Thriller: 7 secrets behind Michael Jackson’s legendary music video

In 1983, the already popular Michael Jackson was getting ready to revolutionize the music world with Thriller. The global achiever surprised everyone — except the singer, who knew he had an clever idea when he transformed his song into a hideous short circuit film. Vogue looks back at the story behind the video that made Michael Jackson an matchless icon .

A costly production

After seeing An american english Werewolf in London in 1981, Michael Jackson contacted the film director John Landis about the project for Thriller ‘s music video. Unexcited, the label Epic Records was not thrilled about spending a bombastic sum of money on filming a television ( around 1 million dollars for 13 minutes ), let them work entirely. To afford the titanic monetary value, they sold a making-of prove to a television transmit. Michael Jackson, numeral 1 in sales thanks to his former album Off The Wall and the already mounting success of Thriller, obtained the necessary funds to finance the short-change film, which he co-wrote with John Landis. A winning couple — Thriller is seen by many as the most legendary music video in history .

Filming locations

The video is divided into two parts : one picture parodying love story films from the 1950s with a young match at the cinema ; then, Michael Jackson and his girlfriend, played by Ola Ray, come face-to-face with the zombies invading the city. For the cinematic sequence inspired by the 1957 movie I Was a Teenage Werewolf, the production team headed to Palace Theater in the plaza of Los Angeles. Michael Jackson ‘s fans gather on Union Pacific Avenue to recreate the zombi dance at the Thriller House on Caroll Avenue, where Ola Ray takes recourse to escape them .

An iconic costume

Deborah Nadoolman was in commit of costumes for the video recording, and most importantly those of Michael Jackson. The girlfriend of John Landis, she designed the outfits for Steven Spielberg ‘s Raiders of the Lost Ark two years before. now with cult condition, the singer ‘s kit, composed of a leather jacket with shoulder pads and bright crimson pants, was chosen to contrast the darkness interior decoration and nocturnal flip. The garments were both brassy and casual, to allow Michael Jackson to perform his dance moves freely.

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Michael Jackson in 5 legendary performances

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Frightening yet magnetic

When Michael Jackson approached John Landis to write and direct Thriller, he besides hired his team. Having already collaborated with Rick Baker on An american Werewolf in London, John Landis turned to the constitution artist again for Thriller. In the making-of objective, Rick Baker can be seen creating a face mold of the singer, to by and by create the celebrated werewolf forefront. The finish ? Make Michael Jackson chilling, but not surly. The singer ‘s font transforms into a blue creature, but we ‘re placid curiously fascinated. For the zombies ‘ makeup, Rick Baker worked around the artist ‘s expression, accentuating the outstanding bones ( the cheekbones, the nose, the center sockets… ) and darkening the shadowy areas ( darkness circles, buttock hollows… ). This gave a rape result, remaining firm to the singer ‘s features while making them more diseased .

Choreography to wake the dead

Having already worked with Michael Jackson on the stumble Beat It, Michael Peters was hired to choreograph the Thriller dance. The zombies ‘ legendary moves were created collaboratively by the choreographer and singer. Michael Jackson confessed that the greatest obstacle was bringing the live absolutely to life : “ How can you make zombies and monsters dance without it looking amusing ? I teamed up with Michael Peters, and we imagined how zombies move around by grimacing in the mirror. I sometimes used to come to rehearsals in giant makeup, and I loved doing that. ” Jazzy steps, a arrhythmic walk, and abrupt movements mix with the pro accuracy of Michael Jackson, his 18 professional dancers, and 4 pop-lock dancers… Thriller has surprised generations and continues to fascinate fans of mod dance .

His first female interaction

Before Thriller, Michael Jackson had shown very fiddling, if any, interest in including women in his video. For the first gear prison term, his character would feature alongside an actress. The character of his girlfriend was first offered to Jennifer Beals, the star of Flashdance, who declined. John Landis ‘ eyes turned to Ola Ray, a wild-child acquaintance of the singer, who would play the ‘ frightened girlfriend ’ function to paragon. To satisfy his female audience, Michael Jackson was urged to bring out his sensual side ; he improvised provocative dance moves around his on-screen girlfriend. Rumors say that the on-screen chemistry between the co-stars played out in actual life .

Why is Thriller such a legendary video?

On exceed of the media storm surrounding Thriller, even to this day the top-selling album of all time with 105 million copies sold, the video caused shockwaves in the music industry. Michael Jackson succeeded in proving to his critics that Black music had a place alongside white artists. loath to air Beat It, the young impart MTV ended up acquiring the rights to Thriller, and attracted an audience 10 times larger than convention for its 2 December 1983 premier. besides released on VHS, Thriller sold more than 9 million copies — a rotation for the earned run average. More twist, scripted, complex… Thriller transformed music video recording into an industry of their own. In 1984, John Landis ‘ short movie won 3 awards from MTV : Viewer ‘s Choice, Best Choreography, and Best overall performance in a Video. With even more prestige, the 1985 Grammy Awards gave the clip the Best Video award. even today, Thriller is a reference steer for video script and stage dancing, with more than 674 million views on YouTube entirely .


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Translated by Ella Jones More from
Michael Jackson in 5 legendary performances

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