Love Michael Jackson or hate him, there's little denying that the Thriller video he made with director John Landis was a pretty big deal back in the day. Music videos were still in their infancy, and to see one that aimed for a truly "cinematical" approach was pretty damn novel. So I thought it would be cool to ask our staff for some memories of this powerfully poopular music video...

I must have watched "Thriller" 100 times when it was new. I couldn't get enough of it. I think I was initially impressed by the long-form, big-budget music video that was more of an event than a regular occurrence. But it actually holds up well, thanks to the purposely cheesy, winking direction by John Landis. It's hard not to watch without a grin on your face. Biggest leap of faith: why is Michael wearing a letterman jacket in the opening scenes? What did he play, football? - Jeffrey M. Anderson

I can't even remember the first time I saw "Thriller" because it's such a pervasive part of my childhood and my Halloweens. My family was dead broke and we only had basic television, so I know it was years after everyone else had seen it. I listened to the song so often (Vincent Price's voice getting me every single time) that the "story" told in it had built up one heck of a movie in my mind ... and that movie still wasn't as cool as the actual "Thriller" video. - Elisabeth Rappe

I was a zygote. -- Will Goss


Back when this video came out, nearly everyone in my junior high class wanted to own the jacket Jackson wore in the "Thriller" video. A few scored some knockoffs that were close, but no one could find the actual thing. I was at Foley's (a department store chain that went the way of the dodo) one day and found a perfect copy. It was like coming across the Holy Grail or the Lost City of El Dorado. It was my size, it was on sale, and it I slipped into the dressing room to try it on. And ... I looked incredibly stupid wearing it. Even stupider in front of the tri-fold mirror on the pedestal outside the dressing room trying it on. A couple of other kids laughed their asses off at me, and I left it behind. I always wondered where that jacket ended up. - Kevin Kelly

I must have been about 9 when the "Thriller" video first came around, and still young enough that the middle-school objections to being a Michael Jackson fan hadn't taken hold yet. (Once you were 12 or so, it was "lame" or "gay" to like Michael.) "Thriller" was something we had never seen before, an innovative twist on a concept (music videos) that was pretty new itself. MTV would announce when it was going to be played next, and we'd sit around waiting for it, hoping it was the full-length version and not one of the shorter cuts. We loved the scary, Halloweenish story, and we loved the song, too. And what a huge impact it had on our collective psyche: Just last week at the CineVegas Film Festival, the DJ played "Thriller" during one of the late-night parties, and everyone on the floor instantly started duplicating the zombie dance moves. It was automatic. - Eric D. Snider

When I was a little kid, I would hunker down on the carpet in front of the TV and watch hours and hours of MTV. I remember seeing Thriller when it first debuted, and it was so scary and exciting, and every time I saw it again, I felt the same frisson of creepiness and delight. That probably explains a lot about my interest in horror -- the memory of being a little kid, entranced by the chills down my spine and the laughable awesomeness of it all. - Jenni Miller

On December 2, 1983 I remember running home in the chilly Canadian winter to catch the premier of Thriller on a local music video show, and my 8-year old mind was duly blown. Landis' masterpiece was like nothing I had ever seen before; I was happy, I was scared, and my sister and I immediately went to work practicing our zombie dance moves and Vincent Price's 'rap'. Michael and I may have parted ways as the years wore on (to be completely honest I was always more of a Prince fan), but that freezing cold day is one of my best childhood memories, and for that I'll always be grateful. - Jessica Barnes

I still lived in L.A. when Thriller hit, and mostly I remember it being huge, everywhere, on every radio station. There was a billboard on the Sunset Strip, the biggest billboard in the world, it seemed, next to Tower Records, with Michael Jackson 70 feet high in that red leather get-up. And everyone loved it. EVERYONE. My friends were all punk-rock kids, and they loved Thriller as much as the disco and the pop cliques. Michael Jackson really was, at that moment in time at least, the King of Pop. - Dawn Taylor

Vincent Price is awesome. - Scott Weinberg

CATEGORIES Movies, Horror