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Friday, October 31, 2008

80s Music Flashback

What could be more appropriate for Halloween than these two videos?
'Cause busting makes me feel good....
video
The film score of Ghostbusters! was composed by Elmer Bernstein, notable for its use of ondes martenot (a staple of Bernstein's 1980s work) and also the Yamaha DX-7 synthesizer. Orchestrators contributing to the film were Peter Bernstein, David Spear and Patrick Russ. The first film sparked the catchphrases "Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!" and "I ain't afraid of no ghost(s)". Both came from the hit theme song written and performed by Ray Parker, Jr. The song was a huge hit, staying #1 for three weeks on Billboard's Hot 100 chart and #1 for two weeks on the Black Singles chart. The song earned Parker an Academy Award nomination for "Best Original Song".

The music video produced for the song is considered one of the key productions of the already booming music video industry, and was a #1 MTV video. Directed by Ivan Reitman, produced by Jeffrey Abelson, and conceptualized by Keith Williams, the video integrated footage of the film in a specially designed, haunted house made entirely of neon. Film footage was intercut with a humorous performance by Parker, and featured cameo appearances by celebrities who joined in the call and response chorus, including Chevy Chase (who was considered for the role of Egon), Irene Cara, John Candy (who was considered for the role of Louis Tully), Nickolas Ashford, Melissa Gilbert, Jeffrey Tambor, George Wendt, Al Franken (Yuck! Forgive me fellow Conservatives), Danny DeVito, Carly Simon, Peter Falk, and Teri Garr. The video ends with footage of the four main Ghostbusters actors in costume and character, dancing in Times Square behind Parker, joining in the singing.
video
Michael Jackson's Thriller is a 13-minute music video (cut down here to 9:27) for the song of the same name released on December 2, 1983 and directed by John Landis who also co-wrote the screenplay with Jackson. The mini-film music video was broadcast on MTV three weeks before Christmas 1983. It was the most expensive video of its time, costing $500,000 (USD), and the Guinness World Records in 2006 list it as the "most successful music video", selling over 9 million units.

"Thriller" was less a conventional video and more a full-fledged short subject or mini-film; a horror film spoof featuring choreographed zombies performing with Jackson. The music was re-edited to match the video, with the verses being sung one after the other followed by the ending rap, then the main dance sequence (filmed on Union Pacific Avenue, Los Angeles) to an instrumental loop, and finally the memorable finish: the choruses in a "big dance number" climactic scene. During the video, Jackson transforms into both a zombie and a werecat (although makeup artist Rick Baker referred to it as a "cat monster" in the "Making of Thriller" documentary); familiar territory for Landis, who had directed An American Werewolf in London two years earlier. Co-starring with Jackson was former Playboy centerfold Ola Ray. The video was choreographed by Michael Peters (who had worked with the singer on his prior hit "Beat It"), with significant contributions by Jackson. The video also contains incidental music by film music composer Elmer Bernstein (Ghostbusters! and Ellery Queen fame), who had previously also worked with Landis on An American Werewolf in London starring 80s heart-throb David Naughton. The video (like the song) contains a spoken word performance by horror film veteran Vincent Price. Rick Baker assisted in prosthetics and makeup for the production.

Jackson, at the time a Jehovah's Witness, added a disclaimer to the start of the video, saying:
“Due to my strong personal convictions, I wish to stress that this film in no way endorses a belief in the occult.”

Happy Halloween!

MICHELLE

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