CBC: ‘Scary tributes: Michael Jackson video inspires copycat Thrillers’

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By Rachel Giese, October 31st 2007

“I’m not like other guys.” Who knew just how prophetic that line was back in 1983, when Michael Jackson uttered it in the opening scene of his groundbreaking Thriller video? MJ was still a musical genius then — not yet a punchline, a baby dangler and a cosmetic-surgery victim — and his second solo album, Thriller, released in 1982, was a hit beyond all expectations. It topped Billboard’s album chart for more than two years, launched seven singles and sold 51 million copies worldwide. The video for the song Billie Jean was the first one by a black artist to get into MTV’s regular rotation.

But it was the release of the video for the single Thriller in 1983 that changed everything. Widely considered the best video ever made, it was the first to get a scheduled television launch — on Dec. 1, exactly one year after the release of the album. The 14-minute mini-movie directed by John Landis (Animal House, Trading Places) was a brilliantly produced homage/parody of horror movies and blaxploitation flicks. It had a then-unheard-of budget of $800,000 US and featured a spoken-word rap by Vincent Price. Its climax, a Broadway-style dance number featuring Jackson as a Cat Monster flanked by a chorus of zombies, has been re-enacted, celebrated and spoofed thousands of times since.

In honour of Halloween and the 25th anniversary of the album, we at offer some of our favourite tributes and ripoffs of the video “no mere mortal can resist.”

Wedding dance

An Oklahoma groom gamely recreated the video for his bride at their 2006 wedding. It went viral earlier this year on YouTube and now more than two million people have watched the wedding party do the zombie dance.


13 Going on 30

In this 2004 rom-com, Jennifer Garner, a 1980s teen fast-forwarded to adulthood Freaky Friday-style, got the party started with Thriller.

Music videos

Nods to Thriller have shown up in videos by Fatboy Slim, Fall Out BoyGnarls Barkley. Two of the most overt shout-outs were in Bob Sinclar and Cutee B’s video for Rock This Party (Everybody Dance Now) and Clint Eastwood by Gorillaz. and


Global thrills

A television show in Japan was one of the first to spoof the video in a comedy sketch that features a young woman freaking out when her young boyfriend is transformed into a dumpy old man. In German comedian Otto Waalkes’s movie Otto Der Film, his parody replaced the zombies with kitschy folk singer Heino. German a cappella group Wise Guys performed their jokey version – a tribute to 18th-century author Friedrich von Schiller – on German TV last year. But the two best international Thriller re-enactments are the Bollywood version and the performance by a group of Filipino inmates at the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Centre.


Lego stop-motion Thriller

If you build them, they will dance.


The original

And the one that inspired them all.

Read the full article here.

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