The 3D movie is here to stay and it’s as big as it’s ever been. Not only new movies continue to hit the big screen and impress us with newer ways to turn a movie visit into an amusement park ride, whether in 3D or IMAX 3D. Old films continue to get the 3D treatment, too. An entire branch of films and home video releases are devoted to this category, with films that weren’t originally filmed in 3D like Titanic, Jurassic Park, Top Gun, I, Robot, and Beauty and the Beast among the films getting the upgrade–the best results coming from the incredible 3D work done to The Wizard of Oz (reviewed here) and Predator (reviewed here). But a music video getting a 3D upgrade? That’s new.
This year the 1980s are coming back in a big way. Michael Jackson’s Thriller knocked our socks off as part of the latest trailer for Stranger Things season 2 last month. The powerhouse music video (which even made the National Film Registry) has been given a complete 3D and sound upgrade for a premiere at the Venice Film Festival this summer followed by a return to the theaters for the first time since a limited run in Los Angeles when it debuted back in 1983. Thriller is truly a one-of-a-kind film, directed by John Landis (The Twilight Zone, The Blue Brothers, Animal House, Trading Places) and co-written by Landis and Michael Jackson, the film was a dream project for Jackson, who was a fan of Landis’s fang-filled An American Werewolf in London. Jackson spared no expense, pulling in monster maker Rick Baker for prosthetics and Michael Peters for choreography input. It’s a little bit meta–Vincent Price’s Thriller was the (fake) monster movie Michael and his girlfriend watched in the theater in the video, with a great shot of the marquee as they emerge from the theater. Fans of a new generation will be able to see Thriller in real life on their local theater marquee.
A fan of 3D, Michael Jackson pioneered the re-launch of 3D films in 1986, starring in his sci-fi film Captain EO, a 3D musical with executive producer George Lucas and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, scored by James Horner and co-starring Dick Shawn (It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, The Producers, The Year Without a Santa Claus) and Anjelica Huston (Prizzi’s Honor, The Addams Family, The Grifters, The Watcher in the Woods) as an incredibly designed borg villain (an inspiration for Star Trek First Contact’s Borg Queen). John Napier (Broadway’s Cats) created the costumes, Rick Baker returned for makeup and monster creations, and Tom Burman (Planet of the Apes, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Goonies, Dead Again) created Huston’s makeup. A Disney theme park exclusive, Captain EO was shown up until 2015 in the parks’ 3D theaters, but has not been released in a home version. The Captain EO 3D comic book is regularly still available here at Amazon.
Michael Landis returned to lead the 3D, music, and sound effects upgrades for the new 3D release of Jackson’s film/video Thriller, saying, “I am so happy to have had the chance not only to restore but enhance Michael Jackson’s Thriller! We took full advantage of the remarkable advances in technology to add new dimensions to both the visual and the audio bringing it to a whole new level. Even though Thriller was shot traditionally, I was able to use the 3D creatively. Let me just warn you, there is a rather shocking surprise in there!”
The original Thriller is always available here from YouTube:
Look for Michael Jackson’s Thriller 3D in theaters later this year. We expect the 3D Blu-ray will follow shortly thereafter. Michael Jackson fans have pressed Disney for a home release of Captain EO for years, but the studio has never indicated any consideration of such a release.