Michael Jackson: Thriller (1983) remains the best music video ever produced. Here are 13 facts regarding the iconic and popular video.

  1. John Landis, fresh from directing An American Werewolf in London (1981), called the music video a “musical horror movie.”
  2. Thriller incorporates horror movie elements creating a lasting homage to the genre. MJ transforms into a were-cat, not a werewolf.
  3. MJ sought to change the music video genre and music listening by forcing radio stations to give equal airtime to artists of color.
  4. Costing nearly $900,000, Landis and MJ negotiated with cable provider Showtime and cable channel MTV to pay between $250,000-300,000 each by offering exclusive limited broadcast rights to The Making of Thriller.
  5. Two famous people were on set for the filming: Fred Astaire, legendary actor/dancer, and former first lady, Jackie Kennedy Onassis. MJ also brought his pet boa constrictor, Muscles, to the set.
  6. At the time of release, MJ was a Jehovah’s Witness and feared retribution from the church. He asked Landis to destroy the video. Instead, Landis penned the opening disclaimer.
  7. Landis called the short-film a “vanity” coming-of-age video addressing puberty.
  8. A popular urban legend claimed that the UPC barcode was MJ’s telephone number. Callers were surprised when employees of a hair salon in Washington state answered.
  9. Horror movie legend Vincent Price earned roughly $1,000 for 2 takes. Price recorded a rap to accompany his voiceover; however, the rap was cut from the final video.
  10. Nine million videos of the short film were sold. Today, the official video has over 625 million views on YouTube.
  11. The original title of the song was “Starlight.” Rod Temperton was brought onboard to re-write, and he renamed the song.
  12. Spoofs of the famous dance scene persist in popular culture. Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi’s spoof in Boy (2010) is a must-see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-TiQXCJtRk
  13. Dubbed as “innovative” and “inventive,” “Thriller remains a quintessential Halloween music video/short film. Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOnqjkJTMaA.