Michael Jackson’s Original ‘Thriller’ Music Video Was Released in December — Not October

There’s something evil lurking in the dark. Michael Jackson dominated the 1980s music charts with songs like “Beat It” and “Dirty Diana.” Each October, though, the spooky and creepy song “Thriller” creeps its way back onto the music charts. 

Here’s what we know about the “Thriller” short film and its surprising release date. 

Michael Jackson performs during Super Bowl halftime show
Michael Jackson performs during Super Bowl halftime show | Steve Granitz/WireImage

Michael Jackson released ‘Thriller’ as a song, premiering the ‘Thriller’ short film months later

No mere mortal can resist the spooky, story-like sounds of Jackson’s “Thriller.” This song original premiered in 1982, along with Jackson’s album of the same title and songs like “Beat It,” “The Girl is Mine,” and “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin.’”

The music video/short film for “Thriller” premiered in 1983, complete with a disclaimer about the occult, Jackson’s iconic red jacket, and a handful of dancing zombies. This production was actually out of character for Jackson at the time. 

“I never was a horror fan,” Jackson said during an interview with Vanity Fair. “I was too scared.”

The “Thriller” short film was groundbreaking for several reasons. The production debuted in theaters for a limited time. According to VOX, the production budget for this video ran over double the original proposal costing a whopping $900,000.

The “Thriller” short film also introduced the world to some killer dance moves and featured the voice of Vincent Price. Surprisingly, though, this mini-movie actually debuted in December — not in October. 

The official music video for ‘Thriller’ actually premiered in December

It’s pretty hard to associate zombies and the “funk of forty thousand years” with the holiday season. “Thriller” and its music video may be associated with Halloween and all things creepy and kooky. However, the “Thriller” short film officially premiered on Dec. 2, 1983. 

The actual Thriller album was released by Epic Records and internationally by CBS Records on Nov. 30, 1982. It peaked at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top LPs & Tapes chart during 1983. Since then, it’s become an October staple for Halloween fans, even becoming a trend on the social media platform TikTok.

‘Thriller’ became one of the most famous music videos of its time

The “Thriller music video is popular decades later. The about 14-minute long YouTube video has over 790 million views, far surpassing the music videos for songs like “Come Together,” “In The Closet,” and “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.” Even the shortened version of this production holds over 100 million views on the video platform. 

Even years after its release, this song earned millions of streams on music platforms like Spotify. Currently, “Thriller” holds over 340 million plays. The album of the same title also earned several awards and international recognition. In 1984, this production earned the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. The same year, it received the Brit Award for Best Selling Album.

The artist later released songs like “Black or White” and “The Way You Make Me Feel.” Music by Jackson is available on most major streaming platforms.

RELATED: Michael Jackson’s Song ‘Thriller’ Almost Had a Different (And Not-so-Scary) Title