What makes a music video seminal is probably up for debate. Being able to cite major plot points or cameos is key, yes, as is the video's regular appearance outside of "Where Are They Now?"-type shows.
But here's another factor: Do thousands of enthusiastic people perform a video's dance, year after year after decade, just because?
If so, "Thriller" is indeed on the top of the heap, Halloween-themed or otherwise.
The Michael Jackson 1983 scaregend -- that's a scary legend, of course -- is remembered for a number of things. One? It's 13 minutes, which was far longer than videos of the day. Two? It had a movie director in John Landis. Three? Vincent Price did some matinee-macabre narration. And four? Everyone but everyone Loves the undead dance, capital L.
Oh, heck, we'll capitalize the rest of the word, too: LOVES.
That dance is popping up all around Southern California over the weekend. Ready to go claws up? Make for...
Ripley's Believe It or Not: The Thrill the World LA crew will descend, moans and grimaces and all, to perform the boogie at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26. This is part of the annual global event, where ghoulish groovers shake their stuff, nearly in unison, or at least in spirit, to "Thriller" over the course of one day. Will the tourists arriving in Hollywood for the day think we dance to "Thriller" every day of the year here? Maybe. Here's hoping.
Swerve Studio: Dance instructor Kim Blank has serious music video cred -- yeah, she was in Lionel Richie's "Dancing on the Ceiling" -- and she also served as an official O.G. in "Thriller." That's "Original Ghoul," of course. She teaches the dance she learned back in '83, each and every year, at Swerve on West Third. (Disclaimer: The Original Ghoul is a friend to this writer.) Date's Sunday, Oct. 27. Ms. Blank will also perform the dance with other professional undeaders in Lancaster on Saturday, Oct. 26.
Hammer Museum: "An American Werewolf in London" and "Thriller" have a few things in common. Sure, one is a film and one is music video, but both were directed by John Landis and make-up wiz Rick Baker created the monstrous looks. Mr. Landis and Mr. Baker will chat at the Billy Wilder Theater in Westwood about "Werewolf," which predated "Thriller by a couple of years. Other luminaries are set to show, and check it: The long-form "Thriller" will screen during the evening as a bonus.
Want to find the sights of the video on your own? Creepy LA has a guide to locations used in the video.
Now, a final question: Will this song be in your head for the rest of the day? Yes. Maybe that's the final sign of a truly seminal music video for the ages.