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Thriller
© Gary Mitchel
January 01, 2008

It's hard to believe now, that back in the day Michael Jackson was, well, the man.

It was 25 years ago that he proved it, releasing the best selling album of all time: Thriller. While "Billie Jean" and "Beat It" got to the top of the charts first, the song that makes this album is the title track. This is for one simple reason, my friends: everybody loves Zombies.

The video showed us that not only do the living dead want to eat our flesh, they also have a hunger for getting down.

When Jackson went to make the video for the song, he recruited horror master John Landis, director of the now classic An American Werewolf in London. The effects are by makeup legend Rick Baker, who won an Oscar for that same movie. So while Jackson put a disclaimer in the video that he didn't believe in the occult, it's obvious he wanted to cause a few scares.

The video is called a spoof of horror movies, but it's got a few scenes where it doesn't play for laughs. There's the fake were-cat movie, which plays like any 50s horror flick, except with that great Baker transformation.

When the zombies come crawling out of their graves with "the funk of 40,000 years" or as they close in on our heroine while she hides in that abandoned house, these shambling flesh eaters are straight out of any Romero flick.

Then there's the dance. It, along with Jackson's trademark red leather jacket, have been spoofed in everything from "Dancing with the Stars," video games, "The Simpsons," "Return of the Living Dead 2," and more. It's been the basis for wedding dances, and even Bollywood had their own unique take on it.

Anytime someone spoofs zombies, you can count on a Thriller reference.

But none of that would be possible if the song and video weren't damn good on their own. Even a metal-head like myself couldn't resist the catchy tune crafted by Jackson and Quincy Jones.

Add Price's old-school flavored horror rap, and its no wonder this video and song, unlike a lot of 80s music, still holds up.

Anytime people hear that music, they can't help but try and pop a few of those undead dance steps (Usually the slide, in my case). If you say you can, you're either lying or are one of the unfortunates who should heed Vincent's warning: "Whoever shall be found, without the soul for getting down, must stand face the hounds of hell, and rot inside a corpse's shell."


Sneezy the Squid takes the sound before you make it.

 
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