On this day – 2nd December 1983
A year and a couple of days following the release of ‘Thriller’ album, MTV debuts the ‘Thriller’ video, a 14 minute short film of the LP’s title track which outshines even the brilliance and excitement of ‘Billie Jean’ and ‘Beat It’.
At a cost of $800,000, 18 dancers, who have had years of professional training are recruited for the video but, according to choreographer Michael Peters, Michael is better than any of them.
At this time still a practising Jehovah’s Witness, the video carries the following disclaimer from Michael:
“Due to my strong personal convictions, I wish to stress that this film in no way endorses a belief in the occult”.
The reaction to the video is instantaneous and unparalleled. In the three months following its release, aided by the unprecedented music awards it wins in the following two, the ‘Thriller’ LP sells an additional 7.5 million copies in America alone.
The story for the ‘Thriller’ video was written by John Landis and Michael. Running out of gas on their date, Michael starts to walk Ola home. After telling her, “I’m not like other guys”, he transforms into a werewolf in front of her eyes. He chases her through the woods when suddenly the scene switches to Michael and his date watching the scene in a movie theater. Ola, too scared to watch, leaves the theater with Michael following her out. On their way home, they find themselves surrounded by dead, or rather undead, zombies. Michael becomes one of them and joins them in one of his most dazzling dance routines ever.
Watch Michael’s ‘Thriller’ here: