In the original video, Jackson transforms into both a zombie and a werecat or as my old neighbor Rick Baker referred to it in "Making of Thriller", "a cat monster". When I was living in Isla Vista and studying theatre, I lived next door to Baker. After learning that he was a Hollywood make-up artist, he showed me his photo book one day (it must've shown on my face that I didn't believe him, after all EVERYONE'S Hollyweird). It was amazing, so many years later to see all the work and transformations that Michael went through to achieve the freaky zombie look or the bizarre cat monster. I had confessed to Baker that he had done an EXCELLENT job on all the zombies and on MJ because it had scared the you-know-what out of me.
Little known fact, at least to me it was: Michael Jackson at the time of Thriller was a Jehovah's Witness; thus, the disclaimer stating, "Due to my strong personal convictions, I wish to stress that this film in no way endorses a belief in the occult" at the beginning of the video.
As if there weren't enough horror veterans on board, MJ had Vincent Price do a spoken word performance and that maniacal laugh at the end of the video. Ola Ray, who was a Playboy centerfold, starred in the video as MJ's love interest. The cheesy 80s acting makes me wonder why I was so scared way back when but, it was the 80s- what do you expect?
Thriller was revolutionary, any way you want to look at it. When Michael died (RIP), views of Thriller went up almost overnight to a grand total of 8 million in a week. Its total view count on YouTube is currently 46, 079, 263. All ten of Jackson's albums made Amazon's top 10 in Music, with Thriller taking the lead. Within hours of the confirmation of his death, Thriller rose to #1 on iTunes. This is repeated everywhere music is sold. He won multiple Grammys and MTV awards for it.
He had already changed MTV with "Billie Jean" and "Beat It" because until those videos aired, MTV had only aired Prince, Tina Turner, Joan Armatrading, and the Bus Boys which were all classified as rock. With Thriller he changed the way people looked at MTV forever. With his amazing talent, he changed the way people looked at pop music. May he finally rest in peace...
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