The collaboration between Michael Jackson and Stephen King is an iconic piece of pop culture. The two icons released a music video featuring the song “Ghosts” by Jackson, which was written specifically for this project. The video has been watched more than 500 million times around the world, and it’s still as captivating today as it was 25 years ago when the first frames appeared on television screens across America..
Michael Jackson’s Ghosts is a collaboration with Stephen King that celebrates its 25th anniversary. The album was released on October 30, 2009.
There’s no denying that Michael Jackson’s Thriller, despite being released in the run-up to Christmas, is one of the greatest music videos of all time, and a guaranteed Halloween staple, but the John Landis directed mini-movie wasn’t the only time the King of Pop dabbled in the horror genre in his music videos, although his other long-form offering, despite having a storyline written by Master of Horror, Stephen Kin, isn’t nearly as well remembered. This weekend marks the 25th anniversary of the release of Ghosts, which debuted – as they did back then – on October 25th, 1996, before playing alongside Stephen King’s film Thinner.
Michael Jackson portrayed five distinct characters in Ghosts, a 40-minute special effects-driven eerie thriller that included the title song as well as two additional songs, 2 Bad and Is It Scary. The project was originally titled after the latter of those songs, and was set to be directed by co-writer Mick Garris, who was known for working on a number of Stephen King properties, including the original mini-series of The Stand, but when he dropped out to direct another King project, The Shining, special effects legend Stan Winston took over. All of this resulted in a really cinematic finish, with a cinematic budget of $15 million, which remains the most expensive music video ever filmed, with Jackson paying the whole cost.
The Mayor of Normal Valley (Jackson) rents an enraged crowd to the Maestro’s (also Jackson) house, where he has been telling ghost tales and doing magic tricks for the local kids. While the Mayor intends to expel the Maestro for his actions, he is instead challenged to a “scaring contest,” with whomever is afraid first being the one to go. After a showdown in which the Maestro dances with a horde of ghouls and ghosts, the Mayor is possessed by the Maestro, who transforms into a scary demon and escapes via a window, and everyone says they’ve had a wonderful time and go about their business.
After a quarter-century, the mini-movie is still worth seeing for horror enthusiasts, and it provides a terrific dose of nostalgia for a period when CGI took over and real effects reigned supreme. The work of individuals associated with the project can’t be criticized in the least, yet it isn’t widely remembered for a few reasons. Jackson had just divorced Lisa Marie Presley and was the subject of child abuse investigations at the time of its release, which didn’t set well with the concept of a frightening hermit entertaining youngsters in his gloomy house for many.
More than that, Ghosts will never be able to escape the monolithic shadow of Thriller due to the fact that it is a three-song feature with none of them striking out as remarkable melodies in their own right. In celebration of the 25th anniversary, Bloody Disgusting is sponsoring The Loser’s Club podcast, which delves further into Michael Jackson’s overlooked horror oddity.
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