Thriller (1983)

USA, 1983
35mm film
stereo, English

An American horror music video directed by John Landis. It was intended as a music video to promote Michael Jackson’s song of the same name but at 13 minutes was much longer than the song itself. It included narrative material leading into an elaborate song and dance routine and was released theatrically (as a support film to a re-release of Fantasia (1940)) in December 1983 in an effort to get the film nominated for a Best Short Film Oscar.

Plot Summary

At an unspecified date in what appears to be the late 1950s, Michael is walking his girlfriend home after a date when he suddenly turns into a werewolf. Michael chases his date through the woods and into an old house which is soon besieged by dancing zombies.


Directed by: John Landis
© MCMLXXXIII [1983], Optimum Productions
Produced by: George Foley Jr, Michael Jackson, John Landis
Production Manager: Dan Allingham
Written by: John Landis & Michael Jackson
First Assistant Director: David Sosna
Director of Photography: Robert Paynter
Edited by: Malcolm Campbell & George Folsey Jr
Scary Music by: Elmer Bernstein
Thriller” performed by Michael Jackson, featuring ‘Rap’ by Vincent Price, produced by Quincy Jones & Michael Jackson, written by Rod Temperton, recorded & mixed by Bruce Swedien, available on Epic Records & Cassettes
Costumes Designed by: Kelly Kimball & Deborah Nadoolman
Special Make-Up Effects Designed & Created by: Rick Baker & EFX, Inc.
Art Director: Charles Hughes
Choreography: Michael Peters & Michael Jackson
Opening caption: “Due to my strong personal convictions, I wish to stress that this film in no way endorses a belief in the occult. Michael Jackson”
“All characters and events in this film are fictitious. Any similarity to actual events or persons living, dead, (or undead) is purely coincidental.”

Michael Jackson [Michael]
Ola Ray [Michael’s girlfriend]
John Command, Michael Peters [zombies – uncredited]
Forrest J Ackerman [zombie in final frame – uncredited]
Rick Baker [zombie opening crypt door – uncredited]
Greg Cannom [zombie in very final frame – uncredited]
Tony Gardner [zombie from grave – uncredited]

Alternative Titles

Michael Jackson’s Thriller

Extracts included in
13 Going On 30 (2004)
HIStory (1994)
It’s Black Entertainment (2002)
Making Michael Jackson’s Thriller (1983)
Michael Jackson: The Legend Continues (1988)
Moonwalker (1988)

See also
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things (1972)
Driller (1984)
House of Wax (1953)
I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957)
Koi… Mil Gaya (2003)
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Return of the Living Dead Part II (1988)
Schlock (1973)
Il silenzio dei prosciutti (1994)
Siu lam juk kau (2001)
Weird Al Yankovic: The Videos (1996)


Daily Mail 2 December 1983 p.15 – illustrated article