How to Survive the Thriller

How to Survive the Thriller

Don’t just stand there, bust a move.

In the Thriller music video, Michael and his date have the misfortune of passing by a graveyard right as the dead start to rise. To make matters worse for MJ’s girlfriend, he becomes zombified as well. In most zombie movies, this is the part where she gets her brains eaten. But this is not a standard Zombie Apocalypse. This is a Thrillerocalypse.

Sadly, YouTube isn’t letting me embed the actual dance. But here’s some Filipino prisoners giving it their best shot.

My question is: why do the Thriller zombies dance? The obvious answer is: it’s a music video, and people dance in music videos. However, I think there might be a plot-driven reason too.

michael-jackson-thrillerConsider Vincent Price’s iconic monologue. In the music video, it accompanies the scene where the zombies rise out of the cemetery, so we can safely assume he’s referring to them specifically.

Darkness falls across the land
The midnight hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize your neighborhood

The second stanza sheds some light on the dancing.

And whosoever shall be found
Without the soul for getting down
Must stand and face the hounds of hell
And rot inside a corpses shell

You get what he’s saying? These zombies aren’t just attacking people indiscriminately. They’re specifically targeting those “without the soul for getting down.” In other words, bad dancers.

And how are they to know who’s got soul? They’ve got to see them in action.


The hound of hell?

So here’s my theory: the zombies in Thriller are actually testing Michael’s girlfriend. Or rather, they’re trying to test her, but she doesn’t understand what they want. Instead of joining in the dance and proving her ability to get down, she runs away, at which point the zombies stop dancing and start chasing. Perhaps they assume that anyone who won’t join in the Thriller dance has no soul for getting down, which actually seems pretty fair to me.

Now keep in mind, Vincent Price doesn’t say that those with the soul for getting down will be left alone. He merely says that they won’t face the hounds of hell. Which is good to know, but a far cry from total safety. We’ve already established that these creatures are in search of blood, so maybe they’re going to eat the people who can dance, and bring the people who can’t dance to the hounds of hell.

But one thing is clear: if you do not have the soul for getting down, you are screwed. You are hound-chow. So people, if you’re ever faced with dancing zombies, just go with the flow. It’s your only chance.

BONUS OVERTHINKING: When Michael and his girlfriend exit the movie theater, the marquee says “Thriller,” with Vincent Price’s name above the title. So presumably, the werewolf movie they were watching actually stars Vince Price. Any guesses what it’s about? Maybe Price plays a grizzled old werewolf hunter, who arrives in a small town after a series of gristly murders. The locals think he’s a crackpot, and maybe even the murderer. But eventually the local sheriff (a young Jeff Bridges) comes to trust him, and they team up to kill the beast.

8 Comments on “How to Survive the Thriller”

  1. B.Lily #

    Personally, I feel that the fact that we DON’T have prosoners reenacting Michael Jackson videos in our system is part of the problem with our society.


  2. Gab #

    If only I had video of that kid in my classroom…

    Anyhoo, the real twist shows up when it’s revealed that MJ’s character in the movie is Price’s nephew and the alpha male of the pack, having taken the position from Price himself. Or something. So long as the girlfriend doesn’t end up being part of a sparkly vampire troop, anything is acceptable to me.


  3. Saint #

    “And whosoever shall be found
    Without the soul for getting down
    Must stand and face the hounds of hell
    And rot inside a corpses shell”

    I believe that this passage actually tells us who become zombies in the first place: those without soul(s). “Face the hounds of hell” indicates eternal damnation for those who lack soul, and the hell they face is the zombie-style hell of “rot(ting) inside a corpse’s shell.”

    The situation, I think, is that people who lack soul (bad dancers) go to Hell when they die, and are forced to walk the Earth as zombies. Which makes sense to me.

    “cause this is thriller, thriller night”

    On the “thriller night” the bad dancers rise from the dead to demonstrate the Thriller dance, so as to warn the living against bad dancing (and to eat bad dancers), and provide the general public with a template for good dancing.


  4. Ryan from Chicago #

    Or maybe the people who don’t have the soul for getting down have to rot in their corpse’s shell while the good dancers get to join Michael’s zombie dance crew for _Thriller 2: Electric Boogaloo_ (or alternately, _You Got Served… Braaaaaains_).


  5. Laurence #

    “without a soul for getting down”

    What an excellent line, I think I laughed everytime you used that line in the article.

    I also agree with B.Lily, this should be like a mandatory thing they have to do, like chow time.


  6. Ginny #

    SO cool! I totally agree with Saint. It all makes sense when you say it that way. Anyway,
    Peace out!
    R.I.P., Micheal Jackson.


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