Michael Jackson fans frequently cite Thriller as the peak of his artistic career. This is the showcase of his artistic “genius.” It was downhill from there. Thriller was made before Jackson started getting “weird.”
Now, I admit that I’ve never seen Thriller from start to finish. It’s not my cup of tea. But I have seen the usual clips that are replayed ad nauseum.
From what I can tell, Thriller is a campy take-off of some horror film clichés. Night of the Living Dead. A terrified babe who’s desperately fleeing a psychopathic killer. That sort of thing.
How that adds up to musical genius isn’t transparently clear to me.
In addition, it seems to me that there’s already something a little bit “weird” about dancing zombies.
I really don’t see how this rises above the level of a popcorn movie. Indeed, the whole thing seems cornier than Kansas in August.
When Jackson fans defend his musical “genius,” they talk about the “complete package.” It isn’t any one thing–but the sum of the parts.
Okay, but aside from the fact that he seems to have been a pretty good hoofer in his prime, the sum of the parts is only as good as the parts.
It’s not as if he invented the musical. Remember Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly?
I can see how Thriller might be appealing to teenagers at a drive-in movie theater–alongside other camp classics, like Attack of the 50 Foot Woman.