Last year, between the two of us, we watched an average of 317 movies.
This year our goal is to top that by watching at least one a day.
And as an extra special torture, we've decided to write about all of them.

22 May 2008

Michael Jackson's Thriller, dir. John Landis (1983)

NIKKI says: We got to this because I got the idea to watch concert videos on the big screen and pretend I was actually there. How awesome it was. First I watched my new James Reyne DVD, which is very cool -- just James and his band playing the Espy with no crowd. Then I watched Kenny Loggins belt out "Peace of Mind", which is just shiveringly brilliant. And then... Michael Jackson. Steve wanted "Thriller", so "Thriller" it was. Music, turns out, is just as great to watch on the screen as movies and Moonlighting.

How great is "Thriller"? You really can't fault it. It's funny, spooky, and really well put together. It's hard to believe it came out 25 years ago. Wow, that's shocking. I just love young Michael, with his crazy sense of humour, and his love of horror and sci-fi stuff. He just smiles all the way through this (except when he's a zombie), and he looks to be having so much fun. I miss the fun-having MJ.

Anyway... so this was cool to revisit. The zombies look great, the dancing is the best, and I love how it's all about blending artforms and using them to their fullest effects.


STEVE says: When MTV started running Thriller in December of 1983, my brother Mike was only a little over two years old. He would watch it religiously, every hour-on the hour, kneeling in front of the TV, fascinated by the dancing undead.

Nearly a year later, when all the Thriller hype had died down, MTV ran the video (a short film, really, hence its inclusion here) on Halloween. Twenty-five years later, I can't remember if it was Michael Jackson turning into the Wolf Man, or whether it was the Zombies pulling themselves out of the damp earth, but my brother promptly forget that he'd already seen this clip about 72 times with no adverse reaction, because he started crying, bolted up the stairs and hid under my desk.

He'll kill me for telling you that.

Later, of course, when he was closer to five, he'd be watching Re-animator with me and asking how the effects worked, so this Thriller thing appeared to be a one-time-only episode. It's a great little, flick, though - due largely in part to John Landis.

It was Landis' American Werewolf in London that started this whole thing. Jackson, being a huge American Werewolf fan, asked Landis on board for this clip, and he brought his own style and sense of humour along. Once the Wolf Man part of the story is revealed to be a movie, we can hear one of the actors on-screen reciting Landis' famous in-joke, "See You Next Wednesday", and there's even a poster for Landis' first film, Schlock, hanging outside the theatre. And the disclaimer "Any similarity to actual events or persons, living, dead, or undead, is purely coincidental" is a nod to American Werewolf itself.

Credit must be given, too, to Rick Baker and his crew for their Zombie make-up. Only four years earlier, George Romero's Dawn of the Dead opened unrated in theatres because he wouldn't cut it for an R rating. Baker and his crew pulled off some pretty nasty looking Zombies here, some certainly scarier than the legion of undead in Romero's film - and Thriller ran on television... where it could scare the pants off of unsuspecting two-year olds.


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