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Michael Jackson: Thriller (Video 1983) Poster

Trivia

Jump to: Director Trademark (1)  | Spoilers (3)
Michael Jackson offered to finance the video himself, but John Landis refused, because Jackson "was still living with his parents in Encino, behind a supermarket."
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In December 2009, the Library of Congress selected the video for the National Film Registry. It was the first music video to be selected.
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In 2006, the Guinness World Records listed it as the "most successful music video of all time."
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Michael's red jacket was designed by John Landis' wife Deborah Nadoolman.
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John Landis made the film because he saw a great opportunity to bring back the theatrical short. "I saw it as a chance to resurrect a genre that had once been a Hollywood staple. Music videos were new in 1983, and MTV was just two years old."
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When the zombies begin to rise from the graveyard, the film's Make-up Artist Rick Baker can be seen as the zombie coming out of the mausoleum.
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Michael Jackson admitted that at one point he was close to abandoning the song: "The mixes sucked. When we listened to the whole album, there were tears... I just cried like a baby." He stormed out of the room, and rode a bicycle up to a schoolyard. He watched children play in the yard for some time, and when he came back, he "was ready to rule the world!" He went back into the studio and recorded the song successfully.
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According to Deborah Nadoolman, at the time of filming twenty-five-year-old Michael Jackson weighed ninety-nine pounds, and had a twenty-six-inch waist, "exactly the same measurements as Fred Astaire."
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Michael Jackson's sister Janet played one of the zombies.
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The sound of the growling animal during the transformation, is the same sound from John Landis' film An American Werewolf in London (1981).
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John Landis brought in the same make-up and special effects wizards he worked with on An American Werewolf in London (1981).
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The video's budget was five hundred thousand dollars. At the time, music videos cost around one hundred thousand dollars to produce.
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Before agreeing to direct, John Landis insisted that the extras spend two weeks rehearsing with their choreographer. At the time, that was unheard of for a music video.
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The film had a brief theatrical release in Los Angeles at the AVCO Theater - it played for three weeks along with Disney's Fantasia (1940) and sold out every night, although some parents complained that their children were scared by the werewolf sequence. This was done so it would qualify for an Academy Award for Best Short Live Action but despite its commercial success, it wasn't nominated for any awards.

It likely had a UK theatrical release too, considering the British Board of Film Classification's database lists a cinema submission from 1983 (with a 15 certificate).
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Rick Baker was unsure about working on this film at first, thinking the actors couldn't handle the make-up: "They have to sit still in a chair for hours, while you work on them. It's uncomfortable. It's not something actors look forward to."
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The video was shot in four days.
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Charlton Heston makes a cameo as an audience member at the cinema and is seen sitting next to Michael and his girlfriend.
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The short film was packaged on home video with The Making of 'Thriller' (1983) as "Making Michael Jackson's 'Thriller'", which became the world's best-selling VHS musical.
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The song was originally going to be called "Starlight".
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On June 27, 2011, the red jacket Jackson wore in this video sold for 1.8 million dollars at Julien's Auctions of Beverly Hills.
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The theatre in the movie is the Palace Theatre in Los Angeles, where John Landis had filmed The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977).
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The video has received over 500 million views on YouTube.
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The signs on the theater are as follows: The main sign reads "Vincent Price's Thriller". Vincent Price was a noted horror film actor who performed the film's rap. A poster of House of Wax (1953), in which Vincent Price had starred. A poster of Schlock (1973), which was John Landis' first film, and Make-up Artist Rick Baker's second.
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The score heard in this music video is actually unused music from composer Elmer Bernstein's previous collaboration with director John Landis: An American Werewolf In London.
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The zombie's costumes were purchased from The Salvation Army.
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When it was released on VHS in the UK, the short film was given the 15 certificate for its frightening scenes.
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Choregrapher Michael Peters played a gang leader in the music video of Michael Jackson's Beat It.
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When Michael Jackson was informed that his co-star Ola Ray had posed nude for Playboy (June 1980), Jackson confessed that he had not seen her centerfold, and was not informed prior to the video shoot that she had posed for Playboy. (Ray was then the girlfriend of Jim Brown).
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Video was parodied in the South Park episode, "Pinkeye", when Chef turned into a zombie.
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Jackson was 25 at the time of filming
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Michael Jackson had seen John Landis' An American Werewolf in London (1981) and called Landis vacationing in London with his wife at 2:00 am (Jackson didn't know the time difference). When Landis came back to the US, he visited the Jackson family's house and showed Michael a book of movie monsters. Michael wouldn't look at them because they were too scary for him. He hadn't seen many horror movies. Landis also gave Michael a list of horror movies to watch, but he declined due to them being too scary for him.
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The album cover of Michael Jackson's Thriller did not feature Michael Jackson and the zombies, but Michael Jackson lying on the floor in a white suit with a baby tiger.
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Michael never toured from the thriller album instead to keep thriller at number one he made the video thriller and from this album it went on to win 8 Grammys and become and still is one of the highest selling albums in music history earning over 100 million copies sold
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Michael's conversion to werewolf was parodied in Weird Al Yankovic's semi-mockumentary, "The Compleat Al", when Al personally asked Michael for permission to parody Beat It, granted permission with a thumbs up, then as Al was leaving changed to a werewolf (though did not go after Al).
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Michael turning around at the end, showing his werewolf eyes, was parodied at the end of Weird Al Yankovic's "Eat It"
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The short film is about a young man and his girlfriend menaced by zombies on the way home from the movies.
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When the film was released on VHS in the United Kingdom it was given the 15 certificate. But the rating was later changed to 12 in 2018.
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British comedian Lenny Henry parodied the music video in The Lenny Henry Show (1984) (TV Series).
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This is the first video Michael Jackson and John Landis worked on they would work together again in late 1992 on the black or white video for the album dangerous.
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This song is off his thriller album which also shares the same name
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The song thriller and others off this album including beat it, Billie Jean, wanna be starting something, the girl is mine, and human nature would hit number 1 spots for weeks straight
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Director Trademark 

John Landis: [SYNW] "See you next Wednesday" spoken by someone in the movie that Michael and Ola are watching. It's written in blood on a wall. The phrase "see you next Wednesday" also appears by the theater marquee in John Landis' film An American Werewolf in London (1981).
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Michael Jackson almost destroyed the video after negative feedback from fellow Jehovah's Witnesses. They didn't like that he had turned into a "cat-man" (werewolf).
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One of the longest running videos at 14 minutes and 7 seconds, Michael liked to call his videos short films instead of music videos
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Michael Jackson at the time being a devout Jehovah witness but later would change religion but still remain christian feared that the video would go against his fans religious beliefs and feared backlash so in the beginning of the video Michael has a message stating that " due to my strong personal convictions, I wish to stress that this film is no way endorses a belief in an occult".
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