The horror movie that inspired Michael Jackson
Considering it’s one of the best-selling albums of all time, it would be hard to argue against the fact that michael jacksonit is Thriller is not one of the best pop albums ever recorded. Take, for example, the fact that Jackson released seven songs from Thriller as singles. What other album contains up to seven songs worthy of a single?
Perhaps the best known of these is the final single to be released, the album’s title track. ‘Thriller’ is ultimately a funk track at heart, produced by none other than the inimitable Quincy Jones. Rod Temperton, who wrote the song, wanted to include Jackson’s love of filmmaking in the song, and as such the music and lyrical content references horror movies.
However, the most explicit notion of horror in “Thriller” is undoubtedly its music video, directed by John Landis. Landis was known for his comedy films, such as The Blues Brothers and animal housealthough he also had a knack for directing horror films, having also directed An American werewolf in London.
An American werewolf in London is ultimately what inspired Jackson and his team to make “Thriller” and its music video. The iconic 1980s horror film featured a classic scene in which its protagonist undergoes a gruesome transformation into a terrifying lupine creature. Jackson himself reached out to Landis to see if he would be interested in directing the “Thriller” music video.
“He called to say he was a fan of my movie,” Landis said. said. “He wanted to do a rock video where he turned into a monster, and he felt he had the best song to do that, ‘Thriller’.” However, Landis was initially skeptical about whether or not he should go ahead with the project.
“I was like, ‘I don’t know, because music videos are basically advertisements to sell records,'” he added. Still, Landis couldn’t quite pass up this enviable opportunity. He said, “I decided to do ‘Thriller’ because it was an opportunity to do a good musical number.”
Landis also noted that Jackson was not entirely aware of horror trends. “Turns out he hasn’t seen a lot of horror movies; they were too scary,” Landis said. “I thought he was great. He wanted zombies, but the big problem for Mike was turning into a monster. Michael was very determined to make everything the best, the biggest. He had a spectacular work ethic, but he was an old pro; the guy has been playing since he was eight years old.
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