March 07, 1994 12:00 PM

Of all the thrills pulsating from Michael Jackson’s Thriller, the top-selling album in history (40 million copies), the biggest was the Dec. 2, 1983, debut of the title video on MTV. It smashed what was then the video mold. Promoted with the pomp and excitement of an epic, Thriller boasted a mind-boggling length (14 minutes), an unprecedented budget (upward of $1 million, says director John Landis), 54 makeup artists and a weird scenario: Michael changes into a werewolf and a zombie and dances with a line of chorus ghouls. There was even a documentary (The Making of…) that became a top home video. Says Landis: “The video’s success came from the public’s fascination with Michael. And when I wrote the line, ‘I’m not like the other boys’—we knew that would get laughs.”


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