Combustible Celluloid
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With: Michael Jackson, Ola Ray, Forrest J. Ackerman, Rick Baker, Mick Garris, Janet Jackson, Vincent Prince (voice)
Written by: John Landis, Michael Jackson
Directed by: John Landis
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 14
Date: 11/01/1983

Michael Jackson's Thriller (1983)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

It's Close to Midnight

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This 14-minute wonder was arguably the biggest music video event that ever was and ever will be. I watched it many, many times and I still love it, all the way from its shocking moments to its ridiculous moments. Michael Jackson tapped John Landis to make it, apparently upon the strength of his werewolf movie An American Werewolf in London and not his comedies National Lampoon's Animal House or The Blues Brothers. Landis provides much of his typical blasts of gore and humor, and the song is pulled apart in a creative way so that it can be extended into a truly great, memorable, and now iconic climactic dance sequence. In it, Michael's car runs out of gas and he takes his girl (Ola Ray) for a walk in the woods before he turns into a werewolf. It turns out that it's only a movie that Michael and his date are watching in a theater (while Michael munches popcorn). She doesn't like the movie and walks out, and Michael sings to cheer her up. They walk past a graveyard and zombies attack. Michael turns into a zombie, too, but everything is all right in the end (or is it?). The video was also released as part of an hour-long video documentary that chronicled Jackson's work in the early 1980s and the making of the video.

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