Michael Jackson’s Thriller is an American 13-minute music video for the song of the same name released on December 2, 1983. It was directed by John Landis, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Michael Jackson.
It was MTV’s first world premiere video. Voted as the most influential pop music video of all time, Thriller proved to have a profound effect on popular culture, and was named “a watershed moment for the [music] industry” for its unprecedented merging of filmmaking and music. Guinness World Records listed it in 2006 as the “most successful music video”, selling over nine million copies. In 2009, the video was inducted into the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, the first music video to ever receive this honor, for being “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant. It is also the most watched music video of all time, seen by more than four billion people all over the world.
Costarring with Jackson was former Playboy centerfold Ola Ray. The video was choreographed by Michael Peters (who had worked with the singer on his prior hit “Beat It”), and Michael Jackson. The video also contains incidental music by film music composer Elmer Bernstein, who had previously worked with Landis on An American Werewolf in London. The video (like the song) contains a spoken word performance by horror film veteran Vincent Price. Rick Baker assisted inprosthetics and makeup for the production. “Thriller” was the third and final video for the Thriller album. The red jacket that Jackson wore was designed by John Landis’ wife Deborah Landis to make him appear more “virile”.
To qualify for an Academy Award as a short subject, the film was shown in a theatrical screening along with the 1940 Disney animated feature Fantasia, in December 1983.