kind of thing and go into this jazzy kind of step, you know. Kind of gruesome things like that, not too much ballet or whatever.”

-From “Michael Jackson’s Life & Legacy: Global Superstar (1982-86)”, via VH1

2. Thriller was MTV’s first World Premiere video, and at the height of the song’s popularity, the network would run the video twice in one hour. If you do the math, that’s a half hour of MJ zombie dancing fun, every hour.

3. The opening disclaimer regarding Michael’s “strong personal convictions” was added to the video because of Jackson family’s devotion to the Church of Jehovah, at the time.

4. Michael’s female co-star, Ola Ray, was a Playboy centerfold, and Playmate of the month in June 1980.

5. The choreographer, Michael Peters, had previously worked on the choreography with Michael for the music video, Beat It. Michael Peters is also one of the zombies in the mass dance sequence, and later went on to win a Tony award for orchestrating the choreography for Broadway’s Dreamgirls.

6. The iconic, red leather Thriller jacket, that was worn by Michael in the video, was designed by Deborah Nadoolman Landis, John Landis’ wife. After his passing, Jackson’s jacket was auctioned off for $1.8 million.

7. Thriller attempted to obtain an Oscar nom, playing in the Westwood Movie Theater for an entire week in 1983. It opened prior to showings of Disney’s Fantasia. It did not actually earn the Oscar nomination, but did make the Fantasia viewings more interesting, as many of the unsuspecting parents and children were caught off guard and not amused.

8. Prior to working on the Thriller video, makeup artist Rick Baker, had won an Oscar in 1981, for best makeup work on the film, An American Werewolf in London.

9. The song Thriller, was originally entitled “Starlight”.

10. The album Thriller has sold over 104 million copies.

I’m not like other guys…

Sources: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

*photos are from Pinterest