You knew this was coming. It’s Halloween! What else could the Throwback Video of the Week be but “Thriller?” In addition to being the title track from one of the biggest albums of all-time, the song spawned a game-changing music video.
As the story goes, Michael Jackson called film director John Landis (below) after seeing his movie An American Werewolf in London. Together they wrote a 13-minute short film with a budget much larger than previous music videos. The music video for “Thriller” premiered on MTV on December 2, 1983. The shorter version aired regularly and doubled sales of the Thriller album. It also sold over one million copies on VHS, making it the best-selling videotape at the time.
In the video, Michael and his date (Ola Ray) are confronted by zombies while walking home from a movie theater. M.J. becomes a zombie, too, and performs the iconic “Thriller” dance routine. It was The Walking Dead before The Walking Dead!
In 2009, “Thriller” became the first music video inducted into the National Film Registry. The Library of Congress described it as “the most famous music video of all time.” And YouTube is chock-full of fan recreations of the zombie dance. But you’re here for the original. I’ve posted the long and short versions below. Happy Halloween!